Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So, You Want to Start a Blog

I've been blogging for quite a while now (more than half my life!). Blogging was introduced to me by my neighbor and childhood friend when I was in middle school and I've been reading and writing blogs ever since. I always get so excited when one of my "in real life" friends start blogging because it's been one my favorite hobbies for such a long time and I would love to have that in common with more of the people in my life.

It's interesting to me that some of the comments that I get when someone I know wants to start blogging include things like "I don't think I would have anything interesting to share" or "I don't think that anyone would read it". I also get questions along the lines of "how do you continue to find things to write about?" or "how did you start a blog and how have you kept it going?". In my opinion, I don't think my blog is all that interesting and I'm pretty sure my only regular readers consist of my parents, sister, and friend Cassie (my blog's #1 fan). But I continue to blog because it's something I really like to do. Chronicling my life, opinions, and interests has always been something I've loved doing and that's what has kept me going, regardless how many people are reading.

I thought that writing up a few of my pointers about blogging would be an awesome resource for those in my life (and maybe even a few people across the interwebz!) that are thinking about starting a blog, or are struggling to maintain their already established blog. If you're interested in starting a blog, I hope that you will find these tips helpful and that they encourage you to jump in and try it out!

1. Do it for you. 

This is 100% the most important thing to remember. Blogging has been a hobby of mine for such a long time because it's something that I genuinely enjoy. I don't think I've ever had a significant audience on any of the blogs that I've maintained over the years and though I think it would be great to grow my readership, it's never something that's bothered me to the point of wanting to completely give up. I maintain my blog so I have something to look back on as the years go by, and the very act of sitting down and typing out a  post is a lot of fun for me, so I continue to do it. I think once you get into your mind about "my life's not interesting" or "no one is reading this", that's when you'll lose confidence and perhaps want to stop all together. Like anything, if you love what you're doing and you're doing it because you get enjoyment out of it, then that's all you need.

2. Make yourself a schedule and stick to it. 

Over the last year, I've made it a point to pick a specific topic I want to write about on a specific day, and it's worked wonders in curing writer's block. The topics I choose can be anything from a update about my life, a Favorite Links post, an issue that's really weighing on my mind, or an idea that popped into my head randomly while jotting down ideas - like this post! Picking a posting schedule that works for you is also crucial to keeping blogging fun and less of a burden. I've been working off a Tuesday/Thursday schedule for the past year and it's been perfect, but sometime's I'll adjust if my personal schedule gets really busy (and you won't see me for a few weeks like you did at the end of grad school this past spring - oops!) or if I have a lot of ideas for posts and I want to post more frequently, like I have been this month. However, sticking to that baseline of Tuesday/Thursday posting has made me a much more consistent blogger and has helped me to look forward to that next time I get to sit down and type.

3. Come up with a blog series. 

I've had  so many series on this blog now it's almost hard to remember them all (Favorite Links, Monthly Favorites, Book Club, Stumbling Through 26.2, Organize My Life, College Survival Series, most recently an Elephant Awareness Month series... to name a few!). I really like coming up with blog series because if nothing too exciting has been going on in my personal life and I'm stuck for a topic to write about, I always have one of those that I can contribute to. Coming up with a series is also a really great way to make your blog unique and attract more niche audiences as well. The easiest way to come up with an idea for a series is to take a look into what you're really interested in and come up with something creative surrounding that. Most of my series are centered around my personal interests (running, organization, working with college students, elephants, reading, etc.) and I often have the best time writing a new installment of a series. Of course, you don't need to have established series on your blog to keep yourself blogging, but sometimes it can be a handy trick if you're feeling stuck!

4. Follow blogs that you like and draw inspiration from there. 

By no means do I mean compare your blog to another or completely copy what your favorite blogger is doing. (The world needs YOU, not a replica of another blogger!) If I'm feeling stuck I like to scroll through my Feedly feed to see what other people are writing about, or peruse the #ontheblog hashtag on Twitter to find new bloggers to follow. Reading other blogs can often spark a post idea in my head or make me remember something I wanted to write about months ago but completely forgot about. The blogging community is a really cool place with a whole cast of characters with their own stories to tell and reading those stories can take you far in your personal blogging life!

5. Be yourself. 

Ah, the annoying age-old piece of advice everyone gets when trying something new. It's really no different in blogging. You have a unique story to tell and that's what is going to make your blog interesting, even if you might not think it is. I always find that the blogs that I love the most are written by people who are unapologetically themselves, and I'm sure many others would agree. The whole point of a blog is to share your thoughts and opinions, so make sure to include a bit of personality into every post!

(Anyone else a Just Friends fan?)

I hope that these quick tips were helpful to all of those beginner bloggers out there. Finding your blogging style definitely takes some time, but as long as you continue to have fun and always why you started your blog in the first place, everything will fall into place! Good luck and Happy Blogging! :)


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