March 2019 saw me notch up my three year blogging anniversary. Yes, that is long time to be sending my waffly words out into the ether, but it has also been an interesting, challenging and rewarding experience from this side of the computer.
If you are thinking about getting into the Blogosphere, here are a few tips and tricks that I have learned along the way…
Note: I am a paper and pen person. I love the feel of the pen nib rolling across the page and working with these tangible and tactile tools, helps me order my thoughts. Others prefer to type straight onto a blank screen. It is totally up to you.
- ‘Turn up to the page’: I read this somewhere very early on and never was a truer word said. Just sit down and start writing. There are many days when you simply don’t feel like it and it is so easy to find something far more urgent or appealing to do. Ignore those urges and just start writing. It is amazing how often, after a bit of perseverance, the words start to flow.
- Just write: Now is not the time to edit. Just start writing about today’s topic and worry about all the grammar and spelling mistakes later. Just write. Don’t worry about whether it is good, bad or indifferent. Just write and ignore that annoying little critic sitting on your right shoulder telling you that ‘this is rubbish and no one will ever read it’. Just write.
- Set a writing schedule and stick to it: Yes, we might start out in a blaze of enthusiasm, writing ten posts in the first week, but beware of ‘creating a monster’ turning the joy into a chore. Yes, write posts to your heart’s content then consider using the scheduling tool on your blog programme to schedule them in advance and over a timeframe that works for you. I find uploading one blog post a week is doable for me unless I am blogging LIVE from the road.
Creating a realistic and consistent posting schedule also lets your readers know what to expect. Respect them and their time, and don’t inundate them with any old random thought. Perhaps use Twitter or Facebook for that.
Develop a template: From the early days, I developed a template to write to so I wouldn’t forget any key information. It also broke down a scary, larger task (Eeek!! I have to write 1200 words) into manageable bites. This approach may not suit every style of blogging e.g. narratives or top-of-mind and free-thought posts, but it works for me. Consider the number of photos to include, the way you start and finish a post, further information etc.
- Length: Again, think about what is doable for you and try to strike a happy medium between what you want to say and doing the story justice, AND the attention span of your reader. I tend to write between 800-1200 words, which equates to around a five minute read. Experiment and you will find your happy place.
- Take time to find your voice: It may be very hard in the beginning to find the right tone and pace to your writing. Are you an ‘expert’ in your field? Do you prefer more formal language? Or are you a super-casual chatter? Again, experiment to find the correct pace and tone for your blog and try to be consistent so you don’t confuse your readers lurching from a high-brow academic post to a knock-knock joke.
- The process: My reading and research over the years, and my own blood/sweat/tears experience, revealed a four-step process to writing a post:
- Mind map your idea: Do a brain dump and get all your thoughts about a topic down ‘on paper’, in any ol’, rough order. Leave it a day or two.
- Write the post: This is the first draft of your post in all its warts-and-all glory. Make a note about what photos and pictures would suit the post and how many, and also consider which links you would like to include to support or enhance your post. Do NOT edit your work, just leave it sit for a day or two.
- Type up your post (or revisit your draft post if it is already waiting for you on the computer): I find I start to edit as I type up the post. Mistakes leap off the page and I think of different ways to make a point, or a whole new point. I find all the links that I think would add value to my post and photos that would make it more appealing. Leave it sit for a day or two.
- Edit and Upload/Schedule: This is the final stage. I read through my words again and again I make changes and improvements. Go live with your post or schedule for a later date. Then sit back and enjoy the sense of achievement.
- Make friends: Blogging is a social activity and I now feel like I have good friends and acquaintances all over the World. If people take the time to comment on your post, respond to them. That is the whole idea of this form of social media, being social. Yes, you will get some spam and some horrible comments from trolls. Just make sure your chosen blog programme has some strong spam software built in.
Photos: Use great photos to capture attention and enhance your story. Reduce the size of your photos before you upload them to speed up the loading time of your blog. If you don’t have your own images, there are a range of free photo sites such as Pexels which have some absolute cracker images (like all the ones included in this post).
- Keep Learning: I have signed up to many blogging-focused websites and they are very useful to keep me thinking about my blog efforts in an analytical way. I know my writing is far from perfect and there are always way to improve. Like my passion for travel, I hope my learning and love of blogging is a lifelong journey too.
So, all my blogging friends out there, what have you learned on your blogging journey?
What did you wish you knew before you started?
#beginnerblogger #blogcreativity #travelblog #turninguptothepage