I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but somewhere along the line I became my friends’ “friend who blogs.”
I’ve always been mildly amused by this because, clearly, this is not my full-time job. There are several-month-long stretches where I feel like the worst, most lackadaisical blogger in all the land. Blogging, for me, is solidly a fun little side project and not much more.
But, be that as it may, I still apparently blog more (or at least more publicly) than most of the other people in my circle of pals. Who knew?
As a result, I often find myself as the go-to for “I want to start a blog; what should I do?” advice. I could write a very specific, very brief self-help book.
I certainly don’t mind sharing my (limited) wisdom in this field, but I’ve noticed that I tend to tell people basically the same thing. So, for what it’s worth, here is my advice for starting a blog should you so desire:
1. Don’t make a huge investment.
Listen. I’m sure your blog is going to be a roaring success and that you are never, ever going to lose interest. But JUST IN CASE, I don’t recommend spending a zillion dollars on a designer and fancy hosting just yet. Give it three months. Get a free WordPress blog and see if you actually like baring your soul to the internet a couple of times a week. If you find that you love it and want to get more seriously into advertising or partnerships or whatever, then go for the fully hosted shebang.
But if a couple months go by and you start to feel uncomfortable or like you’re struggling, you are allowed to give up and you won’t feel like you wasted a small fortune. (For the record, a fully hosted blog will probably run you around $150 a year. It’s not a huge amount, but it COULD have been a really nice dress or a pair of shoes or two. Just things to consider.)
2. Maybe think twice before you bare your soul.
Blogging about your life is weirdly addicting. When I first launched mine, I was bursting at the seams with topics and I started to think about everything that happened to me in a narrative voice. This is good because it means you haven’t run out of ideas yet. This is not good because sometimes you can get a bit carried away and share something you’ll wish you wouldn’t have.
I’ve been fortunate. I have always been extremely cautious about what I share, rarely revealing any details about my marriage, job, or issues with friends or family members. That is a personal choice I made. Other bloggers share these things freely, and it works for them. You should deeply assess what you are willing to risk. Because that’s exactly what you are doing when you make something personal very, VERY public. You are risking it. Just keep that in mind (and maybe save your opinion on your latest fight with your spouse for your next best friend chat over a glass of wine).
3. The blogging world is surprisingly tight-knit.
I have actual friends that I have made through blogging. Some of them, I only know through our blogs’ comment sections and social media. Others I have actually become friends with in real life. These relationships are always kind of magical to me because they represent what I liked about blogging from the beginning — it connects like-minded people across all other boundaries.
It’s also just smart to have these friends. They will be the ones who inspire you out of blogging ruts. They’re the ones who will partner with you on fun initiatives that will help you grow your online presence. And they’re the ones who will cheer the loudest when you share your personal successes online. There are a lot of awful bloggers out there, but there are a lot of wonderful folks out there too. Find them. Follow them. Comment on their blogs. And TELL them that you love them. People always like hearing that.
In general, though, my main advice would be to not take it too seriously in the beginning. If this is meant to be your career, it will happen. First, make sure it’s something you truly enjoy. (Because you cannot fake it as a blogger. Passion is literally the crux of any kind of success on here.) Be yourself, carve out your niche, and enjoy the ride.
Blogger pals, what advice would you give to would-be bloggers?