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7 Tips for Starting a Blog

Are you thinking about starting a blog? Blogging is hot and research backs the buzz around it. A February 2010 HubSpot survey of 231 marketing professionals titled, The State of Inbound Marketing reported “fully 85% of users rated company blogs as `useful’ or better in 2010″. In the 2010 Social Media Marketing Industry Report sponsored by the Social Media Examiner, nearly 1,900 marketers surveyed indicated “blogs were the top area in which they planned on increasing their social media efforts. But if you haven’t started, how do you go about it?

Where to Start?
While a lot is written about blogging once you’re taken the plunge, it’s not very helpful if you’re still contemplating how to do it. Below are key pieces of advice I was given, along with things I learned with my own blog at Global Copywriting.

Trial Your Blog
My friend and fellow copywriter, Kevin Walsh from Copy Unlimited in the United Kingdom, advised me to try writing my blog for a month before I started publishing it. It was good advice. I found out very quickly I couldn’t keep up with the pace I had planned. By running a trial with myself, I understood better what was involved and how much time I could commit.

Stick to a Schedule
When I first started my blog, I published a new post every 10 or 11 days. As I became more proficient and focused on the purpose of my blog, I increased it to once a week. This year I decided to double my output to twice a week. No one complains when you increase your frequency over time, but sporadic postings lose readership.

I wasn’t sure where I was going to find inspiration for a regular publishing schedule. I spend a lot of time reading and, as a result, find a lot of topics for my posts while I’m trawling around the internet. I’m not talking about plagiarism or the annoying habit of recapping another post. Writing from an angle of personal experience always puts a fresh point on any topic.

Google Alerts
I subscribe to a lot of newsletters and blogs. I also set up Google Alerts on topics of interest to me. It’s a great way to find a new voice, an article in a newspaper or journal I didn’t know about, or coverage on an issue from another country. Yes, it often lists content I already know about but it’s the ‘unusual’ I want Google to identify for me.

Public Speaking
If audience members ask the same question at more than one event, I know it’s the perfect topic for a blog post. When you’re immersed in the same field all day, it’s easy to overlook holes in general knowledge. If someone raises their hand and asks a question, whether you’re the speaker or not, you can usually bet several more people have the same question. Write a blog post to answer it.

Make Lists
My desk is littered with notepads, many of which have lists for ideas of future blog posts. When I get an inspiration, I’ve learned it’s best to write it down immediately and capture as many of my thoughts in bullet-point format as I can. These moments of clarity have a nasty habit of evaporating just when you need to get something on paper.

Carry a Voice Recorder
As corny as it sounds, talking into a voice recorder can be the best way to capture an idea for a blog post. It’s a great way to make your commute more productive, especially if you’re spending time alone in the car. I find the detail I include in a voice recording is usually enough, so writing the post is more like transcribing my notes.

The Takeaway
Starting a blog can seem like a daunting task, one that never manages to get crossed off the “to do” list. If you’re contemplating a blog, get into the rhythm of a writing schedule before you ever make a single post. You’ll find out what you can manage in the time you have available. Inspiration can be found in many different avenues. Pick one or two of the suggestions above and start a new habit.

What blogging advice have you received?

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