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.
While you’re here (and because I like you so much), you can grab yourself 10% off hosting with TSOHost if you use the code ActualAr at the checkout! What are you waiting for? Go start that blog!
Writer, tweeter and illustrator. Starving artist and thrifting expert. Pen for hire and first-time author at work.