In the blogging world I’m probably considered a novice, but to many of my friends I’m considered an expert. I’m not sure why that is, but I’ll go with it for the moment. Because of my “expert” status my friends often ask me this question: “Should I start a blog?”
Now, I’m certain that bloggers who attend all the major blogging conferences would have much better advice to give, but this is what I say when I’m asked that question:
By just asking the question you already knew that the answer is within you. It’s like flipping a coin. You know whether you want it to be heads or tails the moment that coin starts to take flight. So, yes, you should absolutely share your story. Even if you think what you have to share has been written before by someone else, your perspective is yours and unique.
I know I’m not the only person who writes about education reform (or has been writing about it), but I have my own insight about what is happening in my community. I also know that I’m not the only writer who struggles with an identity crisis every now and then, or who waxes (hopefully) poetically on my everyday dramas, but as it is my identity and my drama, who better to tell my story than me?
2. You don’t even have to have a background in website design to start your blog.
Sites such as Blogger and WordPress allow you to log in, pick a pre-designed template, and start. You don’t have to write an award winning blog post right off the bat, either. You just have to write something.
3. Don’t compare your blog to anyone else’s.
If you love to cook and want to share about your kitchen triumphs (and tragedies) don’t read another person’s cooking blog until you are really comfortable and confident about your own. You’ll only feel unworthy in the comparison and that will inhibit your writing.
4. Take photos.
Take lots of photos. Take more photos than you think you will ever use. You might not use them for that blog post, but you will use them…eventually. Lots of bloggers participate in “wordless Wednesday” where they simply post a photo and let the visual tell the narrative. But a photo is important. It allows your audience to get a glimpse of what your words are telling them.
Also, and this is important, keep a consistent image. To me, that means that the profile photo that accompanies my blog is the same image used across all my social media sites. But it doesn’t have to be professional, or perfect, but readers do like to know who the writer is who is sharing their story.
5. Pay attention to word length.
Here’s where it gets tricky. “Experts” would say the optimum blog length is about 500 to 700 words. I know I’m guilty of exceeding this by a rather wide margin. Sometimes my blog is a small novella rather than a “post.” Sometimes the story you want to tell needs all the time it can have to be told. Sometimes a post is short and sweet. Sometimes it is connected to a cause you believe in, sometimes it is just because. But whichever it is, it is your story to tell, so use the words you need to use, edit it, post it, and move on to the next post.
Your voice. Your vision. And it can change over time. You have the power to decide that. If you want to share about your family though, I advise asking them first if they want their image or story to be told. Be respectful of their boundaries and know that while they are a part of your life they may not want to be fodder for the story of your life. That’s a freebie by the way.
The bottom line. Share your blog. Why are you writing otherwise? So make sure to post a link to your blog on any of the your social media sites and encourage your friends to read it. But don’t get caught up in the statistics on your site, in fact pay no attention to how many “hits” your post has received. I’m sure there is some piece of advice about the best time to share that you’ve published a new post, but really, you share when you post because it’s your post, not because of a statistic.
As Anais Nin said “If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.”
So the question isn’t “should you start a blog.” The question is “Why haven’t you already?”