So you’ve already decided you’re ready to blog. Now how does your gorup get your blog started? It’s easier than you would think to get your first blog set up.
There are a couple easy options I recommend for finding a place on the web to host your blog:
Setting up a blog at your domain
If you have a WordPress site or a Drupal site, your site is ready to support a blog. Just make sure that you have a plan for it to be visible from the home page, and part of the site navigation.
With a blog that’s part of a WordPress or Drupal site, you have full access to many features (for example, Facebook “Like” buttons, or the ability to promote your content across social networks.) And with a blog that’s part of your website, traffic from the blog = traffic for your website.
I recommend this for: groups that own their domain or that are interested in a full range of blogging features. This is my first choice for many groups I’ve worked with.
Join Blogger or WordPress.com
Either of these vibrant communities can work for a free-standing blog. The advantage is that it’s easy: you basically create an account. It helps you know what you want to call your blog before you get started, since both of these sites allow you to publish your blog right away. Yes, it’s just that fast.
Once you complete their blog setup process, you will have a blog anchored in a vibrant blogging community. (For example, check out the Street Roots blog on WordPress or the CAUSA blog on Blogger). Within these communities, it’s easy for folks to comment on or share your content.
You may not know how to customize the appearance of your blog, but don’t worry about that – what you’re writing will turn out to be much more important. Just don’t create anything too visually distracting. You also will have some limitations on features – but the speed and ease of setting your blog up this way is very alluring.
I recommend this for: groups without a domain; groups who don’t have a functional website that can support a blog; or groups that, for strategy reasons, want a blog that is branded differently than their organizational blog.
Writing is not enough. If you are writing but not distributing, your supporters won’t have any idea that your blog exists. Consider distributing via:
- Email (set up automated emails that send messages when you have new content. Here at MRG, we use Mailchimp’s RSS feature for our blogs, or you can set up mass email via Feedburner).
- Facebook — use a Facebook app that will allow your blog posts to automatically be updated onto your Facebook feed (whether it’s your group’s page, or your personal profile). There are also nice tools out there to allow folks to “Like” individual posts on Facebook, which will help others to see them.
- Twitter – you can also set up tools so that when you Blog, it is automatically posted to your Twitter feed.
Write (Yes, You Have to Write)
Pick the primary topic for your blogging and stick to it. Pick a day of the week when you plan to write something. And plan to be reading related blogs other days of the week, to see what sparks your interest and is worth linking to.
Probably, until you have at least ten posts, you won’t hit your stride, so don’t be surprised if you start out a little slow. Just keep writing!
I’ve advised a number of individuals and groups on blogging for social justice. I have a tip sheet on blogging I’ve developed along the way. Here are my top two tips from that list:
- Links are gold: Link to facts that support your argument or to show visitors who influences your thinking. Two to three links per post will make you more credible with search engines and readers. Links that are right in your text work better than the dreaded “click here” text links. Link to your allies more often than to your opponents.
- Want someone to notice you? Notice them first. If you want to be noticed by a particular (more popular) blogger or other website: Read their content regularly and post comments on their site, and write about them on your blog with links to their content that you like. You can also use Google searches to see who else is writing on your topic and is more popular than you. Use your blog to start a conversation with them by writing about their posts. We’re circling back to the most important tip: read, write and link based on your interests and opinions.
Blogging takes times but gives you a way to share your knowledge, and a way for others to understand your issue better. You don’t have to have a million followers to make a difference. You just need to keep writing and distributing.