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Thinking of starting a blog? I'm here to help!

Feb 22, 2011

I've been getting a lot of requests for help starting up blogs lately, so I'm going to share my tips with everyone. 

Before I begin, I'd like to give some background on why and how I started my blog, for those of you who haven't been followers from day one (and I wouldn't blame you, it was a rough start).  I began writing this blog because I was broke and bored, and the constant in my life up to that point -- and still -- was writing.  I've kept a journal since I was eight years old.  All I ever wanted to do was write, and along the way I got published in some pretty reputable publications...and some cheesy ones.  Regardless, to see my name on something in print and to know that people were reading my words was the most thrilling thing in the world to me. 

So, when a career in magazine writing didn't pan out and I was living in one of the most expensive cities in the country and could barely afford to eat (yet still managed to gain 20 pounds), I traded my Friday night pity parties for blogging. At first I didn't know what to write about, so I just typed out my daydreams of the life I'd like to have.  Then I wrote about something silly that happened with a guy who worked across the hall from me.  And the crowd went wild!  Before I knew it my obligatory readers (close friends and my mother) were asking for more updates, and they were sending links to their friends and coworkers that over time created a wide network of readers.

Nowadays I'm astonished to find people all over the world are reading this thing.  How did someone in Saudi Arabia find me?  And why in the heck does he or she care???  For some strange reason, my ridiculous stories are relevant.  I think part of it is I'm not afraid to make fun of myself -- after all, social media is all about being transparent. 

That being said, your blog should be about whatever you want it to be.  The most successful blogs are niche ones, like dating, cooking, and crafting blogs.  But whether you want great success or just want a place to vent your feelings, here's my best advice (And if this inspires or helps you at all, please send me a link!  I'd love to see what you come up with.).


1) Understand why you're writing it and try to stick to that principle. Is it an online journal? Are you giving tips on shopping, cooking, etc.?  Is it just for entertainment value?

2) Decide who you want your audience to be and write for them. If you want readers, your blog can't be all about you. In other words, you may write about yourself, but remember who you're writing it for and cater your language and content to them.

3) Be consistent in posting. Once a week is perfectly acceptable, but if that's too much let your readers know you will only be posting twice a month, or however much you want to. As you become comfortable and familiar with your blog, push yourself to write more often. Fresh material will drive readers to your blog.

4) Keep posts short. Most blog readers like to take a 5-10 minute break during their day and don't have time to read a novel. Plus, when you see a lot, it can be daunting to the reader and she may not read it at all. I used to write really long posts, and at some point I realized this isn't attractive to my readers.  So I tried to write more often and shorter posts, and also included information useful to my audience.  This also made blogging less of a chore and more fun, knowing I didn't have to spend two hours drafting a post. 

5) Listen to your readers. Publish their comments and respond to them, good or bad. Blogging is considered social media, and social media is based on open relationships and conversations. If you censor your readers because you don't like what they have to say, you risk estranging everyone.

6) Promote your blog on Twitter and Facebook. Facebook is easy, but Twitter is more work.  It's worth it.  If you don't know how to tweet, get on Twitter and start paying attention.  You'll get the hang of it!

7) Don't be afraid of the "online" aspect. A lot of people are freaked out about the idea of their info being out there for anyone to access. If you don't like that, it's fine to remain anonymous. But if you do that, you should start a Twitter account anonymously as well so the anonymous you is still interacting with readers and other bloggers. Making contact is critical, and using all types of social media is best.

8) Be patient when trying to get followers.  I started out sharing it with my friends and family members, and then I put a link on my Gchat, then I began sharing on Facebook and eventually Twitter, plus I started attending networking events (like happy hours) with other bloggers.  I've even set up such events.  You really have to get yourself out there.  So many times last year I went to a happy hour where I didn't know one person, and I left with five new friends.  After a while people you've never met will be reading your blog, and that is mighty exciting stuff!  But it definitely takes time, and it also takes a little bit of time to find your "voice" and your rhythm and all that. 

9) Write well.  Spell check.  Use run-on and fragment sentences sparingly.  No, there aren't any strict rules in blogging style writing, but don't forget most of us are indoctrinated with certain writing styles and grammatical rules, so seeing too much bending of them can hurt the eyes after a while.  Break the rules when it adds a punch, but otherwise complete sentences are recommended. And make sure your content is interesting and relevant to your audience; otherwise, you can't blame them for not being interested. 

10) Read other blogs.  You will learn how to blog by seeing what other bloggers are doing.  Plus, the blogging community is very supportive.  If you want to succeed it's important to reach out to other bloggers.  Make sure you comment on their posts and give them feedback, especially if you expect the same from them.  If you build up a good relationship with a blogger, you can cross-promote each other's blogs

Above all, have fun!  If you're not having fun, it shows.  If you need to take a break, just let your readers know, and give them a timeframe when you'll be back.  If you just disappear you'll lose readers like flies.

Hope this helps!  Happy blogging!

12 comments:

  1. These are all great tips! Reaching out and connecting with other bloggers IS so important. I found your blog via @citygirlblogs & will definitely be coming back to read more :)

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  2. I also found your blog via city girl - glad I found my way here!

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  3. Really great advice! And your blog is super cute =o)

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  4. Great blog! And great tips for aspiring bloggers! But I'm curious, I'm pretty sure you want to meet the right guy, but what happens to the blog when you get married? How will you keep it so entertaining? Or will it self-destruct? For your readers' sakes, I hope it doesn't!! :)

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  5. Great post and great tips. This will be a good guide for starters. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Good post! I too started blogging because I just wanted to write. something. anything. DOWN. in print. and put it out there. Like I had to or something or I'd just burst. And the blogging community is so bright and funny and supportive its really fun to be a part of as recreation too. Hopefully you'll inspire some of my new favorite bloggers. This means you KELLYALYSIA! Cheers, T.

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  7. Thanks for the great advice. I think I'm ready. I love your blog.

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  8. @Ms Wun-Cha "Merry" Me

    The beauty of having a non-niche blog is it can easily evolve with you, so once I find the right guy I can continue blogging about my life, and I promise I will always keep it entertaining. No self-destruction planned!

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  9. "Understand why you're writing it and try to stick to that principle" - Loved this. Another addition to this post is always stick to quality rather than quantity of words on your blog posts. Cheers!

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