I started blogging a couple of years ago. And I had no idea why at the time. Now I could list a few reasons: creative freedom (no pitching or pesky editors to deal with); an outlet for expression and opinion without which I may implode; the childish/narcissistic joy of seeing your name in print and the satisfaction of having an audience.
As a result of blogging, I can use words such as ‘back-end’, ‘widget’, ‘tagging’ and ‘blog roll’ with confidence. I can edit pictures, link up with trends (or not), have made a firm friend in America and also dealt with some derisory comments. All in a day’s work of throwing some text into cyberspace. You may as well face the harsh truth from the start however: it is very unlikely that your blog will ever make you any money. You will get ‘freebies’ about which you are expected to write in return and it will act as a ‘CV’ if you are interested in writing as a career but it will rarely replace a monthly pay cheque.
Once you get past potential financial loss and embrace your inner narcissist, here’s how to start. Decide on a subject – the more specific the better, then choose a quirky name. Once done, write your first post. Go to wordpress.com (which I use) and click on Get Started. The process of actually posting your first piece is simple, the more subtle lay-out and design elements take longer to work out but I got there after a couple of days of trial and error.
Categories and tags are important as these help users to find you through searches for particular subject areas. Visuals are important too, I invested pretty quickly in a good secondhand SLR camera which made a big difference. My posts link out to my Twitter and Facebook account which increase viewing numbers significantly, especially if you write about someone with a large following. My biggest number of views in one day was the result of a retweet from Paul Ainsworth. It’s mutual back scratching out in cyberspace if you offer publicity in return.
Finally, the tone. A blog by its very nature is a highly personal medium and can be unashamedly biased and self-obsessed. The single column format fosters this style and readers not only expect it, but are looking for an insight into your life and personality. If in doubt – ask them – what they like, run competitions to get them involved and most of all, be nice and offer your followers exclusive extras such as a weekly newsletter.
Written by industry professional, Ismay Atkins, pastiesandcream is concise, newsy and constantly on the hunt for what Ismay terms, “a little of whatever takes my fancy.” From food to art, music to shops, design to local pubs, a discerning voice will keep you up-to-date with events a little left of the mainstream from “the western tip of Cornwall.” Her previous roles include staff editor at Time Out London and she writes regularly on travel, culture and food for national press as well as being the Cornwall author of Time Out Devon & Cornwall Guide.
David Wilcock launched Foodies South West in 2010 and covers Devon, Somerset and Cornwall (there is life beyond the Tamar!). His mission statement is a noble one: “I wanted to show people that you can avoid vacuum-packaged supermarket fodder without breaking the bank.” He also vowed to write about his “food adventures and celebrate the food and drink champions of the South West of England, be they large or small, rich or poor.” When he’s not stuffing food down his Gregory Peck, he’s a news journalist, a food PR consultant and a copywriter for hire. Tone is always informative, bang on the pulse and endearingly witty.
Choclette has everything you could possibly wish for here: chocolate, chocolate oh, and some more chocolate. The lady’s dedication to and passion for one of the world’s most powerful substances is impressive and informative. With separate categories on Brownies and Blondies, Cupcakes, Layer Cakes, you can’t help but tuck in. The blog was set up in 2009 as a means of reigniting her love of baking from early childhood when she made cakes, biscuits and bread. The theme of chocolate is an obvious one, but the recipes here steer away from the large and commercial, opting instead for local, organic and quality whenever possible.
A beautifully visual, minimalist blog that not only covers surfing – events, experiences and photos – but wetsuits, furniture, interiors and accessories. Describing herself as a: “Surfer and pessimistic optimist, trying to see the bright side of spending nearly half the year in 5mm neoprene,” Rebecca Pepperell is living the perceived Cornish dream and seeing the photos is enough to make you want to live it with her.
The Tea Appreciation Society even has its own very noble manifesto. It was founded in 2007 by designer Stephen Nelson & Cornish-based writer, photographer and filmmaker Shayne House. Since then, the society has gathered a dedicated group of international tea lovers reaching an online audience of over 450,000. The philosophy? “As a worldwide collective of individuals we celebrate the love of tea, community, and the creative human spirit. Tea offers us an opportunity for quiet contemplation and shared moments of intimacy with friends, enabling us to reflect, be inspired and create.” This is a showcase blog featuring carefully-crafted video, an online shop for great tea-related gifts as well as membership to the I-Heart-Tea collective. Do it.