Read This Before Starting A Blog
Hey friends —
Writing is a key part of our life(at least professionally), from writing minutes of meetings to preparing documents to enhance the team's work efficiency, from having to write an email to peers asking for a 2-day leave to contacting the support team to get an issue resolved. Writing is needed and unfortunately, those skills are not taken seriously until you are thrown into the corporate world. Learning to write(in the big picture it resonates with story-telling) effectively and engage people is an underrated skill any person can showcase.
Having a place to present all your writings, the value you bring in, and most importantly documenting your own journey is the best thing you can gift your future self. That is where a Blog or a Newsletter comes in.
Why do you need a blog?
As most of you might be knowing that blogging is a way to keep a log of something that you are passionate about and store it on the web(online). That is all blogging is, a place on the internet where you store all your logs(in this case writings).
You can literally start by writing about your day and it is a blog. Having such an amazing opportunity to document and reflect on certain parts of your life by writing while improving yourself is an amazing way to spend your time.
If you decide on starting a blog, you will have to start by asking yourselves these questions:
- What is it that I want to write about?
- How many articles on the topic can I write about?
- What are the other branches of topics I can write about?
These questions will help in narrowing the topics you want to write, but the most important thing while starting is to constantly keep on writing.
After you get an idea of what is it that you will be writing about, I would recommend starting to write down all the topics in a book and branch out the ideas for at least 30 posts in advance. This way you will not have to look for Ideas constantly and feel fatigued or a writer's block in between.
The Internet allows us to connect with people every day but creativity is serendipitous, so having the ideas listed beforehand will come in handy.
How To Start A Blog?
Blogs are just a click away on the Internet and honestly if you search for 'How to start a blog' you will find more in-detail articles and videos explaining how to set up and everything.
I will let you know a few of the options that I found which are super easy and will take only a few hours to set up your first blog.
In order to start a blog, you will be needing a platform to publish those and there are plenty of options. I previously used Blogger by Google and it is a bit outdated. For people starting out, it is amazing. Then you will be needing a domain. Domain on the internet is like the address plate outside your house. As per the map, you will have longitudes and latitudes to pinpoint your location, but whenever someone asks your address you cant say the longitudes and latitudes, that is where you add a house name.
Similarly, for a webpage, there is an I.P address which is the longitudes and latitudes and a domain name is your house name. I chose mine to be melvinraj.com but you can name it anything you want.
At first, when I started writing, I had no idea of the proper domain so I wrote it under justablogbymelvin.com which is hard to tell people and I had a few problems with Blogger i.e.
- No proper slug( the whole /post-link in the website address was not friendly)
- The formatting was a bit hard to do as the constraints were fixed and the design of the templates was pretty basic.
- No proper place for people to Sign up or subscribe (Blogger recently removed the subscribing option)
- No way to embed content on the post.
These issues were starting to trouble and bringing down the writing process as writing has more to it than writing i.e. Citing the Articles where more research is done and attaching a proper image with alt text for a better experience across web platforms.
So, I was looking for a better alternative and a better domain name and I found 3 places where I was confused in choosing one. The three websites I am referring to are:
Squarespace and Wix:
Squarespace is an online website builder which has an amazing drag and drop feature. It is best for starting out but personally, I didn't like the templates there. I personally wanted something that is a little bit flexible and has the option to have fewer CTA's.
Wix is also an online website builder with amazing templates and additional options to create logos and customize the template.
Ghost is a powerful app for new-media creators to publish, share, and grow a business around their content. It comes with modern tools to build a website, publish content, send newsletters & offer paid subscriptions to members.
Ghost is open-source, independent, and funded 100% by its users. The pricing of the website hosting service is absolutely reasonable for people who take writing seriously and want to have a clean-looking website.
The Marketplace of ghost is amazing. This template that I am currently using, came out recently and it is really good. This is the kind of theme I was looking for, hence I ended up choosing Ghost as my host for my website.
They have a 14-day trial where you can try out and test the platform whether it is really suitable for you or not. Their support, Integrations, and ease of access dashboard are really amazing.
I would recommend people to get on these platforms and start trying out templates and then choose which one to settle for.
Note: This article is just for people who really have an interest in starting a website for logging their interests and having an online presence. I am informing this beforehand due to the money constraint involved. You can even decide on writing online for free i.e. with the Blogger platform. It will help you figure out what is good and bad, from there you can navigate around.
I personally would recommend Ghost as you have the option to host it on your own, from your computer and you will be accountable for hosting and writing as you pay relatively less amount. There are tons of video, and articles and Ghost Documentation are a great place to take knowledge on getting started. Kindly follow the steps in order to set up your first blog.
I chose ghost pro to ease my process, as a working professional and learning UX design, I can't be taking on the additional task of hosting it separately and whenever the server is down, I need to manually restart.
If people are just like me, I would advise taking the Ghost pro (affiliate link).
How to grow an audience?
I am writing articles online for the past 1 year and I can just inform you of the mistakes I made and now starting it all over again correcting myself to be a better writer and grow my audience as well.
I am currently tackling these habits to grow my audience:
- Write consistently
- Share your content on Social Media
- Reach out to other people who are writing the same topics and ask for feedback.
I have never done any of these but started doing them recently, so I would recommend you start it as soon as possible to become a better writer.
If writing on the internet is one game that you play, growing on the internet is a completely different game. I follow this simple trick by James clear in his book "Atomic Habits" -
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.
If we write consistently with systems in play, the score called 'growth' will take care of itself.
You can read about the writing course I have been taking where I share notes on lessons I have learned from the 50 days of writing by David Perell.
Thank you for reading, I hope you start your writing journey and hopefully connect with me to share ideas and articles to learn. I have written a few articles on how the pandemic has affected us which you can read if interested.
“The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.” - Stephen King