Dec 122014 4 Responses

Five Steps to Starting a Blog

“How do I start a blog?” It’s a recurring question in daily conversations. About six months into starting this website, I began to hear the question. People would take me to lunch, come by my office, or email me asking for advice.

It is striking how much the desire to write (or at least to have written) is buried within many people. On occasion they have the courage to let the desire rise to the surface and explore the possibility. (See: Fear Leads Me Too Often)

Every person who desires to write, should write. And there are few better ways to begin the writing process than through a blog.

In 2006, a friend suggested I should start a blog. I laughed at him thinking, “The last thing people need is to hear more from me.” Since I speak on a weekly basis for at least 35 minutes, I felt as though those who knew me heard enough from me. For six years I ignored his suggestion.

As 2012 came to a conclusion I wanted to find a way to get back into the habit of writing. I reconsidered the idea of a blog (although I hate the word blog. I prefer the idea of a website with articles). I thought I would try to write during the month of January and if at the end of the month I liked the process, I would take the website public and start the process. (To see the first post I wrote, click here.)

So I wrote my first post, published it to my un-publicized website and started watching a New Year’s Day football game. A few minutes later, I received a Facebook notification from someone commenting on my post. Having not posted anything to Facebook I was confused. Then I saw that when setting up my website, I unknowingly linked it to my Facebook page. When I posted to my site, it posted on my Facebook wall.

I’m convinced without that accidental step, I would not be writing today. I would have tried to write for a few days, grown weary, and given up. Instead, I unknowingly told my Facebook friends what I was doing and once I say I’m doing something, I’m doing it. (See: How I Determine Success)

Nearly two years later, I’ve written over 500 posts and on a regular basis people ask how they can do the same.

Here are five suggestions:

1. Watch Michael Hyatt’s 20 minute video on how to set up a blog and do what he says. There is no need trying to figure it all out on your own. Michael Hyatt is a must-follow for anyone wanting to write, be a leader, or host a website. In this brief video, he will show you everything you need to know in order to get your website up and running.

2. Begin to write, but hope no one reads. It’s a strange dynamic. You need just enough people to read your writing in order to keep you motivated, but the last thing you need is a lot of people reading you at the beginning. Writing is a process. If anyone is doing it right, they will be better tomorrow than they are today. If a lot of people read you today, they may not give you a second chance tomorrow. Write in the beginning to learn. As you are learning, hope that your audience begins to grow.

3. Commit to a schedule and stick with it. Most people aren’t willing to put in the work. Writing sounds fun—engaging in conversations which result from an idea you wrote. Yet it isn’t as fun when you’ve committed to writing every day and it’s 10pm and you have no idea what to write about. Without discipline, you will stop writing. Pick and schedule and stick with it no matter what the situation. (See: You Always Have an Excuse)

4. Commit to a time frame and don’t evaluate anything until then. I committed to a month before anyone knew what I was doing. After I was “found out,” I committed to one year. After the first year, I decided to give it another year. As this year winds down, I know I will continue to write. It’s tempting in the early days to compare what you are doing to what others are doing and assume it just isn’t for you. Unless you commit to a longer time frame you will likely quit. If after six months or a year you want to stop writing, then stop. Until then, don’t judge what you are doing because it takes time to see the true impact.

5. Focus on production over perfection. If you are a perfectionist, get over it. Get in your mind that production outweighs perfection. This doesn’t mean we should publish whatever comes to our mind. I’m not promoting laziness or poor quality. Yet it does mean we cannot allow perfectionism to paralyze so that we never hit publish. On occasion I get stinging letters from people who have probably never publicly published anything. They say it’s an embarrassment that I would publish things with mistakes. Of course, I reply and ask them what mistakes and after they tell me I correct the mistakes and no one ever knows they were there. What the critics don’t understand is that I fear a lack of production more than a lack of perfection. (See: What Jerry Seinfeld Knows About Success)

Few processes teach me more than writing. It forces critical thinking, personal reflection, and narrowing down a few ideas into a concrete opinion. I would encourage anyone who desires to write to actually do so. It doesn’t matter if anyone else ever reads what you write, just writing is worth the effort given and lessons learned. When others gain from your writing, it’s an added bonus.

4 Responses to Five Steps to Starting a Blog

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