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What to blog

A while back I wrote a single-page site, Get Blogging, that’s designed to be a guide to which blogging platform to pick. It doesn’t actually tell you how to blog - and perhaps inevitably, I’ve started receiving lots of emails asking how to do just that.

There isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but here’s how I’ve answered it in the past:

A blog post is not the same as an essay or article. It’s simply an update to the log of information you’re writing on your website. That stream of posts, together, makes up your blog. So a post can be as short or as long as you like. It’s your voice, so they can also be as formal or informal as you like. I use a pretty informal voice in my blogging because that’s what comes naturally to me. You don’t need to do the same thing as me, or as anyone else.

Some examples:

Eventually, it becomes second nature: jot down some thoughts and hit publish. Until then, think of it like starting a running habit. The first few days you run, it’s awful and you think it’ll never feel any better. But after a few weeks, you start getting antsy if you don’t run. If you’re not used to writing, it can feel like a slog, but it’s worth getting over that hump.

I once gave someone the advice to write something interesting to them on their blog every weekday for a month - and then to comment on someone else’s blog. Those comments are important: blogs are a community spread across thousands of sites, and it’s a good idea to join in and add value where you can. Don’t comment to self-promote; comment to share and uplift.

And then how do you gain an audience? First: don’t think of it as an audience. It’s a community, and you’re joining it, not gaining it.

There are plenty of sites out there that purport to tell you how to get 100,000 readers and a bunch of money really quickly. They’re all grifters, trying to (you’ve guessed it) gain a ton of readers and a bunch of money really quickly. You can try and hustle people out of cash, but I’d argue that this isn’t really blogging. Blogging is putting your earnest self on the page, one way or another, so that other people who feel or think the same way can find and connect with you.

To build an enduring community of readers you need to be authentically yourself, post about what you’re really interested in, share regularly, interact with other peoples’ blogs, and more than anything, keep it up. Good luck.

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Twitter: @benwerd

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