Tap into your creativity with blogging

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By Michelle Newman

Blogging: it’s one of those millennial buzz words that’s here to stay.

In 2018, more people than ever are turning to blogging as a way of getting their name out there and jumpstarting their careers.

If you’re interested in starting your own blog or if you simply want to try it as a hobby, author and business owner Vanessa Fox O’Loughlan - who writes crime novels under the pseudonym Sam Blake and runs Writing.ie - has everything you need to know about getting started.

“There are people out there who are interested in everything you just have to find your interest group. That’s the joy of the internet,” says Vanessa, who offers the following advice.

1. Why do you want to blog?

Once you’ve chosen a theme for your blog, focus on your objective. Is blogging something you’re going to do long-term to form a business? Is it something that you are using to perhaps build your profile as a writer? Maybe you have some short stories and you want to get the out there. Are you looking for a way to connect with people. Or are you just looking for a way to connect with people and make some new friends?

2. Position yourself in the blogosphere

Think about who your target reader is going to be and why people would want to read your blog. There are literally thousands of blogs out there and this will help your blog to be really successful.

BUBBLE: The blogosphere is a community of all the blogs that are on the internet and those who write and read them. 

3. Choose the right platform

I use WordPress which I find really easy; there’s a free version of WordPress and then there’s a paid version as well. If you get stuck on how to use it you can Google everything and there are lots of YouTube guides that show you how to do things as well.

4. Do your research and know what’s out there

When you know what you’re going to blog about and for who, look at other blogs in your field. Make a note of what other people are doing so that you’re not duplicating content. It will also give you a better indication of what will satisfy your audience.

5. Your blog is your voice and everybody’s voice in unique

That’s something we value very, very highly in publishing. Although other people might blog about cycling, food or whatever it might be, your particular take and interests within that area will be the bit that makes it unique. It’ important to be a little bit individual and a little bit quirky.

6. Blog posts are usually around 500 words

Avoid posting masses of content. People’s attention span on the web is very, very short so make sure you’re capturing their attention. Blog posts don’t always have to be written content, sometimes it could be as simple as a beautiful picture with a great caption.

7. How committed are you to blogging?

Think about your commitment to the blog and how often you want to blog It’s a good idea to create a structure for yourself around your blog because people tend to like regular posts, along with knowing which people blog and on what days.

For example you could aim to post every Tuesday or twice a week, it depends what works best for you. This will also help you to build and maintain followers and establish a presence online.

8. Following a blog etiquette is important

The idea is that you would go and find a blog like yours, which is read by the type of people who you would want to read your blog. Read blogs like yours and leave comments on their posts. Then these bloggers will come back to your blog and they will link back to you.

Google and the whole search engine thing works very much on backlink, so every time you leave a comment on somebody else’s blog, you’re leaving a backlink to your own blog. The internet is literally a web and it’s all connected, so build relationships and links to blogs that you like too.

BUBBLE: A backlink is a hyperlink, or a link, from one website or blog to another.

9. Casual blogging or future planning?

If it’s for fun, then let it be fun. But if you’re hoping to make a career out of it consider the following: be professional, link in all of your social media accounts, keep your brand in mind and be conscious of what content you’re posting.

10. Meet likeminded people

Blogging is a great way to meet people. You’re going out there looking at other people’s blogs and they’re coming back looking at yours. It’s a new way of forming friendships with people who you know have similar interests to your own.

11. Be aware of copyright issues

Lots of people aren’t necessarily aware of copyright on photographs and stuff like that. The Creative Commons license allows you to search for royalty and copyright free images, so do get familiar with that.

12. What’s in a name? A lot apparently

I always say to people if you come up with a great title for your blog, you’ll want to buy the domain name. It’s quite easy to link your blog with the domain, so actually it’s more like a website rather than a blog because you own your own domain name.

BUBBLE: The domain is the address of your blog or what people search in their browser to find your site.

13. A blog is a public sphere, not an online diary

I always say to people you shouldn’t blog about anything that you wouldn’t want to see in the headlines tomorrow morning. So if you have a bad experience or an argument with somebody, you might not want to blog about it the next day.

14. Limit your exposure online

Be very careful with personal details, particularly if you’re hoping to make a career out of your blog. What tends to happen is people put out lots of different bits of information on different platforms, but these can be put together to form quite a clear picture of that person. You don’t even have to use your real name, you could use a pan name instead.

For more information on starting your own blog visit www.writing.ie

Catherine Devane