5 Steps to Start a Blog

Have you been thinking about starting a blog, but you’re not sure how to get started? Well, stop thinking about it and do it. If you’re like me, though, you need a few steps to get started so here are five to move you forward.

Computer keyboard

The key to writing a blog is to stop thinking about it and write it. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Choose your topic. You can write about anything you want to write about but if you want a following try to narrow your focus. I started my blog as a way to communicate with members of National Federation of Press Women. I’m exposed to lots of information through conferences, training, list serves and business books, and I realized I could distill the nuggets from these sources so that others wouldn’t have to do the research. That’s my blog – Cynthia’s Communique.

Choose a platform.  I set up mine on WordPress because at the time that is what I was most familiar. I also like how easy it is for readers to post comments. Another platform is Tumblr, which is especially nice for short posts and photos. A colleague once described it as long-form Twitter. Whatever, you choose, take the time to read or watch the tutorials.

Create a content calendar. How often will you publish? Where will you find inspiration? I post every Wednesday and Sunday – it’s what works for me. During NFPW conferences, I post daily for the members who can’t attend. You may decide to post simply when you feel like it. A downside to that is that it’s challenging to grow your readership when readers don’t know when to expect a post.

I also keep a running list of ideas. I note key holidays and events that might be relevant for a blog topic. Sometimes I’m able to create evergreen posts that don’t have a time limit but I can use when I might be too busy. These are especially helpful for when I’m traveling and may not have the extra time needed to write a post. My content calendar is always with me so I can tweak it, rearrange it, add to it.

Write your blog. And then proof it and edit it. Even after you do that, you may post a mistake. Own up to it and correct it. My blog is usually a few hundred words. To get to those words, I often spend an hour or two researching my topic, interviewing people, distilling information and then putting the salient points on paper (well, on the screen). It’s a lot of work, and I must carve out time to do it. Be prepared to put in the prep work.

Market your blog. You can write a blog and post it, but that doesn’t mean anyone will see it to read it. It’s not like a baseball field in an Iowa cornfield. You need to employ SEO (search engine optimization or key words). You need to print it on your business card. You need to tweet it. You need to share it on Facebook. You need to talk about it. You should also read other blogs and write a comment if you have something relevant to share. You should link to other blogs and materials in your blog so that your readers know they’re getting something more than simply your thoughts.

These steps will move you forward. You’ll keep learning along the way, just as we all do. When you launch your blog, I hope you will send me a link so I can check it out.

(Thanks to CPW member Ann Lockhart for inspiring this blog.)

How Does Your Community Grow?

Are you part of a community? Of course you are! And more than one. In fact, if you are on Facebook you are part of the 4th largest country in the world! That’s because Facebook now has more than 300 million accounts.

This means that how we communicate is changing – and rapidly. Many youth today don’t even pick up a phone to talk; they pick it up to text. I don’t send emails to one of my dear friends because she won’t read it. If I send a message on Facebook, I know she will get it, read it, and answer it. By the way, she’s 70!

Last week I attended the PRSA-Richmond chapter meeting. We heard from Dave Saunders of Madison + Main, who talked about social media, which he says “is the marriage of creativity, technology and interactiveness.”

With more than 1.5 million people on the Web today, he says it’s critical to be connected. Most in the audience raised their hands to say they are participating in social media through LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Several had a blog. Then he stumped us. “How many have Tumblr” accounts? Very few hands. I don’t know much about it. If you do, I’d love for you to comment. 

When I Googled it (and when did that become a verb?), I discovered it is a “free and lightweight blogging platform aimed at quick and easy linking and sharing.” I’ll start experimenting soon; heck, I’m still adjusting to life with a blog. I promised myself I would post every Sunday and Wednesday so while I’d love to be reading a good book, I’ve got to finish this post. It’s just like being a reporter on deadline except that the only editor standing over me is in my head.

Dave also shared the benefits of social media and what it won’t do.  As for benefits –

  • Increased brand awareness
  • Reputation management
  • Improved search engine rankings
  • Increased Web site traffic
  • More sales for your product or service (if you didn’t know it, Dave says, “Cold calls are dead.”)

 What it won’t do –

  • Fix a broken company
  • Make you rich
  • Replace your other forms of marketing or PR

Quite simply, social media is another platform that is used to enhance your community, personally or professionally. So how does your community grow?