Blogging for Beginners: How To Start A Blog
This blog may be fairly new (about 2 months old), but this is the 8th blog that I’ve created since 1996. No kidding. The difference between this and the old ones is that I used to be really private about what I post, and although I did share them with a few of my friends, I never made these blogs public.
I have been asked a few times about how to start a blog. It was my lovely niece, Julia, who prompted me to write this how-to. I could sense her excitement when she asked me how she can get started and I was thrilled for her. Much of what I am going to write about are from what I have personally experienced to be effective and I don’t claim to be an expert. For expert advice, professional bloggers have more “educated” recommendations. To find them, Google is your friend.
It used to be that my only purpose for blogging was to keep an online record of my thoughts and experiences, like an online journal. Back then, I was extremely shy about sharing my posts even with my closest friends. I wasn’t sure why I didn’t follow-through with my earlier blogs, but now that I look back on it, I realized that while I needed an outlet for my writing (which were mostly ramblings and incoherent groups of sentences), I also wanted to share my passions and discuss them with like-minded people.
It took a while for me to convince myself to open up publicly because, while I had the technical know-how to start a blog, my feelings of insecurity overwhelmed me. Who on earth would care to read my posts?
It was when I decided and fully accepted my purpose that I finally mustered the courage to start a new blog. That is the first thing that you need: purpose.
I mentioned it earlier but I will say it again:
My purpose for blogging is to not only have an outlet for my writing, but also, and most importantly, to share my passions and discuss them with like-minded people.
Why would I want to share and discuss? Let me ask you: Why do YOU like to post on Facebook?
Once I’ve accepted my purpose, I thought about how to make my blog sustainable. What can I write about that people might want to read? It’s nice to write about cute posts like oh, my cat slept next to my dog and they have this really cute picture (I couldn’t help putting this one up though heehee) – but that stuff is best posted as a Facebook status or a Tweet. And while people may read it once, it’s not likely they will return to read it again.
I have tons of interests and so I drilled down to the ones that other people may share with me. What can I write that I am fairly knowledgeable about that I can share with people and that they would appreciate? This is the second item that you need to really consider before starting a blog: your topic or what to write about.
As a personal blog, I can pretty much write about anything I want. No one is paying me to write anything, nobody controls what I blog. I’m not an expert on the things that I write about but I only post original content – these things came straight from this honest-but-oftentimes-weird brain of mine. Having witnessed all that Anti-Cybercrime law and plagiarism talks from last year, copying from someone else is the furthest thing from my mind. When I do need to copy, I never forget to cite the source by attaching the URL of the source to the post, either at the end of the quoted or copied piece of information or in the footnotes ( I usually mark them with asterisks * or **), or mention the name of the creator of an idea that is not originally mine, an attribution. I am also not a writer by profession nor do I pretend to have a highly-advanced vocabulary in order to sound smart, but I make it a point to express myself clearly in the best way that I can in a language most recognized. Spell-check and not-so-perfect-grammar-correction is always first on my list of things to do before I hit that Publish button. While this may be just a personal blog, it is also going to be embedded in the deep recesses of the Internet forever and there will be nowhere to push the Delete button and erase it completely once it’s out there (okay, it’s a little less dramatic than that). I’d at least like to leave a decent virtual imprint.
For my blog, I’ve decided to write about my interests as a 30-something woman who works from home. What do I do each and every single day that I spend at home when I am not in front of my computer, working? We don’t have children (yet ), I don’t always spend the rest of my free time doing housework (haha!), and what I do does not require me to work certain hours or at specific times so I’m pretty flexible (except when on a deadline). I personally don’t know any woman yet who does the same thing I do, so I don’t have anyone to compare notes with. Everyone I know is in the corporate world or runs a business. Maybe this blog can be that avenue for other women out there in the world leading the same life I do – we can swap ideas on how we best spend our free time! (Did I mention that I love what I do? )
And that brings me to the third item that you need to determine: your audience.
You may ask: “Why do I have to think about who my audience is going to be? Can’t I just make everyone my audience?” Of course, you can! But just as people like to listen to different types of music, they also have their own reading preferences. For example, my interests will generally not make any impact on men. I hardly think any guy would read my article on Japanese dolls. In the same way, I know that I will not be writing about anything that men will want to read (unless it’s tech-related) because not only am I clueless about guy-stuff (like basketball and cars) but these are just not in my list of interests. Can you imagine being enthusiastic about a subject that you don’t like?
This does not mean though that I will be targeting all women (although that is the dream!). I’m not imposing a strict 30s only age range but that is merely a ‘guesstimate’ of the ages of women whom I may share the same interests with because that is my age. I can safely say that probably women in their late teens or 20s may like my collections too, or my posts on health, tech, food, games, love, vanity. While women in their 40s and above may like to ready my posts on DIY or crafts. Isn’t it amazing the number of people you can actually reach out to from a small screen? It baffles me to this day (our first computer at home was bought in 1994, a 386 running Wordstar on a floppy disk and the Internet was not yet widely released to the public at the time so the computer was useless if not for word-processing – imagine that! Google the history of the Internet – it will blow your mind).
Will that limit my audience? Yes! But I’ll be okay with just a minute piece of that 7-billion population if that ensures that I have a steady stream of blog visitors and guests who will continue to interact and discuss new and better, crazier ideas with me.
So my audience is the untapped community of work-at-home women out there in the world! I am so excited to know what goes on in these women’s minds and I am betting they are doing amazing things!
And those are the three points that we need in order to get started on a blog: purpose, topic and audience. Once you have these down pat, you’re ready for the easy part – setting up your blog.
I’ll have that for you in my next post.