In the past month a few of my readers have asked me to help them start a blog. By no means am I writing this post to avoid having coffee with you or speaking on the phone with you about this. I’d love to do those things.
I’m writing this mainly to organize my thoughts on the subject so that I can be of more help to anyone (and everyone) who wants to start a blog.
First up, I’d like to set the record straight. By nature, I’m not drawn to technology. To you that means a few things. First, this post is not a ‘how to’ start a blog. There are plenty of tutorials out there that will help you do that. I find that YouTube is a great resource since there are hundreds (if not thousands) of video tutorials. From how to start a wordpress blog, to how to embed video into a blog, you dream it, YouTube has it. Another outstanding resource – one I personally rely on – is Rohit Bhargava’s blog. (Make sure you check out his presentation on 25 blog styles.)
Second, if I was able to set up a blog and manage it regularly, you can too. Guaranteed!
So what is this about?
Instead I’d like to share with you the strategies and philosophies that guide my blog. That you won’t find on You Tube (or Rohits’ blog).
1. Be clear on your vision. Before you open any of the links above, ask yourself: “Why do I want to start a blog?” It could be because you want to draw in more business, or you want to take a shot at being a web celeb, or because you want to start a community. Whatever your blog’s reason for being is, be honest and be clear from the start. It is that purpose that will drive and guide everything else.
In my case, since day one of my blog project, I knew that my vision was:
To inspire and empower people around the world to create, follow and succeed on their path – and consequently become better citizens of planet Earth.
If that sounds familiar, it is because that’s the same exact vision that guides me as a writer.
That means that every time that I start a post, I ask myself: “Is this in line with my vision?” If it is, I continue writing. If it isn’t, I ask: “How can I make this more in line with my vision?”
2. about those comments…Frankly, I’ve never been too hung up or neurotic about the number of comments on my blog. That’s for two main reasons. To begin with I know that even if people are not leaving comments, that they’re reading my blog. They tell me so when I meet them on the street, when we catch up via email or facebook, or elsewhere.
And most important, for me, blogging is not a popularity contest. It’s about contributing to my readers’ lives. And that cannot be measured in number of comments.
A similar belief guides me when I write comments on other blogs. While I know that some people are counting on comments – and very methodically tracking traffic – I rather not comment anything if I don’t have anything meaningful to add. Some times that’s because what I’m thinking has already been said. And I’m okay with that. When I don’t leave a comment, it doesn’t mean that I didn’t get something out of a post. I believe that everything that I read impacts my life. Acknowledging that is my way of thanking those who have written the post. I don’t see much point in saying something, anything, to simply add to the bean count.
If you take away one thing from this post let it be this: conversations, whether on or off line, need to be honest, transparent and meaningful – otherwise they’re noise pollution.
3. Are you adding value? In line with having a guiding vision, this is one of the questions that I ask myself before publishing anything – a post, a comment, a tweet. If I can’t honestly say that what I’m about to say will contribute anything of meaning, then it does not get published – no matter how long I spent working on it. (so what’s considered an acceptable time to spend on a 140 character tweet, anyway??)
4. Act as if the whole world will see it. I’m not saying this to make you paranoid, but rather to make you more mindful. Personally every time I’m about to publish anything online – a comment on a blog or on someone’s funwall, or a tweet – I ask myself: ”Will I be okay seeing this on the front page of a newspaper?” Doing that quick check helps me sleep much better at night.
5. Be transparent. That does not mean: expose yourself. Instead it means be honest, and mostly with yourself. For example, if you honestly feel that sharing something about yourself will mean crossing personal boundaries, then don’t publish it.
Be clear on this: it’s possible to be popular in the blogoshpere by being yourself – even if you feel that’s too bland or not exciting enough. In other words, to express your uniqueness, you need not be an exhibitionist. Sure exhibitionism is one of the ways to draw attention. Even so being authentic and respecting your own personal boundaries is also a great way to have followers. Great leaders achieve that all the time. They are driven by a clear purpose, not a me-too strategy. And that’s worthy of imitation – and following
6. Be patient. The Web is a fast-moving world, yet it’s not instantaneous. If you consistently produce good content, eventually the world will find you. The key is to be consistent and to stay true to yourself. And be patient.
7. Bloggers are living, breathing (and very cool) things. As a matter of fact, they’re social beings even if they spend 99% of their time behind a computer screen. Read about their biggest face-to-face meet-up: SWSX
8. Expect to be empowered. I’ve jumped off a plane with a parachute, I’ve jumped off ramps with my bike and skateboard, and I’ve moved across the globe for love. Yet none of these experiences compare to how I felt when my first post went live. (Yes, as I write this I’m feeling the adrenaline rushing through my body) Blogging is empowering. It changes your perspective on life – from passive observant, to active participant.
What are you waiting for to start your own blog?
Photo – Thank you flickr!
2 thoughts on “So you wanna start a blog??”
Great advice! Many of my friends are starting to pick up blogging as well. Can I add a suggestion to that list as an extension to point #6? Take it easy… Pace yourself.
I have some friends who (though keen) were posting everyday! But they quickly ran out of material and they lost their pace. Also, they forced themselves to post when there wasn’t really anything going on (violating your point #3).
@ Joshua – thanks for stopping by and for sharing your experiences. To add to your friends’ situation, I’d like to suggest that anyone looking to start a blog should prepare at least 10 to 20 posts before launching the site. This may delay the launch period but will make a world of difference once the site is live. Having posts ready will serve as a buffer while people get used to writing for an audience. Hope this helps…Silvana