10 Tips for an Aspiring Blogger

I’ve been asked for advice from someone thinking about starting a blog to cover an interesting international trip. Here’s my top tips.

  1. Easiest way to start is to sign up with wordpress.com. You can have a blog set up in five minutes and have your first post up there for all the world to see in six. Just do it. You can then change the look and feel through picking the kind of template you like. WordPress blogs have personality – yours.
  2. Enable comments from the get go. A blog without comments makes you look arrogant even if you are not. Answer comments promptly. Pay special attention to those who disagree with you – they are a gift and a joy. If they go too far and stop being a joy, you can simply not let their comments through. (That’s called comment moderation – worth knowing about, but don’t be too severe unless people are very naughty).
  3. Use your twitter feed to promote your blog and your blog to promote your twitter feed. Go on, sign up for both. Twitter is just a form of one-line blogging.
  4. Tweet hourly. Blog daily.
  5. Write as though you are writing to a few friends. You are. A few hundred. Or more.
  6. Write your frustrations, blog your opinions, explain your insights, tell us what you found funny or moving today.
  7. Aim for slightly outrageous at least now and then. Most people would like to be able to be oh so slightly outrageous now and then. Now and then, you can.
  8. Put your blog address on everything you write – every e-mail, business card, letter or report. It is part of your identity now. (So choose wisely when you are setting up the blog in the first place).
  9. Collect other people’s blog addresses and follow them in something like google reader. Comment on their blogs. Argue with them on your own blog and freely recommend good things to your readers.
  10. Remember that blogging is not merely a dance but a strip-tease. You are offering to show and tell. You are offering to reveal. But keep them guessing and never offer everything. Your readers want to come back for more. Give them hints that the best is yet to come.

How to write a blog #1

Well, having looked at how to read a blog, I suppose the obvious thing to do is now put something up about how to write one.

The answer I’d give anyone is to use WordPress. Its simple, lovely and oh so easy to use.

You don’t need to know anything about how to make webpages. You don’t need to know anything about how the internet works. All you need is something to say. If you have the confidence, bravado and chutzpah to think that anyone else is interested in reading what you have to say then so much the better, however that will come with time if you don’t have it yet.

Go to wordpress.com and sign up for a blog if you want to try it out. You sign up in the top right corner and can be up and running within minutes. Write your first post about why you’ve started a blog and you are away. All you need to do is think of a title, chose a layout (from the many available), make up a login name and password and you are fit to go.

There are other ways of doing it, of course. If you want complete control you can host your own wordpress site on your own server (which is what I do) or go with another provider like blogger or blogspot or typepad or something.

One of the advantages of WordPress is that it plays well with others and provides nicely formatted rss feeds without you having to think about what that all means. (See yesterday’s entry below for details of what we use rss feeds for). Its user interface for writing your blog entries is lush and lovely too. What’s not to like?

I think it probably makes sense to try to decide what you are going to write about but I guess that often comes about through writing.

Remember, a blog is not just about you either. Its a community. Its a conversation. Its the world.

If you want that conversation to grow, you need to tend your blog like a garden, cultivating the chatter and pouring in as much goodwill, opinion, wit, wisdom and delight in other people as you can muster.

Oh, and don’t forget to ask people questions. That’s the starter for most conversations, isn’t it?

I’d be interested to hear from regular commenters who don’t have a blog why they’ve not got one of their own on the go already. And from the usual suspects as to whether they’ve got any tips for new bloggers thinking of taking that first step.