(or 9 tips that are not very helpful when creating a blog)
If I followed all the rules, I’d still be following all the rules. That’s what I read recently. Good quote (I love quotes). Enlightening one. To be honest, I’m not a big fan of “general rules”. Nothing on earth is a must. And each rule is equally applicable or inapplicable. It all depends on your personality. That’s why I decided to make a list of advices which rules you shouldn’t take too seriously at the beginning of creating a blog. Before I opened my blog, like a true nerd, I read everything there was to read on the subject of starting a blog. Every-little-thing. Obedient student. Best in class. With distinction. And like any well-behaved and nice child, I decided to listen to every advice I came across to. Every-single-one! And I’m here to tell you people – don’t do that! Some advices for beginners are fine, but some of them don’t have to work for you. Of course, this doesn’t mean they are not good advices, but maybe they just not apply to you (or at least not immediately, at the very beginning of blogging). So, if you are in the phase of blog idea of have a tiny blog embryo, here is a list of rules that I came across and that were useless for me, and which (at least in my case) turned out not to be such a good option.
1. Begin with platforms like Blogger or Blogspot.
These two platforms are good for users that are not too demanding, and if you’re one of them, feel free to skip this paragraph. However, I personally don’t like them for two reasons.
- I also started with Blogspot in March (as a true excellent-report-card student). And then I stated to adjust those “very simple” settings in order to start a blog. By mid-May (!) settings were relatively adjusted… But I was still not satisfied. Photos couldn’t be adjusted in a way I wanted them to be, text could not be installed properly and every single time there was something I couldn’t set up in a away I wanted it to be… So I can only tell you – if you’re a perfectionist (or a female) Blogger or Blogspot are not for you.
- Once you wish to switch to WordPress (and you’ll want that soon), you have to transfer everything from Blogger to WordPress (or wherever). This is a terrible double work, and believe me – been there, done that and it’s no fun at all. Do yourself a favor and start immediately with WordPress. Because you will need to learn something new anyhow, and you might as well learn it through WordPress. Of course, if you are satisfied with Blogger or Blogspot, it’s fine, there’s plenty of well-known bloggers that use these platforms and they fulfill their needs completely. Personally, I just like to have more options.
2. Select a particular niche (area or topic) of your blog.
This particular rule was killing me for months. I would lie in the evening with a precise idea of a niche… And then I would woke up and said, no, it’s not good, it must be precisely blog on a… Completely different subject! And I agonized for days, one niche, one… Why only one?! I am interested in so many things! There’s so much things I want to say! And it seems that it took me almost 5 months to figure out that I can write about all the things that interest me. Because the point is, if you want to begin – just write. My blog started of as a lifestyle blog and hence the most popular article on my blog is not how to self-publish an e-book, but how to survive a night out in high heels (what can I do, I love both shoes and writing). So don’t worry, your topic will eventually become crystal clear – or more topics. And it’s okay if they are diametrically opposite: on the Internet there are a great number of beautiful scrapbook-blogs that talk about various things. Over time, my blog became a blog about (cyber) writing… Although, writing is just an excuse because it’s the easiest way I can deal with different topics that interest me 🙂
3. Do not talk about your blog until you write at least 20 posts (or 3 months continuously).
This is of course a very well-intentioned advice, because people generally start to blog full of enthusiasm and after only a month or two – they stop. They have no time. They lose will. They don’t like it. However, when you start something, a support is more than welcome. Since I used to do jobs that aren’t related to writing, I remember when my (relatively close) friend asked in the beginning of blogging: So, you are now some kind of writer, huh? I was confused. For me, my writing was self implied and that’s always been the most important thing in my life. But then I realised that I was the only one familiar with what I’m doing. It more than necessary to say that I write and that I am a writer. Since then, whenever I meet someone new, I would first say that I write, and then everything else that I do. I said to my friends that I run a blog and what topics I write about. When I talked about what I do, people would be interested in my work, support my writing, inquired how it’s going and this gave me the motivation to continue (and still does).
4. Do not expect that people will like your first post or don’t write the (first) post (text) without any point.
Let’s be real here. In 99%, your first post will be read (only) by your friends (and perhaps not even them), so everyone will like it (they are your friends, they have to like it). If they don’t like it, find new friends (no seriously, find the ones who support you). So what if your post has no point (or you don’t see one)? Later on you can easily fix this (or don’t). You are writing a blog solely because of yourself (and for yourself), and even if nobody reads it, you wrote the text! Your very first text on your blog – congratulations! Will someone find something useful in it, it really doesn’t matter at the beginning of blogging. And this also applies to a next advice that you might not need to follow:
5. Be interesting or build a distinctive style aka brand.
Oh, no! No, no, no, hell no! I came across this advice a million times and I can just tell you – you are already original and interesting because you are – you (and nobody else). Also, you have to realise that the fact weather something is interesting or not is a very relative thing. Do you like comics? Country music? Quantum mechanics? Everyone has some different things they enjoy. Similar advice I came across to is: build a recognizable brand. But how in the world can you be recognizable if you just started?! You can think about that little bit later on (a little bit more later on) when you notice some points of intersection, take what you like and decide which qualities should be recognised as yours. When you start, write about things that are interesting to you, because if you write to meet someone else’s taste (or worse, to be interesting!), it may look like you’re trying too hard. In addition, you will think that something is really nice, while others consider that the exact same thing totally sucks. The same goes for authenticity: I’m sure you won’t be reinventing the wheel, and even if that happens, at first it won’t look like you are. If you give people your opinion – there’s your authenticity!
6. Study the competition.
I wrote about this topic in my writer’s block post. Personally, I was discouraged by this because the more I “studied” the more I found myself in despair. The thing was, I spent a long time on other people’s sites unnecessarily admiring their skills, instead of working on my own skill. In this way, your focus goes to the other blogs that you think are better and you’re not doing yourself a favor. Again, you cannot compare yourself and your first step with someone who works longer than you and who is totally different – we are all unique (ah, again, this inexhaustible passion for quotations). After all, it Pepsi was thinking how Coca-Cola works, they would’ve never dare to start a business.
7. Keep your eye on new technologies, social platforms and think (several years) ahead.
I didn’t come cross this advice too often, but I was quite confused. Follow new platforms, sign in and be active because you never know what will be the next Facebook. What do I look like, fricking Cleopatra? This reminds me of the situation when I’m on a job interview, and they ask me where do you see yourself in 5 years and I bite my lip not to say in the Bahamas under a palm tree. Of course you need to follow trends (although, that is also questionable), but you don’t need to be psychic that will accurately predict everything. You cannot follow all the social platforms or know which one is right, it depends on a million factors. Opening several social networks at once can be exhausting because you do need to be active at all of them. And again, that’s not what you think about in the beginning. In the beginning you should think how to start and how to write, not what will (maybe) happen.
8. Be careful what you write about or imagine that your content is being read by your mother, grandfather or children.
I saw this advice at several personal blogs (because of course this advice is valid when you write for corporate blogs), but when you write your own blog, that is (in my opinion) a complete nonsense. For starters, best tweeters deny this with just one tweet. Of course you should strive for quality, but if you care about the opinion of others, your blog will never be anything more than a tiny blog that your friends will nod to. It may sound stupid to break stereotypes, but you are entitled to your own opinion. And your curses if you want them. It is your blog. Your space. Maybe your family won’t approve, your friends won’t like it (again, go find new friends), but the most important thing is that you like it. When you do something out of love, you will easily find the right audience. You will soon realise that you cannot choose your followers. And you’ll be impressed when you meet them, because they will be completely different than you imagined.
9. Don’t quit your job until you start making money.
No, I do not really advise you to be cautious. I think there is one life and that you should live it to the fullest (p.s. have you ever seen the news headline stating: He quit his job and died out of hunger?). But I do not advise you to quit your job if you feel you shouldn’t do that. Perhaps it’s best to explain this at my own example. I was working on a job I didn’t like, sitting at a computer all day. And as I wanted to write, I’d returned home and immediately start writing, explored the world of blogging and sat before the screen until the morning. On weekends I worked on my second job and investigated blogging thoroughly (as I already said, I was the best student in reading everything related to blogs). And that lasted for a year. For me, it was just too exhausting. I was apathetic, didn’t earn enough money and I haven’t did what I love. Until I said enough. And I went and quit my job. This, I repeat, does not mean that you should do the same. It’s possible I was lucky because I have been working unregistered for a small pay. Simply, I couldn’t stand the idea that life should be this way and the fulfillment of my soul has always been more important than the fulfilling of my pocket. If nothing else, at least now I do what I love, I enjoy myself and I have time for new opportunities that often bring me excellent cooperation with interesting people 😉
Finally, as I said, the general rules don’t exist and it is only up to you to decide what suits you best, so you are free to ignore everything that I just wrote (although I was working hard on this).
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Next week, Digital Gutenberg series signed by Sonja Ocic continues, and in the meantime, you can read other interesting articles here (like who are beta readers), subscribe to my blog (in the top right corner), click like, buy my book)