Asking for a Friend

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David Webb, a friend of mine from the old Ghostletters mailing list (so we’ve known each other for twenty-odd years), dropped me a line yesterday and said that he was interested in blogging and wanted to know if I had any suggestions for how to get started. I gave him a couple of suggestions, such as figuring out what he wants to blog about, deciding what he wants his readers to know about him, and deciding how many times a week he wanted to blog. Then I told him that I just sorta started blogging one day and have been figuring out what it is that I’m doing as I’ve gone along.

I also told him that, if he wanted to learn about blogging, he should also read some of the blogs written by all of you, who read my blog every day and leave comments and who write some pretty dynamite blogs yourselves. Then I realized that we were all in the same position once upon a time, and that maybe you had some ideas for him on how to get started and things you’ve learned about blogging along the way.

So, I have a favor to ask: If you have any suggestions for him, could you leave them in a comment here? Dave would appreciate it, and I’ll probably learn a thing or two myself…

Thanks in advance for your help!

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14 thoughts on “Asking for a Friend

  1. I do so agree with that. Write for yourself. You will eventually attract readers and IMHOP the best way to do that is to join the A to Z challenge in April. I met quite a few people that way as I am sure you have also done John. Good luck to your friend.

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  2. Find your passion, whether it’s fiction, poetry, current events, history, people, photography, life, politics, religion, science, whatever, and write about it…passionately.

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  3. Hi John and David … great advice John … and you’ll definitely pick up ideas from John’s commenters … I’d say keep your blog open-ended … i.e. so you’re not tied to one thing and can expand easily if you want to. The trick seems to be commenting on blogs you enjoy and building up that rapport … I’ve never followed a set rule.

    One really good way of getting in and going is signing up for the A-Z — John will tell you more … then you will need a theme for that month … but other than that just get going, and see what others do and adapt – by April you’ll probably have settled into it …

    Good luck – lots of sites with advice are around within this blogosphere … cheers and let us know, or via John, where you are etc … Hilary

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  4. Take some of the free courses on the Daily Post – Word Press – Blogging U. You get lots of good information, nice feedback and help, fun challenges, and meet some wonderful bloggers. It’s lots of fun while you’re learning some ins and outs of blogging. Good luck! 🙂

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  5. Agree with all of the above. A to Z is a good one but also any other “challenges” to give you some ideas of what to write about, like the Just Jot January. Commenting on other blog posts that interest you and making sure to respond to people who comment on yours is important as well. I don’t really look at the stats of my blog but I did see that I recently had a spike of interest and have grown to 72 followers on my WordPress. I’m sure that’s partly due to the #JusJoJan people I’ve been interacting with this month. Good luck and looking forward to reading yours!

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  6. Hi John. And welcome to the world of blogging Dave! I agree with Hilary in that it is best to keep your blog open-ended and not restrict yourself to one specific area of interest. It’s often surprising how blogs evolve over time. Music was never a topic I even considered covering but now music is featured quite frequently on my blog. It was my second year of participating in the A-Z Challenge, when my theme was an “A-Z Musical Journey of My Liife” that fellow blogger Arlee Bird told me about the Battle of the Bands hop. He thought I might be interested in it so he invited me to join, which I did. And now, several years later, music is covered on my blog every month and sometimes every week! I had never intended to blog about music, being that it started out being a “blog about dogs and life”. 🙂

    I had THOUGHT ABOUT doing a blog for YEARS before I finally did it. I even bought a “Blogging for Dummies” book eons ago (and never ended up reading). I think I was actually kinda scared of doing it. I’m not very technologically oriented and the process of setting up a blog seemed to overwhelmed me. But one day, out of the blue like a lightning bolt, I suddenly got the urge and the confidence to go ahead and do it. Three (long) days later, my blog went Live with my first published post. (Honestly, I credit the fact that I was wearing a chunk of pyrite on a necklace with giving me that spark that pushed me into it. That’s another story and if you’re interested in or mildly curious about the metaphysical properties of gemstones, I’ll share it with you. But suffice it to say, I do always advise people, when they are about to embark on a daunting task, to work with a hunk of pyrite on their desk or in their pocket, just for some added insurance. It can’t hurt! 🙂 )

    Also, if you’re going to jump into blogging, I highly suggest using the WordPress platform. As I discovered, the learning curve is a bit steeper but the overall outcome will be worth it. Just my two cents there…

    Good luck to you Dave. And let us know when you go Live. Feel free to reach out anytime.

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  7. I agree with the others – write for yourself. I found the WordPress courses to be quite helpful and took many of them when I started blogging. Also, find your niche – something that you really enjoy and will inspire you. It’s much easier to write about something you enjoy and like to share with others. And most important, be sure you have fun with it.

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  8. Great advice from everyone. I’d like to add, start small. Post as you know you can continue (at least while you find your feet). If that’s only once a week, that’s okay. Committing to multiple posts a week can be daunting when you start out and often that’s why people stop. Good luck!

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  9. Howdy and Welcome, DAVID.

    I’ve been blogging since May of 2008, so there’s a lot of things I could mention, but I’m going to restrict myself to just one piece of advice.

    Imagine this scenario:

    You’re at a party and you walk up to someone and start a conversation. You say something like, “I dig your Underdog T-shirt. I was wild about Underdog when I was a kid and it’s still my favorite cartoon.”

    The person that you spoke to listens to you, but then just stands there looking at you and never speaks a word in response.

    How would you like that? Is that a person you would want to spend more time with?

    Well, here in the Blogosphere, we may not be standing face-to-face with each other at a party but we most certainly are speaking to each other in the comment sections. And I strongly feel that when I take the time to read someone’s post and then take even more time to type out a comment, the least they can do — the decent, civilized, good-mannered thing for them to do — is respond to me. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a lengthy reply, but they ought to, at the very least, acknowledge that I took time from my own life to speak to them.

    It has stunned me to see how many bloggers completely ignore comments left for them. To me, that is every bit as rude as ignoring someone who speaks to you at a party.

    My personal blogging policy has always been this:

    1) I respond to comments that are left for me.
    2) If someone unknown to me leaves a comment, I make it a point to visit their own blog at least once. If their blog appeals to me, I sign up to “Follow” it. If it isn’t a blog that’s in my wheelhouse, I don’t sign up to “Follow” it. But regardless of whether or not I “Follow” a person’s blog, I will ALWAYS acknowledge them any time they leave a comment for me on my blog.

    I feel that a big part of blogging is getting to know people and establishing relationships with some folks. I have actually made a number of truly good friends via blogging; thanks to the Blogosphere, there are some people in my life whom I genuinely care about, people I would help and who would help me in a time of trouble, even though we have never once met face-to-face. Relationships like that do not develop unless the people engage in real dialogue, even if that dialogue begins simply in comment sections.

    As a corollary or addendum to what I just wrote, I would add that Blogfests like ‘A TO Z’ or ‘BATTLE OF THE BANDS’ are a good way to meet new people in the Blogosphere. However, if you commit to one of them, be sure to follow through. Don’t join unless you are truly devoted to reciprocating when others visit your blog in a Blogfest.

    In a nutshell, I would put it all this way: Unless one is honestly willing to put in the necessary time to respond to visitors who leave comments for them and to follow through with any other blog-related commitments entered into, one ought to put blogging on hold until they are not so busy in their other endeavors. And bear in mind that the more popular a blog becomes, the more time that will be needed to properly tend to it.

    Again, welcome, David, and I hope to see you ’round in the Blogosphere.

    ~ Stephen
    STMcC Presents ‘BATTLE OF THE BANDS’

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  10. Not much I can add to what has been said.

    My suggestion is to be adaptable and ready to accept change if circumstances seem to call for going in a different direction. When I started out blogging I soon put myself on a schedule so that I would feel a responsibility to posting on a regular basis. Plan well in advance if you can–write down ideas for future posts so you’ll have a wide variety of topics to delve into as you progress.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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