I love blogging. It’s my ‘go-to’ place when I need to vent, rave, dream or debate. It’s like this techno portal you can ‘go to’ in our digital age and type to your heart’s content.
And then, with the click of a button, you can share your thoughts with the rest of the world.
That’s something pretty powerful.
I’ve been blogging for about four–five years. I’m no blogging guru, I just happen to love the art of writing combined with the versatility of this creative hobby (or business).
Digital age blogging – What’s to love?
What’s not to love?
I could go on for days about the benefits of blogging. But, I won’t. I’ve finally learnt how to stop ‘waffle writing’, so I’m forcing myself to try and keep it short and sweet – here are a few of those blogging benefits:
- ANYONE can blog from anywhere in the world.
- You can earn money blogging.
- You can blog for fun or it can become part (or all) of your business.
- Blogging can be therapeutic.
- It can be educational, too.
- There are endless blogging topics: fashion, travel, food, business, mommy stuff, etc.
- Blogging can become your creative outlet.
- You can easily add YouTube videos, graphs and images to make it more interesting.
- Blogging connects you to people you’d never normally meet in person. (I’ve found one of my closest friends through blogging).
- If you’re shy, blogging is a great way to voice your opinion and let the ‘real’ you come out.
- It’s one of the best platforms for businesses to connect with customers.
- Setting up a blog is easy and there are tons of free templates to choose from.
- You can even use free sites like Wix.com or Sitey.com to start a blog.
Social media: Getting your message out there
Blogging, especially in today’s digital age, is one of the BEST ways to tell people what you do, or what your company is all about.
A blog post is a little different to a website article. It connects with people and encourages engagement (comments, shares and likes). It allows for a little more space to write, add images, include videos, etc. compared to Twitter or Facebook, for example.
Blogs are a fantastic vehicle for getting your brand out there, hosting competitions, introducing new products or services, and letting customers or friends get a better look ‘behind the scenes’ of your life, or your company.
Social media is like a trailer to that vehicle. It carries the blog message across different social media platforms:
- Short and sweet on Twitter, think competitions, short blog post links, quotes, and engaging questions.
- Adding value on Facebook. Here you can post a link to your blog post with a cool image and a short intro.
- Instagram: add your latest blog link to your bio section. Upload an image, give it a short intro (include that the link is in the bio).
- Create interesting boards on Pinterest with your blog links and other links that you find interesting across the web.
How to start a blog
Before you get too excited about jumping into the blogging world, ask yourself these two questions:
- Do I have the resources to keep this up? Will you be writing yourself, or do you know of someone who can help you out?
- Will I be able to publish a good-quality blog post on a regular basis, e.g. once a week, once every two weeks, or once a month?
Once you’ve answered ‘yes’ to both questions, you’re good to go!
You have a couple of options open when it comes to choosing a blogging platform.
Let’s look at free sites first. These include Wix, Sitey, Blogger or WordPress.com.
- Free site benefits: they’re not complicated and they’re very easy to navigate and set up.
- The downside: there aren’t many cool features available. For example, on WordPress.com, you can’t install plugins (this means no SEO checker, no spam checker, no extra widgets for sign ups or newsletters).
I personally love WordPress.org and would recommend starting out here, especially if you’re starting a professional or business blog.
The site has a handy guide with all the steps you need to download and install WordPress. (And if you need more help here, remember: Google and YouTube are your friends – you can find almost anything you need online, the benefits of digital age technology!)
3 Things to keep in mind when setting up WordPress.org
- You’ll need a name for your blog. (This is a proper website name, e.g. www.bluebeanbananas.com). There are a couple of great sites on the internet that can help you come up with a unique blog name. Look at domain name generators.
- Next, you’ll need to register this domain name. Do this via an internet hosting company. I’m a huge fan of peerlevel.co.za. They are so helpful and have the fastest response time I’ve ever seen. You can of course also go for the bigger companies like Web Africa, Go Daddy, Host Monster, etc.
- Finally, you’ll need to set up hosting with this domain name. Don’t panic, it’s not nearly as complicated as it sounds (and your hosting company will do this for you). Go for the most basic monthly package out there. This is usually less than R50 a month and it includes a couple of email addresses. (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org). The reason for hosting? So that your site can exist, function and be found in cyberspace!
What it’s really all about
Blogging in today’s digital age isn’t about pumping your name or your business.
Yes, it’s about letting people know that you’re out there and telling them what you do, but at the end of the day, your blog needs to add VALUE to people who have NO time.
You need to make what you’re writing worthwhile.
Entertain. Educate. Inform. Inspire.
Is it worth your readers time?
Before I write and publish a post, I ask myself if I’d give up two to five minutes of my day to read this post uninterrupted, without getting bored. The next webpage or my Facebook news feed is silently screaming at me to click, click, click ALL the time.
So it’s got to be really good to get my attention – and keep it there.
That’s my two cents. If you’re going to bother writing something and asking people to give it the time of day, make it worth their while.
Oh, and above all else, ENJOY it. Experiment with your blog layout, themes, free images, and writing!
After all, blogging is a creative outlet. Sure, it’s marketing and SEO (for business) and all that, but it’s about ‘chatting’ with your readers, so just imagine that you’re chatting to a friend and have FUN!