Let's get back to the basics, shall we? I didn't think I would be writing something like this, but then one of my Twitter followers, @ChelsieBee93, asked me a very simple question: "How do you start a blog?" It stumped me at first. And I thought, wow, really, how did I start it? Since I've been blogging for so long now, it didn't even cross my mind that there is a universe of people who don't have a blog and really want to get into blogging, but perhaps don't know how. This post will be, however, specifically geared towards writers who are looking to get into blogging, either because they don't have a blog yet for some reason or are only starting to write, having not given it much thought in the past. So, how do you do it? Where do you start? What do you write about? Let's get cranking on this one point at a time.
Choose a hosting platform that is simple and beautiful. My firm belief in any product's success is that if you make it easy for people to get and if it looks stunning, people will want to get it. This applies to everything, from computers (I'm obviously an Apple girl, though I would've been a Fangardandia girl, if there was such a brand and if it was making beautiful products) to clothes to food to books. Yes, books. When we pick up a book, if we don't know the author, we judge it by its jacket. Same goes for blogs. Your blog has to be clean, free of advertisement, ideally, and it has to use READABLE BLACK FONT ON WHITE BACKGROUND!!! Sorry for screaming, but I have come across so many blogs that were typed in all caps (not kidding), in all cursive that was impossible to read, white letters on black (readable, but hurts eyes), blue on green (impossible to read if you're color blind), blog entires' text centered instead of left justified (I'm serious!), and even a blog that was written over a background of a photo which made it readable on light parts, but vanished on dark ones. Please don't do this, it's impossible to read! My preferred blog platform is Squarespace, of course, because I'm not a techie and don't know how to work WordPress, but read this article on top 5 blogging platforms and decide for yourself.
Decide what to write about. What will be the content of your blog? If you Google this question, or ask any writer anywhere, you will be bombarded with advice left and right and will soon find yourself completely confused, because there are so many contradicting suggestions, it's easy to feel like you're drowning. I remember I felt like it too, and I have found out this simple maxim by trial and error. Write what you're passionate about. That's all. The key to writing is honesty. If you're being fishy, your reader will smell it a mile away. You can keep up the facade, of course, there are many smart looking, smart talking, successful bloggers out there who will tell you that I am full of bullshit. And maybe I am. But I do read other blogs, and I know that there are only a few I come back to, for their honesty. The deal is simple. If you force yourself to write about something that the industry demands, but you're not passionate about it, you won't be happy. And what's the point in writing if it makes you miserable? None. So write about your passions. Maybe you're into frogs, or crazy flash poetry, or socks, or watching for aliens to arrive every night. Whatever it is, write a list of things that makes your heart beat fast, and write about that. For me it's mostly about writing and reading, and a bit about editing (when I have an epiphany), marketing (cause I happen to love doing it), and crazy flash fiction. I also invite other authors to guest blog sometimes, those whose work I have read and fallen in love with.
Pick a schedule and stick to it. Now this is perhaps the most important part. Once you start blogging, you're becoming a sort of a channel for people. They expect to wake up in the morning, have a cup of coffee and read your new blog post. So if you are inconsistent, people will drop out of your reader base and go elsewhere, it's as simple as that. I suggest you to blog at least once a week. Any longer than that, and people will forget about your existence. I wouldn't suggest blogging more often than once a day, though, it might be too much. I have actually lost subscribers in the past when I have gone a bit too crazy on posting flash fiction every day on my blog. I currently blog like a clock every Wednesday and Saturday, as you can see in the little note below this post. It is a good idea to let people know this, so they know what to expect. And, once you commit to it, you can't flake out!
Spread the word to other people and comment. Now, with blogging, like with everything else, it's a two way street. Don't expect people to come to your blog, read it and comment, if you're yourself are not reading other blogs or commenting. Please, go read the work of others and comment, comment, comment! Comment as much as you can! It will make other bloggers curious, and eventually they will hop over to your blog to check it out, simply because we're built this way. We want to give back, if someone has given us something freely, it's in out nature. Well, it's up to you, make the first step, and give, give, give, without asking for anything back. And don't forget to post on your Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and anywhere else you are on the web, each time you publish your blog, just so people know where to find it.
To conclude this post, why blog at all? For yourself, for therapy, for building your own writerly discipline. Don't be discouraged if you get no comments and no visits on your blog at first. Treat it like professional experience first and foremost. It will be your routine, it will build your discipline for writing at least once a week, and that's worth gold. People will come in time, just keep doing it no matter what. For those of you veteran bloggers, did I miss anything out? Please feel free to add in the comments!