Essential Tools and Advice for the Upcoming Blogger
Several weeks ago, I accepted an invitation from Dr. Rick Wilber, author of Future Media (read my review of his book on BlogCritics or SeattlePI) to speak with his students about freelance writing and establishing oneself as an online writer. They video-conferenced me in to their classroom within theSchool of Mass Communications at the University of South Florida early this morning. His class asked challenging, thought-provoking questions and I enjoyed our discussion immensely.
However, there was still so much to say and clarify. I can’t and won’t do that in a blog post, but here are some must-haves I recommend for upcoming bloggers as they start to monetize or establish a writing portfolio for their work*:
1) A small notebook and pen to jot down ideas. You never know when inspiration will strike.
2) Learn website and graphic design basics. This will help minimize your costs as you begin and allow you further creative freedom. Don’t be afraid to consult with others who know more than you. Use Internet and community resources to learn and definitely incorporate Search Engine Optimization and appropriate post tags (including meta tags) to drive traffic to your site once it’s ready for public viewing.
3) Join social media platforms. Explore. Cultivate your brand consistency and message. Connect with others. Learn and grow. Social networking platforms inherently seek to build communities- never forget or underscore your commitment to this effort when signing up for one. Contribute to the forums, leave respectful, related comments (don’t just plug or link your blog), and maintain relationships.
4) Experiment with different blog formats- video blogs, podcasts, text-based, photograph-heavy, a mixed-media approach, etc. Find your niche. Consider eventually investing in a USB condenser microphone for clear recording and video conferencing purposes. It’s also great for musicians.
5) Get a camera. You don’t necessarily need a high-end model or brand, but your camera should feature image stabilization at bare minimum. Invest in a tripod to help steady your shots. A macro setting on a point-and-shoot is also invaluable. Practice with different settings to learn your camera thoroughly so you’re comfortable to use it on the move.
6) Consider buying a mini photo studio if you plan on using still-life or inanimate photography in your writing regularly. This is very useful for the consumer-savvy eBay seller and beloved by bloggers everywhere.
7) Acquire and pursue ongoing professional development through editing, writing groups, various experiences, and attending workshops and conferences. Exchanging business cards at these functions is ideal for networking and community building purposes; design and economically buy them online. I recommend Moo.com for quality and affordability.
8.) Find beauty in the ordinary and elegance in simplicity. You don’t need to overdo anything for success. You just need to trust in your instincts, hone your craft, and stay genuine.
*These recommendations are from my experiences and addressed needs I encountered as my online writing developed. They may not fit every situation or accommodate each blogger’s style or focus, but I hope they give you some direction as you begin. I did not receive any compensatory prompt or monetary gain for this post, but wanted to share some items I use on a regular basis to help you in your endeavors.
Rae of Chi Speak