The one where I reminisce about my blogging journey and share what I’ve learned.
(Transcript alert - this is an approximate transcript of the episode. It’s how I talk, not how I write!)
Hello and welcome to episode 22 of the Creative Me podcast. In today's episode, I'm going to reminisce about my blogging journey and share what I've learned to help new bloggers.
Before I start, I just want to let you know that I have created an exciting resource library on my blog and it's available to anyone who is a member of my VIP email list. If you would like to access a wide range of really useful resources, for example, my blog and podcast checklists, as well as my e-book about productivity, The Quick and Dirty Guide to Getting Stuff Done, hop over to martineellis.com and sign up for my VIP email list. I’ll email you your password, and you can access a very cool library of resources.
My Blogging Journey
In preparation for this episode, I started thinking about how long I've been blogging for, and it turns out it well over 10 years.
My first public blog was actually about exercise. It was a training blog for my first London Marathon. It was an amazing experience of blogging community because it was part of a larger exercise website. They had a blogging platform built into their website so the result of that was I had really good engagement from other people training for their first marathon.
That was my first experience of blogging, and it was a fantastic one because I got so many comments and so much encouragement and also my friends and family who were supporting me during my training all checked into my blog from time to time to see how I was getting on.
Fairly soon after that, I was bitten by the blogging bug. I was developing a handmade craft -related business so for a very large chunk of time after that, my blogging activities focused on handmade crafts, in particular knitting. I was also doing the iMake podcast at that time so those two activities intertwined beautifully.
That brings me to my blog of today at martineellis.com where I blog about small business, creativity and technology.
So, I've been blogging online for over 10 years, but when I was thinking about my blogging journey, I also remembered that as a teenager, for a number of years, I kept a diary. I wonder if keeping a diary was almost like a preparation for blogging. I wonder how many bloggers out there kept diaries as teens.
The blogging landscape has changed dramatically over the past 10 years. When I think about my first experience of blogging, my motivation for writing was simply that I wanted accountability and encouragement. I wanted to share my journey of training for my very first London Marathon. I didn't give two hoots about search engine optimisation and I didn't share my blog posts on social media. It was very different to where many bloggers are today
What I'd like to do now is share some top tips with you. These are things I wish someone had told me when I started blogging.
What Do You Want From Your Blog?
The most important thing to work out when you're starting a new blog is what you want to get from your blog. I'm working on the basis that, at the very least, you want readers. If you're putting yourself out there, I am assuming you want people to see.
But are you wanting to get an income from your blog? Are you wanting to review products and get free stuff sent to you? Do you want to build a business off the back of your blog?
If you work this out it will shape your approach to blogging clearly.
Allocate a Blogging Budget
If possible, allocate a small budget to your blog. I appreciate that this isn't always possible for people, but I very much see a blog is an investment. So, rather than starting with a free platform like Blogger or Tumblr I would recommend a Squarespace blog.
That's where I wish I'd started. I started with a free platform, but if you are in a position to invest, start with Squarespace. There is a small learning curve, but it's certainly easier than going the WordPress.org route.
Most people will recommend you start with WordPress.org where possible but frankly, for me, it was just too technical.
I actually started on a free platform, WordPress.com, then moved to WordPress.org, freaked out that it was too technical, then went to Squarespace. I was very happy with Squarespace for a number of years and, only when I was confident with my technical skills, did I move back to WordPress.org.
Next, I would suggest you come up with a one-liner explaining the purpose of your blog.
We’ve talked about what you want to get from blogging, but now consider your reader; what are they going to get from your blog?
If you can describe this in one line, it becomes the tagline for your blog. If ever you feel your direction is a bit confused, go back to your one-liner.
I think a tagline for a blog is really important and it will also come in handy when you start marketing your blog.
Who is Your Audience?
Your next step is to work out exactly who your audience is. Perhaps go a step further and design your ideal audience member - your audience avatar.
Who are they? What do they do? What are they interested in?
If you can do this, you will always write engaging content for your blog because you'll be pitching it at that audience member.
Something that I've only worked out fairly recently is that having a cohesive style and brand on your website is really important. I’m sad to say that looks really matter when it comes to blogging. We do judge a book by its cover!
One way to do this is by creating a style guide for your blog. It’s a document that outlines exactly how you present and share things visually. I'm excited to let you know that I'm working on a mini course on creating a style guide for your blog at the moment. It will be a free course so keep an eye out for it on martineellis.com. Sign up to my VIP email list I will send you an email when it's available.
My last top tip is to be strategic and organised. Set up an editorial calendar; map out when you can do blog posts. Use checklists so you have a consistent approach to creating a blog post .
It will make all the difference - people really notice consistency.
That’s all from me today. Feel free to leave comments on the show notes or chat to me on Twitter martineeellis. Thanks for tuning in - I hope you’ll join me next week.