By Jessie Hayes
Blog. The modern diary, the trendy page that pops up on your Instagram, and something that many aspiring writers have. In the past ten years it has become an Internet sensation, and a space to share your thoughts with the world through a keyboard. However, the question I want to ask is this: In 2016, does having a blog make you stand out from the crowd anymore? With the rise of the term ‘blog’ in mainstream vocabulary, and household names like ‘Zoella’ known even by the Internet illiterate, will your page simply get lost amongst the waves of pretty white backgrounds and long-time sailors of the blogging ocean?
Starting a blog is the easiest and quickest way to get original content ‘published’ and out into the big bad world. It is practically free, there are no deadlines to meet, and you are your own boss with complete reign of your content. However, the ease with which you can create and maintain a blog means that every aspiring writer will have one. Therefore, raking in anything close to the millions of followers that the likes of top bloggers have, poses the first hurdle for a new blog on the block. It is the Internet equivalent of timidly saying ‘Hello…’ in a room full of screaming people crashing cymbals.
It is equally as easy to get lost in the avalanche of similar content now often produced by people with professional teams working on their blogs. No one wants to feel as if their blog is being dismissed as ‘more of the same’ copycat material. However, when the only guidance is to look upon top bloggers, many get lost in a voice that isn’t their own, with their own opinions only shadowed by what is already out there.
When starting a blog it is easy to find yourself cringing when telling people about it, not out of embarrassment of your own content, but from the predictable writing style they expect you to have. Although, the key thing to remember is that even if you have started a blog for the purpose of making yourself more employable, it shouldn’t be used as something you need to secure you a career in writing, or really to be read by anyone but yourself. Having this thought in your head will make your first one hundred views feel like a huge achievement, rather than comparing yourself against those who can financially support themselves upon their following. Blogging is most useful as a tool for you to hone your skills and showcase whatever it is you like writing, photographing, or commenting on the most. So forget the expectations and the restrictions, just write and produce things that you want to read. Here is a little more specific advice on making sure that your blog can effectively improve your skills and showcase content that is uniquely you!
Do not give yourself a strict schedule. This is the opposite of the advice you will find if you Google “how to gain blog popularity” but I have my reasons for standing by it. A schedule will help with gaining readership at a faster rate, but pushing yourself to get content up with clockwork precision will only make for pretty standard, formatted and uninspired work. Give yourself the time to flesh out ideas. If it has not taken a sufficient amount of work, and isn’t going to spark an interest with you, your readers will feel the same way.
Keep reviewing and noting old and new ideas. Even if you only have one sentence in your mind and no idea where to go from there, put that sentence into a notebook. You might see it again later on and the rest will come pouring out of the pencil, or you might see it again and be prompted into a totally new idea. Working from prompts is a skill in itself, and this is one of the easiest ways to do it naturally.
Be authentic. Although hard to define, the best way to describe it would be to remember that whatever you publish would have your name on it. Imagine that a stranger has been given your blog, and after they’ve read it, they are not asked “would you hire this person?” but “do you want to meet this person?” instead. Make your blog the most polished, interesting and vibrant version of yourself in a screen format, and you really can’t go wrong.
This article was published in our September 2016 issue.