I don't claim to be an expert at any of this, but I have recently had quite a few people asking for help. I've helped set up blog pages, about me pages, profiles, secret identities, Facebook pages, headers, backgrounds and avatars. At some point I started wondering why people aren't paying me for this stuff.
Honestly, it's taken me years to learn it all, and here I am just giving this stuff away for free. Head meeting wall.
Here are some tips that I would offer to anyone thinking about starting up.
1) Don't expect anything to happen overnight. I have been blogging, almost every day, for almost four years. I did not start my Facebook page until about two years ago, got on Twitter about a year ago. For me, it has been very gradual, and I've been learning all along the way. I've learned a little about html, a lot about editing and more about myself. I didn't get my fan base overnight. You won't either.
2) Do your own research. Don't expect that you can always just ask someone who's been around longer. Again, I've learned everything I have learned through years of hard work. Years of research. Years of trial and error. I've taught myself how to use all the platforms, and can honestly say that I never asked anyone else for help unless I did tons of research first and still found myself stuck. I've made my fair share of mistakes, but that's part of the process. The entire internet is there at your fingertips....use it.
3) Think long and hard about your identity and voice. Before you post anything, before you share anything, before you make a blog or a Facebook page, think about who you want to be. Do you want to be a sarcastic humorist, do you want to be taken seriously as a writer, do you want people to laugh, do you want people to relate to you? Figure this out long before you do anything else.
4) Write a LOT before you go public. I mean a LOT. Unless you are a very seasoned writer, it's going to be rough in the beginning. I can promise you that after you're at it a while, you will cringe when you go back and read the early stuff. When I started, my goal was to write something, anything, for an hour a day. For the most part, I have stuck to it. The best way to improve is to keep at it. Go back and re-read. Edit. Edit. Edit. You'll hopefully get to the point where you don't have to edit much.
5) Decide from day one if you want to be anonymous or public. Then stick with it. If you want to bitch about your family or friends, be anonymous. Seriously. Unless they are all okay with it, which I highly doubt. If you assume a secret identity, be good at it. My goal from the beginning was to work towards becoming a published writer, so I've never hidden who I am. It's your choice.
6) Learn your platform. This goes for all of it. Pick Blogger or Wordpress and learn it inside and out. I am on Blogger, but I've thought about switching to Wordpress for a long time. Wordpress allows for more flexibility, and has more exposure to other users of Wordpress. Blogger is easier, more user friendly. I'm not great at the tech stuff, so I stay. You also need to learn Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and any other social media platform you intend to use. There are help sections and tutorials online for setting up pages, for linking pages to one another, etc. Don't expect someone to have the answers for every question. I figured it out...you can too, honest.
7) Custom stuff doesn't come free unless you do it yourself or have friends who will. There is a huge element of blogging and page administration to comes just from graphic design. If you don't know how to do it, and you can't learn, you will have to pay someone eventually if you want stuff customized. Ask for recommendations from others who've been at it a while, they will usually happily have people they trust to refer you to.
8) Be genuine. Don't try to be someone or something you're not. People will see through it. I promise. If you don't cuss or talk about sex or politics, don't start for pageviews. If you are religious, stay that way. If you are gay, be out with it. If you are a feminist, fine. Be authentic. People will love you for who you are.
9) Don't focus on numbers. Focus on making connections with people. I would rather have 100 real fans who read what I write and relate than 1,000 fans who never read anything and are just there for funny cat pictures. (not that there's anything wrong with cat pictures - you guys know I love them) Too many bloggers and page admins get wrapped up in numbers. Fans only matter if they are fans.
10) Don't be a kissass. There are way too many good people in this blogging world, and it's a lot smaller than most people realize. Don't saddle up to the big dogs thinking you can ride their coattails. It's not going to happen. Most of us have been around long enough to see through it. Don't just haphazardly ask for other pages or bloggers to share your stuff. Some may have S4S policies, some may not. Find out before you ask. I share stuff that's worth sharing. I share things my friends write. I share only what is high enough quality that it won't diminish my reputation.
11) Don't be an asshole. Unless that's your thing. If you are, you will attract other assholes, so prepare yourself. If you want to post things that will incite snarky comments, be prepared for it. If you get a rise out of pissing people off, then you're going to get it thrown right back at you. Be prepared to deal with trolls and page bans and stern warnings from the powers that be at Facebook. That will happen even if you aren't an asshole once you've been around long enough. Everyone who gets big enough has to deal with it.
12) Don't give away too much for free. Resist the urge to do every link up and post suggestion and guest feature. Don't sacrifice your integrity for a few views.
13) Be careful who you ally with. The vast majority of people I have come across in the blogosphere have been rock stars. Not everyone is awesome though. There are a few out there with egos bigger than you'd imagine...and they'll step on whoever they have to to get ahead. Remember the power of anonymity, those who choose to hide who they really are might not be who they claim to be.
14) Learn how to use photo editing software. Make your own headers and avatars. Learn what dimensions and ratios images need to be. Think about things like resolution and quality. I use photobucket.com because it's online, it's free, and it's easy.
15) Don't steal stuff. Just don't. It's one thing to get ideas about posts from someone else, to be inspired by someone. That's fine. But don't blatantly rip off post topics, themes, weekly regular ideas, pictures, etc. Don't cross post from other blogs unless you tell them. Also, don't go claiming things are yours when you know they aren't. Most of the stuff on the internet doesn't really "belong" to anyone, so don't go plastering your name on things you know aren't yours. You'll just get yourself in trouble.
16) Be consistent with posting. Post on a regular basis, whatever that means to you. Some aim for weekly or a few times a week. I write daily. If you have a Facebook page, it is even more important to post daily. Good, quality stuff only though....don't post just to post. If you are consistent, but the quality of the material is bad, people will lose interest.
17) Evolve. Blogger completely changed their system a few years ago. Facebook changes how they operate daily. It's the nature of the beast. Evolve or get angry, those are really the only options.
18) Remember why you're doing this. This is supposed to be fun. Or thought provoking. Or educational. Or whatever the point of your blogging was intended to be. Stay true to that...and if you find yourself veering off course, take a step back. Evaluate if this place you're heading is a natural progression or a distraction from your goals.
19) Don't take yourself too seriously. Don't get offended. Don't take stuff personally. If a troll gets to you, just block and delete. If you're too emotional about something, maybe take a step back before you write up a post.
20) Be considerate. If you aren't anonymous, think about what you write about the people in your life long and hard before you write it. People will always, always, always misinterpret things. They will assume you are writing about them. They will get offended. Temper it as much as you can.
To the future bloggers and page admins of the world, good luck. It's a tough road, especially in the beginning, but it's been amazing in my life.
To all the current bloggers and page admins of the world, thank you for sharing this weird life with me. If I've missed something huge, please add your tips in the comments.
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