“You should start a blog.”
That’s a phrase that haunts many people. You hear it once from someone you respect and it sticks. You start thinking to yourself: Man, I need to start blogging.
I’m closing in on a decade of blogging. I got started in May 2004. In that time I’ve seen literally thousands of people start a blog, get it going, only to quit because they had no plan to get past the early energy from that one compliment.
Getting past, “Man, I need to start blogging”
That initial burst of energy will carry you for a while. But you’re going to need a plan to carry this new objective down the road.
Form a plan and live.
Don’t have a plan and die.
It’s just that easy.
Adam’s 5 Step Plan for Starting a Blog
- Pick a blogging platform you like. At this point your best choices are WordPress or Tumblr. Both are established and excellent blogging platforms, each with their own ecosystem. I love WordPress and recommend for anyone whose audience is over 18. That said, either is a great choice. If you don’t want to be bothered with the chore of actually maintaining a website on your own (WordPress self-hosted) than I’d recommend creating a WordPress.com or Tumblr account. They will do all the hard work for you. Sure, you will give up some design and functionality in doing so. But, if you are just getting started, your biggest thing should be to get in the habit of writing. Don’t waste time and money on a pretty blog until you’ve got pretty content. (If you are wondering about the value of blogging, whether you can afford X or Y, that tells me you that you should use a free option. Those who spend money know that their blog delivers huge value for them and don’t mind spending money.)
- Set aside a specific time to write. “Adam, I don’t know when you find the time.” That’s easy, I don’t find the time, I make the time. Every morning between 6:30 and 8:30 I spend 45 minutes to an hour writing 500-1000 words for my blog. Consequently, I don’t book any appointments before 9 AM. At this point writing in the morning is such a habit that I don’t even have to think about it. (I have more ideas than I have time to write.) My suggestion would be to pick a specific time, go to a specific place, and write for one hour. When you are just getting started the objective isn’t amazing writing, it’s getting into the habit of writing and publishing regularly.
- Pick a topic and resist the temptation to write about everything. While my own blog is kind of a potpourri of topics, remember I’ve been at it more than 9 years. If you are just starting out I’d say pick the thing you are most interested about or that other might be interested about from you, and go for it. Here’s the funny thing about topics: People will fall in love with you, not your topic. Write about what you are passionate about because the words will come a lot easier and the audience part will take care of itself.
- Define your readers. It’s easy to forget this but your readers are a character in your blog’s story. The more you define the role of your readers in you own mind as you write, the more clearly that reader will understand you. And the more they’ll like you, introduce you to their friends by sharing your blog, etc. This will also help you filter both what to write and find ways to write about stuff without getting yourself in trouble.
- Your objective is to publish, not to publish perfection. If you’ve read my blog for more than a few days you know that I let typos and bad grammar go. I have an hour or less to write each day, my objective is to publish something of value for my audience. And if I get bogged down in grammar than things just won’t get published. Plus, you can always edit stuff later. (And trust me. Your audience is your best spell checker. It’ll give them a reason to engage.)
Blogging is an exercise in incremental growth. When getting started don’t worry about numbers. Don’t worry about building an audience.
Your first steps have everything to do with you forming habits that’ll carry you forward. This is Blogging 101. In 201 and beyond we can talk about other finer points. But seriously, if you don’t nail Blogging 101 you’ll never make it.
Question: If I hosted a Google Hangout for getting started in writing/blogging, would you show up?