Building a Blog From Scratch
Having interests and passions outside of the work environment is highly encouraged at Veritas. It keeps the team fresh, stimulated and inspired. Our own Veronica Sheppard is a passionate vegetarian and foodie, so much so that she set up and runs the increasingly popular blog, The Vegetarian Ginger. In this week’s agency blog post, Veronica talks about what makes for an inspiring blog.
A really common question I get asked about blogging is “What inspired you to start this?” I became a vegetarian at the age of 11 and never went back—considering the rest of my family are meat eaters, I needed to learn how to cook some things on my own. I got into reading blogs, finding niche cookbooks, and copying whatever my mom did in the kitchen.
When I got into high school, one of my first big purchases was a camera. While I pestered my friends and pets by taking photos of them every couple of minutes, I liked setting up shots of food because it sat still and was so versatile (also, really, I got to eat it afterwards; that’s 100% the best part).
I think an obvious, but important, major source of inspiration for bloggers is other bloggers. That’s why you’ll see blog rolls on people’s sites—it’s essentially a way of giving credit and praise to the people who support or inspire them. When it came to food blogging, I quickly got hooked on sites like Thug Kitchen and Oh She Glows, which are two hugely popular sites that got propelled forward by their hit cookbooks that both got released in the past two years.
I recently met with a 3rd year business student for coffee who was looking for advice on how to approach internships and blogs. She was talking about how much she loves running, food and fitness, but felt that she didn’t have enough confidence in her writing abilities and got last-minute jitters when trying to post her writing online. The reality is that nobody is going to read your material if you don’t want them to: if you start up a small blog, post sporadically for practice and don’t push it out across social networks, you can keep a pretty minimal audience. While you may one day want to build up those readers, you can use it in the time being as an outlet to work out your written voice and find what works, and just as importantly, what doesn’t. You don’t have to be an expert.
But what does this all mean for credibility?
This has caused a lot of debate on the trustworthiness of blogs vs. traditional media. News often breaks first on Twitter, which is ground-breaking while simultaneously terrifying for people in newsrooms trying to fact-check and verify the information in front of them. Bloggers often have limited contact information, making getting in touch with them tricky.
While I can appreciate the heavy-hitting blogs, I personally went the food route. My blog isn’t my full-time job, but I’d be lying if I said it was anything less than a side job. I really enjoy cooking, writing and talking to the online food community, but there is still a responsibility to post which entails prepping, scheduling, cooking, photography, writing, edits and moderation—all because I simply want to, not because I’m required to.
For anyone considering starting a blog, here are my top 3 tips:
- Develop a strong idea
While choosing your platform and domain name are important, I feel that choosing the direction of a blog needs to come first. Pick a topic that you would want to read about and write compelling content to draw in the online community.
- Build your brand
Once you’ve chosen an idea, try to stick to it as much as possible. I think it’s important to get a feel for your online voice and personal brand, but if you change your concept around too often, your audience may get confused. Being supportive of other bloggers in your niche can help develop your voice and share your brand as well.
- Practice, practice, practice
While “practice makes perfect” is an overly-touted cliché, it really does apply to writing. Just like any other skill, it requires sharpening and maintaining—if you don’t write for a while, you may be a little rusty. I find that more I post, the easier it becomes. Not every post will be golden, but that’s all a part of the learning process.
Veronica Sheppard is an Account Coordinator at Veritas Communications. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.