I wish that I could tell you that you could register with a site like WordPress, Posterous, or Blogger, start pouring out all your thoughts and rants on any subject, at great length, with no consideration for tone, grammar, page design, or general aesthetics, and make enough money to replace your day job. But I can’t.
The truth is that, if you are new to the blogging game, you are coming in at a time when competition is fierce and probably far more wide-spread than you think. And not only that, you are coming in at a time when blogging technology has made leaps and bounds from its humble LiveJournal origins, and stepped into a new form of media.
Scary as all this may seem to a fresh young blogger, you shouldn’t let it discourage you. On the contrary, you should use all this to your advantage.
Constraints and challenges often make the creative process much more … well, creative. You can’t content yourself to follow the same rules as everyone else if you want to be remembered, but it’s ok – break the rules, and everyone will remember you. Just try to break them within reason. Here are some ways to break the rules:
Give it a name they’ll never forget
What’s in a name? Even 400 years before blogging, Shakespeare knew that the way you name something says more about you (and the thing you are naming) than you’ll know. Remember that blogging also has a lot to do with image – so picking the right name is therefore crucial to representing yourself the way you want to. Which is more memorable: Jerome’s Blog, or Jerome’s Super Amazing Epic Blog of Epicness? Sure, it’s a little ridiculous, but think about it.
This rule also applies to headlines, by the way. If your blog title is clever, but it ends there, you probably won’t get a lot of dedicated readers. Blame it on our shortening attention spans, but it’s just the truth. Come up with great titles, and people will want to read your blog.
Give them eye candy
It’s not enough that your title be catchy, you want your viewers’ first response when seeing your page to be “Wow.” And not because it looks like it’s from the late 90’s. Spend some time designing your page so that it matches your personality, taste, content, title. Make it look like you know what you are doing, even if you don’t. (If you really don’t know what you’re doing, you can look at other blogs for inspiration, buying a premium theme or hire a designer.)
Give them the real You (just not too much)
Maybe more important than any other of these rule-breaking rules, it is important that what you write on your blog authentically and genuinely represents your thoughts, ideas, opinions, experiences and so forth.
There really is no sense in writing a blog you don’t believe in (talk about an exercise in futility!) and readers probably won’t want anything to do with a daily soulless account of accounting. Though that does bring me to another point: whatever you do, do it consistently. And don’t set up reader expectations you can’t fulfill. Don’t post a hundred times in one week and never again for six months.
Also, anything worth doing, is worth doing well. Don’t be a blog slob; treat your readers with enough respect to express yourself clearly, with passion, and humor enough to keep them entertained. Your blog needn’t be a pristine example of your language, but it should attempt to be respectable.
There are many other rules to break (namely: do everything you can to host your blog on its own domain) but following these should get you started. Don’t lose hope, keep writing, and give them what they want: an unforgettable blog.