Setting up a blog is quick and easy: creating one using a service like tumblr.com or wordpress.com takes seconds. But starting to write for a blog can be a nightmare. From personal experience, the team at 3digita have delayed the launch of our blog for several years because of unresolved debates about the focus and content, and a never-ending re-design process. Now that its actually launched, I’d like to share a few tips on how you can get started with writing on your own blog.
There are two big hurdles people face when they’ve decided to start blogging: firstly, deciding the focus of the blog (what you want to say), and secondly, getting over the fear of ‘going public’ and ‘exposing’ your personality and intellect to the world (how you’re going to say it).
Tip #1 : Clarify the focus until its crystal clear
Most problems start at this stage (especially on ‘company’ blogs), where the focus of the blog doesn’t build upon the author’s expertise or interests.
- Are you doing it for yourself or your company?
- Are you speaking as a person (I …) or an organization (We …)?
- Are you going to talk about personal issues and experiences or strictly to topics such as politics, business, design?
- Are you going to write snippets of news or longer essay-style articles?
- How often are you going to publish?
After running through these questions, its highly advisable to run your ideas by a friend or family member to get their thoughts on the potential of your blog or difficulties your focus might create.
In our case, we wanted a company blog where team members would talk about issues and news that mattered to them. The focus would be limited to topics relating to design, development and business. We decided to have a mix of different types of content: tutorials, links, mini-galleries and publish at least once a week.
Tip #2 : Be true to yourself
The anxiety of ‘going live’ and the fear of putting something into the public domain is significant. I believe it is rooted in the fear of making a mistake and being exposed or embarrassed. Anything that might create a negative impression is usually avoided.
One should be aware that we all practice ‘impression management’ – we act and want to be seen in the way we think of ourselves. For example, I may want my friends and family to perceive me as a funny, caring and reliable companion, or my clients to think of me as an honest, capable and trusted advisor. We force ourselves to act in a certain way in situations to maintain this impression. This is especially true when it comes to small business and startups, who pretend to be ‘big’, because they think being seen as ‘small’ is a bad thing.
- Do you want people to know who you are or stay anonymous?
- Are you doing it for publicity or just because you want to express your opinion?
- Do you want to talk about one side of your personality or are you going to open up and
- Does your blog have a name or brand or do you want to keep it a simple ‘blog’?
Being ‘real’ with your readers will create an emotional bond that will increase trust and convert them into loyal readers.
In our case , we wanted to become transparent about who we are, our interests and hopefully grow our audience by providing use links, resources and tutorials that people want to read. We’ve added photos for each author so people know we’re real people. We decided to name our blog ‘Downtime’ partly because we wanted to talk in a personal voice with our readers and also a pun on the fact that our core business is to offer scalable, ultra-reliable web hosting.
Tip #3 : How to write your first blog post
There seems to be 2 strategies to this:
- A ‘Hello World’ type post where you introduce yourself or your company and what you plan to do with your blog.
- Start publishing content immediately, without any reference to yourself.
Study the market leaders in the segment you’ve decided to focus on. Look at how they wrote their first post: length, tone of voice, topics covered. You can find good quality blogs on sites like 9rules.com.
We’ve lent a little more towards strategy #2 – with this first blog post, we’re hoping to give readers useful information on how to start writing, but also also talk about ourselves a little.
Bonus Tip : Start writing!
To wrap up, I’d recommend you start writing your first blog post right away – keep it super simple and on point. The look and feel of your blog doesn’t have to be perfect right now – change it later when you have at least 20-30 posts under your belt. Writing content is pretty stressful if you haven’t done it for a while – but the anxiety reduces each time you publish and make something go live.
So what are you waiting for? Jump into your blogging software right now and publish your first post today!