A friend asked me to help him with starting a blog.
I said I’d help him get started with WordPress — setting it up, explaining the difference between posts and pages, choosing a domain name, categorising and tagging, etc. It’s so exciting to decide on a name for your blog, set up a WordPress site, and choose a theme. You can easily spend hours on the technical side getting everything just right.
But then a little while later I started back-pedalling in my mind:
It’s like opening a shop — choosing the decor, putting the sign above the window, and installing the shelving before having any stock to sell. It might be nice visiting for the first time, but with nothing to buy, there is little point in returning.
Most people who start blogs, set up their site, publish a few posts, and then give up. Trust me on this — I’ve done it myself several times. We’ve all seen someone who has started a blog, posted the welcome post, posted again a week later, and then gone quiet. Sometimes there is a ‘sorry I haven’t posted for a while’ post a few months later acting as a sort of death-rattle before the blog goes silent and falls into obscurity, never to be updated again.
So here’s the advice I gave him:
Open up your word processor — and if you seriously don’t have one — you can always download Libre Office Writer, use Google Docs, or even better — use Focuswriter for a clutter-free writing environment.
Next, write a blog post.
Finished? Great! Can you write another one in a few days’ time? Go for it. Write another one.
Done that? Brilliant, you’re on a roll. Now, keep doing this until you have eight finished posts.
Now, go back to that first post, and make any last minute revisions before you show it to the world. Read it out loud to make sure it flows well. Check it for typos. Once that’s done you’re ready to publish. Now is the time to set up your blog and post it.
If you don’t know how to set up a blog — no problem. Start learning how from the multitude of tutorials out there on the internet. Start simple, get your words posted. You can still write blog posts while you’re learning how to refine your site with the perfect theme or most comprehensive categories structure — that can all be done later.
It’s unlikely you’ll have a horde of readers waiting on your every word, eager to like, share, and comment on your posts — though I could be wrong — and if so, good for you! No, it’s more likely you’ll be greeted by the silence of a world that is busy looking at everything except what you’re posting. That’s okay. That’s normal. Keep writing.
Now, with a selection of eight finished blog posts, you can theoretically create a schedule of publishing at least one new post every week for two months. That will keep your output regular, give your readers something new each week, and also give you a bit of leeway for writing new posts. You’ve just got to keep on top of that backlog now. It’s about building momentum and consistency.
When you decide that you want to start a blog, you’re actually committing to a regular writing habit. The writing is a major part of your blog. That’s the thing you’ll need to be working on every day. Because, if you can’t manage to post regular content to your blog, you might as well not waste your time blogging, but just post the occasional thing on Facebook instead.
With a single subject blog ideas are perhaps easier to come up with than a multi-subject blog but still, the habit of posting regularly can be the biggest challenge.