Scratch Your Creative Itch: Start Blogging

new

New Start

Some of you have been asking how to start blogging and some of you haven’t, but you should–you have valuable information/great stories to pass on. Here are some tips I just gave to someone I hope soon joins the blogging community.

1.Move to WordPress:

(they allow you to import everything you’ve already written easily–within an hour you can be posting at WordPress.) Notice Eric -SoHum Parlance-an already successful blog just made the move and imported his old content.

On WordPress, you can control the comments easier and, most importantly for a new blog, it will be easier for other WordPress bloggers to stay up with what you do and start a conversation on your blog, thereby upping the traffic. Also you get better access to who is reading you, and what they are reading the most–the stats page is fun. WordPress, however, does not allow advertisements so if you are hoping to make money from your blog, go elsewhere. (Though starting at WordPress and then moving when you have built a following might be smart if you want to make money. I don’t know anyone who has gone this route though.) Here are some other reasons for both beginner and expert.

2. It takes forever to write a good post. Hours. Can you squeeze out the time? The rewards are immense. Your creativity will improve with constant practice. Your self-esteem improves both by the support of the online community and by seeing your work get better. But it takes energy and time that not everyone is willing to spare. (You will get faster with time though.)

3.As far as possible put informative links in your posts.  Link to other bloggers (they’ll appreciate it and link back). Link to other websites with info appropriate to your post.  This gives your readers more info if they need it and Google (as well asother search engines) is set up to route traffic to posts with links–there are a lot of reasons for that including how their “spiders”crawl the internet looking for information.

4. Use your blogroll to link to a community of bloggers. They will usually link back. But link to specific posts when appropriate because that helps build readership for both yours and their specific posts.

5. Most of your first comments will come from other bloggers. They know and appreciate the value of conversation on their blog. If you comment on theirs, generally they’ll comment back. Avatars tend to make you memorable.

You don’t need to use a pic of yourself though if you want to maintain anonymity. Rose for instance uses a white rose. Links from them will draw readers to your writing.

6. Try to get in a routine of daily or weekly blogging. Otherwise, it will be easy to avoid the work involved and never post. The more often you update your blog, the more people will check on it and become faithful readers–which in turn motivates you to write.

7.Tell your friends and family–unless you want to stay anonymous. They help get you started with feedback and readers.

8. Use one image at the top of each post, at least. This adds visual interest. You can use many images free online, Remember though, you don’t want anybody stealing your words. Photographers don’t want you stealing their images. At the very least, link to their photo and give credit for it.

9. Consider taking your own photos. You’re writing about your world; take pictures of it. They don’t have to be professional and, who knows, like me you may become passionate about photography, too.

10. Use tagging or keywords. I don’t know any blog hosts well except WordPress but nearly all allow for some form of tagging. WordPress has a spot while creating a new post where you can put in important concepts you are discussing in your post. These draw readers so don’t forget to use them.

11. Enjoy blogging. Sometimes it is work but it helps clarify who you are and what you think. For me, self knowledge and scratching the itch to be creative are what blogging is all about.

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32 comments

  • “start blogging”

    Ummmm…. What are you trying to tell me Kym?

  • You said bad things about my snow so you are on my sh…( whoops, Mom reads this) list. I’m talking to people like Ben and Olmanriver and a few others who would make great bloggers unlike evil backstabbing, snow hating varmits like you. (However, generously, because I feel sorry for your Ginchy soul, I will keep reading your interes…I mean, pitiful blog.)

  • Nice job, Kym.

    It does take time, and often for me it is time stolen from homework. However, it is my nature to use literally everything as a procrastination device.

    For me, putting things into words is a pleasure and helps me sort out my thoughts. Writing every day flexes the old writing muscles.

    Another recommendation for Word Press, hmmm. I’m kind of attached to the look of my blog. Does Word Press offer any pink templates?

    About telling family and friends, I made an announcement on MySpace and one “friend” slammed me very hard about vanity and shameless plugging and I don’t remember what else. She acted as if I were clueless to a hidden set of authoritative rules for blogging. Perhaps so, however, I still think blogging is a renegade activity and an as-yet incompletely defined genre. Even so, I haven’t announced my blog anywhere else because of her reaction.

    Luckily, my blog readers are much kinder than that “friend.” As far as I know, my readers are all friends and fellow local bloggers. It seems like an intimate enough crowd that I can write about real life to some extent and not be secretive about my identity. I like the intimate quality, and am not sure I want a much wider readership.

  • Oh, one more thing. I LOVE that photo. Beautiful naked branches against dramatic skies are one of my favorite kinds of images. And the composition is very artful. You have a gift that I really admire.

  • Oops, all that was me. I was still logged in at work.

  • Beautiful pictures and great tips. Blogging can be so addicting and rewarding.

  • Karol/Indie, I’m glad you like the photo. I’m not quite sure about it but I keep coming back to it so I tentatively offered it. Yes, there are pink themes but I do know that most people say there isn’t as much theme variety on WordPress. Having said that, I rarely run into similar themes. I’m sorry about your “friend.” Focusing on writing what interests you is the most important. I told all my family in the beginning and sent out regular little ads for a couple weeks by email. But once I had a small core of readers, I just focused on writing and the other tips.

    Sandi, addicting? No!! (As I sit here with my messy desk not getting cleaned.)

  • Heck….I think I enjoy the WP blogging part more than the actually photography that inspired the blog!

    Then again, I’m not right in the head. So my wife and daughter remind me.

  • WordPress was a great move for me. So much so that my website is WordPress hosted. That means I can update it fairly easily.
    And I love this blog. LOVE it.

  • The color in that photo is amazing.

  • I do love WordPress. I never actually use the part where you can follow comments in WordPress; I really should.

    Great suggestions!

  • I started out with a blog at WordPress, but I didn’t have a focus for what I was doing at the time, so I sort of abandoned it. I think I went to Blogger because I liked the way it handled photography compared to WP, but both platforms have been making upgrades along the way. Blogger has a “Follower” function that I can use to get feeds from any blogs I want (including yours), and can even open the list in Google Reader for expanded scrolling. I like their widget flexibility too, and the Picasa photo gallery generated by the blog. I guess any of them are good, it’s just what you get used to after a while. Sort of like Apple vs. PCs.

  • “You said bad things about my snow”

    Yeah, but I said good things about your photos…

    You know, Eric just cant keep a secret.

    I agree about Ben and “Old Man River”.

  • I think I would like to have a blog, but let’s see, what am I willing to sacrifice to have one? My genealogy? Nope. My exercise? Nope. My letter-writing? Nope. My monthly family newsletter? Nope. My housework? N…well, that one I might be willing to give up. Plus, sometimes I spend so much time reading OTHER people’s blogs, plus the links to other blogs in those blogs, and one thing leads to another, and poof! The day is gone. I don’t know how I would manage if I was still working.

    But seriously, I think I would like to have a blog. I used to do a lot more creative writing than I do now, and that would help me get back to that part of me.

  • Hey, Bluelaker4, just put your family newsletter online, and there’s a blog for you. You can password protect it in WordPress, so only your family can read it. Then just copy and paste it into whatever you use for the newsletter, and just send it to the folks who don’t have computers. Save on postage.

    Anyone who wants to make money from their blog, once they get going, can switch to WordPress.org, where ads are permitted. But unless you have a lot more readers than I do, I wouldn’t bother. If you know CSS, you can build your own theme. OK, I know, not everybody is as geeky as I am.

    And Kym, I love this picture. It’s very evocative.

  • That is one of my favorite photos of yours. Love the branches and the color of the sky.

    Excellent post to go with it. I’ve had blogs on both Blogger and WordPress and I prefer the latter as it helps keep up with other “friends” via the “blog surfer” and “my comments” features.

  • Ernie, Ginchy is Grinchy when you get too tired to see the computer screen anymore;> And I guess better to hate my snow then my photos. I’ll try to forgive you. And if you were on WordPress…ahem…you would know that I follow any thread I’ve ever made a comment on in WordPress. They make it super easy to do. So Eric didn’t rat you out. You are just using antiquated systems. (I keep hoping you’ll switch because then I can follow the comments on your blog and keep a conversation going.)

    Bluelaker, you should do it!! You have great stories or do a genealogy blog. You do some indepth research and then you could combine some of your hobbies.

    Silverstar, she does the family newsletter on line and it has these great graphics. It is pretty charming and keeps us all informed. But it might work as a family blog because people might enter into conversations with each other. Hmmm. That is an idea.

    Kitty, When i put that up, I guessed that you would like it. About a year ago I posted a similar photo and you really liked that. And your enthusiasm was one of the factors that led me into photography. So thank you.

  • Wonderful capture, Kym. And great tips for blogging. I love WordPress. Every once in a while I think about switching to something like PixelPost that is specifically for photobloggers, but WordPress is so great that I don’t bother.

  • I started blogging last July.

    Now I can’t imagine a day without posting something! The reader feedback is fun and keeps me engaged. I use Blogger, and thus far, haven’t had any real problems.

    I know my blog is a work in progress, so I don’t get too discouraged when I run across fantastic blog designs like yours. I figure that someday I’ll have a worthy, fun-filled, beautifully designed blog with experience.

    Meanwhile…I’m having a ball!

  • Toni, WordPress (especially this theme) is great for combining photos and writing and I love the photo blog themes like yours and Elizabeth’s.

    Dave, I love it, too. Your design is uncluttered and easy to read which is the most important (I wish mine was a little easier to read–I’d like more font choices.)

  • Me, too! You can put it on yours (“At least there will be some activity,” she mutters bitterly.)

  • “your enthusiasm was one of the factors that led me into photography. So thank you.”

    Yay! I like to encourage talent when I see it.

  • Silverstar, as Kym mentioned, I do have the family newsletter online, but it is not really a blog because no one can make comments. It is just an informative family thing, with letters posted from whomever sends me one, and family photos, etc.

    Hmmm, it might indeed be cool to turn it into a blog that the family can actually make comments on. Good idea, Kym. I will have to consider it after the first of the year. Is WordPress free? I’ll have to pick your brain and see what you can tell me about how many photos it would allow, etc.

    A genealogy blog. Oh I have lots and lots of extremely interesting stories and photos and other information. At least, they are interesting to me. The whole world wouldn’t be interested, and this is my husband’s family I’m researching and most of them have not expressed much interest in “all those dead people”. But I might do it anyway, just to have all that wonderful stuff online instead of just piled up in piles all over the computer room.

  • Aunt Jackie, WordPress is free and I would love to help you set it up. Basically, you can do all the photos you want for free (there are some limitations but they aren’t bad.)

    One way not to lose all that information you have gathered is to start a blog and write up the stories and post pictures.

  • Thanks, Kym. After Christmas…unless you just feel like you want to send me an email with all the details. 🙂

  • Logging in late here – wordpress is wonderful, and bluelaker, From over here in the Australian desert, I would read your genealogy blog, My wife and I do family history with her doing the names and dates and stuff and me looking for the history. It is an addiction! 😆

    Oh, and I started my blog as a way of developing the discipline of writing. Along the way I found photography – – –

  • archiearchive…okay, looks like you are my first reader! ha ha I’m addicted too, but I have to do the names, dates, AND look for the history. It’s mainly my husband’s family I am researching, and he’ll listen to the stories I tell, but he’s not interested in doing the work.

  • I’ll email you or I’ll help you at Christmas. You should do it.

  • I ended up doing it the “hard” way, as I end up doing most things, and instead of just using a WordPress account, I loaded the WordPress software onto my own website, which was being seriously underutilized anyway. It took many hours just to get the thing set up correctly, and now I am behind in updating to the current software as well. But winter has more unscheduled time in it, and so maybe I will finally get around to the software update soon.

    I have to really crack the whip on myself to keep up on it, for sure. It does take time, especially with the pictures. I know that Shannon was a more avid blogger when she lived out here in the country and had more free time on her hands. Now that she is in town, she doesn’t get to it very often.

  • Blogging takes so much time (but it is such enjoyable time). You have such lovely and interesting pictures that I’ll bet they take time to put up. I enjoy reading about the ocean kayaking you do. I get to live vicariously.

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