How to start a blog

[sidenote: I borrowed my Mum’s driving glasses and now my eyes hurt]

When I started my blog back in 2015 I had no idea what I was doing – in more ways than one.

Fresh from Uni, I wanted to continue writing and thought the blogging world would be easy to conquer after tackling the mighty 3rd year dissertation.

Truth is, blogging’s a whole different ball game. You’re not writing to a mark scheme anymore, no one’s being FORCED to read your content, you’ve got to encourage them to do that yourself.

Show them ASAP why what YOU have to say is worth their time.

I was inspired to write this post partly because one of my best friends has just started blogging, but also because I’ve found some pretty interesting stats online which (if you’re lucky) I’ll share with you – I’m such a nerd…

4 steps you should take before posting

You’re bursting to write and post and share, I know!

But hang back a moment because there are a few things you should consider before posting if you want to get the most out of your blog.

Step 1: Ask yourself why

There’s number of reasons why you might want to start a blog.

To voice an opinion, to inform, to help people, to record your life, to entertain people, to take readers on a journey, to sell a product, to promote an event etc etc etc.

Trouble is – and this is the problem I found – without a ‘why’ you can quickly lose your focus, and this can show in your writing. Look at the jumble of content I come out with!

Along with this you should be asking yourself: why would people want to read this?

I mean… that’s a question I’m constantly asking myself.

When you know why you’re writing, your blog will be far more accessible to readers.

Step 2: Ask yourself who

You can probably see where this is going…

So you’ve got a purpose, but you’re not writing for everyone. Believe me, the whole world isn’t interested.

But some people are!

The most powerful blogs are those which give value to a small niche of readers. They nurture and build a community of people who want to listen.

Before you can build your own community (something I definitely haven’t done yet) you need to work out who WANTS to read your work.

Originally I started writing for gamers. I wrote reviews and thought pieces and started to get some feedback on it. Problem was, I wasn’t sharing it with the right people. I posted my work on Facebook, and few of my friends really wanted to read prose full of gamer terms, however well the writing flowed.

Find your audience and use your content to talk to them. Address them. Say ‘hey guys’ if that’s how you talk. Then share your content in relevant channels.

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a less regular (let’s call it) evergreen blog, you might want to shift your focus to making it more searchable. Think what your target audience will be typing into search engines and edit your work accordingly.

The main point I’m trying to make though, is that you can now focus your writing on what these awesome people want/need.

Step 3: Ask yourself what

You know why, you know who, but do you know what you’re writing?

The scary thing is, with the rise of smart phones, people’s attention span has reduced to 8 seconds. That means you literally have seconds to convince even the most appropriate reader your blog is worth their time.

In addition to this, a study showed that an average visitor to a website only reads 20% of the page content!

In retrospect, this being an informative blog post, I should have just come straight out with the focus. By the time most of my readers get down to “4 steps you should take” they’re probably already thinking of closing the blog and checking Facebook or Instagram.

Look at your insights and 100 views could very well mean 100 lots of 8 seconds if your content wasn’t engaging enough.

Wouldn’t it be better to have 10 people read your blog from top to bottom than for 1000 people to click and immediately click off?

Step 4: Ask yourself how

This is the big one, for me at least.

How you communicate (what tone of voice you use) and how you structure your writing is incredibly important.

As a general rule consider how you’d talk to someone face to face, because this is essentially what a blog is. A conversation.

It doesn’t matter what your focus is, you should type like you talk. People want to hear from YOU, they don’t want some fabricated grammar machine.

Another tip for free is to tell a story in everything you do. Even in this dry, informative blog for bloggers I’ve injected a little of my own journey.

When I started, my writing was waaaay too scientific. I didn’t have an informative/entertainment balance. I wrote essays with paragraphs which covered my reader’s screens (thanks for staying with me btw).

Since then the biggest lesson I’ve learnt is to keep things snappy, conversational and story driven. It’s so much more readable then!

Your blog is going to be amazing!

When you’ve written your first post lift yourself out of your own shoes, slip into the boots, or slippers, or crocs of your reader (whoever they are) and ask yourself if you’d read it top to bottom.

Ask yourself if you’d subscribe and become part of this blogger’s community.

Because if you’re saying yes already, you’re probably on to an absolute winner.

Happy blogging!

[P.S. Do I look like a lesbian in those glasses?]

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