Crash Course: Get Started With Blogging

So you’ve decided to start a blog? That’s great news! A blog is your slice of digital heaven. You can build your own world, your personal platform – where you can sharpen yourself, brainstorm with your readers, and boost your online reputation.

There’s no such thing as an overnight blog success. It’s gonna take a lot of hard work, persistence, patience, and …, patience. That’s why most people stop blogging within weeks. They don’t get any comments from readers, don’t see a reward for all that blogging, or rather watch television.

I feel sorry for those folks. They’ve missed a great opportunity. I, for one, thank my job to blogging. Traveled the world, because of blogging. And I’ve met some friend through blogging, who will probably keep bugging me for the rest of my life.

Here’s a list of things I’ve learned that will help you with blogging. They might speed things up for you. Hopefully, they’ll get you hooked on blogging. Seriously, dear reader, it’s a beautiful blogosphere out there.

Blog on!

A crash course in blogging: 12 tips

Here are 12 tips to make you a better blogger. Print it, have a cup of coffee, get some paper for notes and reserve an afternoon for a crash course in blogging. Oh and don’t forget the online version since every tip is accompanied with some more reading material.

1. Choose the right platform

wordpress
If you’re not a geek, head over to WordPress.com to start a blog. It’s simply the best platform out there with beautiful themes and an impressive list of plug-ins.

2. Build your own world

Build your blog
Give your blog a face. I’m not a designer, yet I can tell you that all the important info must be on top of the page. On Dutchproblogger.nl that is:

  1. My logo, or brand, so to speak
  2. Links to the most important pages
  3. A list of popular posts, so that readers start reading right-away
  4. A short bio, so that people know where they are

Write an engaging and short “about page” and put a cool picture on it. One that will get some second looks from your readers. Link all your online networks with your blog, like Facebook and LinkedIn. If you link from every profile to your blog, it will rank higher in Google. Oh, and make sure you have a global profile picture, a so-called Gravatar.

3. Always add value

Add value
Whenever you write, whatever you write, always ask yourself: what’s in it for the reader? Every post must teach the reader something. Or inspire him. Or it must save him money, make him a better cook, or assure him of a better sex life. Give you reader something useful and he’ll love you for it.

4. How to write

typewriter
When it comes to writing for a blog, listen to the great writer Mark Twain. He once said:

I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.

People have plenty of other stuff to do, so write short articles. Limit yourself to 300 words and you’ll notice that writings will become more powerful. Here are some more writing guide lines:

  1. Grab readers’ attention with a stunning anecdote or a powerful first line.
  2. Keep it simple (short sentences and no sophisticated chit chat).
  3. Always assume that readers don’t know anything about you. When you’re writing about your expertise, let them know why you are an authority.
  4. Use the power of links, don’t explain everything
  5. Hit ‘return’ a lot. Whitespace is your biggest friend. It makes it easy for your readers to scan your post.
  6. Write magnetic headlines
  7. Talk to the reader. Make a connection, use the word ‘you’. It’s a personal medium, so make your articles personal.
  8. Use anecdotes from daily life so that people recognize what you’re talking about.

Oh and now that you know the rules, you can break them.

5. Reach out: write guest posts

Write guest posts
A great way to attract new readers is writing guest posts for bigger blogs. Save your best for the rest. Send your masterpiece to the biggest blogger in your scene and build a reputation.

6. Get comments

megaphone
Writing a post is 60 percent of the work. The other 40 percent concerns discussing it with your readers. If everybody in your scene agreed on something, then take that chance and write a post in which you let them know that you disagree. Trust me, they’ll come and comment. Another trick: leave some of your arguments out. That will lower the barrier for readers to comment.

During the early days of your blog it helps to ask your friends or colleagues to respond to your posts. Of all the things that come with a blog, getting folks to comment is the hardest. Don’t be disappointed when it takes a couple of months to have lively blog. It happens to all of us.

7. Use stunning photos

use photos on your blog
Only use photos to blow your reader away. Make the pics big, and make them beautiful.

8. Do something extraordinary

Do something extraordinary with your blog
In a blogosphere where everybody does the same: “The 10 best …” or “How to…”, the perfect way to gain attention is to do something completely different. Are you still missing something on the web? Fill that gap by creating it yourself! Moreover, you want other bloggers to give you attention yet at the same you don’t want to sound pushy. So you’ll have to do something for them. Help them and be nice. Take these two points in account, and you’ll definitely gain some attention, to say the least. Here’s how I did it.

9. Get in a blogging flow

Get in a blogging flow
Blogging doesn’t take much time, distraction does. Turn off Twitter and email when you write. And when you feel inspired, read more than you have to. Here are two articles about the right work flow:

10. Review your blog every month

Review your blog
When you publish a magazine, it’s done as soon as you send the pdf-file to the publisher. Your blog is never done. Review it at least monthly with these 69 questions.

11. There’s always enough inspiration

inspiration
If you have a long writer’s block, you’re not writing about the right subject. If you have a slow week though, refer to the following posts:

12. Use social media

socialmedia
Develop a plan to boost your blog’s profile and readership with social media and never forget: always add value.

(Photo credits for this page: ashe-villain, astio, looking4poetry, Tiago Rïbeiro, Tiago Rïbeiro, matthias thoelen, purplejavatroll, Thomas Hawk & Amir K.)


That’s about it folks! If you wanna stay up to date, refer to the RSS feed, Twitter account or Facebook page.

Taking notes while exploring the future of publishing