First off, if you joined my session at When Words Collide, big thanks! This post will hopefully go into greater detail than I was able to squeeze into one hour. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch with me. Comment below or connect with me on social media.
So… you want to be a blogger?
What’s Your Why?
Before we even get into the whats and hows of blogging, I first want you to reflect on why you want to blog. Is it that you want a personal, creative outlet? Is it because you think you can get rich quick from blogging? Are you an author who thinks you need to have a blog as part of your social media profile?
If you’ve never heard of Simon Sinek, please take some time to watch his incredible TED Talk below.
For the purpose of this blog post, I’m going to do the most BASIC summarization of his TED Talk. People don’t buy what you do, they buy WHY you do it. If you don’t know why you are doing what you’re doing, you might have mediocre sales/views/what-have-you, but if you know your why, you can connect with the right people on a genuine level.
If you’ve got the time and want to understand a bit more about how to hone in on your why, I suggest reading Simon Sinek’s Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Here’s a couple of disclaimers. If you think you’re going to get rich quick from blogging… you’d better be business minded from the start. Almost nobody is an overnight success, and it’s almost never by accident.
If you want a personal blog to express your thoughts and creativity, that’s totally fine, provided that’s your why.
What’s my why? Honestly, it took me almost three years of blogging to figure out my why. My why is that I want to create a community where people feel empowered to live their best lives. That can be in your home, in your relationships, in your career or your health. As such, I cover a variety of topics on my lifestyle blog, but that’s the why beneath it all.
What’s your why? Figuring it out is step number one.
What Can Blogging Do For You?
I’m a true believer that you get from life that which you put into it. It’s the same with blogging. If you put in the time and effort, blogging can fuel your creativity, it can connect you to people, it can create a new professional track for you, it can support your mental health, and so much more.
As a result of blogging, I’ve been lucky enough to interview Diana Gabaldon from Outlander, meet a Lonely Planet photographer, participate in some travel opportunities both on the Isle of Arran and of an Outlander Tour, and I’ve met some incredible bloggers and readers around the world.
Blogging fuels me.
What Do You Need to Become a Blogger?
If you want to become a successful blogger, you need to add value to your readers. This can be through information, you could entertain your readers, provide community, etc. This is why personal blogs rarely hit it big. If you’re rambling about anything and everything going on in your life, there’s nothing wrong with that, except that it may not add value to your readers. Again, it goes back to what is your why. If you are blogging as a personal outlet, fine, but if you want to connect with readers, you better add value to them.
A Little Bit of Technical
Confession: I AM A TECHNOPHOBE. I’m seriously lucky that I’m married to a web-nerd and I’m also lucky that YouTube has tutorials for everything. That said, you can start simple. There are a number of free platforms like WordPress and Blogspot where you can create a profile and bing bang boom, you’re up and running.
Now, if you are wanting your blog to become a business, if you want your own URL, or if you want something a little bit more unique, you are likely going to have to go self-hosted. This, in my experience, is where the learning comes into play.
Again, YouTube is great, but there are also some phenomenal resources like ProBlogger. Darren Rowse, the creator of ProBlogger, has a number of free and pay-for tools. Check out the ProBlogger blog, the ProBlogger podcast, or some of his products like 31 Days To Build A Better Blog. This is the one podcast that I desperately wait for! The following book was also extremely helpful to me.
Don’t be intimidated by the technical, but know that you need to put some effort into learning the basics. It will pay off in the end.
Another resource that I found very helpful was becoming part of the Travel Blog Success network. It is a paid membership that lasts for life. Now, obviously it is geared towards travel blogs, but honestly I think there is value in this course for all kinds of bloggers. They talk about the technical, how to start a newsletter, social media, how to work with sponsors, videography, storytelling, etc. Again, all with a travel slant, but I think this course is a blogger’s best friend.
No bones about it, blogging takes time. If you’ve got a full-time job, or if you’re a writer, or both, you need to seriously carve time out of your schedule to give to blogging. That is, of course, if you want to have any success (as defined by yourself) as a blogger. It’s the same with anything, you get what you put into it.
I mean commitment on a couple of levels here. First off, if you’re beginning to blog, I’d commit to a period of time that you’ll try blogging out. If you were to only post five times, you might not see a lot of traffic coming your way. That’s totally normal, but a lot of people might be discouraged and quit. Be realistic. There are over 300 million blogs online. If you want to get a foothold, you need to make a commitment. Nobody, or practically nobody, is an overnight success. In my case, I committed to six months of blogging. I think any less and you won’t learn new skills to progress, you won’t develop your blogging voice and you won’t have the time to fine-tune your ‘why’ or your blogging/author brand.
I’d also suggest committing to a blogging schedule. Are you going to blog once a week, daily, monthly? Figure it out and get in a routine. Schedule posts ahead. Get your readers accustomed to seeing your blog posts in their inbox on certain days. If you don’t commit to them, why should they commit to reading your blog?
What Should You Blog About?
What topic do you think about that you could come up with over a hundred ideas to write about? If you know what that topic or area is, that’s your answer. Blogging should be something that you’re passionate about. If you’re not passionate about it, don’t blog about it. Your readers will know. It will come off as inauthentic and ultimately it can do more harm than good.
In the beginning, I blogged about travel and what I learned about writing from conferences. As time went on, I realized what I wanted to do was have a lifestyle blog. I was passionate about talking about postpartum depression, recipes that I loved, DIY projects, travel (still!), and more. I am happy to write a varied lifestyle blog, because those are the blogs I love to read.
What is your passion and can you write about it again and again and again? Write that.
Does an Author Need a Blog?
The answer to this is a big fat NO.
Can an author have a blog? Absolutely. Can that blog help sell their books? Absolutely. Does having a blog automatically equal extra sales? No.
Here are a few benefits of having a blog as an author:
- it will increase your search engine optimization as you’ll have more indexed pages
- it can help you to show off other passions to your readers
Here are some of the drawbacks of having a blog as an author:
- it takes away time from writing your books/poetry/screenplays/fill-in-the-blank
- it can come off as a sales-pitch if you can’t help yourself from trying to pitch your work
- writing and publishing is just the tip of the ice berg. If you want readers you have to find them, promote your blog, continue developing your skills, etc.
Which Authors ROCK At Blogging?
In no particular order, here are some of my favourite author blogs and why:
Joanna Penn from The Creative Penn
If you’re looking for the how-to blog, The Creative Penn is the place to be! Joanna blogs about writing, self-publishing, book marketing and how to make a living from your writing. She figured out early how to make a business from her blog. While she provides a ton of resources on these topics for free (*hint* she’s adding value to her readers!), she also promotes her non-fiction books that go into the same topics in much more detail. When you provide value to your readers, they are much more likely to invest in your products.
This local (to me) author rocks her blog, in my opinion. She blogs about what she’s reading, what she’s baking (very on-brand for her Love So Sweet series), and how she had success as a self-published author. Her blog is definitely a personal one, but she gives her readers insight into her life, her love of travel and she provides value to her readers that she knows are aspiring authors.
The Chic Site
The Chic Site is a case of the which came first, the chicken or the egg? In fact, for Rachel Hollis, The Chic Site came first, the books came second. Hollis runs an incredible lifestyle blog for women and has since published three novels and one novella under The Girls series. Her blog is a business, the blog helps promote the books and she’s created one heck of a community of loyal readers (a.k.a. the Chic Tribe of which I’m proud to call myself a member).
As a fun side fact, if you’re looking for tips on how to build your brand or how to rock social media, Rachel Hollis provides some fabulous e-courses on those very subjects.
With over a million loyal readers, Neil Gaiman definitely rocks the blogging world, as well as social media. His blog is personal storytelling that gives his readers a glimpse into life behind the pages of his work, pure and simple. He’s not writing a blog to sell more books, but rather to connect with this readers.
Chuck Wendig’s blog is a combination of rants (entertaining), free short stories for his fans (adding value!) and his learnings on writing. He sometimes combines the two with posts like 25 Reasons Why I Stopped Reading Your Book. He has definitely honed his blogging voice, much to the adoration of his readers. He also has an incredible output of content, so he’s one of these writers and bloggers that I’m in awe of.
To Sum Up…
If you want to become a blogger, I say welcome to the community. You’ll learn so much, be exposed to other incredible blogs as inspiration and hopefully have fun along the way. As with anything, it can seem easier at first glance than it actually is to execute. I hope that this post has show you both the effort that goes into blogging, but has also inspired you and helped you focus a little on what you envision your blog to be.
If you have any questions, I’d love to help out. Please message me directly on one of my social media channels, leave a comment below, or use the contact page on this blog. Best of luck in the blogosphere!
Post contains affiliate links, but I only promote products/programs that I love and use myself.