The Do’s and Don’t of Starting A Blog
If you are anything like me, you may have already googled, “Tips for how to set up a new blog.”
If starting a blog is on your to-do list, let me save you the time of wading your way through 100 million-odd blog posts with these these five DO’s and one big DON’T. Learn from my mistakes why dontcha?
DO Consider WHY
Why are you starting a blog? What is its purpose? Why should you devote some of your precious time to this?
For me, I love to write and share, so the WHY of my blog was pretty clear from day one. I want to share my Teaching Resources business and blogging journey, as well as what is inspiring me in the classroom and in daily life.
Other reasons (and there are many more) for starting a new blog could be:
- Promoting your TPT page and products.
- Sharing tips with other teachers.
- Monetizing a blog and establishing an income base.
- Sharing posts to educate and inspire teachers.
- Sharing your daily life.
There is no right or wrong reason for starting a blog, but you do need to know your WHY.
Your WHY serves to help you stick at it when you are busy and tired, when you feel like no one is reading your posts, and when the urge to procrastinate creeps in. I know what it is like to write a new blog post and see the comments section sit at zero for days on end. In times like that, when it is easy to feel like you are writing to an audience of your mum, your WHY gives you a purpose for continuing. It also helps you to have a clear focus for your blog, and gives your readers an understanding of what they can expect when they come to your website.
DO Consider HOW
After considering your WHY, it is time to get a bit more practical. For me, I needed to decide if I would make my own blog, or get someone to do it for me.
Now there are two groups of people in the world: the ‘Do It Yourself’ people, and the ‘Pay Someone To Do It For You’ people. Now my wife is definitely a Do It Yourself person, while I, on the other hand, am a Pay Someone To Do It For Me kind of guy. Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that I am lazy; I just know the tasks that I can do capably and efficiently, and which tasks would be better done by an expert. So I decided to pay someone!
I found Danielle from Crayon Box Learning because I liked the look of other blogs she had designed, and I was surprised that the price was so reasonable (options from $150–250 USD).
A smart idea is to brainstorm everything you want your blog to have — things like widgets, graphics, color schemes, kinds of pages, features, and so on. Spend some time looking at other blogs, especially from experts in your field and come up with your list of Must Haves. Most importantly, do this step before you talk to your blog designer, or before you start creating.
As John Donne so wisely stated, “No man is an island.” It is pointless to do your blogging journey alone. You need to consider WHERE you will go for help.
While waiting for my blog to be designed, I spent a lot of time reading and researching about blogging. A warning — you could start reading online resources, eBooks, blog posts, infographics, short courses, and so on, and never run out of information — there is just so much out there. Confession, I currently have about 15 eBooks on blogging that I haven’t even opened yet!
I am yet to even open any of these Blog eBooks. Oh dear.
To make it a bit easier for you, here are my top four picks for quality, easy to read, practical information about blogging:
- Kristen Doyle from Chalk & Apples Design offers a fantastic FREE three-week course titled Improve Your Blog Design in 3 Weeks. She covers so many practical topics in a step-by-step fashion, and includes excellent tips and tricks paired with screenshots and other visuals so that people like me can even understand! If you have a blog already, or are just setting one up now, this is invaluable. I honestly can’t believe it is free.
- ProBlogger is run by Darren Prowse, and is home to some great information and blogging podcasts.
- Buffer is a one in a million company who I will be writing about in more detail in a future post, but for now I will point you to their Social Media Marketing blog. If you are looking for practical tips on improving your blog, or starting your blog well, this is the place to go.
- And now a shameless plug: for those new to blogging or considering setting up a blog, we have a Facebook group called TPT Blogging Newbies which was set up to help those beginning their blogging journeys.
DON’T Be In A Rush
I have noticed something about myself; while I love planning, I am also quite (very) impatient. When I decide I want to do something, I like to jump from decision to outcome in the shortest amount of time possible. This does not always work out so well for me. I am learning…slowly.
I decided I wanted a blog, and in my mind, that meant, I WANT A BLOG NOW! So, I rushed. Oh boy did I rush. Looking back, all I can think is, my poor, poor blog designer. She certainly earned her money dealing with me.
I now see that I did everything a bit backwards. Because I was in such a rush to get up and running, I quickly rattled off an email to my blog designer with a hurried list of wants. The problem with that is, I kept changing my mind. My poor designer received email after email after email, and most of them began with, “Please ignore the previous email. I’ve changed my mind.” Even now I am finding things I wish I had included in my initial design, and which could have been included IF I had taken my time.
Because I like to finish things on a positive light, I will finish with one final DO:
DO Ask for Advice
One thing you can always count on with me is that I will ask questions. Many questions. Many, many, questions. Many, many, many…you get the point. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice from others.
With that in mind, I asked my new online Teacher friends to share some advice for others embarking on their blogging journey, and they kindly shared. Click on their names to take a look at their blogs — sharing is caring!
Brenda Hartman Kovich:”Be true to yourself. Write and share what you want others to know. Let the essence of you shine through.”
Misty Miller:”On your blog, you want to provide content. In your content, you can do a “soft sell” on a product. The focus should be on helpful tips and information for the classroom. If you have a product that fits the topic, then link to it.”
Jackie Clarke:”Follow and regularly read other teacher blogs. I did this for several years before starting my own, and by the time I did, I knew exactly what I liked and didn’t like in terms of blog styles, voice, marketing approaches, etc.”
Amanda Xavier:”If you’re doing the blog design yourself, take the time to decide on layout and design before you launch it. Not change it 15 times in two weeks like I did.”
Ashley Wright:“Don’t have high expectations right away. I know that’s a bit negative but I think people start off thinking they’ll be a viral sensation right away and get discouraged!”
Kari Camp:Host linky parties! It helps drive traffic to your blog and the people who visit to link up gain exposure to their products! It’s a win/win!”
Jen Yagid:”Keep an ongoing list of blog topics! We started an electronic file outlining all of our potential blog posts that we update as an idea “pops” into our heads! We also think about how they relate and the order in which we plan to publish them.”
Caitlin Emily:”When you’re thinking about what to write, consider what you wish you had known about teaching when you first started. This has helped me to write some of my most popular posts, even if it was something that I wasn’t sure was ‘ground breaking.’”
Cynthia Khoury:Don’t skimp on pictures. I didn’t get this at first, but later realized people are drawn to your posts by the pictures more than the text, so make your posts picture heavy.
Phew, you’ve made it to the end. I wonder if anyone actually got this far. Just so you know,Bufferdid a bunch of research, and they concluded that the optimum length of a blogpost is 1500 words, or 7 minutes of reading. You will be happy to know that this blog post comes in at exactly 1533 words, so I am pretty close!
What about you?
What is your takeaway from this blog post? Do you have a great blogging tip? Please share it in the comments section below. Are you a DIY-er or a Pay-Someone-To-Do-It?
Originally published at www.topteachingtasks.com on August 15, 2016.