"I must confess, that after the initial excitement of setting up my blog, I have been putting off the scary first post. It feels like it should be something big and important, a bold statement that tells you what I’m all about and why you should want to keep reading and coming back for more."
Sound familiar? I know exactly how you feel! That quote is from my first blog post ever! I wrote it back in 2014 when I began my food blog, Eat Drink Cook. I spent days agonising over what I could say and how I could make it meaningful. In the end, I went for something really simple - what I had for lunch. I just wrote what I felt and I was rather proud of it. In fact, I still am today!
You've taken that big step and gone for it with your first blog. You've laboured over choosing the theme, composing a killer 'About' page and now you're ready to rock! ... Except, you're stuck. You don't know how to start. What should your first important message to your readers be?
If you're feeling similar doubts and nerves then don't worry, I guarantee that pretty much every blogger has been through the same thing. As you can see, I certainly have and I can definitely help. 🙂
Perhaps you already know exactly WHAT you want to write about, you're just not sure how to go about it? I can help with that too...
Don't stress too much over your topic
It can be very easy to get stuck at the first hurdle because you just can't make up your mind what to write about and you want your first blog post to be JUST PERFECT.
The thing is, there are LOADS of great ideas out there so really, all you need to do is pick one for now.
Don't try to be someone else
I absolutely believe that one of the reasons that blogging and blogs have become SOOO popular over the last few years is because it's the closest you can get to actually being in a room with someone and getting to know them through conversation. Blogs don't sound like books, they don't sound like magazines and they don't sound like newspaper articles. They sound like someone talking to you. At least the good ones do.
People panic that maybe their writing isn't good enough but there really isn't some complicated technique you need to learn. The secret to writing a good blog post? Be yourself, sound like yourself and be true to yourself.
That might sound a bit trite but I honestly believe it's as simple as that. When you write, don't try to be someone you're not. Write the way you would speak to a friend in the room. Spelling and grammar can be fixed with any number of tools - and anyhow, the rules of grammar are a little more flexible when it comes to blogging because you're typing as you would speak, not as you would write a text book!
Chances are that if you've decided to take the plunge with blogging, there are other blogs that you read and enjoy yourself. It can be tempting to copy the style of your favourite blogger, but this is definitely something you should try to avoid. While it's great to take ideas and inspiration - you still need to be you. You are unique, your thoughts and ideas are unique and only by being yourself will you find true blogging success.
Break up your content
The important thing to remember when you're writing any online content is that most of the time, people are just scanning the screen and if they see a big block of text they'll probably click away from your site and miss all your wonderful posts. We don't want that SO, you need to break up your content into bite size chunks that people can take in.
When I'm writing a post, I write my first draft almost in a stream of consciousness way, just getting all my ideas down without worrying about style and composition, Only then do I start to go through and refine the content, breaking it up, tweaking bits here and there until it sounds right when I read it to myself. I always read aloud (often to the amusement of hubby who finds it a bit eccentric I think!) I do this because it's much easier to judge how your writing flows - try it!
So in summary; Keep your paragraphs short. Mix up the length of your sentences to give your writing a good rhythm AND...
Include great images
See what I did there?
This is a biggie. People like pictures. Blog posts with great images look more appealing and so your readers are more likely to linger. It doesn't hurt that both blogs and social posts with images get more shares too.
I tend to take my own pictures. For my food blog it's kind of key because I want to show people delicious images of the the recipes that I'm sharing. For Just Write for You I started looking at stock photos but eventually decided to take my own again so I could have more control over how they represent my brand.
I had no photography experience when I started my blog and so have taught myself along the way. If you are creating your own images then a great tool for turning them into professional, shareable content is Canva. It's free (although some of the elements aren't) and it's really easy to use. I absolutely recommend taking a look (and no, I'm not on commission!) You can even use Canva to create your own infographics if you fancy a change from pictures 🙂
It's up to you whether you take the pictures yourself or whether you source them online. There are loads of great free images available. Here are a couple of my favourite sites;
Proof read, proof read, proof read!
The last thing you want is to have spent hours carefully curating the highest quality content full of inspiration, insights and amazing images, only to post it with glaring grammatical or spelling errors. Yes, I know I said that grammar can be more flexible with blogging but there are some rules which if broken, just make your writing look sloppy. Think incorrect use of apostrophes for example...
If you've taken the time to research and write your post then PLEASE take the time to check it for errors too. Ideally, get someone else to check it for you as well. I often find that I miss the odd one because I've written the post. New eyes work wonders. As I mentioned above, I find it works well to read aloud and I urge you to give it a go. It forces you to read every word and not skim. It also allows you to feel the rhythm of the writing and tweak as you go if think it necessary.
Alternatively, there are tools that you can use, such as Grammarly. Probably a combination of all three will provide pretty powerful error prevention but you must do what works best for you.