Beginning Blogging: Uncovering the needs of a newbie blogger

I like to write and I have been struggling to write a novel for sometime.

Years, actually.

Every time I sit down to write my mind goes blank and then, inevitably, I let my negativity get the better of me and I just give up all together.

I found encouragement one night while googling my favorite author, Neil Gaiman, who said,

gaiman 3

Gaiman’s quote confirmed what I had always known; I just had to write. Practice makes perfect, after all. But what would I write?

My best friend has a blog. She blogs about life and parenting. It is inspiring to read her personal journey. It is important. I wished I had something worthwhile, and maybe life affirming to write about. Being unfamiliar with the blogosphere, that is what I thought bloggers did. Write about really important stuff. I didn’t think I had anything important to say.

Then one day I decided I did.

It all started when I realized that I followed more comic news sites on my Facebook than I followed actual people. It occurred to me that most of those sites were blogs. I was following blogs! I was reading blogs! And I realized that blogging could be about things I love. But I also realized none of these blogs were exploring and sharing what I wanted to read about- not comics, movie tie-ins and new releases- but how comic culture intrinsically affects a reader. As I searched for similar sites there was very little to satiate my curiosity, so I decided I would write the kind of articles I wanted to read.

I became a blogger.

how-often-blog-why-blogging-writing-ideasBlogs belong to the online world. To understand them, how they work,
and how to attract a readership I had to learn to navigate this world. “Tags”, “Buzzwords”, “Followers” were foreign concepts. For me, computers are largely for word documents, email and academic research. I don’t surf the web, so I had no idea where to begin.

My best friend suggested I check out WordPress.com. When I searched the site I was overwhelmed by the plethora of options available to me: backdrops, packages, free vs. fee service, hosting, and themes. I didn’t understand half of the jargon. So I took a step back and googled, “How to start a blog”.

There are an infinite number of articles out there explaining how to run a blog. I was looking for information that would help me as a newcomer, someone who wanted to blog for enjoyment, not to make a business of it. I wanted to know how to choose themes, how to use tags, the importance of catchy titles, and why people love blogging. I was disappointed and overwhelmed by the sheer number resources devoted to making a profit from blogging. I found the pressure heavy and it took enjoyment out of the process. I had to learn to distinguish between honest resources to help newcomers find their footing as writers from the bottom line sites that were leading me back to negative writing experiences.

Some of the most informative resources I stumbled upon were comic sites, Ted Talks (there are great talks about why people blog and the catharsis that comes from sharing personal stories), local newspapers (which link to blogger sites and are distinctive in their voices), and other blogs (The Minimalists, in particular, offer a comprehensive checklist for starting a blog). Because blogging is such a personal endeavour, the information I found most helpful was the information that made me feel good, informed and curious.

I also I reached out and asked people I knew for advice. Common among their encouragements were to “write as often as you can! But it is hard to keep up with blogging with the busyness of life, so if you don’t get popular fast, no worries!”; and “make your site interesting to look at; use lots of images; write about what you want to write, and not what you think other people want to read”. All of my research encouraged my desire to blog; however, it was the constant brainstorming with my best friend that propelled me into it.

So we decided to launch a blog together.

We spent weeks sending each other links to blogs that we liked and admired as examples for what we might want to include in our own. We searched the Internet for blogs, Facebook for links, and local community newspapers for “life” writers. We wanted to learn about voice and style, what readers engage with and what doesn’t work; the more colloquial a blog, the better! We learned about linking to Twitter and Facebook. And along the way I observed that I learn best when guided by a mentor.

We bought a domain name through WordPress and settled on a theme. Then we decided to dedicate our website to life, art, culture, and parenting, each its own tab for its own collection of posts. We named it The Feminine Pulse. We also invited other women to contribute to our blog, intent on building a community. Blogging quickly became more than a place to contemplate geekery.

I realized that I could navigate the Internet and use the people around me as resources and experts. I learned to differentiate between good blogs and bad ones, what strengthens them and how powerful they can be. I am also not as scared as I used to be about utilizing the Web and contributing to it. I am excited by gaining followers and equally by following others.

My first blog post is titled, “How Comics Saved My Life”. Comics may have saved me, but blogging has given me a writer’s purpose.

By Leigha Chiasson-Locke

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