I’ve had this question from Cindy Richard: I have been toying with starting a blog because I would like to have a platform when I finally finish my novel. I am worried about having the mental energy for it, since I have a full-time job and am deep into writing my first novel. I have a great idea for how to focus my blog and what to write, but I am worried about starting it and then having it fizzle out because I don’t have the energy to give my best. Do you have any suggestions for making it more manageable starting out?
Great question. Here are my tips to make sure your blogging resolution doesn’t end up a sad forgotten thing, like December’s festive trees blowing down a January pavement.
Treat blogging as part of your writing work
You’ve probably got a routine for your writing – or you wouldn’t have got so far with your novel. Carve a little of that off for blogging. You can’t possibly steal more hours from the other things you have to do, so take it from your writing time.
I designate a day a week on which I am allowed to do blogging tasks – including posts, guest posts elsewhere, scheduling Undercover Soundtrack pieces. Even though those are written by guests, they are fiddly to publish. This all takes time and you need to schedule it properly so you make a good job of it.
Write a ton of posts in advance?
It’s not a bad idea to have posts prepared, but some people schedule months of them and leave the blog to fend for itself. I wouldn’t recommend that because when they end you’ll have to interrupt your writing schedule to cue up a load more – and that’s painful. It’s better to get into a regular routine.
If you do cue in advance, be prepared to rejig if you spot a trend you could post about. Often these gain more hits, more readers and more discussion.
Whatever else you do, answer comments ASAP. Blogs have to look alive and responsive – readers like contact and conversations.
Keep blogging time in check
Blogging is addictive. I could spend endless hours on design fiddles, tweaking widgets – as is probably evident in my greedy number of blogs (you’ve already seen this red one, and there’s also my website). It’s even worse when your blog is oh-gosh shiny and new. Aside from answering comments, don’t let yourself do blog stuff on other days.
Prevent blogging burnout
Many people start a blog and then find they run out of ideas. Find something you can genuinely talk about forever and you’ll never run dry. But more importantly…
Short is better
A lot of new bloggers try to cram too much into one post. Posts don’t have to be the definitive, exhaustive essay, unlike articles or reports outside of the blogoverse.
Nor does that make blog posts superficial. You can still be brilliant, useful, provocative, evocative – whatever you like – in 500 words or so.
And computer screens aren’t the easiest medium for reading – another reason why shorter posts are better.
If you think you can split a post in two, nobody minds that. The more times people come back to your blog, the more familiar they get with your blog furniture, your writing voice. That’s why people have favourite newspapers – they know where to find what they want, quickly.
And as I’ve already gone on too long, I’m going to take my own advice. I’ve got a list of fledgling bloggers’ mistakes – but that’s for another post.
In the meantime, tell me – how do you make time for blogging?