Sometimes getting started is the hardest part.
When it comes to blogging, or creating any sort of platform online, it can be extra hard to get started. It’s usually part fear, part finding the time, and part being overwhelmed by the whole concept. After all, “platform” is a daunting word. It conjures up something huge and grand – a giant stage with bright lights all focused directly on you. The very thought of creating a platform and putting yourself out there makes you feel small and vulnerable.
It’s normal to be unsure when starting anything new. But you should never let fear stop you from trying. If creating a platform is truly what you want to do, then you MUST try. Your platform will not create itself. You can’t outsource it (well, you can, but that wouldn’t be very authentic of you.) You must build it from the ground up, one brick at a time.
It’s time to start. Today. Follow these steps and one week from now, you’ll have the seedlings of a platform for your business, your book, your non-profit, or yourself – whatever you want to build.
Ready to get started?
1) Day 1 – Create a space.
Some people say you shouldn’t start with the technology, but in this case, I want you to. Because creating a space makes it real. It’s like building the house before you move in to it. You don’t have to spend an extraordinary amount of time on this step, because your house will continue to take shape as you build the platform. You can always renovate later. Go to WordPress.com right now, and create an account. Pick a username that works – your own name ideally, but if not, a variation will do. Try to avoid numbers like susanmurphy72863. (That’s how I came up with SuzeMuse – all other variations of my name were taken – it was a spur of the moment thing and it stuck.)
Don’t agonize over this step – you can always buy a domain name later (or map a domain you own to your blog). Right now, just focus on creating the space.
If you follow the steps in this video, you will be up and running in 10 minutes. At this point, I don’t want you spending any more time on it than that. But now, at least you have a home. Your platform now exists. Exciting!
2) Day 2 – Observe
If you’re starting a blog, you probably have some ideas already of what you want to blog about. Or, maybe you don’t. This day is critical to getting started. I want you to put yourself in the shoes of the observer – rather than get caught up in all the naggly bits of the day, spend the day observing the world around you, as if you were a third party to it. Watch how people interact. Think about the work you’re doing as if you were looking over your own shoulder. Watch how you react to things that happen around you. Watch how other people react, and how they interact with their world. Jot down your observations in a non-judgemental way.
Note – this step shouldn’t be limited to one day, but it’s important to start somewhere. Get in the habit of being the observer of things. It will make you a better writer.
Day 3 and 4 – Think
This is idea time. Carve out 1/2 an hour of distraction-free time on days 3 and 4 – more if you can afford it – and just spend that time with a notebook and pen (or computer and fingers, whatever works for you) and allow the ideas to flow. Use whatever method works for you – mind mapping, doodling, making lists…again, it’s important not to get hung up on the process here. The goal is to play with ideas until they start to form into something that you are excited about.
Don’t judge yourself. Everything is fair game. In the end, you want to have a working list of concepts, ideas, and thoughts. Having trouble thinking of things? Write down 2 interesting things you’ve learned in the past week (if you’ve been observing, this will be easy). Those are the topics for your first two blog posts.
Day 5 and 6 – Write
You’re going to spend the next two days writing. I’m not saying you have to create an epic novel, but by the end of days 5 and 6, I want you to have at least 4 blog posts of about 300-500 words in length ready to go. Challenging? Yes. Impossible? Absolutely not. People do it all the time, and you can too. The trick of this step is not to strive for perfection. Many people never publish a post because they get trapped in editing hell. They revise and revise until it’s just right – meanwhile the opportunity is passing them by. Blog posts don’t have to be perfect, they need to be real. Yes, you should do a grammar and spell check, but it’s okay if every thought isn’t perfectly formulated and transformed into eloquent prose.
The point is to get your ideas on the screen and out there for the world to see. This is scary, but you can do it. 4 posts. Two days. Go. And once you’ve finished a post, don’t leave it sitting in draft form. Hit the damn Publish button already.
Trust me, the more you do this step, the easier it will get. A 1000 word post used to take me 3 hours to write. Now it takes 20 minutes. Practice practice practice is all this is.
Day 7 – Promote
For many people, this is the most terrifying step. Now is the time to tell people about your creation. Get out to whatever networks you’re on and start sharing your posts. Use clever teasers, not just “New blog post”… If you want to see how this is done expertly, follow @mitchjoel and @chrisbrogan on Twitter. See how they incorporate fun wording, questions, and interesting language to entice you to click their links.
Share the link with whoever you think will be interested. Post it to Twitter and Facebook, and email it to your close friends and colleagues, your mom, whoever. Be proud of what you’ve done, and use the positive energy and support your friends and family will give you to motivate you to keep going.
Oh, and don’t even bother to look at your stats. The numbers might not be high at first, but who cares? Right now you should be purely in creation, development and experimentation mode. So focus on writing, creating, and building your platform, one brick at a time. If you stick to it and be true to yourself, the rest will come in time. Patience.
Day 8 and Beyond – Keep Going
Keep observing. Keep thinking, and keep writing. These things, when done on a consistent basis, will help your platform to grow. Observing and thinking should be continuous. Writing will be different for everyone. My rule of thumb is, write when you have something to say. I’d rather see one kickass post from you every two weeks than half-assed shlock every day. You will get into a flow, and eventually, you won’t be able to NOT do this. Trust me on that.
You can do this, I believe it and you should too.
When you make it through the week, please, share your link in the comments below. Be proud of the platform you’re building. This is only the beginning of amazing things.