December 8, 2020
Seven Lessons from Blogging for Creatives
Blogging platforms and the social media landscape have both evolved since Robin Houghton wrote Blogging for Creatives in 2012, but there are many points in this book which continue to be just as relevant today as they were eight years ago.
1. Focus on the content first, and get the site looking as you want, before starting to promote it
This makes a lot of sense – in part not to burn off any early viewers who are shocked at the state of the site during the set-up phase, or the lack of content available at that time. The other reason to do this is to take a bit of time figuring out what you want to write about, as this will influence which social media platforms are a natural fit for your content.
2. Be clear about what type of blog it is – whether it is a business blog or a hobby blog.
This clarity will help you decide how strict you need to be about “sticking to your knitting” when choosing the topics you will cover on your blog site. For example, it makes no sense to write about novels I have been reading on my Writing for Councils website.
However, even if your blog is primarily a place for self-expression, it’s a good idea not to have too many different topics (categories) on the one blog site. That’s because you still want to give your readers a clear sense of what they can expect from visiting your blog.
3. Choose topics of enduring interest to you – and aim to break the 3-month barrier!
Given the limitations described above, it’s well worth mulling on what topics you think you can keep writing about, especially if you are not writing to generate income. Robin Houghton says most blogs peter out after three months.
4. Post regularly
Blogging for Creatives recommends putting up a blog post at least once a week. That’s not realistic for me – and may not be for you either. Don’t let this discourage you. A perfectly viable alternative is to create quite a few different posts in a flurry, and give them different publishing dates.
You can also load up a whole heap of posts about your content on Buffer.com to be gradually released on your preferred social media platforms, to encourage visitors to your site over time.
5. Types of blog posts that work
The book includes 12 types of blogs that work, and these are the ones that caught my eye:
- Story (e.g. present a problem and how you tackled it)
- “How to”/practical advice
- Point of view/ “my take”
- Round up (eg of articles recently read, people met at an event, talks heard at a conference)
- Something different – Robin says “professional bloggers will tell you to always stay on topic, but if you are a hobby blogger, feel free to sometimes post about something else, if that’s what’s on your mind”.
6. Write short articles
Robin Houghton advises us to keep our blogs short (e.g. 250 words long) and that if it’s 1,000 words long, it has to be a really great blog post to keep people reading. However, I have read the opposite advice elsewhere … that longer posts are better because they will be more indepth and meaningful.
What I think this means is we have permission to experiment – try short and long posts, and find out what you most enjoy writing and what appeals to your readers.
7. Realise you will develop secondary skills along the blogging journey
This is a really positive message – because you might be worried that it is a waste of time to blog for fun. Even if you are writing a hobby blog, you will be learning skills of value to other aspects of your life, such as getting better at content marketing by playing about with Canva and WordPress.