Thanks to all my regular readers for putting up with my online absence lately. As explained earlier, we’re in the middle of moving, and it’s complicated. Home situations and real estate closings require that we be in limbo for over a week, and I’m living in a hotel with Mr. Silver Nail and a small, demanding-yet-utterly-lovable, elderly dog. We’re living out of suitcases and boxes, and 99% of my stuff is in storage.
This too shall pass.
In the meantime, I thought I might put up a casual guide to starting your own blog — my own opinions only. Have you been thinking of starting blog? Join the crowd! Sometimes I think there are more blog writers than blog readers. 😉 But why not? It can be free, fun, interesting, and informative.
These are tips, not rules. Well, actually, there is one rule and I’ll get it out of the way first: thou shalt not steal. Don’t steal others’ content, either text or photos or videos or anything else. If you want to use content from other people or their sites, ask first and wait for permission, and give proper credit. If you accidentally break this rule — and I’ve done it, used a photo I thought was public domain when it wasn’t — apologize immediately and correct the situation.
OK, now some tips, in no particular order, if you are thinking of becoming a blogger:
1) Enjoy writing, or be someone who wants the practice and wants to enjoy writing. If you don’t enjoy it, it’ll seem like a chore, and the shine will wear off real fast.
2) Have something original to say. Don’t merely quote others, although…
2.a.) There are blogs, useful blogs, that are completely made up of links to other blogs and their information. I call these “roundups,” and yes, they can be quite fun to read. Sort of a one-stop shop for info on a particular subject.
3) Find your niche. What will set your blog apart from others? When I was thinking of starting a blog, I thought about the things I enjoyed and decided on nail polish. But there are a bazillion polish blogs out there, and I thought one aimed at and featuring older women would be a little different.
4) Decide on your “voice.” Although this can certainly evolve over time, do you want a scientific blog? A formal blog? A chatty blog? A blog that’s almost all photos?
5) Have good grammar, spelling, and punctuation, but you certainly don’t have to be perfect. (May I suggest that at bare minimum, know the difference between its/it’s, they’re/there, and lie/lay, my personal bugaboos!) Heck, you may even want to try blogging in your second language for the practice.
6) Know your platform. I use the free version of WordPress and like it just fine. WordPress also has a paid version with more features and support. Tumblr is also popular, and there are many others.
And now some “don’t’s,” although I don’t want to sound all gloom and doom:
1) Don’t start a blog expecting to be immediately showered with free swag, samples, and products from various companies. New blogs are a dime a dozen, and like small businesses, many of them don’t last. You need to show companies you’re in it for the long haul and have a growing following. Wait at least six months to a year before asking companies for samples, and be prepared to show a report of your site stats, although I don’t think there’s a problem with asking for emailed news releases right away.
2) Stay away from the big hot-button topics, unless your blog is primarily related to them. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. Politics and religion.
3) Don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t expect to be perfect right out of the gate. Actually, don’t expect to be perfect, period. I look at my first few posts and photos and literally cringe, they were so bad! Oh well, it was a learning experience. I was learning WordPress, how to write to an audience of strangers, how to use my old camera to its best ability, how to take care of my nails so they’d be tolerable for photos, and so on.
I could go on and on. It may seem like I have. One final tip – to thine own self be true. Don’t let anyone tell you what to do, and that includes me. Blog what you want and when you want. Trust me, when I started out, I had others telling me, “You should blog about _____ , not _______ .” As the old Rick Nelson song “Garden Party” says, “Can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”
My final words on blogging are the same ones I have for wearing nail polish: HAVE FUN. PLAY.
Edit, a few more tips:
Read and understand the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) disclosure rules for bloggers if you’re in the U.S., or your country’s equivalent. https://www.ftc.gov/sites/default/files/attachments/press-releases/ftc-staff-revises-online-advertising-disclosure-guidelines/130312dotcomdisclosures.pdf
And a really important suggestion: Don’t drink and post. ‘Nuff said! 😉