Right then, it’s only taken (counts fingers) three weeks and we’re already at the part in proceedings where you can start writing stuff. The last thing we want to do here at Alternative Towers is stifle any kind of creative urge, after all. However (and you knew this was coming) there are some caveats before you romp into the fields to commune with nature and create your first post. The bad news is that I’m going to ask you to think before we begin. You already have the impetus to write, or we wouldn’t be here, you’ll have subject matters you want to discuss and maybe even features to implement. Before ANY of that takes place, you need to place down some solid foundations.
However, you should be writing now. Longhand is fine, in a notebook on the way to work if you use public transport, using your phone’s dictation function if you drive. Start taking ideas from your mind and preparing them on some medium: I use the completely free and utterly awesome LibreOffice 5.1 and have done so for many years as my word processor of choice on the PC. The Mac uses Pages and every document I write is saved to a backup. It means that, a lot of the time, I never need to have blog software open, and am never tied to a strict regime. I can write whenever I like. That’s the key here. Once I have, more importantly, I don’t have to post that straight away. However, I am getting ahead of myself.
If it were as simple as just writing, you’d not need me. Therefore, over the next 10 weeks, we’re going to give you a basic framework which, I hope, won’t just encourage you to write but will give something to show for your efforts. By that I mean responses, satisfaction, and the incentive to continue writing beyond your initial investment. Each point is created from the point of view of someone who wrote, pretty much for the first four years of her blogging career, to an audience of no more than half a dozen people. That’s a tough ask on some days, but the results now justify the work before. So, without further ado, let’s get to the 10 Ways to Make Your Blogging Hobby Worthwhile.
1 : Be passionate about every post
This is going to be tough, and next week I will help you deal with the days when there’s no words in your brain, or you just can’t make sense on the page. Part of this will depend on the ideas you’re already scribbling down as instructed back in Paragraph Two. It is totally possible to make every word matter, even on the bad days, you just have to want it enough.
2 : Organisation is your friend
It’s not just about having a vague idea of what to post on any given day: setting a time to write at the same time will help habits to form. Making sure you post at least twice a week, that you always try to exceed 400 words… these things will matter in the early weeks of establishing your ‘brand’ and we’ll cover all you need to know.
3 : Presentation IS everything
Despite what some people will tell you, you don’t have to write your Blog in English. Whatever language you do choose, correct spelling and punctuation however matter more than you might realise. Layout is also pretty important, if you want people not to give up reading because of boredom halfway through that 5000 word opus. We’ll show you how to make things fun, and still look like you made an effort.
4 : Routine matters, not just for you…
Once people know you post twice a week, you’ll want to stick to that. That means learning how to schedule if you’re on a time budget, and keeping to deadlines. It’s all incredibly simple and means you can run a blog on one evening a week, assuming you’re organised enough. Once you know how, it really is simple, and will make you look more organised than you are…
5 : Understanding the morality of writing
Some will tell you starting a blog to become famous will only doom you to failure and they’re right, at least in part. Once you’re established as a blogger, you’ll need to interact with other people, and that means another set of rules and practicalities when it comes to content and sharing… and realising that sometimes, it isn’t just about the views. What matters more is your own immortal soul…
6 : Learning the Social media dance
Without doubt, Facebook and Twitter, along with Instagram and Tumblr will be absolutely indispensable in growing an audience for your work. It’s a fine line between promotion and flogging yourself to death, so the trick is to learn what’s the best time to post, and what to avoid when you do. Oh, and remember pictures. People love pictures, and the chance to win free stuff. Oh, and food GIFs…
7 : Networking with other Bloggers pays dividends
You could be the miserable bugger who never talks to anybody else and just ploughs your own furrow, but realistically you’ll gain more from this entire experience by talking to other bloggers about their experiences and ideas. WARNING: this can be as frightening as it is enlightening, but if you take the plunge and begin to network, the results will surprise you.
8 : Believe in yourself
There’s going to come a point in this journey, like it or not, when the wheels come off your Blogging wagon, and you’ll be forced to decide if you continue or end your journey. Adversity is a lot easier to deal with when someone’s got your back, and we’ll explain how to come when it all goes Pete Tong on your homepage. Yes, this will be difficult, but at least you have two months to plan for it.
9 : Doing the ‘Right Thing’
Yes, there’s going to be an obligatory post on morality, decency and not using blogging for evil. If you’re the person who’s reading this Guide so you can start slagging off people who wronged you on Usenet 20 years ago? I’m going to tell you how it is, and frankly you won’t like it when I do. There’s also a reason the bad stuff’s at the end of this Guide, and you’ll see why that matters more than anything else you’ll ever consider in the journey.
10 : Love what you do
If you make it to 10 weeks hence and are still reading? We’re preparing a certificate to print out and keep. By then, it will be time to reflect on all we have learnt, and why after eight years I still wake up and look forward to the first cuppa I drink and the first post I write. If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t be here now. It’s still the best job in the world, and long may that feeling of euphoria continue… or maybe that’s just too much caffeine…
So, there you have it: now you know what’s coming, it’s time to start planning. Next week, we’ll consider passion, emotion, and how you come up with blog post ideas, the way to keep your content flowing, and the things to avoid in your first weeks of communicating with the Real World.