By: Thee Sim Ling
Calling all young writers! Do you want to find avid readers, improve your craft, and change the world? There’s one way to accomplish all that: by starting a blog. As you may know, a blog is a web log on the internet that a blogger or a group of bloggers update frequently with entertaining posts for their followers. Successful bloggers have tons of followers, earn millions of dollars and even have gotten book deals due to their blogging.
There are a few reasons why you should start a blog. The first reason is that blogging is a regular commitment to writing. Many of us find pleasure in procrastination, and crawling to our desks to write is a struggle. With blogging, you can’t slack off, and you must make a frequent effort to produce hundred-word posts every week or so. The second reason is that blogging provides you with a platform to use your voice and express your opinions. It gives you the freedom to be creative and attract like-minded friends in the process. The third reason is that with blogging, you have the ability to make a difference. Whether writing a humorous story to make someone laugh or an article advocating for civil rights, you can contribute meaningfully to the community.
The first step in starting a blog is to find out what your blog is about. Blogs are often created to solve a problem you encounter in your life. Maybe you are an experienced pet owner who comes across many new dog owners needing help with taking care of their pooches. Maybe you are a budding writer who is frustrated at the lack of diverse female characters in fiction and decides to write some of your own stories. Maybe you are an activist who sees problematic views in society and want to inform people on issues such as disability rights and climate justice. When you find your blog’s mission, you can come up with a fitting name and design that aligns with your goals.
The second step is to choose a platform for your blog. Free blogging software such as Wordpress.com and Blogger are simple enough for beginners. You can also create free websites with website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Google Sites. However, these platforms can be problematic because you don’t hold the rights to your content; often, the companies that allow you to build your free blog do, and they can take the content down anytime. Besides that, you are often left with a domain containing the name of the blog service (such as cuddlykitties.wordpress.com). WordPress.org is the top platform among professional bloggers. It allows bloggers to control all the rights to their blog, use their own domain name (cuddlykitties.com) and customize their site to their liking.
The third step is to start planning your first blog posts. It is very important to create a schedule for your blog. How often will you be posting? Every day? Every week? Every month? Look at your calendar and consider your commitments, such as school, work and other hobbies. Be careful not to overload yourself. It is also important to come up with article ideas to keep writer’s block (or blogger’s block) at bay. List down any ideas you have in a notebook and set a time to write them.
The fourth step is to write! Draw up a rough outline for your post and research your topic online. Make sure to use a lot of headings, subheadings and lists. Break up long passages into tinier, bite-sized paragraphs. If you want to attach photographs, please note that you can’t take a random picture off from the internet! Abide by copyright rules and source for photos only from royalty-free websites such as Unsplash and Pixabay. These websites do not require any permission from the creators to use their photos. However, it is basic courtesy to credit the creator in the caption of the photo. Finally, make sure your blog is accessible for everyone. Fill in the alt text of photos and provide downloadable PDF versions of blog posts too.
Sometimes, you may feel discouraged by your lack of progress. Nobody but your mum is reading your blog, and it feels that your effort is wasted. You look at the blogs of popular bloggers, and you can’t understand why they can do that, but you can’t. All bloggers know that feeling very well. When you start out, you have a steep learning curve that seems like an insurmountable mountain. But, don’t give up. Learn from successful bloggers and pick up tips from blogs about blogging. Experiment with your blog and share your posts with the people around you. You can do it!