Despite my recent grumblings, I also quite enjoy talking about food blogging and social media and am heartened by the many new blogs that are popping up in Qatar and the region. One thing I love doing is sharing my experiences and supporting those just starting out.
As a food blogger in Qatar, I get asked regularly for advice on how to start out in the blogging world. Thanks to the great people at QPWN I also have the chance to occasionally run workshops on the topic.
Here are a few questions I recommend you ask yourself before embarking on the #bloggerlife as I call it.
- Why am I doing this? So as existential as it sounds. Why are you staring a blog? Is it to inform family members about what you’ve been up to? Is it to share recipes, knowledge or experiences? Do you want to get freebies (don’t laugh, I can send you a couple who actually blatantly try to do this)? Asking yourself this question will help define the character of the blog.
- Who is my audience? That’s right. Who do you want to talk to. Whoa re you writing for? Is it just a family blog? Or perhaps you have a passion for cooking and want to share and swap recipes. Are you just writing for yourself? Knowing your audience directs your content and tone.
- What am I going to say? OK I know, it sounds obvious, but having a clear idea of what you want to talk about and how is very important. If you are seeking a broad audience, content needs to be engaging and interesting to keep people coming back. It’s a crowded market out there – laundry lists and nice photos just don’t cut it any more. I have been writing professionally for a long time, but I do say to people, write an outline of your posts like we used to for essays in school. Test it out on family, friends and the dog. Some bloggers also have a calendar, they schedule what posts they will write and when.
- How much time can I realistically commit to the blog? Before settling on the masterpiece (cough) that is The Wedge, I started and dumped two other blog ideas. I couldn’t find something that made me want to keep coming back and writing until I hit upon food and cheese. Be realistic, if you can update once a week, great, once a month is good too. As long as you can keep it up. And it’s ok to take a minibreak from blogging once in a while! Nothing depresses me more than someone who says “I used to have a blog but I didn’t have time” because I know they started with great intentions but probably had to shelve them because of time.Nobody expects War and Peace or a laundry list of what you ate that day for the sake of a post, but you need to make a pact with yourself to make a commitment.
- Can I be authentic/how much do I want to share? The best blogs – food, travel, lifestyle etc – contain a little bit about the author’s life. You don’t have to lay your entire life bare, but it’s important to speak in your own voice, be honest and authentic.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of questions you should ask. I plan to make this an occasional series so please let me know if there are any topics you want covered or questions answered. Or you can tweet me @lifeonthewedge