If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you might have noticed it is a bit formulaic, in the sense that usually, my posts begin with the statement, “Someone should start a blog about __________ . . .” (Fill in the blank with whatever random idea I’ve dreamed up of recent, or more often than not, been inspired to write about by friends or fellow bloggers.). Well, this post, as you may have already gathered, deviates from that norm (and is lengthier, too).
As promised, I am embarking on the task to write a post about how to know when you’re ready to start a blog/how to know what you ought to blog about/how to name your blog/etc. So, here goes! (Begin needless disclaimer. Please remember, the views in this post are solely the views of one blogger, namely myself, and do not necessarily reflect the views of WordPress or the entire blogosphere. End needless disclaimer.)
1. Read blogs. Maybe it seems obvious, and you’re probably already reading blogs, or else you wouldn’t be reading this sentence! (At this moment, I feel kinda like an author who names the first chapter of her book “Read Books.”) But there’s a little bit more to be intentional about in reading blogs if you yourself are planning to start a blog. Take note of what kind of blogs you gravitate towards. Bookmark your favorites. There’s a good chance that if you always find yourself reading blogs that focus on travel photography, that you may want to start a blog about travel photography. That’s not always true, of course. I may enjoy reading all those blogs by moms with gardens who live out in the middle of nowhere and wear dresses every day (I really do believe that’s a genre in the blogging world.), but (a) I’m not a mom, (b) I don’t have a garden, (c) Well, okay, I do kinda live in the middle of nowhere, but (d) I only own one or two dresses, none of which look good with tennis shoes (My philosophy about shoes is that you should always be prepared to run.). But still, finding out what kind of blogs you like to read will help in the long run (See. It’s all about running.). Even if you don’t think you could write a blog on the subjects you tend to read about, bookmarking the ones you really enjoy will help you in the next steps.
Break the blogging mold! You don't have to be a gardener (although it's cool).
(It was very hard for me to decide if this next step should be step #1, #2, or #3, but there’s a reason it’s sandwiched between #1 and #3. I hope it will make sense soon.)
2. Write test blog posts. This is possibly the MOST important pre-blog step, and notice it is pre-blog. I strongly suggest that before you ever choose a domain name for a blog or post your first post that you write a few test blog posts. Type them up in a Word document so that they are as ready as if you were about to publish them on to a blog. What should they be about? Anything! Don’t limit yourself. You could possibly look back at some blogs you liked for inspiration, or some topic in the news, or something you recently read or heard that you really liked. Just write about something that you believe you would really blog about. The number of test blog posts isn’t set in stone. I believe five might be a good number, but how many ever you choose to write, you’ll want to have enough material to help you out for step #3.
3. Analyze that. Finding out what kind of blogs you like, bookmarking them, and then writing some of your own test posts allow you to have a body of resources to refer back to when you start considering what kind of subject, format, and style you’d like to have for your blog.
After bookmarking blogs for a week or so and then writing your determined number of test posts, look back at the blogs. What kind of similarities do they have? You might ask some of these questions:
What are these posts about (subject matter)?
Do they have a similar genre?
Are posts one short paragraph, or the size of a novella?
Is the format fairly simple, or more complex?
Are there lots of pictures, or is there more of a focus on the text?
Do the posts tend to be more light-hearted, or more philosophical?
Is it fiction, or non-fiction?
What’s the purpose? To entertain, teach, criticize, tell jokes?
Once you see similarities of this nature in the posts you enjoy reading and writing, you may be able to tell what kind of blog you’d like to write. This is a question of subject matter, style, and genre.
These steps can help you in the long run.
These are only steps one through three, and wow, I didn’t know it would take this much space to say all that! I hope you’ll come back for part 2 where I’ll wrap up the practical aspects of starting a blog. Thanks for reading.