5 HELPFUL TIPS FOR BEGINNER BLOGGERS

Happy New Year (2022)!

I trust that you are well and this post will be helpful to you. It is a great year to start your blogging journey and I would like to share with you five tips on blogging. This was inspired by a few Harvest Institute School of Leadership students who asked for blogging tips.

Before the tips, let me share a bit of my journey. I first opened a blog in 2008 on Blogspot titled Cinnamon Sweetness 🙂 . Why I called it that is a long story for another day.  I put up very few posts. My very first post ever was a poem titled SIMPLE. Along the way, WordPress was the new cool kid on the block and all the cool kids were signing up. I didn’t want to be left behind so I shifted to WordPress and closed the first blog. I used to write anything that came to mind. This new blog was CinnamonKEA. It was almost like an online journal that helped me process my thoughts. I really didn’t share it with many people but only a few friends. At the time, I didn’t know my exact audience or if I wanted the blog to have a greater reach.

In 2016 however, I got a burning desire to use my blog for more than emotion-led online journaling. I wanted to use it to motivate and encourage others. So, I closed my second blog and started another one on WordPress titled The Precious Series (TPS) to document precious thoughts and stories of encouragement for precious people (I consider all people precious).  That content, I have kept to this day, even on my current blog which was an upgrade from TPS. Yes, I made another change in 2020! I decided it was time to pay for a domain, and I opened up my blog content-wise to reflect more of the things I am interested in beyond motivation. This came from a deeper sense of self-awareness and a desire to remove the limits. I now blog here on www.keziahelaineayikoru.com.

I have shared my journey to show you that your first blog doesn’t have to be perfect. With every start is the opportunity to grow. The most important thing is that you get started!

Without further ado, here are the tips:

1. CHOOSE A NAME

You might want to choose a name based on the topic or theme for your blog. That is a valid option and you can go for it. For example: ugandanfood.wordpress.com (does not exist). Such a title helps people know exactly what your blog is about.

However, considering that this is your first blog, you may not want to be boxed in by a specific theme; you may not even know yet, exactly what theme you will end up with. Or perhaps, like me, you are sure that you want to blog about a number of things because you have varied interests. In this case, you can choose to name the blog after yourself.

2. OPEN A  FREE SITE

Since it is your first blog, you should probably open up a free blog as you get more confident with your content, especially if the blog is not for commercial or work purposes.

The site www.wordpress.com is your best bet. Well, I am biased towards it. I do know of other simpler platforms like www.blogger.com which is truly the easiest to create a blog on, however, WordPress is great for the following reasons:

  • It is fairly easy to use.
  • It has a user-friendly mobile app that you can use on the go.
  • In addition, there a many theme templates to choose from.
  • Even though you are getting a free site, there are many professional-looking templates.
  • When you want to upgrade to a paid site, they have four payment plans with a wide range of plugins and tools to help you have a first-class site.
  • You can purchase domains right there.
  • They are the cool kids on the block.

WordPress didn’t pay me so I have to stop with the reasons here 🙂 .

The main point here is to choose a site and open up a blog site of your own with your unique name. The home page of WordPress looks like what you see below and all you need to do is click Start your website and follow the steps.

(Note: For a free blog, you should not enter your credit or debit card details anywhere, lest you end up being charged. A free blog on WordPress should have .wordpress.com attached to the name.)

Choose a theme, activate it and then click on new post to get started on your first post. I know it takes some time to get used to the site but you will become a pro at this!

3. WRITE YOUR FIRST POST

This may seem daunting but it really isn’t. In all your not-few years of life, you surely have something you want to say. Here are a few ideas for your first blog post:

  1. Introduce yourself. Tell us about what you love, who you are and why you are on this new blogging journey. Let us get to meet you and get excited about your journey too. Make it fun with some images.
  2. Your favourite verses. You can share these and expound them. Tell us why you like them and perhaps share some stories connected to these.
  3. Book review. Review a book you just read or write a review of your favourite book ever. Please note: summaries are boring and redundant. Tell us why YOU love the book and what you want us to take home. Make it interesting. No one wants to read your academic synopsis online (yes, I saw your thoughts).

These ideas are simply a drop in the ocean. You can actually google ‘blog ideas’. There are a variety of those online.

4. PROOFREAD THE BLOG, PUBLISH & SHARE

In the name of Grammar and for the sake of your readers’ eyes and minds, please proofread your content to check if there are mistakes in your writing. Read out loud; it helps. I could hold a class about this but I won’t do that here . When you are sure you have read through thoroughly, it’s time to hit PUBLISH.

Thereafter, go to the post, copy the link in the URL bar (Google is a reliable friend ­– okay, most times) and then share it in different places. My assumption is that you are using a browser. Sharing is slightly different on the app: you must look for the Share button on the More dropdown menu under the post within the Posts page. I know, too much information at once. Worry not, take it one step at a time.

Let me talk about tags. Use tags to get a wider reach for your posts by choosing key theme words for your post. That way, even WordPress bloggers who don’t know your blog exists, can search for a topic, and if you tagged that topic, your blog will show up.  Otherwise, you can manually share your posts within your networks.

5. COLLECT IDEAS, DETERMINE A RHYTHM AND BUILD A PLAN

This is the hardest part. What will you blog about next? When will you blog? How often will you blog? On which days do you release your blogs.

List down a number of ideas of blog posts. Like I shared before, there are many ideas online. You can also get ideas by reading other people’s blogs. Just don’t copy and paste into yours. That is plagiarism! Come up with at least thirty ideas of topics you can write about.

Plan to write at least once every other week.

6. BONUS HACK: KEEPING DRAFTS & SCHEDULING

Did you know that you can write a number of posts and schedule them for future posting? You can actually set them to post automatically if you are sure about them. You can also simply write them and leave them in the drafts for you to return to review and improve them. This is possible in WordPress.

Phew! Now, I need a cup of tea and a short break. There is so much more about blogging that I can’t write about in this one post. However, I hope this will help you get started. Let me know if this is helpful in the comments below. Do follow and subscribe to my blog too 🙂 .

With warm regards,

Keziah.

On Writing and Perfection

This blog is literally a whatsapp conversation I had with my writing accountability group. Earlier this year, a few ladies and I set out to challenge ourselves to write consistently. We faithfully did a 21-day challenge in which we wrote content for books and blogs. After the challenge, which was nothing like any of us had ever done, I guess we got a bit tired, or a busier or both. That said, we still write, just not as consistently and everyday like we did in those 21 days. Last week, one of our members shared her new blog and we talked a bit about it. I noticed that she was plagued by something that I too had been plagued by in the past – the perfection bug rooted in the fear of how the public would receive her writing. This, coupled with the desire to get us back into the writing groove, I felt led to share that we should all remember that along this journey, we may fail. Scratch that, we will. But, every time we seem to have failed, we are actually learning and growing more. In addition to that, your writing is relevant to the seasons you are in. Yes, there is timeless literature. However, we forget that those that write timeless literature have had looooooooooots of practice. If we look at their earlier writing, even though it may tell of great talent, it may still not be as refined as their more recent pieces of work. Practice definitely makes perfect and practice is the cure to our need for perfection which makes us stagnate in our goals. Here is the actual conversation:

[10:50, 06/10/2020] kezy elaine: This is a message for all of us.

Get over the fear of failure and the need for perfection.

The truth is that you probably will fail. Perhaps you’ll open your blog 3 years from now and cringe🤣.

IT’S OKAY.

I opened my first ever blog in 2008 but in 2016, I closed it for good. I had grown and I wanted a fresh start.

I also had my first business website with my first ever fashion mini collections. I kept it running from 2016 to 2020 and closed it this year. I sensed the shift and I was no longer proud of the website. I felt I needed to have better content and web design in this new season.

And by the way, it was a nice site. But it did not represent the business well anymore.

You are going to have some mediocre content days.

You may fail sometimes …


[10:54, 06/10/2020] kezy elaine: So, what are things within your control currently?

Read through your content before you post. Self-edit it before posting or find an editor to work with.

Don’t detest your content. If you do, who do you expect to treasure it😆(am I being too harsh?)? One of the things to prove you love your content is be the first one to read your own blog post. Yes! Breathe deeply and read.

Congratulate yourself for making the effort every time. Every new blog post is worth being celebrated.

Take your eyes off you and start thinking more about the people you intend to bless with your content.

Pray over your content.

Love on your blog by changing its look at least twice a year to give it a fresh feel and also get you re-energised.

Cut yourself lots of slack!
By taking the step to write consistently, you are already better than most who never ever start.

And that’s it for today folks. I hope this encourages you to keep writing, keep blogging. keep learning and keep growing. I was reminded last weekend that every blog post matters. One of my goals is to write many books within my lifetime. To achieve that, I commit to writing often because every time I do, I get better!

Thank you for reading. Share some thoughts and comments. Share this with your friends too :-). You never know who needs it.

With love,

Keziah.