Exactly a year after I published the first article on my blog, I decided to look back and break it down and share my experiences from writing and managing my own blog.
The year was 2016. I had about two years of experience in the UX field, and I wanted to become better. I’ve been reading a lot of design blogs and wanted to give it a shot myself. The first question that I asked was:
Who the hell am I and why should people listen to what I have to say?
Sure, I had some interesting talks with my friends, and I have succeeded in the past passing my ideas via social medias (I even performed two times on stage), but I really didn’t see the reason for anyone to spend a couple of minutes and actually read what I have to say.
So, after some thinking, I decided to ask the people behind the blogs I read. After all, they’ve been there and they’ve done it. First it felt a bit rude to interrupt their busy lives and ask for an advice, but most of them were very happy to help (the others just didn’t answer, and that’s fine). The answer I got at the end was — If you’re thinking about it, you probably have your own unique opinion, and there will always be people who will learn from it, so just start writing and spread your experience.
So, don’t be shy. Ask people who already did it and look for advice. If I can help — email me. Now! (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Technical stuff: how do you start your own blog?
Setting up a new blog is a mess. I know. If you have a friend who’s good with this stuff — grab that friend close and never let go. At least until your blog is up and running. This may sound like gibberish right now, but you need to install WordPress.org(!!! not .com) on your cPanel that’s on your hosting server. Many hosting services offer this installation automatically, and that’s comfortable. There are really good tutorials on YouTube, so I won’t expand on this matter.
It’s not cheap. You have to buy a domain (your address online), a hosting service (for WordPress and stuff), you’ll probably want to set up a G suite if you want a special mail domain and not a regular email@example.com address, and a MailChimp account, to manage the weekly newsletter (about 10$ a month). Get ready to spend some money on it.
Having said that, your blog doesn’t have to be based on WordPress. That’s just the way I did it, so I’m familiar with the process.
This won’t work without having a scheduled routine. A recurring reminder in your calendar, telling you you have to write something is great. Also, make sure there’s a recurring reminder telling you to publish the new post and send the weekly campaign. Working in a “whenever I have time for it routine” isn’t going to work. At least not in the beginning.
A bit more than consistency — Value
I look back at all my articles, and I’m not that proud of each and every one of them. Some were really stupid, some not interesting and some super-irrelevant. Sure, that’s me and it was authentic, but there’s a lesson here — think about the real value of your article. If you can’t say exactly what are you giving in this article, that’s not obvious — then the article is probably unnecessary. Again, if you’re writing to get things off of your heart — write on whatever you want. If you want the article to affect its readers and teach them something, think about the value you’re giving, and how you make it a unique value.
Get ready for changes
If I had a dollar for every time I thought about changing the blog, opening a new one or stop writing generally, I would’ve had money to buy a new domain and set it up on a hosting server. That’s part of finding your blog’s identity. Frankly, I still think about these things every now and then.
This post is a retrospective for me. I’ve been writing for a whole year now. Excluding the last couple of months, I maintained a routine of one article per week. There are a couple of reasons why I’m glad I’m writing a blog:
There will be people listening to what you have to say
Remember the question I asked in the beginning? Well, now I know there are people who are willing to read what I publish. I love it when people comment and share their thoughts on the subject I’m writing on. There’s something very fulfilling in getting comments from people on what you create.
You’ll connect with new people
Full honesty — I don’t have gazillion readers. But, as I learned along the way, sometimes it’s better to have few true readers, who read the articles and give feedbacks, than a lot of readers who are just there. Although I would be happy to know a lot of people read my blog, I am very grateful for the people I met along the way — other designers and bloggers, or just curious readers.
Your mind will be article-oriented
Ever since I started writing, my mind is in a constant criticizing mode, that makes me more alert and creative. For me, this is a better state of the brain — Everything I do becomes something I can tell about.
It’s good for your portfolio
When I started writing my blog, since my previous workplace’s designs were confidential, I had almost no works to show. Keeping a blog, where you show bits of your mind, shows your way of thinking, bits of your technical and design skills, and the fact that you’re responsible and consistent enough to create your own content in your free time.
The blog is a symbol that pushes you
Let me refer to the movie Batman Begins, as I tend to do every now and then:
As a man I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored. I can be destroyed. But as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.
When you create a blog, it becomes somewhat independent. You no longer write and promote your personal ideas; you write and promote the ideas of your blog. For me, writing and publishing my ideas was always weird and frightening, because, again, I didn’t know who would listen to what I have to say. This was an opportunity to promote my designer-blogger-alter-ego, and not the everyday dude I am.
For me, spending time and effort on the blog was an excellent exercise on “Fake it till you make it”. When I started, I was sure no one is going to appreciate my ideas, and now, a year later, I see myself as someone who has a lot to offer in this field. Sure, I have so much to learn, but I know I also have a lot to teach.
If you’re interested in starting your own blog, here are the steps I recommend you take now:
- Think about what you have to offer and how you can give value (both for you and your readers). Your motivation to write can be your unique perspective on things, your knowledge, or the urge to share your professional opinions. Just make sure you’re giving something to your readers.
- Learn from people who are doing it now — don’t be shy, send an email to the bloggers you follow and ask for guidance. Again, if I’m one of these people, or I have any way to help — feel free to contact me.
- Set your writing schedule.
- Start writing.
- Improvise. That’s what I’m doing.