...copyright Elena Yatzeck, 2010-2017

Saturday, May 5, 2012

How to Become a Blogger in 5 Steps

You should blog.  Why?
  • You write well when you use complete sentences.  The world deserves to enjoy your writing, not just abbreviations you can fit into 140 characters.  Also, we're tired of reading things like "ORD->LHR.  Tired after 17 days of nonstop travel through Europe."  Actually, I suppose if that's what you are going to write about in complete sentences, that would technically be "bragging," not "blogging."  So don't.
  • You might like blogging.  Don't let that beautiful writing skill lie dormant.  Let me nudge you!  If you write it, I will comment!  Or someone else will.
  • Most of you should blog to help build your personal brand.  The phrase qualifies for Buzzword Bingo!, but there is some wisdom behind the "marketspeak."  As dotcomma.me commented below--be ambitious.  Don't expect instant fortune or fame, but don't be surprised by it when it comes.  And at minimum, you are putting your best face forward for people who are specifically looking for you online.

One obstacle I have run into as I try to get more of you out in the "blogosphere" is that you feel squeamish about "how to blog."  So let me help you.  It's easy.  I promise.  I don't do things that are a hassle.  Why even now, I'm procrastinating on submitting badly needed reimbursement claims to my company, and I'll get money for doing that.  Here you go.  Five steps:
  1. Sign up for a free blog-publishing service.  There are sites that host blogs.  Think of it as "Facebook," only you get to write in a bigger box, and they let you use italics and bold.  Here's a handy list of the "Top 10 Free Online Blogging Platforms."  Caveat emptor.  I'm not recommending any of these.  I use blogger.com.  But the point is, this should be free.  Do not pay to blog.
  2. Format your page.  There will be default templates on your site.  Pick one and stop agonizing about it.  Usually it's easy to upload a picture of your choice.  Perhaps you should limit your customizations to just the photo for now.
  3. Write your first blog post.  Yes, yes, that raises a host of questions I will get to in a second, but really, it's like the 3-paragraph essay you had to write three of every day in high school.  It is not a big deal.  And you are encouraged to use bullets, which makes it that much easier.
  4. Tell your friends to read your post.  It's fine if you do this in the form of an anxious email to the three people who love you best in the world, where the email says "Did I just totally humiliate myself?"  The answer will be "no, it looks great."  And you may have an interesting conversation.  
  5. Write 20 posts over the next 6 months.  I feel that once you do something 21 times it is a habit.  So do lots of other people who have other suggestions for getting into a favorable new habit.  Once a week is a good rate.  It will get easier with practice.
Now.  Questions which may be roiling in your brain:
  1. How long should a post be?   Especially a business-oriented blog?  Here's a nice answer from Matt McGee, which is sort of a meditation on the concept of "It Depends."  Honestly, if you Google search this question you will get a lot of answers.  My answer is "start with 3 paragraphs."  See what happens.
  2. What should I blog about?  Any time you wonder something and then find out the answer to it, you can blog about that.  If you wondered, then so did someone else.  Save them some time.  Also, if something makes you angry, you can blog about that but disguise all of the details, so someone else can learn from your situation.
  3. Any must-dos?  Use numbers and bullets.  Include links to other people's wisdom.  Have white space.  Put in an image or two.  Attempt to entertain while you inform.
  4. Anything to avoid?  Do not mention your employer or any person you work with by name, unless you have their permission, and most likely also only to compliment the person.  There are contexts where open venting is appropriate (like your shower).  Write everything as though your coworkers, bosses, and neighbors were reading it over your shoulder.  If it is embarrassing to anyone but you, leave it out.
  5. Special bonus tips?  Yes, I almost forgot.  I just read a blog somewhere that recommended "how to write a good blog title."  I just searched for it and found out there are probably 10,000 articles on the topic.  Here's a nice one that might help you brainstorm on what to write about as well.   The piece of advice that I remember was to include a number in the title.  Like "7 Secrets to Making Your Fake British Accent Less Obvious."  That would draw me in, for sure.
That's it.  Now go blog.  And once you do, remember how it feels, and think about reading and commenting on other people's blogs.  You can do it!  And so can they.