Start. [IGT Blogging, Pt 3]
This is the third installment of the Idiot’s Guide to Blogging series (of which I am eminently qualified as a bona fide blog ignoramus).
Part One, How the A-Team Would Build Your Blog, was about how to assemble a team that can help you. Taking time to master the variegated elements of blogging (technical web stuff, graphic design, etc) is a bit much to digest for most idiots. So surround yourself with at least three helpers that you can lead like Hannibal.
Part Two, Have a Message Worth Sharing, made the point that unless you are doing a personal blog about what you ate for breakfast, you will need to produce helpful content consistently. If you can’t help people, then don’t bother adding to the noise out there. The community needs value added like a village needs fresh water. If your blog is just a stagnant pool of what’s already out there, you are making matters muddier.
Today you get the kick in the pants I got which helped me to launch. I read a post by Jeff Goins that essentially challenged writers who like me, had a stash of excuses for not starting. I realized that the difference between warming the bench, and playing the game is…sweat. Get moving, start contributing, start adding value to what’s going on. Get in the game. How? Here are some lessons I learned from other bloggers…
1. Get over your perfectionism.
The piece will never be perfect, it just needs to be good enough. You need to learn to “ship.” A product on the assembly line awaiting finishing touches is not helping anyone. A product that gets shipped may sit on the shelf untouched, but at least it’s out there. Like a deployed soldier, it has reported for duty and is ready for service.
Biblically speaking, perfectionism is a fancy modern word for pride. You want people to think you never get “its” and “it’s” mixed up. You want people to think every article is exquisite. Why? Are you blogging so people will think highly of you? Or are you blogging to serve the online community? Are you there to add value to your tribe, or is your tribe there to help inflate your ego? When I came to terms with this metaphysical question, I started my blog. This is for you, not me. If there are blemishes and hairs out of place, I’m sure you’ll go easy on me. If you are toying with the idea od starting a blog, my advice is… start one.
2. Write 30 posts.
Some say 20. I have no idea what the ideal number is. If I did, I wouldn’t be qualified to write a post called Idiot’s Guide to Blogging. But after I started this site, I got some sage counsel from some random dude who was also commenting on MichaelHyatt.com and answered my question of when do I launch. That guy said 30. Michael Hyatt (professional blogger – yes they exist now) then chimed in and explained that when a person visits your blog they will need some material to poke around in to see if the quality of your contribution is consistent or sporadic. 20-30 posts gives enough of a sample for them to get the gist of your style, tone, content, and quality.
So write 30 posts. Don’t post them yet. Just write them and store them on 2 flash drives in different locations!
3. Acquire a domain and theme.
Ask your BA Baracus guy (see part one) to help you. You can get a domain name from godaddy.com. You can use free themes from WordPress.org. If you don’t mind paying for a theme, there re zillions out there. One of the most popular themes is called the Standard Theme by tentblogger.com.
Pick on that suits your personality, and the tribe you are aiming to serve. (i.e. your readers).
4. Write only for the niche you want to serve.
As Tim Ferris proved in 4 Hour Work Week, “Some people are just into lavish dwarf entertainment.” What he meant was that there is a niche market these days for everything. The more niche or focussed your target audience is, the more effective you will be. People will come back to a blog that frequently offers content they are interested in. If one post in every 20 is interesting to them, they’ll grow tired of window shopping at your eclectic store. If you are doing a blog for chefs, then stay on topic, dont try to also attract mechanics and ballerinas. You’ll lose your chef community if they have to wade through posts on tutus and wrenches to find the article on basting.
5. Start posting.
As for how to launch the new blog and land with a splash, I’ll post that article as soon as I figure it out myself!