So you want to blog

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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.

I’d love to have some more guest posts, if anyone is interested in contributing.  I and my readers have enjoyed the ones I’ve posted so far, here, here, and here.

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.

And a really important suggestion:  Don’t drink and post.  ‘Nuff said!  😉


11 responses »

  1. good advice! my blog has stayed a fun top priority for me since I’ve kept it all about what I want for the last two yrs. Sometimes I feel like i should post brand new collections with a million swatches, but that’s not fun for me. Yet, I love that you often post swatches of new collections and stuff, so I’ll leave that to you! You often have news about what’s new on the scene, and I like that. You do you, and I’ll do me!

    • Thanks! I feel like I don’t really post many swatches. If I do more than a couple in one day, my skin starts looking red. I’m in awe of bloggers like The PolishAholic who can post a dozen swatches a day, many days in a row.

      I’m also in awe of bloggers like you who are so incredibly creative and artistic. People, visit, and be amazed!! 😀

  2. Great tips! I think there are more nail blog readers than writers, but a lot of times I just read and learn and don’t comment. Mostly from lack of time but sometimes I simply don’t have anything to say.

  3. “Can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself.”

    I like that! 😀

    I’ve thought about starting a blog, if for no other reason but to justify my giant nail polish collection. But, I write all day for work, and I’m lazy…. 😀

  4. I enjoyed reading some of what one should consider before starting a blog. I found it really interesting. The Silver Nail is in my opinion based on an original idea for sure. It’s been a joy for me to check in and see what you have for us older gals. Even though I’m sure you must have plenty of young people loving it too. My daughter uses WordPress for her blog as well. I think you are very wise staying clear of including religion and politics in your blog. Too many passionate opinions out there. Even on Facebook, I usually stay clear on commenting on these subjects. Not always, but most of the time. Also, I too have a thing about grammar and misspelled words. I don’t think it bothers anyone else, but it bothers me when I do it. I hate when I write something incorrectly and am not able to go back and correct it. But, it happens. Okay, so I have to ask, what is the difference in using its versus it’s? Now, I need to know. Anyway, I hope you are able to move into your new home very soon. Have a great weekend. Suzy

    • Thanks for the comment.

      About its/it’s — “its” is the possessive of it, so is kind of strange that even though it is a possessive, it has no apostrophe: My computer lost its network connection last night when the power went out. “It’s” is the contraction of “it is.” It’s raining. I often have to stop and think which is which, but that’s OK!

      • Wow, this is new to me. Or, more likely, just forgot over all these years. I was still thinking after reading your response that I still didn’t get it. But, then substituting “it is” within the sentence for it’s, using the apostrophe, makes it more clear.. I don’t know if I will remember the difference(I like the little red line that appears under a misspelled word, that helps), but this is good to know. Well, at least for me, since I wanted to know..Maybe I was using it correctly all along, and didn’t think about it until reading your post. Anyway, enough rambling about grammar. Thanks for getting back to me.

  5. I considered starting a blog about my crazy life at one point a few years ago. Upon thinking about it, I realized that my crazy life would probably prevent me from blogging regularly so decided against, lol. I DO have a small blog attached to my webpage for friends who are interested, but I rarely post there: who wants to hear an endless stream of “Well, we finally acomplished THIS and need to get working on THIS but since we still have to do THIS, THIS and THIS first…it will be a while. I personally like to read blogs that are updated at least weekly, so waiting for months and months between posts isn’t something I like to subject people to. This said, I LOVE the Silver Nail AND the concept behind it.

  6. Good advice. I’ve been blogging since Thanksgiving weekend last year and it’s not been easy to keep up but I think I may have hit my stride now. When I go shopping for polish, I’m already thinking how I can present the newness on the blog. I went into it with the idea that i was doing it for myself and if no one else ever saw it, I would be fine with that.

    Another suggestion I would make to a new blogger who really wants to get noticed is to take advantage of the social network opportunities out there. Post and keep posting. Eventually people will notice and the following will grow. Maybe not overnight or with lightning speed but it will happen.


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