How to start a blog and keep it going – Tips from my writer friends

image from socialmediatoday.com

image from socialmediatoday.com

I started my own blog Simply Sociable about two years ago because I was looking to make a career change. I am a trained teacher and have taught in both Nova Scotia and British Columbia. My teaching career has not gone as smoothly since moving to Ontario, losing my seniority, and having two kids, so I decided to try something new. I felt I had a lot of work/life experience to share so gravitated towards blog writing. I applied for a few blogging jobs but did not have any luck. I quickly came to the realization that other than having my own personal Facebook page, I had zero online presence as well as no experience as a blogger, so why would anyone take a chance on me? I decided to hire myself and start my own blog – but before I started that process, I realized I needed to get some help. Because I am still a bit old school when it comes to conducting research, instead of looking tips up online, I decided to turn to some of my writer friends.

I am lucky to have a number of friends in journalism who have experience with trying to get paid to write. I decided to set up coffee meetings with them to pick their brains and get some professional advice. I thought I would share what they had to say about how to start a blog, keep it going, and maybe one day get paid to write:

  • Write about what you know (for me, it was event planning and social etiquette with a little bit of parenting advice on the side).
  • Decide who you are writing for and set up your blog accordingly. If you are just writing for yourself, you do not need to be as concerned with content that is of interest to others. I wanted to capture a wider audience so made an effort with the content as well as the design, images, page set up, adding features like my Instagram feed and Twitter to give the reader lots to look at.
  • Have a meeting with yourself and brainstorm a list of writing topics so you are not scrambling to come up with ideas at the last minute.
  • Because I wanted the content of my blog to be appealing, I often crowd sourced topic ideas from friends. I also put a page on my blog asking for reader input (in the form of ‘ask me a question and I’ll write about it’).
  • Make a writing schedule and stick to it.
  • Sit down and write a blog post all at once, then return to it hours or days later to fix/edit the content. I actually find this method of pouring everything out all at once very helpful, otherwise I find it can take days of frustration to write 500 words.
  • Treat blog writing like a job, especially if you want it to be one.
  • Check out the analytics section in whatever program you are using and look at what posts are most successful and why. This can help guide future posts.
  • If you are interested in growing your readership, join the blogging community by following other people’s blogs and commenting on them.
  • Promote your blog on other social media platforms.
  • Never write for other people or companies for free. *This would be a bit of advice that is not always easy to follow in the early days of getting one’s blogging career started. But all of the writer friends I asked say that once you start writing for free, it is hard to go back. Their advice: if you have a skill and service to offer, you should ask to be compensated for it.

I have followed most of the advice I have been given and it has really helped my blog. I was actually approached and hired to write a blog for 6 months called Wediquette for the Ottawa Wedding Show. In order to take Simply Sociable to the next level and get paid, I have been advised to check into sites that promote bloggers like SheBlogs as well as to look out for blogging conferences, like the ones hosted in Ottawa called Bconnected.

I hope passing on this information to my new community of bloggers helps someone else out there!