I've received a lot of emails & messages with a variety of questions from people who want to start a blog, so I thought I'd write a post with some of my general thoughts and tips!
First of all, kudos to you for wanting to start a blog! Fresh Jess has been an outlet for me to share with you the things in my life that inspire me. It's also been a great exercise in refining my writing style and ultimately learning about myself. I love it, and I hope you do too!
With that, here are some tips on getting started:
Know your passion(s)
Having an answer to the question "What do I want to write about?" isn't enough, especially if it's a vague, one-word term like "fashion" or "food." What is it about fashion that moves you? What do you gravitate towards when you find yourself thinking about food? Try to be specific in defining what it is your blog will be about, but be broad enough that you can write about a diversity of topics. Whether it's personal style, covering the latest trends or highlighting independent, unknown designers, knowing what you're passionate about will help guide you in writing blog posts. In turn, your readers will have the best possible idea of what to expect when they visit your blog.
Do your research
Now that you have an idea of what you want to write about, take some time and make a list of other blogs or online publications who are covering those topics. What are they doing well? What do you like about the layout, design, writing style, and content of these blogs? What don't you like? There's nothing like seeing what's already out there to conjure up - and focus - inspirations for what you want with your blog.
Make time for it!
This might sound like a no-brainer, but it's important to make the time commitment to writing and maintaining your blog if you're going to start one. It sucks to Google a topic, find an interesting blog about it and find out that the author hasn't posted anything since 2006! Carve out some time each week devoted to writing blog posts, promoting your blog, networking with other bloggers, and maintenance or analytics. If you don't work it into your current schedule, it's really easy to fall off and really hard to pick it back up again. Your readers also won't have an idea of how often you post, if at all.
Are you adding value?
This one is absolutely necessary. Does writing and maintaining a blog bring value to you? If it stresses you out to even think about sitting down to create blog posts, maybe you're better off with a less time-intensive social media platform like Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr. You can still write and share what you want to there. Beyond that, think about whether or not you're adding value to your readers' lives. Are you sharing valuable information? Setting the platform for dynamic conversation? Hoping to inspire your readers through visual imagery or video? This is all part of really knowing why you want to blog.
Write, Write, Write!
Practice makes perfect. I created FreshJess.com then posted 25 blogs before telling anyone (aside from my boyfriend) about it. Doing that gave me time to get comfortable writing blogs, playing with different post formats, finding my voice and just getting in the habit of writing regularly. When I first started at my job, I got so busy that I nearly stopped blogging altogether. I reached the point where I was always working and never writing, and eventually it felt like writer's paralysis. I couldn't write because I felt like I didn't know how anymore. I got back to journaling (with pen and paper) and started writing for my agency's blog, and that helped me get back in the groove of posting here on Fresh Jess.
I've also found a great resource for getting started over at What I Wore. The video below is from one of my favorite bloggers, Tac Anderson of New Comm Biz, on quitting the overthinking and just diving into it!
You don't need weeks or even hours to create something. sometimes you need to stop overthinking things and trust your creative impulses.
Do you have any questions on blogging? Leave a comment below, or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.