Disclaimer: At the very outset, I am aware that I am not an authority on blogging. Not even close. Some of my friends send me mails with their opinion/thoughts on my blog posts, and when I ask them why they don't post the same as comments (the whole world knows by now that comments make me very happy), their answer is that they "don't write very well," their "language is not good enough" and so on. I don't pretend to understand what they mean, when their mails look quite well-written to me, but... whatever. So this post is meant for those friends of mine, and anyone else who strays into my world, to tell them that if they want to improve their writing, the answer is Blogging.
1. Start a blog. Don't think about what you are going to write and how. Just register. The most popular blog sites these days are blogger.com and wordpress.com. There may be others. Choose one and register.
2. Decide the Blog URL. You are required to give the blog a suitable name (blog URL) when you register. The URL is your handle that remains unchanged through rain or shine, so you can be careful on this one. I believe blogger.com allows changing the URL later, but your readers who have linked to you may find the sudden disappearance of your blog bewildering, so unless you intentionally want to disappear off the face of Cyberworld, keep the URL constant.
3. Identify the Title. The title of the blog, more or less describes the topic you wish to blog about. So this is when you start thinking about the contents. It can be about Cooking, Gardening, Reading and Books, Motherhood, or even without a specific area - like mine. I write about Books, Movies, Places, Motherhood, Experiences from Life, and so on. The title can be edited at any time later, so it is okay to start with one thought and later modify it if required.
4. Public or Private? It is your choice. If you are not confident about your writing and would rather not have people read it till you are ready, make it 'Private'. Or, leave it as 'Public', but don't inform anyone. (FYI, Public Blogs would bring visitors from search engines.) Once you become confident and want people to read, you can change the setting and start broadcasting your blog.
5. Write frequently. Just write what comes to mind. Even if they are only a few halting sentences at first, it is fine. Keep writing. The words and thoughts will start flowing. You will be amazed at the outcome. Before hitting the 'Publish' button, just look back once to see if you are satisfied. There is no hurry; if you aren't satisfied, take some time to edit it. However, don't allow large gaps between your posts. Maximum one week, not more. Otherwise, you will lose enthusiasm, your readers will lose interest, they will forget to come back to check for your updates, and your blog will die a white-dwarf death like many others.
6. Get Motivated to blog. Once you start posting, ideas for new posts will come up at every turn, every day. That itself will give you the motivation to write. Blog while the thought is fresh.
7. Leave the comment option open. It is better to allow anonymous comments, because a majority of visitors don't bother to login to post a comment. You can turn 'comment moderation' option ON, so that every comment goes through your scanner before being published at the site. Again, that is your choice.
8. Leave your trail. If you visit others' blogs and post comments, make sure you mention your blog URL (there is usually a field for website URL; otherwise if you login to post comments, the URL will appear automatically), so that they visit you back.
9. Advertisements. You may be tempted to add Google Ads and the like to the site, to allow the promised dollars to flow into your bank account, but this may be too far-fetched a hope. I may be wrong as I have never added Google Ads to my blog, but some of my friends who have, tell me that making money out of Ads requires a combination of knack and luck and patience. Your choice; though I would suggest not cluttering the blog with advertisements. I have seen blogs that have ads at the top, seeing which I abruptly close the page.
10. Visitor Statistics. Use Google Analytics or such Visitor Statistics Analyzer tools to keep an eye on the visitors. I find it interesting to see where my visitors came from, and what they read, especially when I get hits from Google/Yahoo Search Engines. You can leave links to your blog at Facebook, Twitter and other Networking sites to bring more visitors, if you like.
11. It's your blog, but give credits. No one has the right to tell you what to write in your blog and what not to, or how to - as long as you don't use your blog to insult/offend anyone. You have the freedom to write what you want. However, if you borrow thoughts, ideas or images from any other sites, give due credit, by a mention and/or a link.
12. Read, Read, Read. This should have been item#1 in this list. If you attempt Writing without backing it up with sufficient Reading, it will be like spending cash without having any inflow - you are eventually bound to run out of money. Though in this case, you may not really 'run out' of words, it is always good to keep your vocabulary replenished.
Remember - if you enjoy writing, others will enjoy reading it.
If you think I missed something out, please use the comment option below to bring it to my attention!