If you read my previous guest post on how to set up a blog, you know how easy the tech stuff can be. Once you’ve found your perfect theme and written up your contact info, there’s just one thing left: the first entry. Faced with the paralyzing task of finding something relevant to say, many new bloggers ditch their blog before they even get started. But blogging isn’t as hard as it seems—you just have to get a feel for it.
Guest post by Peta Jinnath Andersen,
freelance writer & editor. See her website,
*Insert Literary Blog Name Here*.She also
writes flash fiction and short fiction.
THE MISSION STATEMENT
Spend some time working out a sort of "mission statement." Think about why you want a blog, and the general focus (e.g. writing, rejections, book reviews, etc.) and scope. You don't have to stick to what you come up with, but it might help you get your head around the startup process.
Once you're feeling a bit more comfortable, write a little intro post/about page. Tell prospective readers about yourself. If it's easier, pretend you’re being interviewed by your best friend, and write it as a Q&A. Try and stay on topic. If you write animal-related fiction, talk about your dogs—or the time an alligator chased you at the zoo. Include a picture; readers like being able to put a face to the name, and are more likely to read your page if they can relate to you.
IDEAS, IDEAS, IDEAS!
Blogging is about more than writing—it's about reading. The most popular blogs are how-tos, or opinions and reactions to things the authors have read. For writers, there are a few places to get started—an article you read in PW, a post on the GLA blog, a review in The New Yorker, etc. Pick things that make you think, or that you find yourself talking about. One useful trick is to write your blog posts in a Word document (make sure you use the paste from Word tool if you do this) and treat them as articles or letters. Don’t go overboard—if your focus is too broad, you’ll have a hard time keeping readers interested. And remember, if you go the how-to route, make sure you research appropriately!
GETTING BUSY WITH THE BLOGOSPHERE
Bloggers like to talk, network, and generally get to know each other. Look for blog rings and blogfests (a quick Google search will get you started), take part in writing prompts and challenges on other blogs, and get involved in networks (try http://bookblogs.ning.com—book blogs on Ning).
Be honest in what you write, and write about things you're interested in or love. Post links to other pages you like; link posts are a great way to get to know other bloggers. Pull together your top five posts on any topic (top five descriptions of chocolate cake!), and write about why you love them and what the poster did well.
Some people have no problem finding things to blog about—the rest of us need to plan ahead. Keep a file of post ideas (or even one file per idea) and paste useful links into it, along with any thoughts. Outlining posts, complete with subtitles and bullet points, can help you get a better idea of what you're trying to say.
KEEP IT APPROPRIATE
There are no hard and fast rules about blogging, but it’s important to remember that whatever hits the Internet stays on the Internet. As long as you don't post anything inappropriate for your line of work—say, you work in a Kosher butcher's shop then blog about how much you love bacon—you can't really go wrong. It takes a while for blogs to find their feet, and that’s okay.
Blogging is a great tool for promoting yourself. More importantly, though, it’s an excellent way to create connections and learn from other people. Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.