I have had quite a few friends and even strangers approach me for advice about blogging.
My first thought is, why is this person asking me of all bloggers. I am not big time. I'm just a beginner myself. I love to help people out, though despite my insecurity as a new blogger. I try to give them as much information as I can.
Truth is, there is a lot to learn about blogging. There are wrong ways and there are right ways to blog, depending on the audience you're trying to engage. There are so many resources out there with language most of us have never heard of. Some of the tips, lists and tricks provided by veteran bloggers can be quite intimidating. I am going to attempt to break down some tips and resources for those of you wanting to start a blog and even those of you who already have a blog but want to improve.
Today, I am going to bring up some questions you should ask yourself before blogging or taking your current blog to the next level.
I haven't been blogging long like some of the bigger, veteran bloggers out there. But, I've learned a lot. A lot, you guys. Some things the hard way. I get what it takes. It's all a matter of why you want to blog, how much you want to put into it and what you want to get out of blogging.
Blogging is a great opportunity to share your story. It's your own magazine or book. You're the owner, the editor, the writer, the photographer and sometimes the designer. It's one of the neatest tools available to us. Your blog is a walking billboard of you.
Blogging has it's investments, though. Before you start a blog, you should ask yourself these questions.
Do I have time to blog?
You don't want to start a blog if your schedule is maxed out already. I'm not saying bloggers aren't busy. Most bloggers are very busy people. Some of the busiest. If they weren't, they wouldn't have anything to write about. Basically, don't start a blog if you're working full time, in the middle of finishing your masters, planning a wedding, building a house and taking care of a sick relative all at the same time. Wait until a few things give. Blogs take a lot of work from taking photos, editing photos, coming up with content, writing content and proofing. Not to mention, after creating a post, you want to share that post on social media, too and that takes time. An average post, done correctly, should take several hours. More extensive posts take even longer. If it doesn't, you're not investing the time you should. You have to want to make time. Make sure you have the time to create a good quality post at least once a week or a few times a month.
Tip: If you don't have time to blog right now, start a Facebook Page! It's a great way to get your name, story or brand out there then when you have time to start a blog, you'll have many anxious followers already.
Am I willing to share my life with others?
Blogging is all about sharing. It can be scary at first. It's like having a diary only your friends, family and total strangers will be reading it. Sure, you can filter your blog and use good judgement on what you'd like to share. I think this has been the hardest part for me about blogging. It was like ripping off a band-aid. I think I woke up one day and decided that it was now or never if I was going to be a writer.
Tip: If you like to write, but you want to keep your story on the down low, start a blog anonymously. Create an alias. Use caution, though, as there is always that chance you'll be figured out by somebody.
Who do I want to read my blog?
This is important. Who are you wanting to speak to when you write? That will determine your voice. This voice may also change over time as you find out who really is reading your blog. You will have your target readers but you will also have all kinds of readers outside of your target.
What story will I share?
It's okay to just write about anything in the beginning. Eventually, though, you will need to know what it is you're exactly trying to share and what you have to offer. I'm a small town farm girl from Northern Indiana. By blogging, I hope to connect with other farmers with a similar story, but I also hope city dwellers can live a farm life vicariously through my writing as well.
Maybe you have a business, area of expertise, hobby, lifestyle, special situation or other interest you want to share. Don't be afraid to mix up your blog from time to time, either. Everyone loves recipes and new products. I will caution, recipe posts are probably the hardest and most time-consuming for me but they can be fun and great way to bring in new readers. Everybody eats.
Do I like to write?
Simply stated. If you don't like to write, you'll really struggle with blogging and you will really struggle keeping an audience. Blogging is writing. Lots of it! It really helps if you're a good writer and words flow easily. Do a few practice posts for fun before you start a blog. Maybe share them with a friend.
Am I in it for the money?
If your answer is yes, don't quit your day job. At least not yet. I am going to be brutally honest with you. You're not going to become Pioneer Woman over night. Most of us never will make a lot of money blogging. If you're wanting to start a blog because you know you have a great story to tell and you think you can make some money by sticking some ads on the side, it will show. It will turn into work right from the get go and you won't enjoy it. Blogging is not easy money. It's hard. It's really hard just to make a few bucks.
Start out blogging as a hobby. You'll know in a couple of years if it will become more than just a hobby or not. This last summer, I really thought I could make it as full time craft and recipe blogger. I dove head first not knowing a thing about what it takes and I lost interest very quickly. I was doing it for all the wrong reasons. I am back to blogging for fun, helping others, sharing my story, talking about agriculture and I enjoy it so much more.
Sit back, do your best work and relax. You never know who is reading...
Am I looking to meet some amazing people across the country and have tons of fun?
Who wouldn't answer "yes" to this question!? I've met so many cool people and networks through blogging. It's been a blast and it would be hard to give it up! When done correctly, blogging can be extremely rewarding.
Those are the basic questions I feel are important to ask yourself in the beginning stages of blogging. If you have any questions about them, please give me a shout!
Stay tuned for the next topic in the series.. Developing Content Ideas
Everyone has a story to share. Every single one of of us young and old. You just never know who your story might might impact.