A reader asked me how to start a good blog, but I honestly didn’t have an honest answer available because I’ve never thought about it. What does it mean to be a good blogger? That’s not a question anyone can answer, it varies from blogger to reader, and tastes change and develop based on interests, age range, and whatever’s trending at the time. Besides, I’m still learning. I understand that to a new blogger, I may seem successful, but there’s still a long way to go before I consider myself a good or successful blogger.
The question came from Instagram where I have just over 1500 followers, and I’ve seen accounts with a similar amount of followers calling themselves influencers, but to me, it doesn’t feel like a lot. My best mate, wildlife photographer William Steel, has nearly 10,000 and to him that doesn’t feel a lot. I guess none of us will ever be content with the size of our readership or following.
So, what are the rules to a good blog?
01 - Be Yourself
It’s advice any influencer on any platform will offer you while posing artificially in front of a beautiful landscape with the captions #livingmybestlife. If you’re naturally funny, then write humorous takes on interesting topics. If you’re sarcastic, try satire. If you’re angry, rant about something you’re passionate about. If you’re left-wing, be left-wing, and if not, don’t worry about it. Life’s too short to please people who don’t like the real you. It doesn’t matter how many people like you, as long as you do. Likewise, it doesn’t matter how many people like your content, if you’re proud of the content you’ve created.
02 - Post What Interests You
Most people find trains boring, or at least uninteresting, but if I was passionate about the modern railway systems and how they grew to become so vital to trade and transport, I know a few people who’d follow my blog religiously. I started posting poetry, and I’m slowly moving into other areas such as my new Travel Tales and Short Story sections, but I stuck to poetry despite warnings from friends because that was all I wanted to write at the time.
03 - Originality
This goes without saying, I presume. Don’t copy. One of my favourite rappers said, no idea’s original, there’s nothing new under the sun, it’s not what you do, but how it’s done. It’s okay to take ideas and reimagine them. I’m sure you can find a hundred, if not thousands, of articles about how to start writing a blog, but you won’t find one with my voice, or experience. Unless you’re on a hip-hop blog, you’ll struggle to find a writing blog quoting Nas, but I love Hip-Hop. By taking an often-overused topic and crafting a personal view from it, you’ve created something everyone has done in a way nobody else can.
04 - Be Sincere
Most of us overlook sincerity and fall into a follow4follow trap. It’s okay to follow many blogs and celebrities, but it’s crucial to follow blogs like you or that interest you. Randomly following hundreds of blogs and people may boost your follower count and make you feel as though things are going well, but most of these people will sit on your lists and ignore everything you post. Instagram’s new algorithm doesn’t ignore these followers and calculates how popular your posts are by a posts engagement rate. You need genuine followers for anyone on Instagram to see your content. Be patient.
How I got started?
I plan to tell my writing journey one day in a running weekly series, but it’ll take a lot of planning and writing time to include everything. Growing up, I dreamt of becoming a rapper and placed huge importance on the lyrical side of things. I didn’t feel passionate about recording and performing as I did about playing with words and slowly stopped rapping, but I missed writing. I discovered spoken word at university and realised I didn’t need to rap to write, but I began to find it more difficult performing without a beat. I wrote shorter poems and started a blog. It was fun and something to do where I could keep writing with reason.
People told me poetry was too restrictive, and most of my readers would want to read about different topics. But I didn’t listen. Rhyming was the most exciting aspect of writing, more important than prose, exposition, description or any other style of writing. I just wanted to rhyme. And so I did. I rhymed and wrote nothing else. That was until I found an idea for a story and stopped blogging to write numerous drafts.
Writing a novel takes time and a lot of commitment. But so does posting quality content regularly. Since I began writing my book, I’ve discovered a love for fiction writing, and now I post short stories. I’ve travelled a lot since leaving university, and now I write Travel Tales. And I’ve gained knowledge that I love to share and now share Advice from a New Writer. But I still post poetry.
How to start your blog
- First, figure out what you want to write about and create a few draft articles and draw up a basic schedule, nothing complicated, just enough to help you through your first few weeks of blogging.
- Set up your blog. Don’t worry about design and naming, all of these things can be changed, but you do need to pick a hosting site carefully. I use WordPress, but I have friends who use Wix. There are many sites to choose from but what website works best depends on you and your needs.
- Post your first article and link it to your social media. Follow blogs you like and interact with content you’ve enjoyed. Remember everything you do must be sincere.
- Keep writing. Even when things feel like they’re heading nowhere, keep going. Keep having fun and enjoy the journey.
- Let me know where I can find your blog and show it some love.
Thanks for reading, but please remember the most valuable piece of advice I have to offer; Everything takes time. Nothing happens overnight. Be patient, continue to write and focus on quality content and genuine interactions with other blog users. All your hard work will pay off eventually, and if it doesn’t, I hope you’ve had fun building your site. That is the pay-off.