This is the first blog in the series: Social Media for Writers. Click here for links to the other blogs, or continue reading to find out my tips and advice for blogs.
Not every writer has a blog, and it’s certainly not a requirement. A blog is a big commitment and I avoided starting one for a long time. I’d actually spent 9 years as a beauty writer for a hairstyling website so I knew what I was getting into with blogging and how to add pictures and links etc, which did help to cut down on some of the scariness because I’d been there before. Still, I was getting paid to write those blogs. Now I write them for free and have to hold myself accountable for churning out a weekly post.
If you don’t know anything about blogging, I understand how terrifying the thought of starting a blog can be. But you know what? You learn as you go. Even I’m still learning and I’ve written hundreds of blogs (professionally) and spent the last 7 months personally blogging about writing. My advice is to just write what you’re passionate about. That passion will show through and it won’t be a chore. You’ll find your audience, and it doesn’t matter if it takes 6 months or 6 years. When I first started posting, I was lucky to get even five people reading, and forget about comments. But eventually, you’ll find your niche and other great bloggers, some of whom will become regular readers. Read their blogs too and show the same support. We’re all in this together.
Blog For Free
Find a free blogging platform that will do all the work for you. I (obviously) use WordPress and found that it was easy to set up, switch the look of my blog (theme), and to add pictures and links. There are of course paid options that offer more features, but if you’re just starting out, start with whatever quality, free option you can until you’re more confident in what you’re doing.
Decide on a schedule and stick with it. This lets your readers know when to expect a post. I post once a week because that is what my schedule allows, but I know of other bloggers who post daily or twice a week, some even once a month. Decide what works best for you and add it to your schedule.
Find Your Niche
Decide on the kind of posts you want to write. Due to my background in beauty writing, I naturally gravitated toward advice/tip based blogs as that was what I was used to writing and that is what I personally like to read. I knew that meant I would enjoy writing blog posts, which makes it easier to stick to.
Other bloggers like to use their blog like a diary, write flash fiction, writing prompts, author interviews, book reviews or just simply re-blog other blogs and bloggers. Again, decide what is right for you and be consistent.
Hone Your Skills
Use blogging to hone your writing skills. Not every post has to be a masterpiece, and they probably won’t be. The first posts where you’re trying to figure out your blogging voice is practice. One day you’ll look back on those posts and probably cringe, but that will be because your future-self is so much better at blogging. You’ll only be better because of those cringe-worthy posts, so allow them and don’t waste time trying to make them perfect. If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ll know that perfection in writing is a problem.
Don’t Get Caught Up In Endless Drafts
Do more than one draft, but don’t do endless drafts. I post on a Friday, so I usually write my first draft on a Monday or a Tuesday, leave it for a day and read it again. I’ll then spend some time on Thursday adding it to WordPress where I will read over the draft again and make changes, find/create the header picture, make my graphic to post on Instagram/Facebook, and add the links. Then I’ll read it one more time Friday morning before hitting publish. I’ll then see the blog in my email inbox, where I’ll inevitably find a typo I somehow missed, make any changes/corrections and then promote it on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. The cycle then starts again with a new blog the following Monday.
I only use a header image at the top of my posts. Other blogs add pictures throughout the body of the post. I personally find that pictures interrupt the flow of words and my reading of them, so I don’t use them in the body. It also takes more effort to source the images, put them together, upload them etc, and hey, I’m also trying to write books here, so I cut down the blogging steps where I can. I haven’t received any complaints about not having images in my blogs so it’s one aspect I’m happy to not include. But if you want to, feel free, just make sure the images are clear/good quality, relate to your theme (Milly Schmidt does this well by incorporating cat gifs in her blog posts for The Cat’s Write) and have been sourced from legitimate free image sites that have a free license, and/or credit the owner of the image and gain permission to use it.
Click here for part two of the series: Social Media for Writers: Instagram.
— K.M. Allan
See my cringe-worthy first posts and all my latest posts by visiting my blog.