A friend is starting a blog and she asked me to help her make the process easier. I’m in a good position to do this because I’ve learned a great deal from my own mistakes! When I started Candy’s Monsters I had ZERO idea of what I was doing. Since then, I’ve helped a few other bloggers—both individuals and businesses—to get started by creating coherent guidelines.
Step One: Determine Frequency
I post twice a week. It makes sense to me because I’m a writer and pumping out content is what I do. I suggested that my friend try once a week—at most. Twice a month is often a better idea for non-writers with fun stories to share, but little experience writing on deadlines.
Step Two: Think about Word Counts
Attention spans are limited. With short & sweet posts, you increase the odds of a reader making it to the last paragraph. This is critical for business blogs, but I encourage everyone to consider the word count early in the process. Should your posts be approximately 200 words, 500 words, 1000? The objective is to strike a balance between the length appropriate for your content, the time your readers will devote to your posts, and the time it will take you to write. Writers know that brevity in word count often takes longer than running on and on… It’s counterintuitive for non-writers, but believe me, shorter is harder to write.
Step Three: Content
This is where I fell down as a baby blogger, so I suggest that new bloggers come up with three or four kinds of posts and a list of specific ideas. My friend will have posts about: traveling, the characters she meets at the bar where she works, and life as a single gal in NYC. There is a lot of rich content in those three categories, so I think she’ll have a long list of specific tales to tell.
Step Four: Create a Pantry
All the business bloggers I’ve advised love this suggestion. Sometimes I’m even hired to create a pantry of posts that can be used to keep a site’s content fresh in-between time-sensitive posts about events, product launches, sales, etc. For a personal blogger, it’s a challenge to create a pantry, but when you’re down with the flu, out-of-town or simply busy, you can grab a post from the pantry and not miss a beat.
Step Five: Be Flexible
Make the rules and then break ‘em! Once you get rolling, expand your content limits; mix up the word counts; add images; and reevaluate all your rules.
We’re now at 438 words—climbing up to my guideline max of 500, but there’s one more thing for me to say. During my recent trip I posted twice a week as usual, but my return (earlier than planned and fraught with family drama) made blogging a challenge. I cut myself a break and skipped one of the twice-weekly posts. Skipping felt weird, but it wasn’t the end of the world, right? I’m learning to be flexible, without seeing it as a failure.