When I created my first blog years ago on Blogspot I had no idea what I was doing. We were asked to create a blog for one of our university projects, so while the project was ongoing I had posts I knew I could, well, post, but after that? How often was I supposed to blog? Are there rules? Guidelines?
I’ve learned a lot about blogging since then, and while there are no specific rules you need to follow I can give you a couple of tips which might help if you’re new to this, or simply want to try something else for your blog. Please remember that I’m by no means an expert, and the following points are simply my opinion. You can, of course, blog however you want, but if you’re new to this then I hope you’ll find this post helpful.
Whether you’re a plotter or a pantser when writing may well affect how you blog, too. If you’re more of a plotter, like me, you might prefer to schedule posts in advance, so you don’t have to worry about them on the day you publish them. If that’s not you then you might prefer to write and publish posts as you go, and prepare them on the day you’re posting them.
But how often should you blog? Honestly, there’s no right answer. You could post every day of the week, or only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or only once a week if you’re busy!
The only thing I’d advice is this: Don’t post more than once a day. It’s exciting to publish posts you believe will be well received – I’ve got several posts like that scheduled weeks in advance now! – but please keep it to one a day. While you may have the time to post often, most of us don’t have the time to read all of your posts. I follow a lot of blogs, and I do my best to stay caught up with nearly ten of them. If you post several updates in just one day you’ll make it a lot harder for your readers to read what you have to say! I followed a lovely little blog when I first created CookieBreak which published beautiful poetry, but there were at least three posts daily, often more, and it cluttered my inbox as well as my reader feed. I don’t normally unfollow people, but clutter my inbox like that and I will press that button.
There are no rules about how you should design your posts. Whether you want to include pictures or gifs is up to you, but long posts especially will be easier to read if you break up the text with visuals. I don’t follow a specific word count (some people might try to fit a picture every 400 words, for example) but I do try to add enough pictures and clips to avoid big chunks of text. If you include visuals, always link back to the source where you found the file. It’s common decency to thank the creator, or at least the page where you found the picture, and what better way to say thank you than by directing your readers to them? Unless you can give cookies, of course. Always give cookies. And link back.
And please, no light blue writing on a light green background. Not everyone will find that easy to read. Keep it simple, and you can’t go wrong.
When I first started blogging I made one big mistake you should avoid. The blog was about photography because that’s what I studied, and I wanted to be all professional – which meant that my posts sounded stiff, forced, and not at all like me. You can be professional without locking away who you are, and your posts will be much better received if your readers can connect with you. Your blog is your corner on the internet and your personality should shine, not cower in a dark corner! You might be surprised by how many people will flock to you. Personally I prefer reading posts where the writer’s personality comes through, and I bet you prefer those posts to stiff, forced text, too!
One thing you might struggle with if this is your first blog is what to blog about. When you first create your blog it’s a blank canvas, and it’s up to you to fill it with whatever you like! But how do you know what’s right? How do you know what people will find interesting?
Simple! Write about what you know. For example, if you’re a fashion student or beautician you might blog about make-up tips and how-tos. If you’re a poet you might post your poems. Cookie Break is all about my journey as a writer so I post related updates, including writing prompts and regular progress updates on my books with the occasional picture of the mascot – my cat Selly, or Sellybean. (Sellybean makes a better mascot name in my opinion, so let’s stick to that)
Now, perhaps most important of all – relax. You’re not writing a book here, you’re writing a blog. You should briefly check for spelling and other issues before you publish (no one likes to read any length of text if all punctuation is missing), but don’t worry about the grammar too much. Just relax, do what you can, eat a cookie or ten, and hit that publish (or schedule) button!
WordPress was intimidating when I first started using it, but I promise you’ll get used to it. There are many great tutorials out there, and the writing community is welcoming and supportive. Ask for help, and somebody will answer.
Blogging shouldn’t feel like a chore. If it becomes stressful and you dread having to write another post, take a break. Yes, honestly! Just walk away for a week or however long you need. If your readers are genuinely interested in your posts (that’s the only kind of reader you want) they’ll still be there when you return.
What would be your advice to new bloggers? Is there anything you know now you wish you’d known when you first started? Or maybe you’ve got a question? Pour yourself some tea, grab that bean bag, and let’s chat!
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