In the back of my mind, I have always wanted to be a blogger. Maybe we all do, on some level. Anyway, here I am, with my first guest blog post! Ever! And considering that what I feel now is a little scared about what to say, I’ve decided to write about blogging.
Now, I’m not what you consider to be a successful blogger – my most read blog so far has had just over 630 views, 208 of which are probably me. From my understanding, 422 views on 23 posts is not ground-breaking. However, I consider my blog to be successful in its purpose, which is simply to document what I do, so that others can learn from my journey. We have an intrinsic interest in the experiences of others, especially when these experiences are relevant to ours.
The first lesson I learned with blogging was to throw the idea of perfection out of the window. A blog is like a narrative, or a conversation – it’s not meant to be an official guide on anything. Trying to get photos to look professional or the writing to be classic literature just made me feel depressed that it wasn’t, and I would spend more time on the look and feel than the actual content, fighting against HTML templates and hidden Stylesheets. In the end it dawned on me that I would be able to change the look and feel at a later stage – that’s the beauty of powerful blogging systems like Blogger or Tumblr. My content would always be there, but I could change what my blog looks like at any time.
So I literally just wrote, briefly, about what I was doing, and chucked in some screen shots and photos to illustrate. I also realised pretty early on that the idea was to update regularly. Keep the thread running, adding new insights, talking about new projects or new bits of interest, relating to the gist of the blog.
On that point, the question still pops up every now and then of what to do with content that is interesting, but not entirely relevant. I found, upon looking at other blogs, that content shouldn’t be restricted to one topic, but that it should have a common thread. For example, Annie Mole’s London Underground blog has a very wide variety of topics, all relating to the Underground. This includes news about abandoned stations, tube posters from the 50’s, the history of the tube, new patterns being used on tube seats, etc. So there is vast potential for relevant content, being held together by a strong theme that many people are interested in.
What to do with content that doesn’t fit your theme any more? First I try and imagine whether I would be incorporating more content like it in the future. So, say I have a blog about interesting recipes, and my original idea was to post recipes from all over the world. But now I’ve found an article about a new cooking utensil, that has the potential to make food more interesting. I am sure that more stuff like this will come along in the future, and I can also see that it ties in with my theme. I may modify my original theme to now be ‘interesting food’.
If I find an article about an exciting new clothes pattern, I could change my blog theme to ‘anything of interest’ but now it becomes too vague. So what I do is to create a new blog, about interesting clothes. It’s all a matter of how you organise your content.
So you are interested in starting your own blog? There are a couple of ways to go about it it depending on what you have in mind. Although Pinterest is not strictly speaking a blogging platform I like to think of it as a visual blog. You create an account and start ‘pinning’ (they have a very nifty little browser button that you can install) images from different websites to your boards. http://pinterest.com/ohmycreative/ is an awesome example of pinning about one particular subject but obviously your boards and pins can run as wild as your field of interest does.
Blogspot (or Blogger) is a free blogging platform run by Google and if you have a gmail email account it is just a matter of activating a blog. You can do this by logging into gmail and going to blogger under the ‘more’ tab at the top, or by searching for Blogger and following the steps on their landing page. Blogger offers a very powerful tracking system that shows how often your blog is being read, which posts are getting the most views and which countries your readers are from, among some other insightful bits of info.
There is obviously a lot more to know about blogging, but that’s my 2 cents for a start. Happy writing!