I’m sorry we missed each other the other day. I’ll share what thoughts I have about authoring a blog based on the questions found in your most recent email.
- What are your ultimate goals? That is, are you authoring a personal blog solely or is your blog meant to attract employers or business opportunities?
- What do you want to say and why do you want to say it? Spend as much time as possible on this point; the “why” or “so what” is crucial. This question is similar to the first one, but it helps you to approach the idea of authoring a blog from some different angles.
- Begin to focus on the “how.” An easy question to begin with is what blogging platform to use. Blogspot is one; WordPress and Squarespace are others.
- Aside 1: Any of those platforms comes with themes you can customize. If you want to go in-depth with that customization – you want custom colors or layouts or features – you will need to know some CSS and HTML and possibly other coding languages or you will need to find someone who does know those things.
- Aside 2: Even if you find someone who can do the heavy lifting when it comes to customizing your site, learn some HTML and CSS anyway. It will prove to your benefit long-term.
- Set up the site’s structure. You’ll want the basics at bare minimum: the blog itself, an about page, a contact page, and perhaps a portfolio page. Remember to keep the structure streamlined and easy to follow. If you aren’t sure about how intuitive your site is, ask for people to test it. In fact, do that. It’s good to get feedback.
- Dive into some of the details. Think about how you’ll illustrate your blog posts; words and visuals are important. Images should relate to the topic of the post in some way. I use Creative Commons photos most of the time and give the photographer credit within the body of the post. Your other option is to use your own images, such as I do with the Write Right posts, or to purchase stock photos. Do not use Google Images or something like that; you’ll run into copyright issues.
- Videos are an option. Podcasts are another. Both items are weightier pieces of content and need to be considered carefully before being implemented. In general, I recommend waiting to add either of these elements until you have a better sense of where you and your work is going.
- I know you have a lot of ideas. Write them all down somewhere – a notebook, Evernote, someplace. Look at those ideas and see what themes or categories tie them together. You can begin to wrap your content strategy around those things.
I know that didn’t get into everything that we could cover; for instance, I didn’t spend any time on SEO or sharing your work. Perhaps we can visit those topics another time. In any case, I hope the seven thoughts help as you work through whether you should author a blog.
Image: Francesco Pozzi (CC BY 2.0)