Six Steps to Starting a Creative Blog

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.

Modern Blogging is too Limited

Modern bloggers are limited by caring too much about other stuff – Google, SEO, readers who might or might not come back, advertising, and so many other business and marketing related things. Since blogging became a business and a marketing scheme, it has limited itself. Blogging stopped being really creative, innovative and inventive. It lost that loving feeling.

When did you last feel excited about your site? The day you started it? Over the holidays when you added some Christmas images? When you took that week off and came back to it?

We should be feeling excited, happy or at least interested in our sites all the time. Modern blogging has taken that away. If you blog to make Google happy, to make your readers happy, or to perform marketing tricks, when do you blog to make yourself happy? Don’t start telling me you blog to make money – it’s your business. If you really believe that why are you here? Go away. Yes, go, leave… now.

Creative blogging is about doing something you can love, enjoy, value beyond dollars and cents.

What do you really want from a blog? When you got the idea did you visualize something fabulous, in full colour, a showcase for yourself, your ideas and your path to fame and popularity as a celebrity of your own making!

Sure you did. I don’t know anyone who didn’t start a blog with the idea of becoming a web celebrity, even if they didn’t (and would never) tell anyone else or admit it to even their best friend and most trusted brother or sister. At one time people were calling themselves a web or Internet personality. It was a way of saying they were someone other people knew online. Setting yourself up as a celebrity tempts people to pop your bubble. So, the best way to be a web personality is to just do it and not talk about how famous, well connected and popular you are. Just be and let the chips fall where they will.

These days the blogging celebrities seem to be people who tell us they are celebrities – they tell us how to make money and market our blogs/ sites. Most of them, if you do the fact checking, have not had a site for a full year. Maybe they have an attitude, a way of writing, which people listen to. That does not mean they know what they are talking about. It does not mean you should listen to them and believe all they say or do anything they tell you to do.

Blog your own way. Be creative. Be inventive. Discover your own way to blog and be happy with it. Have fun. Creative something you really like rather than something you feel obligated to work towards.

You can be a happy blogger. Just stop caring about what what everyone else is doing.

Blogging 101: Say Your Name

Capture
I haven’t changed blog titles often but I change the byline frequently. It’s hard to settle on just one description of your site. If you take a minute you can always think of something completely new, smarter or shinier. Today the WordPress Blogging 101 challenge was to give your blog a fresh title (if you don’t already have one) and think of a byline. The byline should take into account the Introduction post I wrote yesterday. So… I’ve been doing that. It has taken most of the day, so far. There are too many options. I’ve already thought of something else for this site and I only just saved it up there and took the screen shot.

herebedragons

Blogging 101: Introduce Yourself

I’m writing introductions for my niche blogs. I was going to include this one too but… after writing a few I’m feeling tapped out and lacking new stuff to say about myself.

You can read them all :

Wrecky Rat Bird

Creative Blogging

Word Grrls

Green Living History

ASCII Artist

This all started for the WordPress Blogging 101. Not sure if it is a challenge or a workshop. I’m hoping to find some focus as I work through it all. Writing the introductions has set me a couple of days behind but I am all but caught up on them now.

Blogging 101: Introduce Yourself

ASCII artistI still like blogging, publishing and writing on the web. But, I have seen it change so much from the early days when I began online in 1996. A lot of it is disappointing. Once we had free creative energy and the only rules were those we gave ourselves. There was no marketing, or SEO or keywords. I was an editall (meaning I could edit the entire directory) for the Open Directory Project. I stayed with it for just over ten years. We were the first to fight spam – before anyone started calling it SEO and giving it credit for being “marketing”. It still seems  a lot of spam to me, but I am seeing it can be used and necessary too. I’m trying to change after all these years of spam fighting.

That is pretty much why I bought this web domain (years ago, far longer than some people have been online). I wanted to create an oasis where creative blogging still flourished and was celebrated. Something where marketing was a discouraging word and SEO could be booed and hissed at.

I may never have my oasis but I can write about blogging from the other side. Try to show people there is more to blogging than money making schemes and SEO. Remember and create great blogs with clever writing, gorgeous images and creative arts of any kind you can fit into the virtual/ digital world of the blog.

So that’s my purpose here. I’m a bit off track at the moment and things have been slow to start. Not that I lack passion, just the focus has gone a bit wonky and I’m working on fixing it. I’ve spread myself a bit thin and now I’m simplifying things and getting my focus back into perspective. Any site you start you need to sustain. I’m finding my feet with this one so I can have the drive and passion to sustain it (and my other sites too).

Read more about me and my other sites.