So… You wanna blog?

Many people create blogs in order to tell their story to the world. Or, if you are like me, the 20 people who follow your website. It is a great way to sharpen your writing skills, and for PCVs, to deliver on the third Peace Corps goal even before heading back to the States. Below are some helpful tips to help young bloggers which I learned over the past 2 years.

Get familiar with the system and test the process with simple stories

At first my blog looked very different than it does now. It took me about 2- 3 months before I became comfortable with the system. I spent a lot of time fiddling with the options and creating the best product I could while understanding this was only a hobby. For beginners I recommend using WordPress, but I have also developed websites on Wix which is also user friendly. I also created a few stories to warm myself up. I started with some off the wall stories about the US’s financial system and attempted to act as if I knew what I was talking about. Then, I got to site and a lot of what I did in Ukraine made my content more interesting and I developed my voice through experimenting with different writing tactics.

Have content in the website before you start inviting friends

This advice comes from an article I read about advertising online shortly after starting my first business. It stated that you should put at least 5-10 stories or post on the page before you invite your friends to the page. If you do not people will investigate the invite with the mindset it is some empty and hopeless endeavor in which they will not waste their time. Same goes for your website. Do not post to Facebook before you have the guts of your site operational and aesthetically pleasing for the audience. Otherwise, people may not click on your link again. Add an about page, contact information and pictures at first. Then, as your content expands you can add more content to your navigation bar.

Invest in a URL and introduce your audience to the website

I invested in the URL because I wanted to set myself apart from other people who create blogs throughout their Peace Corps experience. This increased peoples interest in the site and the legitimacy of it. Knowing that I invested in this platform also increase my buy-in to the writing process, quality of work, and flow of content distribution. I also set up a Facebook page which introduced people to the site. However, I would not recommend this because I get more traffic to the site if I post to social media directly from my personal page. A simple introduction of the site will be sufficient and you may need to do this more than once in the first few months.

Be active with your audience

Just like responding to each person who sends you a Happy Birthday, it is important to respond to your audience. This makes the audience feel a part of your story and increases the amount of views because each “friend” you have is notified on their feed each time someone comments on your post. That is also a small reason why people end up with hundreds if not thousands of likes on their photos.

Be consistent with your flow of information

Most people who start a blog love to write and do it as a hobby. If this is you, it will make it easy to keep a steady flow of information to your audience. However, if you have trouble writing, I would recommend that you stop whatever it is you’re doing the moment something amazing happens and write it down. I do not care if it is on a napkin at a bar. A wise man once said, the first rule to writing is to write.

Use Quality Photos

This suggestion comes from an article I read online and experience. As a blogger or businessperson, you get maybe 1-2 second to catch a person’s attention as they swipe through their news feed. When people see less than quality photos their first thought is that your article or story will also be less than quality. Also, most of the people who visit your blog more than likely have a personal connection with you within the first 5-6 months of going public with your site. This is why it is important to add photos with you in them. It will catch the attention of the audience and tell them that whatever they read in the subject line will be about your adventure which adds value to the story.

Monitor the success of the stories and the functionality of the website

I have learned that people do not react well to my everyday events. Yes, I may get 50 views if I post about something personal, but I will get more if I post about something that involves a group of people or advice. People want to know what is in it for them if they click. Articles like the one you are readong are very popular to audiences because the format allows them to pick and choose what they want to read quicker and provide some benefits to them. Also, in the administrative section of WordPress you can track how many people go to which section header. This will give you an idea of which subjects are interesting to people and which are not. For instance, I noticed that no one is visiting my “service goals” header. This means I should probably replace it with a more interesting header.


*These are the thoughts of Richard J. Roman and are not those of Peace Corps or its affiliates. 

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