Whether it's a creative blog, a lifestyle blog, a business blog... most posts with this title end up disappointing me. They are all about getting a domain, setting up your site on their web host and starting WordPress. I'm never looking for those things when I click on a post about starting a blog.
I want to know what makes a creative blog tick, what keeps it going, how they find juice for new ideas and what inspires them. So, as a long time blogger, however good I may be, I will give my own version of how to start a creative blog.
1. You need a focus.
One niche idea which you can sustain (and promote if you are hoping to get noticed). Finding the right idea is more important than anything else. Your niche is what will keep you going when you run dry, lose patience, or give up on keeping your site. It is also how you will find kindred spirits among the masses of people online.
2. Brainstorm ideas.
Before you buy a domain and set up web hosting, push yourself to come up with a list of at least 100 posts you could make about your niche topic. Don't skimp and don't settle for half baked post ideas. Really work your brain muscles and make a great list. Think about the type of posts you would read yourself. Take a look at other people writing the same topics, not just online. Come up with an excellent list - posts you almost want to stop and start writing right now.
3. What can you sell?
Yes, it does come down to commercialism at some point. If you are going to create a site it will help you to see it get readers and make some money. Traffic alone won't sustain you and reader comments occur far less often these days. So you will be happier if you can find your numbers coming from another source and money is nice.
You may think you have nothing to sell. But, put on your thinking cap and see what you can do. Think digital content. If you have art, illustrations or photographs you can sell those, or create digital downloads with your art on calendars, stationery, etc. You can sell information by having a paid membership site - but you need some authority in your topic for that. You can sell patterns for craft projects. See what other people in your niche topic are selling. As a last resort consider putting together an ebook and offering that to your readers. (In my opinion, ebooks have had their day in the sun).
You can also sell a service to creative people. Like workshops and courses they can download or have sent to them each week in email. You might offer to proofread for other writers. You might offer yourself as a reviewer and social media poster for book writers. Avoid making yourself a spammer but a lot of creative people would like help with the marketing side of things.
4. Build your site.
Design your site before you start looking at themes and templates. Get an idea of what you want - then find a way to make it work. If you are new to running a site consider Blogger, it's simpler and you can always convert a Blogger site to WordPress later. (There are a lot of good plugins to make the change over easy). If you want to use WordPress, don't use WordPress.com. It's ok, but it is only ok and has a few too many limitations and options you can pay extra for. If you want WordPress, get WordPress on your own domain.
A website is all about navigation. Content may be king but navigation is what will make or break a site. Keep it simple, easily found and make sure it all works. Navigation starts by having a link back to your own site as a "Home" link in the navigation bar. Categories, tags and labels are also great to help people find their way around the contents of your site. Don't forget an "About" page to tell readers who you are, what you are writing about, what you're selling, and what your plans are for the site.
A pretty picture is nice but not enough. Make your site look nice but keep it readable. Pick fonts which are not too light or too complicated. Pick colours which keep your site readable. You can find out a lot more about readability and standards for things like alternate tags in image files.
There is a lot of work, planning and DIY (learning) behind a site. Invest in a good guide book, and if you use it, you aren't likely to regret it. Try to build your own site because it can be done, without paying someone else to do it for you.
5. Start talking to yourself.
Write your first post, to yourself. Give yourself goals and a to-do list as your first post. Afterwards start using an editorial calendar to keep on track with goals and ideas as they come along. Use the draft post feature to keep ideas saved as posts while you work on them.
Everything you would have written as a first post would work as your "About" page, the introduction to your site and yourself.
6. Write your second post.
Pick your favourite idea from your list of 100+ post ideas and write that post. Proofread it before you publish it. Don't take too long to write it, don't make it overly dramatic or particularly perfect. (You can always go back and edit it later).
Post and go look at your blog, from the reader side (not the admin/ edit side). Admire what you have accomplished and plan what you will do next.
I had another email from someone selling me a newsletter/ campaign about building up my email marketing plan. (You know the drill). I'm not in the least interested in any email marketing. I don't see the sense of it.
First, email is far too cluttered to be reliable as a method of communication.
Second, and more to the point, hasn't texting pretty much replaced email these days?
Writing from the point of view of someone who does not own a mobile phone or do any texting, even I can see that a plan to market via email is something of a dinosaur. So why haven't all these ever so savvy marketing people?
Where are the texting marketing plans?
Where are the sploggy newsletters being sent to everyone's mobile phones?
Why don't I see people complaining about the marketing they get via text?
It's a mystery to me. But, those still selling email marketing are working from old technology and should really move on and stop beating the same poor, old, dead horse.
- Written by Laura Brown
- Category: The Internet Unplugged
4. Use “deep captions”Studies have shown that image captions are consistently some of the most-read copy on a page. Try pairing a strong image with a “deep caption.”Deep captions are two to three sentences long. That’s long enough to intrigue your reader to dig into your whole article.
This was the most interesting point for me because I don't use any captions. But, I do read them on other sites, especially when I'm skim reading. Most people are skim reading. I know it's not just me any more. Ha! to those who laughed at me for admitting it back then. I was just an early adopter, yet again. Not that I promote skim reading as a good thing. There are times I've missed the relevant point due to skim reading. But, that is partially the fault of the writer. We should be writing for skim readers these days. We know most people are skimming, not reading your every word.
Write for the skimmers and maybe they will become readers.
Meanwhile... I'm going to think about writing captions. But, I'd have to add more images for that to work and I've been trying to skip the images unless they really have some relevance. As a skim reader and a web publisher, I'm really tired of images there for the sake of having an image with the post. I still think an image should be included in a post for a reason other than adding colour to your post. Otherwise you could just post a generic image with a link to your site.
Game site : Language Evolution Simulation
You don't really do anything. Just watch it happen as one little dot island jumps and starts a new word evolving on another island.
Found on Boing Boing: Watch language evolve as little sims wander around a grid of islands
- Written by Laura Brown
- Category: The Internet Unplugged
I really dislike logging in or registering with a site in order to leave a comment.
If they don't collect and sell email addresses and the other information they gather from you... there is still the lovely newsletter they will assume you want sent to your email inbox, regularly. Even if they say they do not sell or give away your information, that doesn't mean they don't.
Registering for a site also means, not only do they now have my email address but in their database they also have my standard password, the one I try to use almost everywhere, for every site and online service. Don't think that sort of information is not being kept track of by someone, somewhere. I am so fed up with registering and logging in for sites I am going to begin deleting my accounts at any site I go to. (Other than those I really do use daily).
The really interesting thing, is how damned hard you have to look to find a way to delete those accounts. In some cases I have to email for help - assuming I can find any contact information. But, never fear, Twitter is here. If you can not get a site to remove you from the database send an aggressive yet polite note to them on Twitter. That way a lot of people will read it and be aware of the problem. You may never hear anything back from the site. I would say I only get any help deleting my account half the time.
The real solution is to be careful and ultra conservative when it comes to registering for anything on any site. Just say NO!
This is a list of widgets from 2014. I like to see how the widgets fared over time. One I had looked at fairly recently. Some don't apply to me, like the Opening Hours widget, which would be really good for a brick and mortar business website.
Source for the full list: 20 Incredibly Useful WordPress Widgets | Elegant Themes Blog.
I'm going to try Biographia. It hasn't been updated in 3 years but... it sounds interesting, if a bit complicated from the description in the review.
WP Biographia allows you to add a biography box to your website. It is, by no means, a simple plugin. The settings area has seven different pages. It allows you to define whether the bio is displayed before or after the content area on posts, pages, RSS feeds, archives, and your home page. It can also be displayed in widget areas.