A little over two years ago, when I began this blog, I'd had no training whatsoever in "how to blog," aside from having read foodie posts online ... which did not post on rhyming, metered poetry.
So, I dove into the deep end of the seemingly boundless blogging pool and kept on swimming. My first blog post, in February of 2013, was nothing more than an attempt to get started by way of an introduction. Since then I've covered quite a bit of ground.
If you are keen to begin blogging as well, or are merely interested in what I shared with Emily that day, have a look at the following, which is an abridged version of my contribution to her handout.
On Blogging ...
Setting up your blog
Choose a blog site that you can easily manage. There are many blog sites to choose from. Simply “google” blog site, and have a look at what is available there. Determine whether the format and parameters of these blog sites will produce the feel and flow you are hoping to present online. If you are not comfortable with tackling deeper technical issues, such as formatting and designing from scratch, you can use a higher level blog site, such as Weebly, where you can click icons in the toolbar to design your blog using pre-made elements. You can easily drag and drop an image element, a text element, and etc., where you want them to occur on the page.
Choose a background that will keep readers coming back
How your blog appears to your readers will either lure them back or drive them away. Do you want a homey, armchair feel to your blog, or something more modern, or do you want to showcase a particular image? There are so many images available to you on Wikimedia Commons, Flickr, a simple Google image search and so on, it should be easy enough to find what you want for your home page. Just be certain that the image you decide on is free for you to use, without the constraint of copyright, licensing issues.
Use hashtags that will steer readers to your blog
When you set up your blog, you can include hashtags in your blog settings to reference the genre in which you write. For instance, if your blog is intended for the Steampunk audience, use #steampunk. Is your blog going to be about jewelry? Use #jewelry. Add a separate hashtag for every descriptive element possible that you can reference for your blog. Readers who are searching for hashtags as a shortcut will have an easier time finding your blog.
Write persuasively, and strive to project in your posts
Projection involves no small amount of confidence, but writing too passively can allow your audience to be less confident in you. This is your blog, you own it, and you have every right to speak your mind, within acceptable limits. Anchor your writing to your passion.
Use quotes from famous people to introduce, explain, or substantiate your posts
This is a convenient first step in writing a blog post when you need an idea. For instance, if the subject of your post is about the importance of thorough research, you could cite the following: “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” Mark Twain. Humorous quotes such as this one can help lighten the mood of your post, as well, and you can follow up with a little background information on Mr. Twain. Plus, there’s nothing quite so sweet as validation from a well known source. You can search for quotes by someone you with to write about for inspiration.
Do your research, no matter how much you think you know about your subject
It can be illuminating, and humbling, to find out that you had something horribly wrong in your post, especially if it is your reader who tells you so. Not that such a situation can’t be mended, but strive to find all that there is on the subject you are writing about.
Include a related, introductory image at the top of each post that will get attention
A picture IS worth a thousand words, (anonymous). Adding a relevant picture at the top of each blog posts is one way give your readers a hint about what they are about to read, and a provocative image can encourage someone to investigate a post they might not otherwise read. For instance, it you’re writing a blog post about decision making, you could begin it with a photo of road signs pointing in all directions, and title it, “Making The Right Decision.”
Link your blog to your social media pages, such as Facebook and Twitter
This step is one way to get a bit of notice, but don’t depend on it too heavily. Social media is a fickle and unreliable way to reach an audience. Do use it, though, for a little added exposure, especially if you are already linked to loads of people. However, do not fall into the trap of paying a social media site to boost your blog. There have been issue with this.
Obtain business cards with a link to your blog
You can’t conveniently carry your blog around with you, but a handsome business card bearing your name and the link to your blog is a handy and important tool for getting notice. You can also add a link to your Twitter account, or whichever social media you use, to make yourself more approachable to a wider circle of viewers.
Earn income from your blog where possible
This requires linking your blog to advertisements, with the result that you earn a bit of money whenever anyone clicks on that ad. Some might find this off putting, but it is a standard practice. Not all blog sites are set up to do this, which might help you to narrow down which blog site to use. I have not yet decided to do this here.
Cite public domain articles in your posts as needed
A well written and thoroughly researched article on the topic you are posting about is a handy shortcut, and it hints that you are rather knowledgeable on the subject. Weaving pertinent details from the article into your post helps to give your work broader scope and enhances your authenticity. If you run short on ideas to blog about, seek out articles that talk about topics that are of interest to you.
Cite your sources
This applies to images as well as texts. You can do this by adding a link, at the bottom of your post, to the webpage where you found the image. You can cite the name of the article, and the publication in which you found it in, within the body of your post. Always give credit to whom credit is due, or to Anonymous if that is so.
Respond to comments left on your blog in a timely way
It’s rude and disingenuous to ignore a reader’s comment. If their comment was posted with the intent to discourage or disparage you, a, “Thank you for your comment,” is better than saying nothing at all, and may even discourage them from further taunting you.
Keep at it, even if you think no one is reading your blog
It is quite possible that you are more widely read than you realize. About three months into writing this blog, received an email from Weebly, congratulating me for having received 203 pages views! I was very surprised by that news, but my stats bore this out.
Post something new once a week
Write and post as regularly as you are able to, preferably once a week. Posting more frequently can seem redundant, while posting less frequently can appear arbitrary and inconsistent. If you plan to take a little time off, tell your readers of this in advance.
So, now you know what I know, so far. There are all sorts of sites about blogging, and I advise you to investigate them, as well. Most all, if you do decide to write your own blog, make sure to have fun with it.