I’ve had a run of real-life people over the last couple of weeks saying kindly things about my blog – for which thank you – but what’s struck me is that without fail, every one of those people has followed up with ‘I’d love to start a blog. But I don’t have the time/I can’t write/I am useless with IT/I’d be scared nobody would read it’.
None of these are reasons not to START a blog. They might be reasons to start one, decide it doesn’t do that much for you, or you’re not getting enough out of it for the time you put in, or simply that you don’t like writing after all – and then stop. But there’s no shame in that! Unless you start, you’ll never know how it ends…
So. For you lovely people who want to know (you know who you are!) – and assuming we’re talking personal rather than professional blogs, here’s my top tips from the fifteen months that LearnerMother has been A Thing….
1 IGNORE all online blogging advice and how-tos – for now.
You only need to google ‘How to s’ on Google and the autocomplete comes up with ‘How to start a blog’ – followed by 2,640,000,000 search results - shortly to be 2,640,000,001 when I hit publish. My advice is not to bother with any of these – YET. (Except this one, which I am sure will be in the top 3 rankings in, uh, no time at all…) I know this seems counterintuitive but the more time you spend ploughing through blogspeak and social media advice and general clickbait, the more flummoxed you will get, and it’ll likely put you off doing anything at all. Once you’ve been blogging for a bit then go back and delve through at your leisure, it’ll all make much more sense!
2 Don’t worry about what you’re going to write about.
This advice flies in the face of every blogging how-to I’ve ever read. But – again, assuming we’re talking a personal blog rather than a professional one – what matters is whether you want to write, not what you’re going to write about. If you have a niche that you know a lot about, that might be a good place to start – if not, just write about what comes. You’ll soon figure out what works for you.
3 Do choose a name – but don’t sweat over it!
The standard advice on this is to choose a catchy name and then check its availability as a domain name and with social media. For a work blog this is entirely sensible. For a personal blog, it’s not bad advice exactly, it’s just that it’s another item on the To Do list that will stop you actually getting on with things and writing stuff. You can start a blog under whatever name you like – and then if you want to (or have to) start again with a new whizzy name, you can import everything you’ve done so far anyway. And THAT’s when all the blogging how-tos will come in useful.
4 Anonymous or not?
The pros of being anonymous: you can be extremely frank; you are protecting your family’s privacy; you can blog about work and work issues without compromising your professional role.
The cons – firstly, it can be much harder to get your blog out there and read without being able to share it on your social networks; secondly (and this is the big one for me) you could end up outed – and potentially causing more harm and upset to the people whose privacy you were trying to protect in the first place. Oh, and getting fired. Hmmm.
This is a tricky issue and only you can decide in the longer term what you want to do. But I’d also say that it doesn’t really matter which you choose to start with. Just start writing. If you’re ‘out’, and want to become anonymous, you can always close down and start again; if you’re anonymous you can always out yourself later.
5 Common sense
If you carry on blogging, especially if you choose to work with brands, there is stuff you’ll need to find out about what you can and can’t do on your blog. But to START blogging, you don’t really need to know it. You just need to use your common sense. So – if you’re given something to review for free, say so. Don’t publish photos unless you took them (or you have permission). Be respectful with photos of other people and even more so if children are in them. Don’t slag off your boss. Do a spellcheck before you hit publish. None of it’s rocket science – it’s just common sense. And that’s all you really need to get started.
6 There’s always people who will help
Whatever problem you come up against, you can find the answer online; or if you do Twitter, you’ll be able to find someone to help. So getting stuck on something, or flummoxed by some ridiculously in-depth ‘basic’ blogging tutorial isn’t a reason to give up. There is ALWAYS someone who can explain it in words of two syllables.
7 Start a Blog!
You can set up a wordpress or a blogger page in, literally, minutes. Click the link, follow the instructions, write something, share it. It really is as simple as that. In the time it’s taken you to read this post, you could have set up a blog and started writing.
What are you waiting for?