It’s a statement that most (mildly computer-savvy) people have likely made at one point or another: I should start a blog! For many, blogging is like a get-rich-quick scheme — only more of a get-famous-quick scheme, with the end goal being simple recognition more often than riches (though the two frequently go hand-in-hand!). The end vision is legions of followers religiously gobbling up your every word.
I’ll be the first to admit, I have thought this many times over the years before I got this website started. In my head my opinions sound ground-breaking. Novel. Important… Just like everyone else’s ideas sound in their heads, as it turns out. Which is why we all want to blog, at some point or another. Yet few of us ever actually write anything regularly, or if we do, it’s one or two posts abandoned to wallow in the pits of the Internet.
That’s because there are two tricks to actually blogging:
Structure Your Ideas
You can have all the great ideas in the world about any number of things. But without some sort of unifying thread to tie them together, you’re unlikely to turn them into something anybody wants to read.
People read blogs about running. Blogs about dieting. Blogs about design. Blogs about entertainment. Blogs about technology. And the one thing that all of these have in common is that they have a clear, stated purpose around which they are building content.
The problem is that most people casually thinking about blogging have far too many ideas. They want to rant about politics, complain about work, post their “amazing” photography, and just generally write about about whatever whimsical thought crosses their mind. The chances that those sporadic thoughts match to the interests of any readers are pretty slim.
Also problematic: random posts about whatever subject blows in with the wind make it really hard to build any credibility, and search engines will bury you without it. If you’re not consistently posting quality content on subject matter that other folks online find interesting enough to read and reference, then you’re just talking to an empty room.
Ironically, everything I just said about what makes a bad blog is a pretty good description of what I have going on here at Jasonbk.com. I’m writing everything from reviews of decade-old television shows, to tales of woe about my dog’s seizures, to basic WordPress how-to’s that have already been covered by countless others online. And my analytics show that I’m largely talking to an empty room.
But my blog is not without purpose. My goal of learning more about WordPress as professional development provides me with the structure that I need in order to keep blogging.
Concede You Won’t Be Famous
What I needed in order to get started though, and what 99% of other potential bloggers out there need in order to actually build a blog, is the realization that after all the work that goes into blogging, fame just isn’t going to happen. There are already plenty of blogs about TV shows, running, pets, parenting, music, design, and technology. You’re unlikely to unseat those who are already out there.
It’s possible, just not likely. That’s no reason to quit though. When you learned to play piano you were pretty sure you wouldn’t be the next Jerry Lee Lewis, but that wasn’t reason to quit.
Blogs can be for so much more than getting famous. Write an online journal without the expectation that anyone will read, and maybe it will help you sort out your ideas. Write regularly about running so that you can stay motivated to stick to your running routine. Write about random stuff simply so that you can provide a future employer with writing samples. Or, simply blog to learn WordPress as a resumé-builder, like me.
If you can concede that your blog is a personal enterprise that has value regardless of how many (or how few people) read it, then my friend, you are ready to start a blog.