Back in the dawning of the eBook age, when I signed on with a small publisher for my first novel, one of the requirements of my contract was to start my own blog. I knew what blogging was, but I hadn’t seen any point to having one of my own – mainly because I didn’t think I had anything to say that other people would be interested in reading unless I’d made it up.
But since I was now contractually obligated to have a blog, I went to my internet service provider, which at the time was Earthlink, and used their tools to set one up. The name of my blog, which rolls trippingly off the tongue even now, was, “Allegedly, She Has Something to Say.” I think I wrote a total of four posts over the course of many months before giving up.
In mid 2011, as I was about to go indie with my second book, I decided to try blogging again. This time, I did a little research, and discovered there were three main blogging options at that time:
1) I could set up a blog at Blogger.com.
2) I could set up a blog at WordPress.com.
3) I could drive deep into geek territory by setting up my own website (or having someone else set up a site for me) using WordPress.org software, which includes blogging functionality.
There were other options that a few people I knew were using – Weebly, Wix, LiveJournal – but Blogger and the WordPress gang seemed to be the most common choices.
Because I’m not the most technically literate person in the world, I chose door number 1. The setup process was pretty easy, and within a very brief time frame, I had my new Blogger blog, hearth/myth, up and running. I set a goal to post every Sunday night, and so far I’ve been pretty good about sticking to that.
Authors today have new, swanky choices for blogging platforms. One option is Tumblr, a social media/blogging site. In addition, I’ve experimented a bit with Facebook’s Notes function. You could also use Medium. Both are set up with very clean layouts, so you can just start typing.
But what if you’re like I was when I first started, convinced that you don’t have anything interesting to talk about? Well, you wrote a book, right? Or are in the process of writing one? You could talk about that. But blog readers are looking for more than just a progress report on your new book. Think of things that are related to your writing, and post about those. For example, if you have a character who’s a chef or a foodie, you could blog about the research you’ve done (hint: people love it when you include a recipe). If your book is set in a specific locale, blog about why you picked the place. And if your hobbies find their way into your writing, you can blog about that. I’m a knitter, and one of my most popular posts was one where I explained why I’ll never have an Etsy shop for my knitting.
Some authors use their blogs as a showcase for their shorter fiction. If you enter IU’s flash fiction contest every week, you could also post your entry on your own blog. Other authors stick to posts on the craft of writing, from nitpicky grammar rules to story structure, and everything in between.
Perhaps the biggest thing is to be consistent. Don’t do what I did with my first blog and post once in a great while – that’s not how you develop a readership. Be a blogger your readers can depend on. If you can’t post every day, post once a week – but commit to that once-a-week post as if you were doing it for your boss.
Good luck with your new blog!
13 thoughts on “How to Start a Blog for Beginners”
Great post, Lynne. I started blogging because ‘I had to’ as well, but I soon discovered that I really enjoyed the process. It’s very liberating to be able to talk about the things you love, and don’t love. It’s even better when you slowly discover a circle of kindred spirits to talk to and with. For me, that ‘s what blogging is about – friendship. The marketing aspects have become kind of secondary. That may not be such a good thing, but that’s me.:)
I agree with you, Meeks. I know my blog is supposed to be a marketing tool, but for me, it’s mostly a subversive one. 😉 I often talk about stuff that’s tangential to my writing, but sometimes the connection is only apparent to me. Somebody recently asked me to make a list of my posts that relate to each of the books in my series. I suspect the list, if I ever get around to making it, is going to be pretty long. 😀
Very good information. I’d never thought of committing to a weekly post “as if you were doing it for your boss.” Hm. Next time I have a blog I’ll do that!
Yup — it’s just another job. 😉
Some blogging experts recommend posting more frequently — every few days or even (shudder) every day; making a calendar of topics you’re going to write about each day; and so on. But at that point, blogging starts to suck up all the writing time you have. It would for me, anyway. And I’d rather spend more time on my fiction.
One less-than-pleasant aspect one has to consider is a certain level of snobbishness in the online world. I remember in the old days when everyone could get a free hotmail account, it was not considered professional to use a hotmail address, because it indicated a certain level of amateurism. I’m afraid it’s the same way with blog service providers. a yourname.blogspot.com address (my first blog, now defunct) is lower on the pecking order than a yourname.wordpress.com address, and the top is a paid-for, individual address like yourname.com. or .yourcompany.com.
And another note on that. I chose my address to be my company name, airbornpress.ca. Many writers use their own name, in which case mine would be gordonalong.ca. I am sorry I did not go that route, because now my hits are divided between my name and my company, and thus neither ranks as high in Google as it might. So, while if you look up Airborn Press, I pretty well fill up the first two pages of Google hits, if you Google Gordon A. Long, you get two pages of hits for some business writer in New York called Gordon T. Long, who has a bigger online machine than I do 🙁
A lot of complex things to think about, but it’s a learning process, I suppose.
Gordon’s right in that a something.blogspot.com domain or something.wordpress.com domain is looked down upon, but that’s not a serious problem. You can always register a domain and then point it at the blog. If you have a good site theme then no one will no the difference, or care.
I’m a web publisher who is getting into WP support after six years, and I’d be happy to help authors out. You can find me on Twitter (@thDigitalReader). I’m also building my own site to hang my hat, but it’s a work in progress.
That’s exactly what I’ve done, Nate, albeit belatedly. I bought hearth-myth.com from Google Domains and pointed it at my Blogger blog last year. Which reminds me — I need to point lynnecantwell.com there, as well.
Thanks for stopping by — and btw, your site is great. 🙂
Great advice about posting regularly, Lynne.
I struggled with what to write on my blog until I came up with a schedule. Sundays are an excerpt for a blog hop, Media Mondays are a book review paired with a song, Whatever Wednesdays are random, and Friday Fives are 5-question interviews with other authors. Sometimes I only post once a week, but even then, I stick to my schedule. Not only does it make it easier for me because I don’t have to scramble for a topic, but it makes it easier for my readers because they know what to expect each day.
Good for you for finding a system that works, E.D. 🙂
Some very good advice. I started my blog just about two years ago, and today I have nearly 1,300 followers. I don’t know who enjoys it more, my readers or me! 🙂
Good for you, Joe! 🙂
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