A lot of people have been asking me about how to blog, for general blogging tips and for my help to figure out the features of WordPress since the past year or so. While I claim to be no expert, I decided to condense my experiences into a series of five blog posts this month, very plainly titled, ‘Blogging for Beginners’.
First, I want to get some things clear before I start.
What This Series Is NOT About
- It is not intended for those looking to establish a blog for their business, but rather for the casual blogger who wants to share his/her thoughts with the world.
- It is not for those who want to go the self-hosted way or for those looking to make money by blogging. I’ll be talking about blogging as a hobby, and hence, want to limit it to platforms that let you start a blog for free.
- It is a series which contains lessons from my experiences as a blogger and by no means is it an expert’s opinion. I would encourage you to research more about blogging and read tips from at least two sources before you decide to take the plunge. You can take whatever you think works for you and ignore the rest.
With that out of the way, let’s focus on the topic it hand.
Should you have a blog at all?
I know it’s a counter-intuitive question to ask oneself when you’ve clearly come here seeking out wisdom about blogging. However, I posed the question to help you clearly define the ‘why’. Let’s see how this worked out in my case.
I’ve always been writing since the age of ten, be it short stories, (not so good) poems, essays or articles. Some were for my English classes at school, but I have a stack of notebooks filled with the most bizarre story ideas or my thoughts on a certain topic that I used to write apart from schoolwork. Some writing guides and articles that I read all encouraged me to write every day to develop the habit of writing and also improve my skills. The next goal for me became: Write regularly.
This is when the idea of a blog came about. Some people I knew already had their own and I was dazzled by the idea of having one for myself. However, I could have just grabbed a fresh notebook and started writing instead of blogging. So why didn’t I? I have a few reasons for that:
- Self-motivation doesn’t come easily to me, to be honest. I knew that if this was a private hobby with no one to hold me accountable, writing regularly was a dream I could as well give up on. Having an audience would force me to make writing a part of my life. (Spoiler alert: it has.)
- I wanted feedback on my writing from more experienced writers and readers. It needn’t necessarily have been critical feedback, but the sort of posts (or certain parts of one) my audience would enjoy would help me figure out how to hone my voice to create more compelling fiction.
- I wasn’t satisfied with locking away my stories in musty cupboards and never having anyone read them until my mom chanced upon them while cleaning. I wanted to share my love for reading and writing with people who could truly understand it. While publishing would also fulfil this desire, I’m pretty sure the quality of my writing isn’t quite there yet. Also, it’s a long and arduous process, so I’d rather stick to typing away at my computer for few days a week (for now, at least).
I have achieved all of that and more in the past two years, so it’s safe to say I made the right decision.
Now it’s your turn to analyse what goal blogging will help you reach and come up with three good reasons why you can’t do the same in any other way. I suggest you write it down so you can look at it to remind yourself why you started this venture when the going gets tough (trust me, it will).
This also has the added benefit of helping you figure out what your blog’s focus would be. Using my own example, this blog is about writing. All my posts have something to do the art and craft of writing, be it samples of my own writing, building vocabulary or talking about writing itself. Pro tip: When you define your blog’s focus, make sure it’s a topic you are passionate and know a little bit about.
Now that I’ve covered the why and what, the conversation will shift to where. Do check back next Friday for my post on the different blogging platforms and how to choose the perfect one for your blog.
Announcement time! (I bet no one saw this
plot twist coming, ha.) In my blogiversary post, Changes Are Coming, I conducted a poll about the possible changes I would make to this blog. I tried out a post a day (Mon-Fri, actually) format for a week on an experimental basis because a majority of you asked me to combine my book blog and this one. I’m here to tell you that I tried, and failed. 😦
I joined Net Galley in December last year and have become more active on Goodreads. I’m also reading more than I ever have before and I review books in a more “professional” way now. This is the reason I started my book blog on Tumblr. I honestly had sleepless nights the week I tried “combining” the blogs because I had this unsettling feeling that something wasn’t right. This is why, against probably what is everyone’s (including a part of me) better judgement, I moved my Tumblr blog to a shiny, new WordPress blog. Unputdownable Books, where I talk exclusively about books, has officially completed its transition. I was planning to start posting in June, but I couldn’t help myself, so its real birthday is in May. However, I held off announcing until this month because I was still a little unsure even after the move. Anyway, I hope you will continue to support my other blog as well as you have done with Pages That Rustle. Click here to be transported to my new blog, and if you like what you see, don’t forget to hit the follow button!
I’m sensing my blog posts are getting a lot longer these days. If you’re new to blogging, did you find something helpful in this post? For the more experienced readers, do you remember why you started your blog? Do you agree with my views and methods? Have any more tips to offer to newbies? Let me know in the comments section below. Hope you all have a fun-filled weekend ahead! 🙂