What is Blogging and Why Would I Want to Do It?
Have you ever taken an OLLI class and wish you could continue the discussion? Writing a blog post connects you with others who share your passions.
Blogs are similar to traditional journal entries, but instead of keeping your thoughts under lock and key, they are published to share with anyone. A blog, which is a combination of web and log, has become a popular way to share our experiences and passions with a wider community.
You have something to say and it is unique! Maybe it’s sharing a passion, talent or hobby like travel, restoring old cars, genealogy, hiking or iPhone photography. Sharing your favorite travel spots, research methods, local hiking spots and tips to take great photos with your iPhone are great ways to connect and inspire others. Blogging about your passions could turn into a source of income too.
Developing a sense of purpose and community to help others, like sharing caregiver experiences, is another reason why people blog. Readers may find your life story encouraging and inspiring as they go through the same challenges, or joys, in their own lives.
Your personal journal, or blog, should make you feel happy and connected to a larger community. Studies show that strong social relationships can even save lives, as published in a recent article by AARP, Build Social Networks to Fight Loneliness [https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2018/loneliness-isolation-social-network.html].
Are you ready to give it a try? Whatever your reason to blog, here are 5 tips to get you started from my OLLI Wanna Blog class.
5 Steps to Write a Blog
- Brainstorm ideas: What are your interests, goals, messages, hobbies, “personal story”?
- Explore: Search the web to see what others are saying about the topic you had in mind. For example, check out what other “boomers” are blogging about at http://www.boomerplaces.com/baby-boomer-blogs/.
- Write: Start writing! Be authentic by writing in a voice that is natural to you. The uniqueness of your blog comes from you and that makes it great! Here are some blog guidelines.
- Use the words “you” and “I” to make it feel like a conversation
- 500 to 1500 words is what OLLI Connects suggests (this post is about 700 words), although Google search engines generally like articles of between 1800 and 3000 words
- One paragraph per idea, no more than 5 or 6 lines
- Use white space, subheadings and bold font so readers can scan for information easily
- Use a compelling headline to draw in the reader, but don’t make it too long. Some professional blog writers say 70 characters for search engine optimization.
- Publish: Send your blog post to Managing Editor, email@example.com. Or start your own blog! Google’s Blogger.com website is a great way to learn about starting a personal blog.
- Learn more:
- Books I love, available at the library:
- Born to Blog by Mark Schaefer, thought-provoking and well-researched, especially the chapter on Breaking Through with a Personal Blog
- Blog Inc., Blogging for Passion, Profit and to Create Community by Joy Deangdeelert Cho (free anytime on Hoopla with library card) – I especially like Chapter 2, Finding your Voice and Niche
- Blogging All-in-One For Dummies, provides good overview for more technical blog aspects and goes into blogging for profit
- Specialized topics like blogging for bibliophiles, The Essential Book Blog by Ken Howe, and How to Start a Food Blog by Malene Jorgensen
- Free online tutorials from your local library, http://www.hcplc.org/research/online-learning. All you need is a library card! Check out Lynda.com – Writing a Compelling Blog Post, or Access Video – 5 Rules to Improve Your Blog
What’s next? Connect with others and get your ideas out there. Write a blog post and send it to Managing Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diane White is an OLLI Instructor and OLLI Connects blog consultant. She joined OLLI-USF in 2008 and has taken OLLI courses in art, art appreciation, architecture, music, great books, science, nature, literature, and leadership. Diane is a member of OLLI’s Tech Squad. She teaches beginning and intermediate courses on Word and Android Phone Tips and Tricks for Intermediate Users in addition to Wanna Blog? which she will teach again in the 2019 Winter semester.