How to blog.
I’ve been blogging every day for six months now. I have learned a few things about what works. I’ve learned lots of things that don’t work. I decided that it might be worth while to capture some of these ideas, both for my own reference and for any of my readers that might be considering taking the plunge and starting a blog. I highly recommend it.
Know why you are blogging.
It is a lot easier to succeed at something if you understand what you are trying to accomplish. I wrote about why I blog in a previous post so I won’t go into any further detail here. I’ll just say that it does help to get you started in the first place and to decide when your finished.
Understand your audience.
This is an aspect of blogging that I’m still struggling with. It is critical though. You obviously can’t please everyone. The better that you know exactly who you are writing for, the easier it will be to please them.
I’ve often said that I write for someone who is interested in the same things that I’m interested in. I’m interested in too many things for that to narrow it down enough. Also, a lot of things that I am interested in are so personal that I doubt anyone else would be interested in them.
Definitely give it some thought and spend some time trying to write a succinct statement describing who you are writing for. Revise it periodically as you find your voice. The clearer you are about this the better your blog will target them.
Have an opinion.
If you are motivated enough to write a blog about something, you probably have an opinion on the topic. You should state your opinion firmly. There is no need to preface your statements with “I think”. It is your blog. By definition, this is what you think. That is what people are looking for, an informed, rational position on the topic. Either that or a controversial rant. No one likes to read wishy washy prose written by someone who can’t make up their mind one way or the other.
Do your homework.
Before you go out on a limb, check your facts. See what other people have written about the topic. You don’t have to agree with them. In fact, it will probably be more interesting if you don’t. If your post is just going to be a rehash of something someone else has already written, you either need to think of how to say it better than they did, not an easy job, or, think of a way to spin your topic so that you discuss an aspect of it not covered by other authors. Of course you always have the option of picking a new topic altogether.
Organize your thoughts.
This is a step that I’ve only recently mastered. Up until then I would start writing without thinking things through and I’d write until I had written everything I could think of pertinent to the topic. I would often contradict myself and sometimes totally leave out critical points of my argument.
Then I started writing a simple, single level, bullet-point style outline of what I wanted to say. This has had two effects. First, it has helped me focus the post on a single topic instead of wandering around it hit or miss.
Second, after I’ve written down my points, I find it much easier to actually write about them. I actually understand what each section is trying to say. It is also easier to decide when I’ve said enough in a section and can move on to the next one.
You know who you’re addressing and why. You know what you’re going to say and the order you’re going to say it in. Now comes the fun part. You sit down and fill in the blanks. You write your heart out. You tell it like you’re talking to a friend. The words will fly off your finger tips.
Be sure you cover each of the points that you’ve laid out in your outline. While your at it, you can check to see if you forgot something in your outline. Maybe it came to you while you were writing. It is perfectly okay to adjust as you write.
Read what you’ve written.
Now comes the hard part. I can’t emphasize how important this step is. Once you’ve written your blog post, be sure to read it carefully. Look for words that, while spelled correctly, may not be the word you intended, after all who writes with an editor that doesn’t have a spelling checker these days.
I often find that I leave words out entirely or, in the process of editing a sentence, I will mangle it up so that it no longer makes any sense at all. It is better to catch these errors before you hit the publish button than discover them the next day after everyone has had a chance to see how careless you are with your proofreading.
Every time I publish a post without proofreading it first I have found that I have published mistakes. That’s not to say that I don’t miss mistakes when I do proofread, only that there are always mistakes of one sort or another to be corrected when I don’t.
Give it a catchy title.
When you’ve put the time into writing a post, you want people to read it. Remember that first impressions are important. The title is how your reader forms their first impression of your post. It has got to be attention grabbing while at the same time capturing the essence of the piece.
A good rule of thumb for organizing your post is to put the most interesting things first and then add less interesting details as it progresses. This is not always possible, especially if you are describing a process, like this post for example.
You’ve written your post. You’ve given it a good title. Now you need to take a moment to promote it. There are two things that you need to do at this point. First, take advantage of the category and tag features of your blogging software. They make it easier for people to find your post with search engines.
Second, you need to post pointers to it on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Some blogging platforms have features that help you automate that process. I have found that most of my new readers find out about my blog on Facebook or Twitter.
So that is what I’ve learned about how to blog. I hope it helps you if you decide to write a blog of your own. There are plenty of free blogging sites out there that make it easy to set up a blog. You’ve got no excuse. Set up a blog and start posting today.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.