Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.

Amy Tan
Railroad Museum

Yes Mom, you can post my picture in your blog.

Millions of people blog. Millions of people don’t. Which are you? According to WordPress Live Report bloggers created more than 540 million posts a month.  That’s more than I can read in a lifetime. But if you want to blog, don’t give up. If you want to write, you need to blog.

Since I began blogging four years ago, I have spoken to several groups about blogging. The purpose of this article is not to give mechanical or technical information about blogging. You can watch YouTube videos by the dozens that will show you the steps to physically start a blog (and please do.) I remember life as a  neophyte blogger. Blogging experts wrote in a foreign language, as did photographers. My blogging friends still help me learn new techniques, and I will pass what I’ve learned on to you

  1.  Decide the Purpose of Your Blog – and state it clearly and often. Knowing your purpose guides everything you do. The only reason to blog is to put your words out where someone else can read them. I have five blogs, one for each different purpose. My first blog, tchistorygal.net ,which is still my main blog, is a vanity blog. That simply means I do not sell anything, and the purpose is nothing except to learn how to blog and to have fun. I wanted to learn about blogging, make some friends, and it’s accomplishing its purpose. My posts keep track of what I’m doing and learning, and my friends know what I’m doing as well. It is not likely to gather a huge following, but that is not my purpose, so it’s ok. Like you, most people do not have much time to read, so if they can identify your purpose quickly, they are more likely to visit again and again. How will you measure success? This blog is to help myself and others to just write better. 

    Blogger Russel Ray

    This is my blogger friend, Russel Ray in San Diego.

  2. Attract Followers: Unless you are just writing a diary, you need followers. Bloggers get competitive over their stats. You can buy followers on Twitter. You can boost your posts on Facebook, but is that your purpose for your blog? If so, by all means, buy away. If you are short on cash, try these tips:
    1. Be positive (most of the time anyway.)
    2. Write medium length articles – 500 to 750 words. Break longer posts into parts and schedule them later. Photographers sometimes do not write anything. They might get lots of likes, but no one knows them. Good pictures are not memorable until you get to know the photographer, and writing puts your personality out there.
    3. Develop your own sense of humor and collect stories. These kinds of didactic articles only go so far, and (yawn) people get tired of them.
    4. Edit so that you don’t have tons of mistakes to come back and stare at you when you read your post two years later. I still find them in mine, but that may be what holds me back sometimes as a writer. It hurts, but let someone else read your work and give you honest feedback.
    5. Answer your comments. How rude to leave people hanging. It takes time to write a comment. It even takes time to press like. If you have lots of time go to their website and check out what they are saying. If you really like what they are saying, feature them on your blog.
    6. Blogs NEED at least a few pictures to grab the reader’s attention. Daytime bloggers enjoy music, but songs and videos load slowly, and impatient blog surfers may give up. Videos are helpful if you teach a skill. Sleepless bloggers with families won’t listen to your music at night unless they have a blog cave, or their families are deaf. Cat yawning
  3. Organize Blogging Categories – It does not take too long before your blog needs a haircut. Articles grow like hair on an old lady’s chin, and if you do not keep them trimmed and in order, you will be overwhelmed. I write often about organization because it is a huge task, and I have to work hard to keep this scattered self of mine organized, so I’ve become pretty good at it.
    1. Organize posts with categories. You can add menu items later, but categories helps YOU find your posts later.
    2. Tags are different and more specific. These help World Wide Web searchers to find your blog because they are looking for specific information.
    3. Don’t forget to label your pictures so you can find them, too. A label like IMG209472659.jpeg is not helpful when you want to reuse a photo later. By the way, sometimes when you copy something from the web, it has a different extension after the name of the photo, like IMG209472659.tiff. I cannot tell you how frustrated I have gotten when I press insert into to post, and nothing happens. I do not learn, and press it again, and it happens again. After about five time I remember the rule, the name of the picture should end with an extension that looks like this .jpeg.
typing

This is my bear Manny visiting a blogger friend, Ralph in Spain. He has his own blog, Manny’s Blog. He’s still developing his voice just like I am.

That’s enough for today because you need to go finish your first post, and I need to go to bed. I’ve been up since 3:55 a.m. blogging. (Unfortunately, that’s no lie.)