Over the last couple of weeks I have had a few students ask me for advice about setting up a blog for the first time. As a guy who has been blogging for the last 5 years in various shapes and forms this is the advice I would give those treading the waters of the blogosphere for the first time.
I have only written 9 tips so that people can freely commented and add their own suggestions.
1. Don’t start a blog because you have to
Teachers or Lecturers may try persuading you to blog alongside the course. Only maintain a blog if you want to though. Blogging is all about passion.
2. Blogging is about writing
Blogging isn’t about promotion but instead writing. Unless you are a good writer then I would recommend you to avoid the blogosphere. However, if you have the desire to improve your writing style then a blog is perfect for you. When I started blogging in 2005 my writing style was terrible but now my spelling grammar has improved immensely. I find reading a variety of writing styles compliments your own. My influences are all fairly similar in nature; Christopher Hitchens, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Clarkson, George Orwell and Richard Dawkins.
3. Blogs aren’t just written
In this rich media age blogs can include images, podcasts and video. A blog is ultimately for sharing content. Don’t just stick to medium, push your blog to the multimedia limits!
4. Search for a focus
Why do you want to set up a blog? This blog has been set up to run alongside my public relations course whilst I study at University. The focus is therefore leaning towards the aspects which are relevant to my degree. You will also see that at times I have written posts of a personal ‘student life’ perspective. Ultimately your blog should be a form of expression towards your passions. Having a main focus will generally increase your blog’s readership.
5. Don’t focus on the readers
Don’t care about how many people will read your blog. Just care who might be reading your blog. If I began blogging worrying about readership levels then I would have never continued. When you write a blog, think this, “Would I put this post up on a billboard?” Remember that if you write anything harmful you may negatively come across to your readers.
6. Choose your service
I run my blog on hired server space with a personalised domain name. If you want to learn how to do this then leave a comment and I’ll write a short step-by-step post. It is easy.
7. Frequency and length
This is a battle I am still fighting. How often should one post and how long should posts be? I tend to limit myself to 800 words maximum. The largest post I have written was 3000 words but I doubt many people made it to the end! My advice for frequency would be at least 1 post per fortnight. If gaps between posts become too long then readers get bored. If you have to push yourself to blog because you can’t be bothered then perhaps blogging isn’t for you.
8. Network yourself
Promotion of yourself is a secondary inevitable outcome from maintaining a blog. I have had a multitude of companies ask for advice from me, have networked with a great many people and all because people searched the internet and found my blog. If you are a student wanting to make your way in the world then being the author of a blog is probably the most powerful form of promotion you can do.
9. Promote your blog posts
There are many different ways to promote your blog posts. Try these methods for starters:
– Set up a Twitter Account
– Use NetworkedBlogs on Facebook
– Include your blog’s address in your email’s footer
There are too many services to list. I did write a post about blog promotion a little while ago though which can be found here.