Do you dream about having a blog? Would like your thoughts expressed in an article? Think that someday you might write a book? Know that online, content is king and you really should be blogging for your business to drive traffic to your site, but you just don’t know where to start? Or maybe you’ve started, but don’t know how to continue?
My career as a writer started with a blog. I wasn’t a trained writer. I just knew I wanted to share my thoughts with the world and after watching Julie and Julia (the true story about Julie, who started a blog where she posted one dish a day from Julia Child’s cookbook), I made a promise to post one blog a day for the coming year.
This blog changed my life. It opened doors. It brought in people I’d otherwise never have met. It led to me eventually blogging for the Huffington Post. It’s probably also what caused me to become a paid writer in the end.
When I started my blog, Confessions of a Dizzy Blonde, nine years ago, I wasn’t as good a writer as I am today. Yet, my blog started making waves. Why?
It’s quite simple, really — it spoke to people. I expressed my thoughts and feelings in such a way that people became inspired. That’s the thing about blogs — it’s not all about being a fabulous writer, but about engaging readers in your life. To this day, I still think it’s incredible that I can open my Mac and read blogs about people’s lives from all around the world.
And that’s really what blogging is all about: building relationships. You might also want to establish yourself as an expert in your field, particularly if you’re selling a product. But beyond that, it's still about building relationships. Clients want to know who they are buying from. And the more they like you, the more loyal they will become. Even if your product isn't as great as someone else’s (granted it’s still good), or it’s pricer than someone else’s, they might very well stick with you simply because they like you.
Blogs are like little doors into other people’s universes. You get a snapshot of their lives. And people with blogs often follow other people’s blogs. They build an online tribe of support. Big cities have left a gaping hole when it comes to community, so people create it online instead. This is likely part of the reason social media has become so successful.
So how do you write a blog, or article, if you’ve never written one before? As the story goes, keep it simple. Decide what you want to write about (are you educating the reader on a topic, sharing your expert opinion on something, or simply sharing your thoughts?), then start writing. Preferably on a day when you feel inspired about the thing you’re writing about.
I started writing as a child as a form of self-expression. When I was too shy to speak, I wrote. I also read stories to live, as I was too shy to engage with people myself.
Therefore, writing comes naturally to me. I often feel I don’t even know my own thoughts until I’ve written them down. When I sit down to write, things flow through me.
That’s not to say that this will happen to everyone — many (possibly most) people are a lot more comfortable speaking than writing. If that’s the case with you, then speak as you type. Talk out loud if you have to — you want your writing to be conversational in most cases anyway. You want to engage the reader the way you would in a conversation.
Think of your laptop as your new best friend whom you're talking to while writing (whether you speak out loud, or not); as if having a conversation with it. Because that’s what writing is all about — communicating to the person on the other end; the person who will read your blog.
Also, remember that even if you’re the greatest of writers, or very comfortable expressing yourself in writing, you’ll still hit road blocks. It’s one thing for me to write down my thoughts in a blog, it’s another to study medical research and write an article about that, or take an idea for a fictional story and type it out into a full-length feature. These things require work and some days are easier than others.
Inspiration usually come when you focus, so even if you feel fidgety when sitting down, stick with it. Keep going till your mind is razor focused on what you’re writing. Just don’t let the roadblocks get to you — try to focus, or relax and find inspiration, or simply remind yourself of the structure of the piece.
You see, each article has a structure, or a format, if you so like. It has a beginning (a thesis, question, or problem that you’re presenting), a middle (explaining the journey of how you came to your conclusion — debating different angles, talking about difficulties along the way, or simply explaining how something works if it’s an educational article) and an end (the conclusion/learning/sum up of what you just taught).
Simply reminding yourself of this structure it’s possible to find your way back to what you were writing. Also, it won’t leave room for you to go off on tangents, so it’s a very good thing to bear in mind when writing.
While writing, it’s also important to remember logic. Sometimes we can take readers on entertaining tangents, but they still need to relate to the rest of the text. When you read through the article after writing it — can you follow your own train of thought? Would someone who knows nothing about the topic be able to follow your train of thought?
I have more tips about writing that I outlined in a free ebook for Vigyaa, but for most people the problem is that they don’t start writing because it feels too daunting. So for a moment, let go of the rules. Let go of the need to write something good. Let go of everything and just write what you’re thinking (or speak it out loud to dictate to yourself, if it flows freer that way).
Most people, unlike myself, didn't grow up writing because they needed to express themselves somehow. For them writing is like a foreign language — it takes effort to express themselves that way. But as with a foreign language, the more you do it, the easier it gets. And remember that when you first learn a foreign language you start out with really simple exercises. You don’t attempt to write a five page essay when you’ve only got a vocabulary of 100 words. So, in a similar manner, don’t attempt to make your first blog, or article, too complicated. Keep it short. Keep it simple. If you’re writing a how-to guide, or educating readers on some topic or other, break it down into a series of articles rather than one single one. Bitesize chunks are easier to handle.
Platforms like Vigyaa are wonderful, because they allow you to express yourself on a forum with over 100k monthly readers without having to set up a blog. So have fun with it. Go out there. Spread your message. Talk to the world through your writing.