Whether you're cataloguing your weekly brunch recipes, showing off your DIY skills, celebrating your inner Rachel Zoe, musing on music or adding your voice to the issues of the day, there's one fool-proof way to find an audience: Start a blog. And while managing your own personal corner of the internet can sound overwhelming, the hardest part is getting started. Instead of scouring the internet on how to create that one-of-a-kind blog that will set you apart from the countless others, I’m here to let you in on a few secrets.
Where to Start
There are more types of blogs out there than Starbucks—and hey, I don’t know about you, but I see them on nearly every street corner. While it's nice to have variety, it can cause choice overload, making it harder to decide what you want to center your blog around. The best part is you’re not obligated to stick to one category. If you like food and fashion, then combine the two! If you’re into knitting cat sweaters and writing poetry, then go for it! For my personal blog, I wanted to include fashion with a literary twist. There are no wrong answers. Whatever your passions are, blogs are the way to highlight and explore them.
Set It Up
Of course if you want to start a blog, you need to find the right platform. I think of Wordpress as the Daenerys Targaryen of blog sites—loved by all and followed by a diverse group of loyal subjects. Other sites like Tumblr and Blogger offer slightly different formats and communities, so you might want to browse around all three before deciding.
As for your domain name, take a second to really think about this one. Basically, this is the blogger’s version of getting a tattoo. While you can change your domain name later on, it’s a painful process and can sometimes result in damaging your blogger cred. Make sure it’s a reflection of who you are or want to be as a blogger and what you want to portray to entice readers.
You aren’t going to get followers just by snapping your fingers or wiggling your nose like Samantha Stevens from Bewitched. It’s going to take some Rihanna-style work. One of the best ways to get loyal followers is to check out other people’s blogs—preferably of the same category as your own, to start with—and leave a genuine comment or note, and do it consistently. Leave a link to your own blog, invite them to visit and just like that you’ve made yourself a fellow blogger friend. Personally, I’m amazed by the talent of some of the bloggers I encounter, and they often inspire my own blogging.
Another option to take into consideration is reaching out into the real world (I know, it’s scary stuff, but stay with me) and making connections with mutual benefits. For instance, I have a blog based on fashion, specifically styling. The problem is I only own so many clothes and can only style so many outfits, and I don’t get paid for posts like the big names do. So how can I acquire more clothes to style without spending big bucks? Light bulb! Go out and strike a deal! I went to a few local boutiques and asked if they would be willing to let me borrow their clothes for photo shoots as long as I feature them in my blog. And just like that, I had three boutique-sized closets to pull from. Nifty, isn’t it?
The Bird is the Word
In this case, the bird comes in the form of Twitter and other forms of social media—so tweet, tweet away. Don’t be afraid to spread the news and make sure you connect your blog to all your social media accounts so when you publish a post, it’ll upload to those outlets too. The more you can promote your blog, the better. Like commenting, social media is more effective when you interact with others and have something interesting to say.
Find Your Voice
Having a unique writing voice so you don’t drown in the sea of bloggers is everything. Don’t be that parrot that sits on the pirate’s shoulder and repeats everything they hear. Be you! As cliché as it sounds, you can’t try to be someone else, or readers will notice. Play on your strengths—whether you’re witty, insightful, or a little mix of everything, let loose and don’t try to force it. A genuine voice is a happy voice.
Don't Give Up
Even when it seems like the only people that give two hoots about your blog are your family and close friends—you know, those people you’ll text every time a post goes up telling them they better check it out or else you won’t be their Netflix binge buddy—you honestly never know who looks forward to what you have to say. For example, I was feeling less and less inclined to blog because I thought my mom and dad were the only people who actually read it, complete with a “Great post, honey!” text after releasing each post.
Without any other indication of fans aside from the handful of blog friends I had made, I was starting to feel discouraged. That is until one night, when I was mingling among friends and fellow students and a guy I had only met once before came up to me and told me he really enjoyed my most recent post. I was shocked and elated that people other than my parents actually read my blog, but it just goes to show that you never quite know.
Get Your Head Right
Stay mindful of your reason for creating a blog. Maybe you want to become blogger-famous and a social media star, but you have to be realistic. While Internet fame can happen, it can’t be automatically expected and takes tons of work and time. The main reason I feel people should blog is to express themselves. It’s going to be hard to post consistently if you value your blog based on your page views and likes.
I would be a hypocrite if I said that I never focused on those things—all too often we get sucked into that crazy perception that success comes with popularity. True success comes with impacting lives, whether it be your own or someone else’s. The impact doesn’t have to be profound or anything, but just knowing that your most recent post made someone smile, or helped them learn how to knit a Persian cat sweater, is the best feeling you can get.