A couple of friends reached out asking for blogging advice in the past couple of weeks. I thought I’d pull together what I’ve learnt after about 7 years of daily posts on this blog. I’m not sure I am expert enough to term this “advice” but here are my 2 cents worth of opinions on this topic. I hope it helps.
Thoughts on the approach
1. Find intrinsic motivation. I tend to believe that the best way to do this is to write for 2 people – yourself and one other person who you know will read your blog (likely your mom). It is important you do this for an intrinsic reason as it is hard to keep commitment otherwise.
2. Expect nothing to happen for 5 years at least. Unless you are a celebrity, it is really hard to gain traction. You might get a viral post or two that give you a few thousand hits if you try hard enough. But, sustained attention is hard earned and takes time.
3. Commit to a regular schedule. Once-in-a-while commitments are generally flimsy and don’t hold. Make it harder to procrastinate by committing to 15 minutes at the start of every day.
4. Write about stuff you care about. It shows. This is assuming you aren’t looking to maximize clicks or make quick money off your blog (I highly doubt there is much to be made in any case). And, it is also assuming you aren’t awesome at faking interest in subjects that you think will appeal to the crowds.
5. Consider using it as an opportunity to think. Writing is thinking. And, the more you do it, the more you’ll be able to think analytically and critically. It is a great opportunity to get better at that. And, growth and learning from writing compounds and snowballs over time.
6. Just ship. Avoid perfect posts. The moment you feel it is good enough, just ship. Your idea of good enough will change over time.
7. Writer’s block is a myth. As Seth Godin says, just write like you talk.. often.
A note on tactics
1. Getting started. Get started on WordPress if you plan on writing a “long form” blog. If you are looking to just do shorter posts and re-blogs, tumblr works well. I hear Medium allows you to create your own blog these days. That is worth checking out – I don’t know enough about it. And, you can always buy your own domain once you are committed.
2. Create a simple marketing approach. I am a horrible blog marketer. So, do take this with a pinch of salt. I just tend to share posts as soon as I post them on my Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I have been told a few times that pro bloggers spend a lot more time promoting content. This approach is driven by the “why” behind this. If page views matter to you, spend time promoting what you write. Or, just write stuff that your existing readers feel compelled to share. Different strokes for different folks.
3. If you are worried about negative feedback, turn comments off. Generally, you’ll have the opposite problem – a complete lack of feedback is the norm. But, if this worries you, comments can always be turned off.
The base rates for blog creation from my experience aren’t great. If I had to think of a 100 friends who’ve started blogs in the past 7 or 8 years, I think there are about 1 or 2 who are still at it. Most blogs die within the first year. So, the commitment doesn’t come easy. But, I tend to think the struggle is worth it. But, hey, I’m clearly biased.
Someone once told me – often we set out to change a situation and then end up finding that it is really the situation that changes us. That sums up how I feel about blogging. This blog has taught me more than I’d ever have imagined..