When I speak across the country, I have a lot of people tell me they want to start a blog and they want to know how to get started. I always caution that blogs aren’t for everyone and that, once you get started, you can’t stop. It’s a pretty big time commitment and it takes some effort to not only attract readers, but also engage them and keep them coming back for more.
My friend Rieva Lesonsky has a great article at AllBusiness.com about the pros and cons of having a blog. I also love Gary Vaynerchuk’s philosophy that first comes your passion. Your passion may be monkeys and you think no one will want to visit a blog about monkeys. He argues, in “Crush It!”, that no matter what your passion, if people can tell you really care about it they’ll keep coming back. And you won’t mind the time commitment because it’s what you love more than anything else. He also argues that you don’t necessarily need to write a blog. This is important thought – there also are video blogs (called vlgos) and audio blogs (called podcasts).
If, after reading Rieva’s article and figuring out whether or not you can write/video/speak about your passion, you still want a blog, following are some tips for getting started.
- Go to WordPress or Blogger and set up an account. I like WordPress because it’s more professional and it has lots of really great templates for you to choose from so you can create something really nice in a couple of hours. Blogger is really easy to use, but it looks more homemade.
- Write a list of 30 topics you can write about – just headlines. For instance, I write about social media, the PR industry, and what it’s like to grow a company. Under those three topics, I have 30 bullet points of different headlines. Under social media, I know tomorrow I’m going to write about how to attract readers to your blog, because it follows today’s topic.
- Write (or video or speak) five to 10 posts and save them as drafts in your blog. Do not publish them yet.
- Schedule an hour a day on your calendar to write your blog post, answer reader’s comments, and comment on other’s blogs about your topic
- Publish your first draft on a Monday.
- Send an email to your friends, clients, colleagues, peers, family, vendors, and partners and ask them to read your blog post. Ask them to check back on Wednesday and again on Friday. Ask them, if they like what they read, to send the link to their network.
- Make friends with 10-20 people who already have strong social networks and ask them to help you spread the word. People will do this IF it’s a topic they’re also interested in and know their networks also will like to read. If your blog is about monkeys and I’ve been attacked by a chimp, you won’t want to ask me. Know your audience.
- Be prepared to publish at least three times each week. And keep your drafts full – have five to 10 ready to publish at any time. This is hard to do, but trust me when I say that it makes life A LOT easier when you’re overly busy and something else has taken over your hour to blog.
I’m always willing to introduce bloggers to my network if they are consistent, have an interesting topic, and make me think. Think about that as you begin to write (or video or speak) and why someone like me would want to help you (other than I’m nice and help everyone). Then ask! You’ll be surprised at how willing people are to help.
Tomorrow I’ll blog about how to attract readers, beyond your network and your 10-20 friends who already have communities built on the social networks. In the meantime, if you blog, do you have anything to add for people just starting out?