Putting words on a page is hard.
Blogging is even harder.
Creating a self-hosted blog requires an annoying number of moving pieces:
- Buying web hosting.
- Choosing a domain name.
- Configuring WordPress themes & plugins.
- Figuring out SEO.
- Choosing images.
Oh yeah, and you have to write too.
But what if you don’t have to start a blog in the traditional sense?
I have an approach that’ll make you feel all Zen about blogging, while leaving other beginners in the dust as they stress over which theme to choose.
The two non-negotiables of blogging
Regardless of the topic you like to blog about, the two non-negotiables of blogging are:
- Writing. You gotta produce the words.
- Publishing. You gotta put your work out into the world for people to read.
That means everything else in the realm of blog-building is negotiable.
Instead of messing with a self-hosted blog in the beginning, you can focus on using platforms that fulfill the 2 non-negotiables.
Here are 3 options worth considering:
Option 1: Use social networks as your blog
All the popular social networks allow you to 1) create content and 2) publish to an audience. Double win!
My friend Jeremy started his dating coaching service purely through writing engaging Facebook posts and connecting with people in Facebook groups.
Josh Fechter, a talented growth marketer, grew his following by writing viral posts on Quora and LinkedIn.
One of the beauties of using a social network is that you’re limited to the design of the platform, which reduces decision fatigue like choosing fonts & layout options.
Instead, you can focus on creating content for the audience on that platform.
I also use Facebook to test article ideas. If I get a positive enough reaction (likes, comments) through a post, it’s likely I’ll turn that idea into a full length article.
Blogging on social networks also gives you the benefit testing different content types. Blogging doesn’t necessarily mean long form essays.
Twitter can be suitable for pithy insights.
LinkedIn can house your case studies.
And who knows, maybe you find that you’re more of a visual storyteller through Instagram or Snapchat.
Option 2: Join a blogging community
Dedicated blogging platforms offer more customization over your content than social networks. These platforms often come with their own built-in community features that requires minimal effort to publish your work.
Circa 2004, Xanga was my jam. Remember that blogging service which predated FB likes, and gave your posts “eProps” instead? Xanga and contemporary services like Blogger and Livejournal were all popular blogging services that allowed you to make friends and follow others’ work on the network.
Now Medium, at the time of this writing, is the most notable platform in this space. This story-driven community makes blogging a pleasant experience with their minimalist editor and easy publishing tools.
In fact, it’s the option I recommend most friends who want to start writing but get stuck in the technical details of setting up a blog.
Quora is not a blogging platform per se, but a Question & Answer community with a dedicated Blogs feature. You can quickly create posts that mix the feel of a blog with the casual community Q&A vibe.
Tumblr is another blogging platform with minimal set up costs. With features like reblogging and reposting, it’s a perfect for “curator” types who enjoy sharing short form content.
Option 3: Start with email
I saved the simplest option for last. It may sound counterintuitive, but email can be the fastest way to get in the habit of blogging.
There are 3 primary benefits to this:
- Emails feels a lot more personal, and helps you develop an authentic voice (vs stuffy, formal-speak)
- Less stress from setup costs. With email, all you have to worry about is the subject line and body of a message
- Build your email list early on. Email is one of the highest ROI channels when you decide to sell your audience products. Might as well get used to emailing them early on.
Outside of emailing personal friends and family, you can get readers to sign up to your email list. My most hearty recommendation to do this is TinyLetter, a free product by the fine folks @ MailChimp.
TinyLetter allows you to set up an email list super fast for free and the simple design options make things look great.
If you have a message and want to get it out there, why not just start by emailing your friends & fam?
Next steps + growing your blog
I wrote this article for friends who are intimidated by the idea of starting a blog.
The most important thing to remember is to build up a writing habit and publish your work. This drastically reduces the stress (and procrastination) of getting your message out into the world.
For some of you, there will be a time to set up a more sophisticated blog. I personally use a self-hosted WordPress blog for custom design options and the ability to add more features.
Whatever stage you’re at, sign up for my newsletter and email me if you have questions about my content creation process or how to set up a blog.