I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade.
When a friend approaches me about starting a blog, I get so excited! The blogging world has changed so much over the years, and hearing about fresh interest in the medium is like finding out that kids are still into Harry Potter.
I get asked for blogging advice all the time, and have so much to say… how had I not written about this before?
So. You want to start a blog?
1. Ask yourself: Why blogging?
What do you want to get out of starting a blog?
Are you looking for a place to publish your thoughts?
A place online to call your own?
A platform for certain topics?
Are you passionate about writing? Photography? Video? Speaking?
Understand your aims before getting started.The first step is knowing for sure that you want to blog – because you might not.
Do you REALLY want to start a blog?
If you feel like you ‘should’ start a blog, I discourage you from starting. Find out what you are passionate about, and do that instead!
There are already so many blogs. And here’s the truth: if you don’t want to blog, no one will want to read your blog.
2. Make a commitment.
When I started Fashionably Light, I published 150 words every day by midnight.
Here on Heroine Training, I schedule a post to publish every Tuesday at 7am.
Most importantly, I commit to writing every single morning (preferably in a cute coffeeshop). I journal, then work on drafts and upcoming blog posts.
How often will you publish?
One post a week? One post a month?
It doesn’t have to be often, or even time-bound. You can publish a blog post after every Disney vacation, or every time you see Sleep No More.
How often will you write?
Every day? Every week?
Make a specific promise, and do what you must to keep it. Put it in your planner. Make sticker charts, find accountability partners, download some sort of app – whatever works for you.
Personally I find that ‘when I feel like it’ dwindles into ‘never’.
If you are unsure about commitment, remember that there are ways to publish every now and then without having your own blog. Write guest posts for other blogs. Submit to online magazines. Publish on Medium.
If you can keep a blog up and running ‘when you feel like it’, that’s great – but I cannot. The only people I know who do this successfully have been blogging for years and are in tune with what they want to say and when.
For just starting out? I highly recommend setting a schedule and some deadlines.
3. Write an About Page.
You might be tempted to make your first blog post an introduction to your blog. Put that content into an About Page instead, and dive right in with your first blog post. Otherwise that important info will get buried!
If I’m reading your blog, I want to know who you are, and what to expect on this blog. What do you love? Where do you live? I like to know where people live, even if it’s vague. I’m looking for context. I want to know you, and the space you inhabit.
Put your contact info and social media links on your About Page if you want to be contacted – make it easy for people.
A picture would be nice. It doesn’t have to be of your face.
My first About Page read: i’m alexandra, or just xandra. i like books and music and fashion and penguins and chocolate truffles and lots of other things. i’m a bostonian in the uk and a proud gryffindor :)
4. Do NOT Apologise.
Things you should not apologise for:
- For starting a blog.
- For taking up the reader’s time.
- For not posting often.
- For posting too often.
- For posting late.
- For being new to blogging.
- For still figuring things out.
No excuses. Nobody will notice or care – unless you point it out.
5. Define your work, not your readership.
Instead of asking ‘Will people want to read about…?’ ask ‘Do I want to write about…?’.
Instead of defining your ideal audience, get clear on what YOU want to say. People read blogs to connect with the individual.
If it feels like it’s been done before…
Remember that your perspective is unique to you. Your experience is unlike anyone else’s experience.
If it feels like it has never been done before…
You can be the first! Don’t worry about clashing subjects, or being too niche – you are the common thread.
With my writing, I create the thing I wish existed.
I founded Fashionably Light because the only minimalist blogs I could find disregarded aesthetics, and I longed for a stylish and colourful example of living light.
6. Choose a title that you’re excited about.
Choose what you love, what makes you smile, and your enthusiasm will be infectious.
You can always add or change a tagline to clarify what your blog is about. Don’t dwell on the name. Just pick what makes you happy. You can change it later if you want. (If you’re really not sure, name the blog after yourself).
Do some research on your title, but not too much.
See what it looks like typed out. See what the social media handle looks like typed out. Google it to see if it’s a thing already.
7. Keep it simple.
Don’t worry about web design. If you’re stuck, simplify. Look at Zen Habits. Look at the original Fashionably Light design. I started out on WordPress.com and switched to WordPress.org.
Don’t worry about categories and tags and series.
Don’t worry about what a blog ‘should’ be. This space is yours.
Don’t worry about social media and marketing. In fact…
8. Keep it a secret at first.
The best advice about blogging I received was from Molly Beck, who said to start blogging, but don’t tell people about your blog for three weeks.
That way, you have pressure-free time to yourself to figure things out, and when you do announce your new project, there is a whole back catalogue of posts for your new readers to enjoy!
9. Publish only what you’re proud of.
Hit publish on your best work. Give yourself the time you need to feel great about each post (with a deadline!), but publish only what you’re proud of.
Focus on right now. If, in the future, you look back at your old blog posts and cringe, you can edit or un-publish them.
10. Keep going.
I published my first blog post in 2009. I have since figured out how to do things my way. I found a groove that makes me feel excited and fulfilled. Keep going, and you will find yours too.
Your blog is YOUR space.
Write about what you want to write about.
Write about what you want to read about.
Get started, and keep going.
If you’ve been meaning to start a blog, but haven’t, what’s getting in your way?
P.S. Here’s a post I wrote in 2012 on the secret to blogging. I dug it up while writing this post, and found it inspiring. Another reason to blog – for your future self.