If you head over to your local library, or bookstore, or wherever you can go to find a large collection of books, I am certain you’ll find at least a few books on how to start a blog. In some ways, they all look the same – they’ll offer you all the knowledge you ever might need to know in order to run the biggest, the baddest, the most awesome blog you’ve ever seen. They try to sell themselves by suggesting that, pretty much overnight, your blog can be the new rival to whichever websites they think will impress you. They try to convince you that they, and they alone, have all the secrets you’ll need to start earning thousands of dollars A DAY!!!
Don’t ya just love the smell of cow dung in the mornings?
On a recent trip to the local public library, I thumbed through a few of them. I was curious. I had been thinking about re-starting my blog and since I made a few mistakes the last time (the biggest mistakes I made were not writing enough good content and not publicizing it so nobody knew there wasn’t anything there to read). I’ve worked on or owned a few successful blogs before so I know the game.
So, How Do You Start A Blog?
Start With The Technical Stuff?
By most accounts, you have to start by planning. There is all that technical stuff … securing the web hosting, coming up with a domain name, trying to guess what you want your site to look like. You have to come up with an interesting title, which usually goes hand in hand with the web hosting. Then you have to plan out what kind of blog you want. In other words, what kind of things you want to say and how you want to say it. (Perhaps I’ll say it in French. “Merde!” There, I said it.)
One of the issues I had with this blog was that, as far as the subject matter goes, it was all over the place. One day I’d post about a book or a movie I’d read. The next post would be something political. Then I would dissect some philosophical idea I had about something or another, or some life-lesson I had recently learned (or had reinforced). The blog experts say not to do this. Pick a topic. Any topic. And stick with that.
This is a blog about me and the kinds of things I think about. Some days, I just want to sit in the corner and silently read a great book. Some days I want to be thrilled by the latest blockbuster movie. Some days, I see man’s inhumanity to man and it makes me sad. And, some days, I ponder the mysteries of the universe … like, how if Modern Painting is supposed to be the panacea for all the ills of life, why does everyone buy the painting that matches the couch?
A couple of the books suggested I start by introducing myself.
Start By Introducing Myself?
This may sound a bit strange, but please hear me out.
I don’t like talking about myself.
For starts, I never know what to say without sounding like a bad dating app profile. “Hello. My name is Cork. I’m in my 40’s, I like reading, photography, volunteering, and playing video games. I’m married, so I am not looking for someone to share long walks on the beach or to join me at the latest trendy night club, which I swear I am too old to get into anyway. Didn’t I say I was in my 40’s?”
The way I see it, the best way to get to know me is to read what I have to say.
Start By Just Doing?
I started my first “blog” before anyone had gotten around to come up with a word for it. It was a website where I could post about things that mattered to me. (Anyone remember Geocities? Anyone? Ok…)
At that point in my life, I was going through some pretty major stuff. Within a couple year period of time, I had moved to a new town where I didn’t know anybody. I was diagnosed with a horrible, incurable disease. I was sexually assaulted. There was this horrible stalker situation. I was barely an “adult” … struggling to put the proverbial roof over my head and food on the table while dealing with some fairly major adult issues.
I figured out pretty quick I had to find a way to deal with that on my own. My newfound friends at first were supportive and sympathetic. But there was a limit to that and nobody wants to hang around a drama queen. They said they liked having me around, they just didn’t want to have to deal with all the negativity I seemed to let surround me. They didn’t want to be involved.
When I was introduced to Geocities, a website that allowed anyone to make a website for free, I decided to write about all my troubles. At first, I thought it was nothing more than a modern form of journaling. When I had about fifteen or twenty pages on my “site”, someone sent me a message. She said she liked what I had read and could relate to it, directly as well as indirectly. Her brother had just been diagnosed with the same thing I did and the two of them were also having problems finding people to talk with about it. We both had recently been fired from our jobs, she because of her religion, me because of my sexual orientation. We also both had ex-boyfriends who refused to leave us alone, even after the courts had told them to stay away.
Before long, my inbox started getting pretty full.
Most of the people who wrote me were supportive. Some just wanted to ask me a question related to something I had written and I was more than happy to give them my thoughts on whatever subject. Some people wanted me to know they could relate with at least part of my experiences and wanted to talk (okay, type) with me, even if all they wanted to do was give me a proverbial pat on the back.
Yes, I am still friends with a couple of those people, although I have lost touch with most of them.
Geocities went from the coolest thing on the internet to something more akin to “oh, that site again?” as internet technology changed and other places started offering better stuff. So, after several years of Geocities (where I really tested the limits of what they offered for free) it was sad when I had to say goodbye, even though there was something better.
My first official “Blog” (entitled Noli nothis permittere te terere) was created then and, like the Geocities site, it lasted years and years. That blog was my attempt to find hope and inspiration in a world that seemed to be against you from the beginning. (The name came from a Latin phrase, Don’t let the bastards get you down.)
The day I published my final post, I was sadly happy to see it go. When it began, most of the people were fairly positive about what they were reading. At the end, it was mostly negative. People called me stupid. They reminded me I was going to burn in hell for not being a good “Christian”. I was called “evil” … “an abomination” … and worse. People left death threats in the comments. On one hand, these were complete strangers who were hiding behind the anonymity of the internet and were complete cowards, why should I care what they thought? (Yeah, it still hurt, a little.)
My offline life was getting busier and busier. My role at work had been expanding and my free time to blog was getting to the point where I could only manage one or two posts per week. It was time for a break. I didn’t know how long I’d be gone, but I knew some day I’d be back again.
A few years ago, I started my current website and kept it small on purpose. (My reasons are personal – they’re not important.) I tried to focus the various parts of my site on their own and the “blog” portion just never got the attention it deserved. I’ve promised myself I’ll do better now. It may take be a bit of time to get this blog set up and running. My life is still fairly complicated, but it’s manageable now.
And I have lots of stuff I just can’t wait to share with you.