Ed Leighton-Dick published a challenge for new bloggers (or those who haven’t blogged in a while) to do one post a week during April. Great post, great reason for it, and I hope that many of you will give it a try. Read his post first!
Some thoughts for those of you that are brand new to blogging:
- Use WordPress.com because it’s good enough. Don’t spend $99 on a domain, just make up a name and go. You’re experimenting, and the only thing that matters is whether you enjoy writing and can do it consistently. Software, themes, stats, etc, etc, those are all things you can fix later, or never, but don’t spend valuable time on that stuff until you know you want to keep writing.
- Put an hour on the calendar every Wed or Thurs to write the post for the next week. Calendars are very effective at driving behavior and you want to see if you can stick to a rhythm of writing (which is also why you shouldn’t write all your posts in one big effort).
- Spell check. Typo’s aren’t a big deal, but in the early days you don’t want to feel like you failed on something small.
- Try to come up with four topics this week. I’d suggest trying a variety:
- Something technical. Can you explain something to a newbie? Inner joins, indexing, whatever. Write about something you know.
- Write about something you did at work (being mindful not to disclose secrets, server names, colleague names, insider trading, etc). That’s something you have to figure out, best to do it in the early days
- Write something about your career. What you used to do, what you want to do, how you got here, etc. This is a chance for you to start to figure out if you’re comfortable writing personal stuff.
- Write about something you read. That’s another common pattern you might use (or not)
And if you used to blog, but stopped:
- Why did you stop? That’s a question worth asking.
- Are you really ready to resume? What can you commit to? One a week? One a month? Schedule the time!
Write four posts and see what you think, do you want to continue?
The hardest part isn’t the writing. Writing isn’t easy of course, but it gets easier with practice. The hard part is finding topics. That isn’t as hard as it might seem, once you’re sensitized to ideas you’ll find them everywhere. I write a one sentence note in my todo list when I have an idea. Then later – weeks or months later – I’ll take that sentence and write about it (or decide to delete it).
Most bloggers fail because they want to write stuff that is perfect and unique. Great idea, amazingly hard to do. Blogging is about publishing, perfect or not – just like magazines and newspapers, you set a deadline and when it arrives, you publish (though you can always edit later if you want). Write and publish, write and publish. See if you like doing it. If you do, then you can work on getting better at it. You’ll find your voice in time. You may go for polish, snark, expertise, whatever suits you.
Finally, a word about why. Why blog? I’d suggest ruling out money and fame. Good if you can do it, but tough. No, to me the best reason to blog is to get better and more confident about expressing ideas in writing. I think you’ll be surprised how it helps you at work when you explain your thinking on just about any topic. I know that may not sound exciting, but it’s more valuable than you may realize. It’s also fun.