When researching ‘How to blog?’ there are many tips on how to get started. From which platform to choose, picking a design or whether it’s wise to get your own domain or not. But how about answering all the other factors: how to chose a topic, does it need to be very specific, how to stay on track or how to keep motivated? I’ve noticed this week that it’s very possible that I’m just a bad blogger. After two posts my (virtual) passion stopped. It’s not that I couldn’t decide on a topic or didn’t have ideas for content; I just simply wasn’t writing it down into a post. I like to share opinions on things I’ve seen or read, but I share that verbally with people around me. How is it different when all those thoughts get squished down into a post? Does it feel more restricting as you need to stay to a structure of intro, body and conclusion? Maybe it’s just difficult, as you actually DO need a structure of the process while making a blog?
What quickly becomes clear is that there is more advice on the internet about blog-making, not blog-writing. When sieving through all the information, only the last pointers mention how to go about the actual blog content. Most sound a little like: ‘and then write!’ To make it easy for all bloggers that know their topic but are having writer’s block at the very beginning, I’ve gone on a quest to see whether I can make a guide on how to start writing a blog.
1) Decide on target audience
Remember that your content is going out there in the vast unstoppable web. This is not your hidden diary; someone will be reading your content. So who do you want it to be: family, friends, people with similar interests or possibly your future boss? Making a blog purely for professional purposes may sound scary, as you may feel you have to watch yourself with everything you say. It can also be a great advantage to allow people to see how awesome you are, aside from your CV.
2) Analyse frequency and timing
Looking back at your target audience, think about when during the day and week will your reader be most likely to read your work. This will help you with creating a schedule to spread the content throughout the week. Keep in mind that there is no specific amount of posts a week that you need to keep up to. Marcus Sheridan at The Sales Lion compares blog-stars and their frequencies to find that it doesn’t make a difference. In this case quality and quantity are not two different strategies, nor are they comparable.
3) Write work ahead
It’s easy to fall behind and end up not writing that post you were planning. You fall a day behind. That day turns into two, those two turn into a week. Creating a few posts in advance and setting the date when they get published solves this problem for you. Just make sure you always have more than 3 posts in advance as a safety net when you have a busy week coming up.
4) Plan work ahead
So how to write work ahead if you need to manage many topics at a time? Simple, keep a journal. You don’t need to write detailed plans, bullet points will do. Mention the topic and how you feel about it or what made it special to you. This makes it easier when you look back at a bullet point written a while ago. E.g. Basquiat at Brooklyn Museum: children visiting, thinking they can do better (keep an eye out for that one sometime in the future).
5) Do your research
Yes, read before you re-post. Reading just the first half because you think you got the whole gist and then posting it may lead to trouble. You never know whether the tone changes by the end of the article. If you are researching a topic to write about, look up facts from a few sources. Name and add links to them too. If the reader wants to find out more, they can always do some more reading - like this article on CoSchedule on how to ace your blog research.
6) Make it your own, make it quirky
The Minimalists have actually quite a few tips on their site on blog-writing. They say: “Don’t blog about something unless you have a unique perspective.” Indeed, the amount of repetitive data out there is insane, so make what you write count. Explaining how you view the world not only makes it interesting to read, but also, without trying, forms your own style, be it serious, educational, light-hearted or plain silly.
7) Add imagery
No lengthy explanation needed here. Make it visual, make it appealing. Do make sure the images relate to the text and that they do not overpower the written content.
8) Add CTA (call-to-action)
Ending a post can be difficult, as you cannot have a post feeling like it wasn’t finished. HubSpot brings up an interesting technique. At the end add a CTA to get the readers involved. In this case it doesn’t need to be in the typical marketing sense (subscribe now, find out more, visit a store today), but it can be created with the use of a question or a quest. The reader might not necessarily do it, yet it lingers in their mind. Challenging them to notice how many apps use blue for their logo will pop in their head when looking at their home screen. Go on, do it. I dare you.
Hopefully these eight pointers will get you rolling. Most of all, to cheese this up a little, have fun with it, yea? Blogging is there to relieve you from the overload of thoughts in your head, and to create an overload of content on the web.