(Featured image photo credit: Unknown via Adobe Spark)
I want to share some honest tips on how to get a blog started. This is completely appropriate since this is my first post on this blog. But first, let me share something about myself: I’m a professional procrastinator.
Breaking the fear of public writing
I’ve been procrastinating this blog for years. This was mainly because I was so mortified. I find that publishing a blog post is more terrifying and exposing than public speaking. With public speaking, if I screw it up then at least I’m judged for only that brief moment in time, and then all is forgotten the next day. But if I’m publishing a blog post… well, firstly I hope I’ll have enough readers coming to see my blog in the first place. But once they DO come to read my posts, then my precious content is up for the whole world (literally) to judge, criticise, and rip apart 24/7 (also literally) for the rest of time. And what will my friends and family think? Crap, they now know what I’m really thinking!
It has taken me years and years of procrastination to finally get fed up with myself enough to overcome my fear of public writing. Here are some tips on how you can overcome your fear and procrastination as well, and start writing!
What’s stopping you from blogging?
Firstly, it is crucial to recognise whether what you’re doing on your blog right now is helping you progress or procrastinate. Unfortunately, some common advice about blogging you hear could actually be hindering you. Avoid these like a plague, and you’ll be on your merry way to writing your first blog post.
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Stop procrastinating with choosing your blog template or logo
I came across so many articles and Pins (from Pinterest) about the importance of having a mood board for your blog. They stressed the importance of your blog having its own unique style and theme, and that you shouldn’t use a standard template that will make you the ultimate loser. This one was my biggest contribution to procrastination. Like what Facebook is to a student trying to study for an exam, deciding which template design to use on my blog was the biggest time waster that blocked me from what I really wanted to achieve – have content on my blog.
Once, I even paid money *gasp* and bought a blog template design from Etsy. I got so excited about the design and spent a whole day tweaking the CSS of the template to look exactly like I wanted it to, and… never posted a thing. Ever. I can’t even remember what the blog was meant to be about.
However, you don’t want to launch your blog looking like complete a** either. First impressions are important, you know. In order to get yourself an acceptable-looking blog without wasting too much time, I recommend that you pick a readily-made template with these qualities:
- Modern and simple design – that way, it won’t set a particular theme too strongly for your blog. This means that you can easily change it later without introducing a drastic feel in the design.
- Free – you shouldn’t pay for anything until you’re 100% certain on the look-and-feel you’re going for.
- Has features that best matches your blogging needs. For example, I use WordPress and I’ve opted for the free template called ‘Button’ (Note: I have updated my theme since I published this post). This template design is simple and cute, has a sidebar on the right for all my widgets, and is responsive, which is exactly what I wanted for my blog.
Now, I’m not saying that showing your own flair and unique design isn’t important for a blog. In fact, I think this is one of the most crucial steps in creating a popular, successful blog. All I’m saying is that it’s not important RIGHT NOW. Especially if it’s distracting you from writing your first blog.
Stop procrastinating with choosing your blog and domain names
I read somewhere that a name is one of the most important aspects of starting a business, and I applied this logic to blogs. This resulted in wasting a whole chunk of time as I tried to brainstorm a hundred different variations of my future blog name, and comparing this against what domain names were available. At the end of the day, it shouldn’t matter what your blog is called, as long as you create awesome content that makes readers want to come back for more.
If you’re getting bogged down with creating a blog name, my suggestion is to just name it after your own. There are plenty of successful blogs out there where the author borrowed their own name to brand their blog, e.g., Carley Rowena, Bisous Natasha, The Chriselle Factor, and my ultimate favourite, Song of Style. It’s always nice to add a personal touch to your blog and really make it your own.
Stop procrastinating with choosing your blog topic
So many articles I’ve sought for blogging advice told me that I should find a niche topic to blog about. Blogs need focus, they said, and this focus creates loyalty among your readers. Yes, that sounds great in theory, but I’ll tell you what happened in reality. Just before this current blog, I was so close to launching another blog that purely focused on business analysis. I work as a business analyst during the day and I wanted to share with the world about everything that I learnt in my job. Before that, I attempted many times to start a blog on fashion, food photography, career tips for young professionals, app reviews, a curation of hipster art, and the list goes on.
I had two issues with each of these topics: 1) I didn’t feel like I was experienced or knowledgeable enough to dedicate a whole blog to any of these topics, and 2) I quickly got bored just blogging about one topic consecutively. This is why I’ve started this blog with no particular topic or focus. If you want to start writing, then just start writing about anything you’re passionate about! Don’t stress about finding your niche topic right from the start. Over time, you might find that you really enjoy blogging about a specific topic more than others, and decide to start a new blog dedicated to that.
Follow these tips and start winning
Yes, there are some well-intentioned advice out there that might actually be delaying you from creating that first post. But there are also some important aspects that I highly recommend you establish for a smooth blogging journey.
Find the best writing tool for you
A writing tool is going to be something that you’ll be spending the most time on. So you’ll want something that’s easy to use, reliable, and distraction-free. There are many great tools out there to help you write, so don’t hold back on trying out different ones and see what works for you.
I started using an online tool called Quabel after reading Sue Anne Dunlevie’s recommendation . This is an awesome, minimal writing tool without the fancy bells and whistles. I tend to get easily distracted so I find Quabel’s simple design fantastic to work with. I like the night mode feature for when you’re working into the ungodly hours if you’re a night owl like me. And being an online tool means that you can access your drafts from anywhere with the Internet. Otherwise, I also recommend your standard tools such as Google Docs, Microsoft Word (for Windows), or Pages (for Mac) – they will all get the job done just fine.
Get organised with planning your blog posts
It’s good to have some basic tools and processes set up for planning your posts. If you dedicate specific spaces (whether it’s virtual or physical) to organise your article ideas, images, and reference sources, then you can save time from extra admin work, and use it to do more actual writing.
I’m personally a huge fan of Trello to manage any type of project or workload. I’ve been using Trello for years to manage my workload in my day jobs. You can quickly create task cards, easily drag each card into different columns, and add coloured labels for each work type to help you prioritise your work. Naturally, I’m using Trello to manage my current blog. I use it to store all my article topic ideas, which I would then turn into task cards for my ‘to-do’ column.
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Another great blogging tool that I’ve picked up from Earl Grey’s blog post is to keep your blog resources and references in Pinterest. Pinterest maintains a visual reminder of any web pages that you want to reference later or images that you want to add. And best of all, it maintains the URL source, so that you can easily retrieve it for reference later. Easy! The Earl Grey blog uses Pinterest to put aside images for her collages, but I also use it to save links to helpful articles that I’ve found online. This means that I have visual bookmarks of the articles I’ve saved, as well as the URL for it in case I want to ever reference it.
Make sure to capture your reader’s email addresses
Since I’ve only just started this blog, I haven’t come to appreciate the task of capturing email addresses yet. It makes theoretical sense though, and essentially every article I’ve read about blogging mentions the importance of building a base of email addresses. I’m going to take the word of more experienced bloggers on this one and believe that this is very important and will come in handy one day.
If you’re using WordPress, then there’s an existing Widget that allows readers to easily follow your blog. If you’re not a WordPress-user, then I’d recommend Mailchimp. In fact, I would be using Mailchimp right now if I knew how to add it to my blog (if anyone knows how to do this, please get in touch!).
I’d like to mention a couple more important things that you should set up before you start blogging. They are SEO and Google Analytics. They’re more related to the popularity and success of your overall blog, as opposed to writing your first blog. But what’s the point in writing if no one comes to your blog, right? To be honest, I haven’t set these up myself yet (yes… yes… I should practice what I preach), but I swear they’re next on my to-do list on my Trello board. I’ll blog more about these once I’ve set them up myself.
What do you think of my procrastination-busters?
What’s worked for you in the past to stop procrastination and start blogging? Leave a comment below!