Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Blogging for Beginners: Musings on Entering the Blogosphere

How fitting that I should cap off my semester in Communication Technologies with a blog post about blogging? This semester, Communication Technologies catapulted me into the interesting but unfamiliar world of the blogosphere. While I had always been skeptical of the power of blogs, having never truly followed any notable ones for any sufficient length of time, this course has certainly challenged me to see their use for both the individual and the businesses they represent. In class, we discussed how blogs are a useful platform on which to build a brand but also an efficient vehicle to reach and inform key audiences. I never took the time to realize the influence and power a blogger can have on its audiences. With that said, I believe an effective blogger is one who uses this influence to persuade and inform an audience about issues or causes, and even personal interests with an authentic and consistent voice. When it came time for me to create my own blog, these were all lessons I wanted to incorporate into my blogging experience. I set out with the desire to create a platform on which I could host my authentic voice and discuss issues, causes, and subjects of particular interest to me. This undertaking did, however, take a substantial amount of planning, with a lot of different aspects to consider, decide upon, and resolve. So if you are reading this and thinking to yourself “Gee I’m seriously considering starting my own blog,” then here are some tips and things to consider before you up the ante on your online presence and as all amateur bloggers must, dive head first into the blogosphere.

1.    Write for yourself first.
The thing about being a blogger is you must write fairly often. If you are making such a profoundly extensive commitment, it’s best to be passionate and enjoy what it is you write about. Think first of your hobbies, interests, and experiences. Would any of them be suitable topics on which to base a blog? Will you get tired of talking about them?  Harkening back to my comment about having an authentic voice behind your blog, don’t write about things only because you know others want to hear them. When your words don’t have a purpose and you don’t even believe in them, then how can you expect that of your reader?

2.    Look for Longevity
It was always my intent to not create a blog that had an expiration date. When you’re deciding on a subject or focus for your blog, make sure you choose something you can continually write about.  When I was brainstorming blogging ideas, I found it helpful to try and write a long list of topics that would be the focus for each of my posts. The premise that seemed to have the most longevity and the most possibility was where I settled. Nothing worse than stumbling across an inactive, abandoned blog, lost somewhere in cyberspace. When you consider blogging, consider the relationship you plan to have with your blog, and when you do, always think long term.

3.    Consider your audience.
I know what you’re thinking, didn’t I just tell you to write for yourself first? I did, but I’m now encouraging you to write for your audience second. If I have learned anything this semester, I have learned that as a communicator it is essential that you think of key audiences when crafting your messages. After all, isn’t the purpose of being an effective communicator having someone with whom to communicate? Who do you hope to reach with your blog? Answering this question will help you to think of what interests you may have that a potential reader might share.

4.    Be Creative!
This tip was in dire need of an exclamation point because it is simply that important of a statement. I may not be an expert blogger, but I know enough to say that no one stumbles across a blog entitled “Bob’s Blog” and becomes uncontrollably excited. Inject your own creative flair into all aspects of your blog from its title, to its design, to its content.  You may consider this a challenge, but I assure you its one worth undertaking. Any of the blogs I stopped long enough to read and appreciate were oozing with creativity – I was unable to look away.

5.    Be willing and prepared to fail – but persevere.
This is arguably the most important advice I can give you. When I settled on my blog title and subject matter, I was convinced I had thought of something so creative and interesting I would have more followers than I would know what to do with. Silly right? I assure you, I was convinced. I didn’t think it would be that hard to build up a follower base. I thought my views and shares would likely be off the charts. You can imagine my surprise at finding that I do not, to this day, have one follower. Sad, I know, but before you feel too sorry for me, understand that I’ve come to be okay with that. Blogging is a process, one that takes time and a lot of effort to master. I’ve come to realize that despite my non-existent fan base, I’m still writing about things I care about, and perhaps someone, someday will come across my blog and feel it speaks to them. In the 200-something views my blog has currently received, if so much as one of those people found my content interesting then my efforts will not have been in vain.

To conclude, blogging, as I’ve stated here, has been an interesting, challenging, and uniquely rewarding experience. If you are reading this and looking to start a blog of your own, I hope you find my suggestions helpful and informative. From one amateur, somewhat unsuccessful, but staunchly determined blogger to another – good luck and enjoy the ride.

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