Considering how easy it is to start blogging, no aspiring writer should be without one. Below, I have listed the four key reasons why you need to set up your own blog asap, and then I have thrown in four important tips that will actually help you get started.
Four Reasons to Start a Writer's Blog
Being able to collect all of your unpublished work in one place is incredibly useful. Yes, you could just write everything on paper and file it away. But are you seeing how it all fits together? When you blog you can link to other pieces of work that are similar or related in some way. This gives you a mental connection that might not exist otherwise.
Terri Braun, an unpublished writer and friend of mine, started a blog for just this reason. She told me it forces her to take all those journals, napkins, or scraps of paper and put it all together in one, easy-to-find place. Now she is able to find those connected ideas and new stories, poems, and projects flow from them.
Tip: Use categories when writing to link associated topics together. It will make it much easier to make those mental connections. It will also help your readers find other posts that might be of interest to them.
2. Exploration of Other Writers
Exploring the work of unpublished writers will make you a better overall writer. Writers will come to your blog and read your work and you should go to theirs to read the work they have produced. Comment when you like something and share it with other people who you think would like it as well. They will usually appreciate it and return the favour. This builds community, which leads to support and increased confidence in your writing.
Even if the other writers out there become your competition, it's still good for you. If they get the business deal and you don't, you can see what gave them the edge. You can study their work and make yours better.
Tip: As you explore other writers, leave comments on the posts you enjoy. Your blog and your name will get extra exposure. It will lead to comments on your blog as well!
3. Getting Your Name Out There
Blogging is the single best thing you can do yourself to get your name out there. Think of it as an online portfolio. Anyone who is interested in your work will have an archive of examples that show how you write. And, anytime you interact with other bloggers by commenting or sharing on social media, they will have a link back to your work and will be able to get a strong sense of who you are as a writer.
When I asked Terri about this, she told me, "It allows me to showcase a sample of my best work and have fun with the lesser-quality stuff. It's a great place to start. Especially for someone like me who is just starting to publicize their work."
Tip: Don't be afraid to offer a guest to post on your site. Promote the post as much as (if not more than) if you wrote the post yourself. If you get asked to write a guest post make that post your best. Once published, share the post with your mailing list and your social networks.
4. It Will Increase Your Productivity and Keep You Goal-Oriented
When blogging, it's key to pick a schedule and stick to it. This will increase readership over time and get your name out on the Internet. Since you need to stick to your deadlines, you need to be protective of the time you reserve for writing. Sometimes this means writing even if you aren’t in the mood. But, the more you write, the better you write. And we all want to get better.
Terri said "This is big for me, blogging keeps me goal-oriented. I know I need to produce X amount of content during X amount of time. It's a great way to hold myself accountable."
You goals will evolve and as they do you will pick up goals for your blog itself. Things such as, making better images, increasing readership, and having a more attractive design, are great blog-oriented goals!
Tip: Check out the great post by Chris Well, Build Your Brand. 5 Reasons Every Writer Needs an Online Media Kit
Four Tips To Help New Bloggers Get Started
If you are a writer and have just started a blog. Here are a few tips I want to pass along to get you started on the right foot.
1. Use Self-hosted WordPress
WordPress is by far the best platform for blogging. If you can, I suggest buying a domain name and hosting it yourself. NameCheap.com has low-priced deals for the first year and very competitive prices for every year after that. When you pay for hosting and a domain, you are in control of your site. If you use a free platform, they could shut down the whole network. If that happens, you will be out of your work.
2. Keep your design clean and attractive
Lots of new bloggers look for the fanciest design they can find. I understand, I was there too. Keep it simple and clean. Find a theme that is white with color accents. No colored backgrounds, doing so will make your work too difficult to read.
3. Grab an Email Signup Form
Go to MailChimp and sign up for a free account. Starting a mailing list as soon as possible is key to being successful as a blogger. No matter what your industry or niche is you need one. Why? Because the people who sign up and give you their email address are your best potential customers. They already like your content and are most likely to visit your site again.
4. Keep Your “About Me” Page About Your Readers
This may sound odd since it's called "About Me" most of the time. But people don't want to read your life story. Stay focused on your goals for the site and your authority as a writer. Check out my about page, to see an example of using this page the right way.
Let's Wrap it Up
When it boils down, we are left with four reasons every unpublished writer needs a blog. First, for collection of your work; having a blog makes this much simpler. Second, a blog is good for your exploration of other writers. This will help broaden your writing. Third, a blog will help you get your name out into the world. As a writer exposure to your work is key, and a blog makes it much easier. Last, having a blog will keep you productive and goal-oriented. Without goals we get nowhere. Writing a blog makes it much easier to see the goals you reach as a writer. With the tools we have today, there is no reason any writer should be without a blog.