Thinking of starting a blog? Great! So is everyone else with Internet access and a free WordPress account. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t: creativity needs an outlet, and if writing is your go-to release, blogging is a great place for it.
There are plenty of good reasons why writers are especially encouraged to host their own blogs. (Hey, we should probably post about that. How about tomorrow? Okay!) If you just need a place to expel your word vomit, get to it.
If you’re looking to bulk up your portfolio and give potential partners/employers/agents a place to see some of your more personal work, you’ll need to pay just a little more attention to why you’re posting, how often and what your posts, and blog in general, look like to those who visit.
Need some success tips to get you motivated? We have tips. So many tips. We love tips.
Tip #1: Start with (and Stick to) One Theme
One mistake new bloggers often make is starting a blog about their life and writing posts about their daily, weekly, monthly life events. Now you’re probably frowning at this point. Isn’t that what a blog is supposed to be?
Well, yes. We’re not saying you can’t write about your life. However, one post about your dog, another about the weather, today I did this and tomorrow I’m going to sleep in, bye—there needs to be a common thread to tie all your posts together, even if you do post about your dog, the weather and sleeping in.
Some bloggers tack on their life stages—my life in a small town; this is what it’s like as a college student with four majors. Instead of saying, “Hey, here’s my blog, I blog about my life,” be more specific. What message do you want to get across to your 2.5 readers (wow, that’s an old inside joke)?
You don’t have to write about yourself: you can blog about gardening, trees, giraffes, whatever the heck you want to. Tie your theme, your message (“giraffes are AWESOME”) into each of your posts. An effective way to do this is to post often, to keep that theme going—see tip two.
Tip #2: Post Regularly
Another mistake common with new blogs: post frequency, or lack thereof. Once you’ve made the commitment to host a blog, even as a side hobby, it’s important to post regularly, even if that’s only once or twice per month. Posting once every six months isn’t going to do much for you or for the people who do stumble upon your site.
Get yourself on a schedule. If you’re a “blog when I feel like it” kind of writer, set specific days your audience can expect new posts from you—for example, commit to posting on the first and 15th of every month—and if you write a post between that time, or multiple, schedule them out in advance. Even if you’re not blogging to get more people to visit your page, consistency is a strategy you’ll find useful in many other projects you work on, even in The Real World.
Tip #3: Take Yourself Seriously
Blogging is an effective way to refine your writing style and find your novelty (unique) voice, but just because it’s a blog doesn’t mean you should leave out proper grammar and spelling. The nitpick police will find you, and then they will make it a point not to return to your pages, all because of small errors. It happens. For real.
Try your best not to treat your blog like an online diary, writing-wise (if you want to blog about your personal life, content-wise, well, that’s completely up to you). Your credibility becomes questionable when your posts don’t look clean, and even if that’s not your priority, again—practice makes better. Always.
Despite the above advice, the most important thing to remember about starting a blog is this: don’t write about a topic just because it’s popular. To have a successful blog (even if that means only ten people follow you, and 2.5 visit on a semi-regular basis), your readers need to feel like you’re completely engaged in every post.
You have to write about something you like, love, can’t live without, even if your biggest fear is that no one else will like it. If you don’t, you’ll lose interest before your readers do. Don’t let your blog fizzle out before it even gets a chance to grow. Be brave. Write about what you love. Those who love your work will keep coming back, and well, 2.5 readers are obviously better than none.
Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.