When I first proposed starting this blog for my professor, I created a detailed list of all of the dates I would turn in a post. I found out quickly that blogging on a schedule is not the best strategy. For my first blog I had decided to write about health care, but a few paragraphs into my first draft the earthquake in Haiti happened. I realized then how flexible bloggers have to be.
My first few tries at writing that blog were rough to say the least. I found my post reading more like a news article or school report. I lacked a candid conversational feel. I had one of my friends who writes stand up comedy look over it. She definitely helped me pick up a more friendly laid-back tone.
Finding topics for my blogs was a big part of this experience. Most of the time I relied on the news. But working in a Congressional office didn’t hurt. Being on the Hill I found out about what was going on and I had access to experts on the issues.
On top of that, being in DC was a great place to write my blog. As cheesy as it sounds, the city is incredibly inspirational. Being in the middle of everything I was writing about really added to my understanding of what I was blogging about.
Research was a big part of my blogging process. Because I wrote about social media, I found all of my information on the internet. While blogging, I discovered a lot of great sites that I used very frequently. TweetCongress.org was a godsend. I could search for my topics in the tweet stream and see which Representatives or Senators were talking about it. I also used Digg.com and Mashable.com to find articles and blogs about my subjects. After that, all there was left to do was write!
That all being said, I have a few tips for those of you interested in starting your own blogs:
1. Write about something that interests you- I have always loved analyzing politics, so when the opportunity arose for me to write a blog, I incorporated it immediately. This has been such a fun experience because blogging about politics gave me an informal way to express my opinions.
2. Look at others blogs before you start your own- A regret of mine before starting was not to read other peoples blogs. By comparing others work, it gives you an idea about how you want to structure your posts, design your page or craft your tone.
3. Make sure your subject is writable- Before I started writing, I realized that my blog required outside information, meaning I had to make sure I could find material to write about. Social media and politics don’t come up together when you google them, so I had to sit down and search the Web to check that I would have the necessary tools to write. That’s where TweetCongress, Digg, Twitter, and Mashable (etc) came in.
4. Shop around for the blog site that best fits you- When I first started, I was using blogspot. But when a friend showed me WordPress, I knew it was a better fit. Nothing against blogspot– it’s a great site, but for me WordPress was better. To avoid switching, do a test run on each to see what you like best.
5. Don’t sweat the small stuff- Since I am not the best at grammar, spelling, etc. I really like the informal style of blogging. Now I’m not saying to put up your blog with tons of typos, but when there are little problems, its not a big deal. Just make sure all of your facts are correct!
6. Not all blogs are created equal- While my blog is for a class, not all blogs need to be as structured. Sometimes a great post can be a picture and a caption. Sometimes it can be random ponderings on life. Write what you know/like. After all, blogging is supposed to be fun!