Sorry. I'm not one to pass up a good Loki quote.
Despite the fact that I have a very unprofessional propensity for spouting nerd quotes, I do, in fact, know a thing or two about blogging, especially when it comes to using it to build a writer's platform.
A while ago I wrote a post about how to build a successful writer's platform. Since then, I've received a surprising amount of follow-up questions, particularly ones about blogging. How does you start blogging? Which platform should you use? How often should you blog and what should you blog about and how should your blog look and oh my gosh why is this so complicated?
Don't worry. I have answers. *pulls out list* Let's get started. Here are 10 tips for using blogging as a successful writer's platform:
- Pick a platform. There are several different places where you can decide to set up camp. Wordpress and Blogger are the most common. Which should you choose? Honestly, that's a matter of preference. Wordpress seems to have a slight edge over Blogger: it's very sleek and user-friendly and has a wide variety of templates. So why do I use Blogger? Because I was using Blogger before Wordpress became popular. I was familiar with it, so when I started this blog, I just automatically went with Blogger. They've been good to me, this blog has good SEO, and I'm happy. So while I'd generally recommend Wordpress, you're probably not going to die if you choose Blogger. However, if you are considering Tumblr, be careful. Tumblr is great, but a lot of people don't have Tumblr accounts and don't read blogs on there, so it's best to use a site specifically designed for blogging. Squarespace is also wonderful. It's what I use for my website. However, it is not free and free is key when first starting out blogging....Especially if you're a poor writer.
- Keep it simple, stupid. When designing your blog, it's best to keep things low key. Don't worry about making it super fancy. You can always do that later when you're comfortable with how blogging works. Besides, for a writing blog, it's best to have a lot of white space and open areas. Avoid over-cluttering your site and try to use lighter colors. It will make your blog more inviting and people will want to stay longer.
- Pick a topic for blogging. You will want this to be linked somehow to your writing. After all, the point of this blog is to draw attention to your writing endeavors. A lot of writers choose to blog writing tips. Some do book reviews, some do publishing tips, some do a bit of all of these. These are all great ideas, but you'll need to put your own spin on things to set yourself apart. You also want to make sure that it's something that you personally enjoy writing about. Otherwise, blogging will become a chore and you'll end up closing shop after a few months. Not a good thing.
- Be personal and personable. Like I said, put your own spin on things. Let your personality spill through. If at all possible, put your picture up on your blog so that people can have a visual of who it is they're reading. The more of a connection you can make with your followers, the better. Not only do you want to show people who you are and what makes you you, you'll also want to make sure that you keep the focus on them. Be pleasant. Respond to commenters, write about things that others will find helpful. Be a pleasant, helpful, intelligent person and you'll do fine.
- Dedicate. If you're going to do this blogging thing, you have to go all in. Pick how often you want to write (twice a week, weekly, biweekly) and decide what day you want your posts to publish on. This will give your followers something to look forward to. You want them to be able to think: "Oh, yeah, that blogger posts every Wednesday! Today's Wednesday. Wonder what he's writing about." Once you've decided on the day and the frequency, stick with it. If you want writing to become your job, you have to treat it like one. Do or do not. There is no try.
- Be confident. So maybe you're a young writer. Maybe you're middle-aged but haven't published anything yet. Or perhaps you're older and feel like you're behind the times. You are going to be tempted to write things like, "Now I'm young and have a lot to learn...I've never published before, so take this with a grain of salt..." I see this done often and it hurts me. Do you know how to write? Do you have a brain that works? Then you have just as much of a right to blog as anybody else. Your followers are coming into your house. They want to know what you have to say. It's up to them to decide how intelligent your posts are. Do not undermine yourself. You are a good writer. Don't think you are. Know you are. You want a platform? Alright then. Get out there and fight for it. *battle cries*
- Follow and interact with other bloggers. That's right. You're going to have to socialize. Hey! Stop running away and come back here. It's not as scary as it sounds. I know a lot of writers, myself included, are introverts. But you can't just build a blog, sit back, and expect people to flood in. It's not that easy. Besides, you don't want followers. You want to build a network of supporters. People who will follow you through Azkaban if you asked them to. The only way to do this is to support them back. Follow people's blogs, leave comments, share on social media. There are lots of great writers out there who are fighting to make it in the publishing world. They can't do it alone and neither can you. So join up. Give yourselves a team name. Fight crime and...oh, wait. We're talking about breaking into the writing world, not vigilante activity. They have a lot of similarities, though, right?
- Optimize for social media. Keep your titles short and straight-forward. Writing your posts in list format is great. They tend to get more shares because they're easy to skim. Make sure all of your posts have a cover image with the title of your blog post and your blog's link or logo. This will make it more noticeable on Pinterest and Google+. I recommend PicMonkey for this because it's easy, quick, and free. Never be afraid to leave a note at the end of your posts, suggesting that people share your article. Just reminding people can go a long way.
- Grow a thick skin. You're going to get comments from people who are jerks. Maybe not right away, but it will happen. Just ignore them and keep going. Show the world what you can do.
- Be willing to fail. Your blogging efforts won't be perfect. You're going to mess up. Maybe your blog will glitch or you'll notice a massive error in one of your posts. And that's okay. It happens to all of us. Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up again.
At this point you are either feeling very hopeful or very stressed out. If you're in the latter zone, please don't freak out! Everything is going to be okay. Take a deep breath. Go get some tea or coffee. Eat some chocolate. It helps. Then come back and jump into your platform building. But remember this:
When you start getting stressed, find a way to get back to what you love: Writing. Don't let your desires for publishing shut down your writer's spirit. You are a writer first, then an author, then a platform-builder.
If you have any questions about platform building, I'd recommend reading this post first, since this article is piggybacking on that one. If you still have questions, leave a comment below or feel free to send me an email. I'd be more than happy to clarify points or give you extra tips if you need them. That's what I'm here for. Well, that and throwing around nerd quotes.
What do you think? Do you have any points to add to this post. Leave your thoughts below! If you're new to the blogging world, don't forget to let me know. I love connecting with new creatives.
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