I never wanted to be a blogger. It seemed creepy to me—somewhere in the family of internet chatrooms—an alternate life in a virtual universe.
However when I signed up to go on the World Race, I was given a blog, a password, and an invitation to tell my story as I began a brand-new chapter.
And so I took it.
I fell in love with the ability to paint pictures with words and share them with the people I loved. And it is now my full-time job to teach others to do the same.
The problem is that blogging isn’t easy. There are millions of blogs that fill the internet and sometimes it feels impossible to make your voice heard.
The competition is also fierce. The internet is teeming with talented and creative people who have created beautiful spaces filled with beautiful things—a reality that feels daunting when comparison enters the conversation.
It’s easy to feel intimidated, and hard to know where to start.
In the last two years I have learned more than I ever thought possible about the sharing of stories online. And despite my original aversion towards the blogging community, I have grown rather fond of it. Because I realized that it’s not an alternate universe—it’s a digital version of your living room—a place to invite others in to get warm.
And so today, with two years of lessons tucked under my belt (and as I learn millions more), I’m excited to get to share a few of them with you.
In my opinion, these are five of the most fundamental things you need to do to get started:
1. Be an Idea Editor
“If you’re opening a hot dog stand, you could worry about the condiments, the cart, the name, the decoration. But the first thing you should worry about is the hot dog. The hot dogs are the epicenter. Everything else is secondary.” -Jason Fried, Rework
This is the same when it comes to beginning a blog. We’re quick to come up with all of the fancy features—Mondays will be for this, and the site can do this, I’ll have collages of this, and each week I’ll feature a never-before-seen DIY. That’s not a recipe for success, it’s a recipe for exhaustion.
In a world that’s so inundated with information, you’ll notice that the people who are really good at something, rarely do it all. Instead, they’re usually really good at one thing—a topic, a style of writing, DIY posts. One blog doesn’t need to be a hub for every source of inspiration. By figuring out what we’re each good at, we’re taking the place in the conversation that’s ours to hold and leaving others room to make a mark in their area of expertise.
Figure out what you’re good at—what you want to be known for, and edit out the rest. Let someone else show you how to make a Mason jar chandelier, or how to do a fishtail braid. You don’t have to be good at everything—you can’t be. (Trust me… I’ve tried.)
2. Catch them with your title
I had someone ask me for blogging advice recently, coming to me with a Greek phrase that they thought would be perfect for their domain name. While I appreciate the creativity, half of the battle of having a successful blog is being found. If your readers don’t speak Greek, or have the same understanding or attachment to that phrase, they’ll never search it and probably never find you.When picking a title for your blog, pick something catchy, but also something that describes what it is you do. Don’t be too cryptic or make it too complicated—remember, your readers are going to be Googling you, and you want them to be able to spell the words they’re searching for.(You can also just use your name… )
3. Pick a platform
There are tons of blogging platforms to pick from and lots of opinions on which is best. I know people who use Blogger and have shined it into a masterpiece all their own. Square Space is a great new platform that offers ready-made templates that are absolutely stunning.
I use WordPress. It’s a common and widely-used platform, offering you an endless variety of customizations and resources.
4. Decorate your living room
I like to think of The Lipstick Gospel as my living room—ushering tired friends into my warm space, taking their coat and handing them a steaming mug of coffee.
Your blog is your home—a space that represents you—so take the time to decorate it. There is so much online that people have to judge a book by its cover, so make the cover represent the heart inside.
Also—be patient with the fact that it’ll change. Your style, your writing voice, and you, yourself, will change over time, and so give yourself space for that change to reflect on your blog. It’s ok to change the look, or make updates. It’s ok to share it before it’s absolutely perfect. Perfection is overrated and your space will evolve. Give yourself room and permission to grow.
5. Write, write, write
Writing is challenging, intimate work—requiring a potent combination of courage, discipline, and creativity. Some days it feels impossible to sit in that chair and make words come out. It’s even more disheartening when the words don’t come out the way you imagined them.
Being a good writer takes work and it takes practice, and the only way to get better is to put in the time. Allow yourself room to fail and room to grow. But more than anything else, commit to doing the work. Practice may not make perfect, but it certainly will make you better.