I’ve been blogging 3 times a week for about 6 months. In this time, I have written 72 blog posts, covering various topics from parenting to love to LGBT issues. I have been fortunate enough to have a few posts go semi-viral, with one blog post being picked up by Buzzfeed. So what have I learnt in these 6 months?
1) Set achievable goals. Keep to them.
If I had tried to write every day, I would have given up in 2 weeks. Fortunately, I set myself a target of 3 blogs a week. In the past 6 months, I’ve only failed to keep to this target twice, and both times with very good reason, so I’m glad that I made the goal achievable. Now I look forward to writing every week because it often helps me to clarify my thinking. It’s also become easier to keep writing because it’s my new norm.
2) Keep a running list of topics. Ask people what they want to know.
I know it’s hard to keep thinking up of new topics to write, so I keep a running list. Every time I open WordPress and I’m stuck, I’ll open the list I have in Evernote and start looking if there is anything I feel like writing about. I crowd source this list at the beginning of the year by asking my friends what I should write about. Along the way, people have written to me to ask me for posts on certain topics and I’ve happily added those topics to the list.
3) You never know what will go viral. So stop trying.
Many bloggers write with the hopes that their posts will go viral. I don’t. I write mainly for myself, my family and friends. Some posts are meant to be memories, others are topics I feel strongly about. All of them are a way for me to express myself and my thoughts. The first post I wrote that went viral was the 7th post I wrote, dedicated to my wife. I was surprised by the reaction people had to it. 38,000 people read it and it’s still one of the most popular posts on my blog. And it was a personal birthday post for my wife! Which brings me to the next point.
4) Be authentic. All the time.
I treat my blog as my voice on the internet. So I always review what I write before publishing. I always ask myself if the post accurate depicts what I believe in. Am I reflecting my own views and thoughts? Do I feel passionate enough about the subject to deal with any fallout that may occur? Some topics can be quite controversial and I even received hate mail, but I am always ready the moment I click publish. I treat it as part and parcel of being true to myself.
5) Be credible. Do research.
Nothing is more damaging to reputation than writing about something that you know nothing about. So whenever I plan to write an opinion piece or present some information, I make sure to do thorough research, backed up by referencing other articles and possibly accompanied by screenshots. This way I know the picture I paint is not one sided and is backed by facts. It also helps to build credibility and people know I have done my homework and am not just writing based on pure speculation.
6) Sharing is caring. Your ideas could help someone else and vice versa.
Since I’ve started writing about the approach I take to some issues in my life, I’ve had many people tell me that they are trying out some of the ideas. From parenting to productivity hacks to getting fit. You never know what will resonate with others and encourage them to try something new. So I am always sharing my ideas on the blog and I’ve found great suggestions coming from my friends after they have read about certain topics I wrote.
7) Don’t overthink it. Just write.
I think the biggest thing that was holding me back in the past was worrying about who, what, why I am writing. I don’t think about that any more. Nowadays, I just write. I have found that as long as I write consistently and cover topics that are relevant to my life, the writing process is very enjoyable. Because I’m not worrying about who is going to read what I write, I pretty much write what I please. I believe writing regularly has made me a better writer and that in itself has been worthwhile.
So if you are still holding back on blogging, consider starting simple. I believe even one post a week can make a difference.
BONUS: Include images. I’ve noticed my blog posts that get shared the most have engaging images. I assume this is because the images will catch the eye when scrolling through a Facebook news feed. As much as possible, I try to use photos I have or pictures I create using stock images. Occasionally I give up searching for the perfect image and will use a cute one but not entirely relevant one like this one. Whatever works right?