by Susan Murphy
Several times a month, people ask me for advice on the best place to start building an online presence. Whether they are building a presence to market themselves or their business, I will usually recommend that they start with a blog. A blog is a place online that you own (as opposed to something like a Facebook page, that Facebook owns). Think of it as your home base; where you create content (written, audio, video, images) and post them whenever you like. You can use your blog to share stories of the things you care about, offer advice, share your expertise, or hone your writing skills. A blog is one of the best ways to get your message out there, and search engines absolutely love them.
When most people start out with blogging, the biggest issue is keeping the momentum. Usually it starts off great – the ideas flow, and when you send the link to friends, family and colleagues they flock to check it out and often will send you nice message to praise you for a job well done. However, as time goes on, it can be challenging to keep the ideas flowing, and people get busy – they don’t always remember to drop by your blog to see what’s new. So how do you get started with blogging and stick with it? Here are some tips.
Choose the Right Platform
Choosing a user friendly blogging platform is key, because if you don’t like your blogging platform, I guarantee you won’t be inclined to post. Personally, Jester Creative recommends WordPress, for many reasons. First, it’s super easy to use and set up, whether you’re just getting started with a free WordPress.com blog or if you have a web site host already and want to install the WordPress.org software. Second, you can customize it as much as you want – you can start off with a simple, free template and have a nice looking site within a few minutes. As time goes on and you want to add more features, there are lots of ways to customize. Take a look at any of the sites Jester Creative has developed (they are all done with WordPress) and you’ll see what’s possible!
Make it Easy for People to Connect to You
One of my pet peeves with web sites in general is not having contact information easily available. When you start up a new blog, make sure you create an “About” page on that blog that has a bit of bio information and an email address where people can contact you. You could even add a simple form that people can fill in if they have a question.
You also want to make sure your social networks are front and centre. Ideally, you want to have them on every page – there are simple WordPress plugins that let you embed your Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, and other links in the sidebar or the header of your site.
You also want to consider making it easy for people to comment on your blog. I recommend using Livefyre, instead of the regular WordPress commenting tool. Livefyre comes with some nice features, like the ability to “like” someone’s comment (a nice touch that shows people you’re listening, even if you don’t have a reply at the moment), and also if a commenter has a Livefyre account, it will show their most recent blog post under their comment. This is a great way to show some link love to your commenters, and who doesn’t dig a little link love!
Sometimes when you’re first starting out with blogging, it can be kind of lonely. It doesn’t seem like anyone is listening. If you make it easy for people to connect to you through your blog, then they will be more inclined to do so. Always be there to listen and respond, and be genuinely appreciative of people for taking time to connect. You’ll have more fun and be motivated to blog more often!
Have a Blogging Schedule
Creating a schedule for your blog is one of the most important things you can do to help you keep blogging. Create a schedule and write it down in your calendar. As you come up with ideas, write them into the calendar too. Create your posts a couple of days ahead and schedule them (use HootSuite to schedule some promotional tweets at the same time!)
I recommend starting out with posting twice per week. You could even make one of those posts a series post (like we do on this blog with our Question of the Week). Then you only have to come up with one new original idea per week! The other post could be a curated list of interesting links you’ve found. If you’re curating content, always add your own thoughts on why the post is interesting and why you’ve decided to share it.
Blogging is one of the best ways to get your name out there and share what you’re all about. It doesn’t take much to get started – just a few good ideas. If you consistently post content and make it easy for people to connect with you and feel part of what you’re doing on your blog, then you’ll have plenty of reasons to keep going!
Looking for more blogging tips? Register for Jester Creative’s upcoming Intro to Blogging online seminar for even more in-depth tips and tricks to help you become a successful blogger.