The Voice He heard it that morning, louder than ever before. The voice. It loved to wake him in the middle of the night as he lay next to his wife, sleeping yet not quite sleeping. Sometimes he heard it when she spoke to […]
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So you want to start a blog? Of course you do, it’s one of the most enjoyable pursuits out there, right? Plus, you’ve heard it’s a surefire way to get rich quick without even getting out of your pyjamas, haven’t you?
Well, you’re right on one count, but unfortunately it’s not the pyjamas part…although they are an optional part of the dress code.
Starting a blog is really enjoyable, if it’s done right. It’s also pretty complex-sounding to beginners (I know, I was one!), especially with the seemingly endless advice articles and books you can buy about how to get your blog up and running. A lot of this advice can quickly become confusing, and many people give up on their blogging dreams before they even start. This is a real shame, as it doesn’t have to be as hard as it can first seem.
However, before you even start out along this road, there are a few things you need to make sure of. So, you want to start a blog? Time to ask yourself some questions about your goals and ideas.
Why are you doing this?
Really though, why do you want to start a blog? Is it for a hobby or a creative outlet? If so, great, you’re on the right lines. Is it because you think you’ll make millions from it in your first year? If that’s the case then you need to backtrack a little and adjust your expectations. Yes, it’s possible to make an income from your writing, as I discussed in this post, but it takes real time, effort and perseverance. Plus, you have to really love writing, otherwise this blogging thing you want to jump straight into is going to become little more than a fun fad that quickly burns out.
Bottom line, if you’re only in it for the idea of money, you might as well stop right here before you get any further.
What kind of writer are you?
Notice I said ‘writer’. This is because blogging and writing are slightly different to me. I can’t stress this point strongly enough, but this is my opinion, not a statement of fact. Bit of a disclaimer there in case the blogging crew come after me with some serious @-ing on Twitter after reading this!
Anyway, blogging, to me, is more of a daily life-based, opinion driven genre, where you document your thoughts and experiences in something of a serialisation of your lifestyle. This is a fast-paced, interesting way to gain an insight into another person’s world; the best bloggers give you glimpses into their lives, their families and their experiences through their content. Bloggers are experts at sharing their own thoughts and feelings with their audiences.
Writing, for me, is slightly less personal in terms of this insider knowledge. I believe that it’s more of an outlet and a discipline in its own right. For example, I love to write short fiction and poems. They’re no less personal to me, because I wrote them, but they’re not slices of my daily personal life in the same way that blog posts are, if you see what I’m saying. I class myself more as a writer than a blogger, because the content I produce is more along the lines of reports, creative writing and advice guides. You won’t find me sharing much about my personal life on this website at all, which is where I gauge the difference in style.
So, are you a writer or a blogger? There’s no right or wrong answer, but it will help you to decide on the style of work you want to create in the long-term if you can work this out now.
Do you actually enjoy writing?
Similar to point one, but if you’re someone who wants to start a blog purely for the potential money involved, then you’re not going to get that far. The same applies for your actual content. Do you enjoy writing? It really, really helps if you do. If you’re not that keen on it in the first place then it goes without saying that starting a blog probably isn’t going to be for you. But, if you do enjoy writing and think you can create interesting, well-crafted articles that others will enjoy reading, then you’re on the right track!
The key here is to write because you love to write, but also keep in mind that you should be writing things that others will (hopefully) enjoy reading and/or find useful. Don’t churn out any old tat – nobody wants to read dull content, no matter how frequently it comes out.
Can you make plans and stick to them?
Speaking of frequency, a huge part of starting and running a blog is being able to plan your workload and stick to it. It’s so easy to fall off the horse when it comes to having a blog. Consistency is key. If you’re going to make a real go of this, you need to be able to make plans for when you’re going to write, what you’ll write about, when you’ll post it and how often you’re going to update your site.
This doesn’t mean you have to write and publish every day, or even once a week – but you need to have some sort of plan in place to keep you on the blogging straight and narrow, otherwise you’ll soon find yourself languishing in the pits of creative block with a pretty dry website to show for it.
So, where do you start?
Ok, so you’ve asked yourself some questions and you definitely want to start that blog – great! There’s a whole ream of sites out there that will give you the basics on how to get started, as well as a lot of online ‘courses’ that will try to sway you into parting with your cash in exchange for a walkthrough.
Forget all that – the only website you need to get started is Totally Blogging.
This is not a plug or sponsored post – when I say you need to check this out, I’m saying you need to check it out. Totally Blogging was clearly created with the intention of being a completely free resource for anyone wanting to start up a blog and learn the in-depth information needed to get going on your blogging journey. It’s a complete toolkit for anyone who wants to learn the ropes of setting up a blog or website for themselves, right down to the finer details of content and networking.
In short, its your research goldmine.
I’m always a fan of free stuff, but I actually really rate what’s being offered on Totally Blogging. This a genuine recommendation on my part for you to check it out if you are thinking about getting started with your own blog, because it has invaluable information that I wish I’d had when I first started. I’d have learned a lot more, a lot faster had this been available a couple of years back! It’s important to note that the information on Totally Blogging is (obviously) geared more towards those who are planning on blogging, but the tips and advice translate easily for anyone who’s looking to create a content platform that’s not specifically blogging-oriented, such as a magazine, satire or other publishing site.
Taking everything into account, you should have more of an idea by now if you do really want to start a blog. If you’re still on the fence, you can always pop your questions or thoughts down in the comments here or over on Twitter. The main thing to remember is that if you’re thinking of taking the plunge into the world of blogging and writing, make sure you do your research first. It’ll pay off in the long run.
Spending money is something that we all do, pretty much every day. Somehow though, the amount of money I seem to have been spending on things that don’t really count has ran away with me, and I’ve only just begun to realise it.
Last week, I decided to do an inventory and budget of where exactly I’d been spending my cash over the last four weeks. The results really shocked me. I’ve always considered myself to be fairly good at thrifting, but it seems that the little spends here and there mount up so much faster than you realise, and I’ve fallen victim to it.
How did I find this out? Well, I started by looking at my online banking to see if I could make any adjustments to the monthly outgoings. Now, I’m not ashamed to say I have the odd takeaway here and there, but I genuinely didn’t notice that ‘here and there’ has become rather a lot more often than it should be.
When I sat down and totted up the number of orders from Just Eat, and the little cafe spends here and there over a four week window, the total amount really, really shocked me. How much have I been spending a month on random food orders, roughly?
Let’s just allow that to sink in for a minute. One hundred and seventy nine pounds. That’s an absolutely ridiculous amount of money to be investing in chow mein and pizza. £179 is the majority of a car insurance quote. It’s a 32-inch Smart TV or a tumble dryer.
And I’m throwing that away, every month, without even realising it.
It makes me wonder how much money other people are potentially wasting on takeaways, cafes and general convenience food. I know for me it boils down to poor time management and laziness, there’s no other excuse. It’s just so easy to whack an order on a card, almost as if the money that comes out of this piece of plastic isn’t actually real. And yet it is. I think I’d forgotten just how real it is.
This financial waste is a real sin that I’ve been committing – and it absolutely has to stop. I don’t have enough of an income stream to justify that kind of spending – especially when there’s nothing tangible to show for it as a result.
Time To Slow The Spending
I haven’t even looked at any of the other pointless little spends on my list of outgoings yet – the food and takeaway splurge has come as enough of a shock for now to be honest. The first thing I need to do is draw up a plan of action to sort this mess out. It’s a fairly simple plan, but initial steps are going to be as follows:
- Takeaways begone – Just Eat is getting deleted, that’s it.
- Look at my supermarket choices – the big four are just getting ridiculously expensive for me, so it’s time to open an online account with Iceland and start looking at how I can cut down on my weekly shop costs.
- Plan, plan, plan – I’m talking meal planning, something I’m notoriously bad at and will almost certainly need help with.
- Stockpile snacks – for when the inevitable moment of weakness creeps in and I feel like re-installing Just Eat.
- Cut out the cafe coffees – and lunches…and dinners…and anything that I really don’t need to be paying to eat.
This isn’t going to be easy. I’m not the greatest cook in the world and I’ve got a feeling that some of this planning and preparing meals in advance is going to require me to seriously up my culinary game.
However if it saves me the thick end of £200 a month, it’s definitely worth doing, isn’t it?
How much are you spending on treats and takeaways each month? Have a look at your bank statement (if you are) and add it all up to see if you’re anywhere close to the amount I’ve been shockingly splashing out on, and let me know over on Twitter or here in the comments section.