Saturday, August 13, 2011
You've decided to start a blog. Cool! (part 1)
When I first started blogging, I didn’t see myself as much of a writer, but I thought I might have something worth saying. I don’t really think most bloggers consider themselves writers who are on their way to their first best seller. When I started out, I thought it would be easy…it’s not. I have, however met some awesome people and learned a great deal about writing and myself along the way.
There are a number of things I wish someone had shared with me at the beginning, and even though I am not an expert by any means, I think I can help you skip a few of the newbie pitfalls. Many of these are inter-related.
1. Be yourself
This sounds simple enough. Before you sit to write your first blog, it is important to decide why you are writing. Your style will change as you grow, as your audience grows and as your interests change, but remember that you are taking your readers on this journey along with you.
There are many reasons we write, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.We write:
• To teach
• To journal
• To improve our writing skills
• To vent or to express a specific opinion
• To bring attention to and help cure a social ill
• To demonstrate and share a particular skill-set or passion, such a leadership, teaching, Bible study, recipes, quilting
• For profit
You are writing to an audience. Blogs, at least in my mind, are not meant to be monologues, but conversations. In order to start that conversation, you must have something interesting to say to your readers. Once you have pinned this down, the next question you’ll need to ask yourself is, “What is unique about what I want to say?” Or, perhaps the uniqueness lies in the way you plan to present it; or the platform you wish to use.
There is a ton of competition out there, so know why you’ve come. It is difficult to get a handle on good statistics, but there are over 20 million blogs on Google alone.
Don’t be discouraged. Get out there, write and write well.
What’s different about your blog? That’s what your potential readers want to know.
2. Find your voice
Okay, so we know that what we want to say needs to be meaningful and add value to the reader. What’s next? How we say it is just as important as what we say. This is called communication. We hope to speak or write so that our readers will understand, be enlightened, be fulfilled, be amused, be given pause to think, be transformed….
What’s your goal? Why are you out here in the blogosphere?
There are many different philosophies about length, and blogs come in every length imaginable. Some people limit themselves to a few hundred words, some a few bullet points, while others will write a veritable tomes. This you’ll work out as you go. I started writing post about 1,000 words in length, but have since determined that my readers are “good” for about 5-600 words at a shot.
A important factor to keep in mind is that our reader’s time, like our own, is valuable and limited. If we can try to conjure up a “typical reader,” they will in all probability read several blogs and news items daily. They want to get in, get out, leave a comment (if you make it easy), and move on. We live in an age in which we are bombarded with an excessive amount of information, and we have precious little time to process it.
As bloggers, we have seconds to grab people’s attention. We want to capture their attention for their first read, and keep them coming back for more.
[more next week...]