Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
Published February 26th 2014
Like writing? Try blogging
Source: Picture by Theo Fakos for News Limited. Image of blogger Trae Flett who teaches the Perth blogger course.
I guess anyone can blog. It is pretty easy to set yourself up with a blog and what fazes you can soon be ironed out with helpful Youtube videos or generally searching online for instruction.
But there is still a huge mystique even if you do know how to go about setting up a simple blog. What should you blog about? How can you attract readers to your blog? What platform should you use? How often should you post content?
I took myself off to a two hour seminar run by the The Australian Writers' Centre to find out the answers to some of these mysteries.
I knew that the presenter Cheryl Lin had bonafide credentials as I had written a piece about her previously for WeekendNotes.
Source: Australian Writers
Lin writes the fashion blog BusinessChic which gives you ideas on what to wear in the workplace from corporate wear to sharp business casual.
She spots well dressed corporates on the street, photographs them with their permission, then blogs about their attire. She does a break down of what they are wearing and why it works so well. She also mentions where all the items are from even when they are fairly generic -- such as scarf from Victoria Market.
It is a novel idea for a blog and she has quite a following.
Lin started by going around the class and asking why everyone had decided to do a course on blogging. There were the usual reasons. People wanting to write food, travel and opinion blogs, although a couple of the attendees also wanted to start blogs to help promote their businesses.
She then went through a lot of the basics such as looking at the different platforms, working out your goals, choosing a name for your blog, deciding whether to buy a domain name or not, who you should get to host your blog as well as issues on domain mapping, widgets, gadgets and plugins and so on.
Lin showed us a range of successful blogs which were useful for getting our heads around what some of the possibilities are.
She then spoke about a couple of platforms and showed us blogger.com in a reasonable amount of detail actually setting up a post and adding tags, text and an image.
Surprisingly a lot of what she was talking about would also be quite useful for WeekendNotes writers; little tips on saving and crediting images, writing headlines (titles) and attracting readers and so forth. There were in fact a couple of WeekendNotes writers in the audience.
I have tried to write this piece without giving too much away as I think the course is worth doing for anyone who has considered starting a blog.
[ADVERT]While, as I said previously, anyone can start a blog, the course was really useful for understanding the culture and etiquette surrounding blogging. Items such as the importance of commenting on other people's blogs and networking with other bloggers both online and in person at conferences and so on.
Cheryl Lin came across as a sweet, competent and helpful instructor. Watching her whiz around a computer screen and problem solve and change little things here and there was quite dizzying. Although admittedly before she settled on a career in finance (her day job), she also had a year or so of studying computers. However she always managed to put things in layman's terms and made it all sound most doable.
The course seemed a great starting point for beginners such as myself.
There is also a follow-up course for those who have done this initial seminar or more experienced bloggers, which goes into the nitty gritty of growing your readership, coming up with an editorial plan, write compelling content and, all importantly, attracting potential sponsors/advertisers and harnessing the power of social media to increase visitors your blog. For details see the Australian Writers' Centre. That course is run by Nicole Avery whose blog, Planning with Kids, reaches 100 000 unique visitors each month.
The course I did was in Melbourne in an ever so gorgeous venue, the Bishops Parlour, which is in the old Abbotsford Convent (now an exciting arts and cafe precinct.)
The blogging courses however are also run in Sydney and Perth. The Sydney beginning bloggers course is taken by Kim Berry, whose blog All Consuming has been a finalist two years running in the Australian Writers' Centre Best Australian Blog Competition. She also has a weekly radio spot on ABC Mid North Coast talking about food.
In Perth the Blogging for Beginners Course is run by Trae Flett who blogs at Where's My Glow?. Flett won 2011 Blogger with the X Factor Award and was nominated for the Kidspot Top 50 in 2012. I have just been reading her blog and it is quite funny.
Great to see all these bloggers making some money out of their writing. All very inspiring.
* There are also opportunities to do the course online.