As a gay blogger since 2013, I know how daunting things can seem at first. Here are my top 5 tips to help you get started with blogging.
One of the reasons why I started a ‘gay blog’ was because I was inspired by the great writing of other gay bloggers. I guess what I’m trying to do with this article is to pay it forward and hopefully in turn inspire someone else (maybe even YOU) to purse your desire to become a gay blogger.
I’m by no means an expert. But I have learnt a few things since I started this blog in 2013. Here are two things you should know about me and this blog:
- This blog is a passion project for me. I don’t make any money off it (I hate ads, sponsored content and all that sort of stuff). I genuinely write because I enjoy it and I feel like I have something to say. You may have other reasons to star blogging, including making money. That’s totally cool. The advice you’ll read below will hopefully be useful to you, no matter what your reason for blogging may be.
- I’d consider myself to be a mid-level techie person. So when it comes to things such as setting up a website, hosting, domain names, SEO – I have a grasp over these things. I’m no expert though, so I’m constantly learning myself. I also don’t go into these technical details here. These areas are incredibly broad and can get very complicated, depending on how deep into it you want to go. So when it comes to the technical side of things, Google is your best friend.
So, why am I writing this article?
It’s pretty simple really. I’m a big believer in gay gays supporting each other. I don’t see more gay bloggers out there as competition. In fact, I’d like to see more gay bloggers, because I think it’s so important to hear from a wide range of people. If I can help or inspire someone to start blogging, I think that’s a very good thing.
One of my own main reason for starting this blog (and for continuing blogging for so many years) is that I feel that the gay community needs to hear from a wider variety of people. People of all different ages. People from different backgrounds and ethnicities. People who live not just in cities and urban centres, but in far off remote and rural places.
I find it so interesting that even though we have so many more platforms and outlets to express ourselves, and hear people express themselves, there seem to be a small cluster of dominant voices and opinions that we hear over and over again. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m just saying that it would be good, as a counterbalance, to hear a diversity of thoughts and opinions from a number if different people.
Gay bloggers are in many ways the best way to do this. You don’t need any formal qualifications in journalism or writing. You don’t need to be a writer by profession. You just need to have the desire to do it, and the will to continue when you come up against challenges along the way (which is only natural, and pretty much guaranteed).
The changes in technology have also made it so much easier to share your ideas with the wider world. Blogging platforms like WordPress mean you don’t need any coding or design skills to get started (well OK, maybe a few might come in handy once in a while). Social media helps you to spread the word and get people to your blog. And there are so many resources available on the web that you can really answer pretty much an question you can come up with.
But look, the reality is this: starting a gay blog, or any blog or that matter, can be tough. Keeping it going can be even tougher. But if it’s something that you really want to do, and if you’re prepared to put in the work to achieve – you will. Hey, if I can do it, believe me – you can too!
Here are 5 tips that I’ve learnt along the way. They are all things that I can personally vouch have worked for me. That doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily work for you too, but they’re worth considering. Even if you only pick up one tip that speaks to you, that’s great. Go with that.
Gay Blogging Tip #1 – Start small, stay small
As a blogger, you may want to reach as many people as possible. But the reality is, despite social media making it easy to connect with others, finding an audience interested in your blog, is still pretty tough. After all, you’re competing with tons of other gay bloggers, digital influencers, brands and everyone else out there – for attention.
But don’t get too discouraged by this.
It’s better to have a smaller following of people who really love your writing and engage with it, than large traffic numbers that bounce from you site in a matter of a few seconds.
That’s actually one of the reasons why I called this blog the Little Gay Blog. Starting small and staying small is part of my plan. I don’t ever expect this blog to be the most widely read gay blog on the internet. And for me, that’s fine.
Instead, I’m focusing on producing the best quality and most interesting writing I can. My topics might be considered ‘niche’ and my approach to them might be considered slightly ‘different’ and that’s OK. I’m not into clickbait type articles, because that’s not the sort of audience I’m hoping to attract.
Focus on producing high quality work, and you will find an audience. It will be small at first, and it may stay small for a while. Persevere. Stick with it.
After a few years of good quality writing (if I do say so myself), I’m noticing that the Little Gay Blog is growing. I can see this in the number of people who visit the blog each day, how long they stay on the blog (which in my opinion is a better metric to aim for), the amount of people who follow the blog on social media and the increasing number of people who sign up to receive the once a month newsletter I send out.
Take the pressure off yourself, especially at the start, and put aside visions (delusions?) of grandeur. Take baby steps. Start small, stay small and find other metrics to measure your success by. And hey, if you happen to reach a bigger than expected audience, that’ll be icing on the cake. Just don’t make it your primary goal. Trust me, you’ll be happier in the long run.
Gay Blogging Tip #2 – It takes time to ‘find your voice’
I’m sure that if you’re looking to start a blog, you’re probably already been doing some research about it. And you’ve more than likely come across advice to ‘find your voice’. I know I did when I was reading up on starting a blog.
But what does finding your voice actually mean (in non-wankerish speak), and why is it important?
Writing is hard. It takes work, perseverance and a degree of talent to express the thoughts in your head in a way that other people will hear and understand as you would like them to. You need to be able to review your work with a fresh set of eyes to objectively see how you’re coming across.
This is essentially what finding your voice is about. It’s the age old struggle of what you mean to say versus how what you’re saying actually comes across to others. When you find your voice, the two elements are pretty much in sync. That is, what you’re trying to say is what people are hearing you say. It’s not always an easy task.
It’s also a never ending task. It’s not a place that you get to, but something you have to keep working on. Why? Well, because as you (as a person and writer) change, so does your voice. This is what keeps it exciting and fresh.
Finding your voice takes time. That’s another reason why the ‘start small, stay small’ approach is a good one to take. While you’re finding your voice, you might come across in ways you don’t mean to. It’s easier to do this in front of a smaller audience, than a larger one.
If I’m to be honest, when I started the Little gay Blog, I think I came across as a bit too earnest and perhaps even preachy. This is absolutely not my intention as I consider myself to be open minded and open to other people’s views. I was just trying to express my views, but I when I started to ‘hear’ how I was sounding to other people, I could say how what and how I was saying stuff could be misinterpreted.
So, I learnt a really good lesson. And I used that to make changes, keep growing and trying new things until I got to where I am now. I’m now at a place where I’ve overcome those initial challenges and feel like I really do communicate in a way that’s clearer and closer to what I really think and feel.
Gay Blogging Tip #3 – The only competition is you
I can be a pretty competitive person. But when it comes to this blog, competition is the last thing on my mind.
Like I said, I’m not interested in having the biggest or most popular gay blog in the world. My reasons for writing this blog are mainly because I enjoy writing and also because I want to put some of my thoughts and opinions out there for discussion.
There are other blogs out there that have more writers, better design and amazing content. Don’t be afraid of them. Especially when you’re just starting out. Don’t feel like you need to compete with them. How can one person just starting out even compete with a team of highly skilled and well trained professionals? It’s totally not an even matchup.
Just know that there is room for everyone. Let everyone else do their thing. Learn as much as you can from them. Then do your own thing. Be you, because hey, no one else is. Right?
Gay Blogging Tip #4 – Other writing channels
If you enjoy writing (and have the time), why not consider writing for other publications (gay or straight) as well? I do, and have gotten a lot out of it.
Firstly, working with an editor is a great way to get some very constructive feedback from a person who knows what they’re talking about.
In most cases, you’ll also be able to promote yourself through a link to your blog/social media at the end of the article. This could drive more traffic to your site, and give you exposure to a whole new audience.
You can also get an idea of what stories attract the most attention and generate the most comments. This can be really useful when you’re planning what subjects to cover on your blog.
Just don’t expect to get paid (at least initially). The gay media landscape is a tough business to survive in. Start off by contributing for free, prove yourself by submitting interesting articles (on time – editors have deadlines!) and then see what happens down the track.
Gay Blogging Tip #5 – Know thyself
Ask yourself – why do I want to start a gay blog? And really dig deep for a good answer. The only way you’ll get through the inevitable highs, lows, tech issues and trolls is by being clear on why you’re doing this in the first place.
It helps to know yourself. Not only your underlying motivations, but also your everyday reactions. It helps to be a little tough skinned. Your friends and family might not be supportive. Anonymous comments on your blog can hurt. Writer’s block is a bitch.
Having an internal fortitude will guide you through all of these things. It will also enable you to enjoy all the wonderful highs so much more. It’s a great feeling seeing your work online, being read by people all over the world and getting great feedback. It’s easy to overlook just how much of a profound effect one gay blog can have on a person you might never meet.
But that’s the beauty of blogging. And that’s why, if it feels right for you, you should definitely take the first few steps towards becoming a gay blogger.
Do your homework, get yourself sorted, know that it will be hard work with potentially little external reward – and then just go for it! It’s seriously one of the best things I’ve ever done!