So, you have decided to join the swelling ranks of the blogging masses. Good for you! Even though there are millions of bloggers out there, there is always room for more people voicing their well-thought out opinions, sharing their poignant observations or simply writing enjoyable prose.
But, a will to blog does not a blogger make, as the ancient (pre-2010) internet saying goes. You’ve probably noticed that we’ve attached a descriptor to each example above: it is not enough to have an opinion or an observation. In order for your blogging to be worthwhile (i.e. for people to want to actually read it), it has to offer some additional value to the readers and follow some basic blogging principles.
1. Have a Passion
The first and most important principle, by far. People generally want to hear (or read) someone’s unique perspective. The way in which your perspective is unique can boil down to your style, your humor or your specific experiences, but the point is that your writing should show that you really care about the topic.
This often gets stripped down to a “find your niche” advice. But a niche is not really what you need. Sure, it helps if you are the foremost expert on African swallows or avocado diets, but it helps even more if you can write about them in an interesting or funny way. And if you can write in an interesting or funny way, you probably can write about many other things and people will want to read it. But you almost certainly won’t be bothered to blog about those things if you are not passionate about them, even if your newly found passion blows off over the course of a couple of weeks, like avocado diets.
2. Know Your Audience
A blogger should always think about those who will be reading his blogs, because blogging is not fiction writing (yes, yes, there are fiction blogs, but if they are not self-serving vanity projects, those bloggers also want an audience). If you are writing about your passion – let’s continue with the time-honored example of African swallows – then you probably know what somebody who is enthusiastic about African swallows would want to read. If you are writing about something else, like avocado diets, get to know what people who are interested in avocado diets like, and write content suited to them.
3. Add Value
People will want to read a blog which entertains them or gives them good advice. Basically, writing that adds some value to their lives. In turn, they will not only keep coming back, but will also recommend your blog to others who share your passion or want to be entertained on the internet by something other than cat pictures.
4. Be Unique
What differentiates you from dozens or thousands of other blogs on the same subject? Well, the short answer is: it is you who is writing it. If you can offer a unique perspective on the subject, chances are it will be worth reading. This is also one of the key ways of adding value, since it pertains to both the style and content of your blog. Some can actually get away with only the style part of the equation.
5. Keep It Real
The easiest (some would say – the only surefire) way to be unique is simply being yourself. Tell your story, from your perspective, offer your opinion and build upon your own experience. Write about what you know and care for, about what irks you or keeps you awake at night, about what you believe matters in the world – and you are sure to find readers who will recognize you as a kindred soul.
6. Sort Your Priorities
This is actually really easy, in theory: your number one priority is to write. But, when writing a blog, there are technical tasks that need to be done – setting up the site, designing it, publishing blog posts… You can’t run a blog without those, but try to keep it as simple as possible in order not to get b(l)ogged down with technical details and neglect the one thing this is all about: your content.
7. Be Open For Dialogue
Some people close the comments section of their blogs and that’s fine, since negative criticism, stupidity and trolling can be soul-crushing for some aspiring bloggers. But remember, what you write on that blog is forever archived on the internet, there for the world to see.
If you aspire towards being relevant, you can expect dissenting opinions and polemics at best and negativity and shitstorms at worst. Still, if your writing is cause for any kind of dialogue, it means you are doing something right, and you should embrace that – after all, it provides you with the opportunity to write more and maybe even make some new friends, or at least learn something new like how to not feed the trolls.
8. Know Your Game
More often than not, this boils down to researching what you write about. Sure, if you are an expert, you probably know your stuff, but one doesn’t get to become an expert if one is not prepared to constantly be up to date with the latest developments in the field. Before setting down to write, make sure you know what you are writing about. This will also be of immeasurable help in any resulting dialogue.
9. Keep It Simple, Stupid
A blog is a blog and people visit it to read the content. Sure, nice pictures always help, but there is no need for widgets and subpages that have nothing to do with your subject or yourself. Keep the About Me section as minimalistic as possible and try not to have ads, if possible (and if you are looking at a blog as a means of additional income, well, good luck with that – it can happen, it’s just really really unlikely, even for pretty popular blogs).
10. Don’t Lose Yourself
The last one is simple: in order to keep it real, you have to have a life outside of blogging. Experiences you can write about. Well, unless you plan to blog about blogging, which is OK but can get old pretty fast.