Six things you should know about starting a blog – anyone know any more?

I am often asked if it is easy to set up a blog, so, in keeping with the blogging theme of this week, I thought I’d share my thoughts here.

Basically, I am no geek but I managed to set this blog up – if I can, anyone can.  All you need is a bit of patience (well, maybe a lot of patience at first),  some common sense and something to say. If you are a blogger, do you have anything else to add? Are there any pitfalls to be avoided?  If you are a reader of blogs, are there things you dislike in some blogs and would like to see done differently? Meanwhile, here are the six things  I think every newbie blogger should know before setting out, apologies if I am repeating myself:

 

Print 1) A blog is a “web log”  ie: a place where bits of information/ideas/thoughts/ideas are posted on the web on a regular basis. There are dozens of different web based software blogging programmes – sometimes called platforms – which allow you to post text and pictures and videos and links all in a lovely, clever organised way. They include WordPress.com and WordPress.org TypePad and Blogger  Tumblr etc. They all have easy to follow instructions. All you need to do is choose one. I started with Tumblr, and while it is really popular with young people, I didn’t like the way it worked so I changed to  Wordpress.Org.  While WordPress.org is easy to use, I sometimes wish I’d set up a blog with WordPress.com  as way more people seem to use it than wordpress.org.

 

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2) It shouldn’t  cost you a penny – my blog costs nothing to run, except time. As soon as you have downloaded your blogging programme of choice, you can start.

 

 
highlander 3) You can blog about  anything – smoking, or stopping smoking, cooking, weight loss, disability, a place, a country, a sport, writing your novel or not writing …

Whatever you choose to blog about, you should  do it regularly and try to offer a fresh perspective on the subject!

 

4) Once you’ve set up your blog, you need people to know it exists and engage them in conversation. You can do this in at least two ways:

 

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a) You can visit other blogs and make comments on them –people then link back to your blog to find out more about you.

b) You invite people to comment on your own blog – and let people know about it by sharing it on places like Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and Google+ etc. If you don’t have accounts in these social medias, consider getting at least one.

 

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5) Be yourself.  Be positive. Use pictures, links, video clips and audio clips  to help make your blog interesting. Remember, blogging is about communicating 🙂 But don’t be alarmed if no one leaves comments on your blog, it doesn’t mean no one is reading it.  A lot of people browse blogs but don’t comment – but if they like what they read, they will come back.

 
typecorner 6) Media gurus recommend the “rule of 3” when it comes to time: you spend one third of your time writing your blog, one third incorporating relevant/interesting links (embedding interesting links can help create movement to your blog and that in turn can help people find it), and one third on an eye catching and intriguing title!

 

 

That’s all I have for now. Can you add anything?

Are there any topics you shouldn’t blog about? What other ways can you suggest to get the discussion going? Do you agree with the “rule of 3” rule?

If you don’t have a blog and could start one today, what would you blog about?

Be great to hear from you! 🙂

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11 Responses to Six things you should know about starting a blog – anyone know any more?

  1. Bubbles says:

    1. Choosing a name: Many blog providers will let you change the name of your blog if you find it doesn’t suit the contents but always remember to select a name that is easy to remember and appealing.

    2. Customising your blog layout: Make your blog your own with a personal banner, icons etc… to make it appealing but choose the colours carefully. Some blogs I have been to the colours clash so when you look away from the screen you can still see it. Black is the worst culprit for this and usually I don’t go back. Also don’t stick the the main layout the provider has as a default as it usually isn’t the best one. Also look at your blog and see if you are comfortable reading it, is the writing too small or big, have you got too many side bars resulting in less space for the actual post that people are interested in.

    3. Verification codes: I know spamming is a pain and its a good way to stop them but most readers detest them due to the face your page is refreshed and often the comment they have spent time writing has disappeared. In other cases the page refreshes 3 times which would be time spent looking at another blog. If you moderate your comments its just a simple click of the button to delete those comments you don’t want on your blog.

    4. If you find you are over whelmed with ideas of things to post why not get a little diary and plan on which days you want to post what that way you’ll always have something prepared. Some providers have scheduled posts so you may just want to spend one evening writing a couple of posts. If you find you are struggling with things to post carry a camera around and snap away at all the things that make you happy, catch your eye etc… and write a small post about it etc…

    Even though I have had blogs for years, I’m still changing things all the time to suit my taste or what I think will suit my blog. Maybe I saw something other people have done and like that style as its much more appealing. Basically there is no right or wrong way of doing things, you can always adapt your own blog to suit you and most of the time the changed is welcomed as something getting a little stale and not as noticeable anymore…. a fresh start!

    • Brilliant! Thanks so much for these very helpful tips – i agree with everything you say. I am sure anyone setting out will find this really useful. And it is also a good reminder to a blogger like me, who keeps forgetting to follow my own advice – especially the planning bit ;o)

  2. Bubbles says:

    You’ll have to excuse all my typos… its another thing, don’t worry if you make spelling mistakes! We all do them. Even though I re-read things back they always look fine at the time, the next day I’ll read it back and I’ll wonder what I was thinking at the time! All you have to then do is go back and edit it, problem solved!

    • Exactly! Another great tip! A big thanks again for being so helpful! 🙂

      • Bubbles says:

        I’m glad I could help. I forget these things too but with having 3 blogs I try and keep them similar.

        One last thing is that you can use other peoples photos as inspirational posts but to remember to link back to the owner. Often I love these posts as I always come across new things/recommendations

  3. Ruth Hunt says:

    Hi Marianne,
    Thanks for the tips from your post and for the contribution from Bubbles. All interesting food for thought! I don’t know whether to continue with my blog, maybe once I have a product I will feel more urgency to do this! Amazing that I’ve gone all this time and not understood what a blog actually is!

  4. Hey Ruth, glad it was of some help. I think of my blog as a work-in-progress – as Bubbles says, you can change it whenever you want and it can do different things at different times. And as with any writing, I think the best way to work out how to do it, is just to do it – and learn by your mistakes. You are right to have a think about it because it does take up time and having a “goal” or a ” focus” can help concentrate the mind. It also makes it easier to prioritise and plan – well, in theory, anyway 😉 When you start writing on the new wordpress blog, do let us know!
    Talk soon 🙂

  5. Wendy says:

    Not much more I can add really. I do think that it’s important that your blog name makes it clear what the main idea of your blog is: If you’re writing about knitting or dogs make that clear in the title. My blog: Wendy’s Writing Now makes it clear that it is a blog about writing not knitting (sorry for the shameless advertising there!)

    Also it’s important to use ‘key words’ in your blog post titles. This is so that search engines can find you. Try for word strings e.g it is better to put ‘dog obedience training’ if you have a site about dogs rather than the simple keyword ‘dog’. This way more people will come to YOUR blog – for example when I was linking to Marianne and Ruth’s post last week, I used the title ‘How Do Writers Deal With Disability’. If I put this into a search engine now or even if I just put in ‘writers’ ‘deal’ and ‘disability’, my blog comes up in prime position because I used these key words – simple eh!

  6. Hi Wendy,
    thanks for this, it is so very helpful. It is simple but it is also so easy to forget these little things (I know I do!). Blogging is all about communicating but in order to start that all important dialogue or conversation, others need to know the blog exists. Great stuff. Thanks again, Wendy 🙂

  7. Kendra says:

    Hi Marianne,
    Thanks for this very useful blog post about blogging. You seem to have some good advice here. I’m considering setting up a blog but I’m not sure yet so it is useful to understand more about the process and what is involved. I really enjoyed my guest blogging experience here though.

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