It is an iron clad law that a blogger eventually blogs about blogging. As this is the end of my first year, it seems right to do it now. I promise I will only do this once every 12th September. Here is this years.
I recommend doing a blog to anyone. Especially those afflicted with the sort of situation described here.
So here is what I have I learnt if you need a nudge and don’t know where to start.
- Start off using the right tool. Use WordPress as your blog platform from the start. It looks great and is expandable. You can do all sorts. Don’t bother looking anywhere else
- Start off with the right name. Fork out the $25 or so for a proper blog name. something.com looks so much better than something.wordpress.com
- Make it visual. Add photos, cartoons or any sort of image to each post. A big block of text is really off putting. Make the image intrigue and pull people in. Similarly, format it nicely on screen. Paragraphs etc.
- Make it pretty. Also play with design and format. Lists go down well. 7 ways to leave your man etc. Move things round on the screen until they look inviting. Not only are you a writer, you are also an editor and designer. I’ve added comic strips that have so far sunk without trace, but I’m ignoring this and sticking with them until I eventually get good at them. I did this one just using MS Paint and Word. Think like you’re doing a comic, not writing a blog. Words & images.
- Say one thing. Only one idea per post. I’ve forgotten this loads of times. But it’s better to stick to. Theres a brilliant book about communicating well called Made to stick that talks about creating sticky ideas. The best lesson in it is if you say one thing, you’re saying something. Say two things and you’re saying nothing.
- If you think of it, write it down ASAP. Use your iPhone (or whatever you have) to create posts as soon as you have an idea, otherwise you’ll forget or the impetus will disappear. I use a WordPress app, and the end product looks exactly the same as one on a laptop. This was done on one from beginning to end. You can take photos, or download images, use Rotate &Crop app to edit them, add formatting like bullet points etc. You get to learn HTML which makes it easy to add line breaks, change fonts, all sorts. I’ve learned loads from it when problem solving.
- Keep it regular. I blog on average once every 2 days. This I think is too often. Dilutes overall message and impact, but better too frequent than too rarely. But I can’t stop blogging, no choice sadly.
- Pack a bag. Start a blog with a backlog ready to post. I had about 10 in draft. This way you can see if you have enough content to do one at all and there is something in the tank to get you going.
- Keep it packed. Keep a backlog in draft. I have about 40 in various stages of undress. New ideas come all the time and are posted when done, but there’s always a backlog.
- Resonate People will pass on posts that resonate with them and they want other people to also recognise it. Commonality of experience is infectious.
- Metaphor. If something is like something else, you can piggy back on it. A fake customer service? That’s like a bike shaped object
- Vary the pace. Mix long and short posts. Read Seth Godin to see how an expert does it.
- Read blogs! Why write one if you’re not interested enough to read them? I read all sorts. Cycling, Nassim Taleb, Peak Oil, Tao, doesn’t matter the subject. If the author is interested in something, they are interesting to read.
- Get socialising. If nobody reads it, it may as well be a diary. Use social media to share. I don’t, as I’m not social, but I know most of the readership comes through posts being twitted about the place. There are a handful of “mavens” who have high numbers of followers and are always casting around for stuff to share through twitter. I’ve noticed that the shorter more gimmicky stuff I’ve done is shared more through Facebook though, as short snappy posts with good images fit well there. Don’t chase the mavens though! They like what they like just as you like what you like.
- Explore don’t plan. Why are you doing it at all? You don’t need a clear idea! No purpose needed! Ironically. As long as you have to or like to. Beyond that, no grand plan necessary. My reasons are that it’s somewhere to put stuff, instead of it rattling round my head, and it aides mental digestion of ideas.
- Write what you want to read. I wanted to read stuff about systems thinking by non experts. Didn’t exist. Now there’s this one and at least 3 others I can think of. Something in the air.
- Expertise not needed. If you’re reading this, it’ll be something systemsy you’ll be interested in. It’s a niche market, and normal people (non experts) get desperate for stuff to read to find out more about systems thinking when they first get their head turned. I think writing naturally about what you’ve done and learned is what people like and can use. Like reviews on Trip Advisor, it prepares you for when you get there.
- Be authentic. If you are casual, be casual. Don’t feel it has to be correct. It’s not a thesis, no references needed. Don’t be afraid of using irony, it’s the responsibility of the reader to spot it, if they don’t then thats irony in itself. Winwin.
- It’s not a job. Have fun and don’t do it if it bores you and turns into a chore, as that would be boring and be a chore to read.