It was the summer of 2015 when I first created this blog.
Despite my best efforts over the years to provide a helpful self-development resource, I can’t help but notice that there are people who frequent platforms like this, consuming its content and thinking that this process is amounting to meaningful self-development. Obviously, this isn’t always the case. This is because the act of simply accumulating information from others often robs us of the chance to truly understand our own condition. When you watch a video or read an article or a book without practically engaging with it in any way it is highly unlikely that you have developed any true understanding at all. But rather, all you have likely done is picked up some abstract ideas that will quickly be forgotten so that you can move onto the next article/video whereby you can repeat the process.
It feels like you’re being productive with your time, but it is an illusion.
The internet provides us all with access to an education that the aristocracy of old couldn’t have imagined. Great books of centuries past are available for free online. Youtube stands as a lecture hall that seats millions. Podcasts are private tutors for any skill you desire.
A truly world-class education is on offer for the undistractable.
But like any education, you have to work for it to get it to work for you. Learning can’t be purely passive. You need to switch up the brain’s recording mode to the sending mode from time to time, to demonstrate your comprehension.
Since 2015, I’ve used this blog to publicly demonstrate my thoughts on human self-development in written form.
This blog of mine could be summed up as a public workbook of sorts.
I am a strong advocate for blogging as a means to facilitate a self-improvement campaign—forged from the challenges and experiences of your own unique story.
A quick note before we continue. The word ‘blog’ is a packed term that will conjure all sorts of preconceptions depending on who you are. But to avoid any preconceived notions that may get this write up off to a bad start—I would like you to think of a blog as a communications system for putting significant ideas of yours into the global online ecosystem. Make no mistake, with the press of a key, you can build rewarding networks as well as create life-changing opportunities for yourself. This blog has truly enabled me to meet great people that I otherwise would have never had the opportunity to come face to face with.
In the golden age of communication, the voiceless will be forgotten.
One of the biggest reasons why I advocate establishing your own blog is that it compels you to really dig deep and engage with your own experiences. Detailing your own thoughts enables you to truly recognise what ideas are your own and to recognise when you are lazily parroting phrases or ideas from others. It compels you to take ownership of your outlook.
Most of us rarely expose our ideas and outlooks to the crowd. We are largely followers by default: adapting to the values that our society, culture and media promote. We typically allow our outlook to be molded by our intuitive faculties, rather than embarking upon a deliberate discovery process to clarify our own position with the care that such a campaign warrants.
Blogging is certainly not the only way one can address this predicament. There are plenty of mediums out there that allow you to undertake a personal discovery process of this nature. Blogging is simply a medium that I can personally vouch for.
Blogging compels you to confront your conflicting passions and ask yourself; what am I and what do I stand for? It demands unwavering courage to take stock of your own ideas and to put them out there for our networks to see. It is arguably one of man’s greatest fears—to stand bold with his shoulders back when conveying his convictions to the crowd. How terrifying it is to know that many people may disagree with you. That your voice may be shunned and that your ideas may be wrong. But as anybody who has embarked upon a journey of self-discovery will tell you—these are necessary obstacles to overcome if one wishes to fulfil their own potential.
“People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a changeless sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value.”— Stephan R. Covey
To hoist your own flag by taking stock of your own ideas can be a daunting task. Why? Because a person’s outlook isn’t a creation. Your blog will reveal the views that you already have and this warrants self-honesty, patience and determination. In addition, not everybody is comfortable with maintaining an observant gaze upon their own condition for too long—a gaze often falters when a man doesn’t like what he sees of himself. Therefore, a blog can be more than mere wordplay. It can be a window into a man’s soul.
Certainly no trivial project.
But if I have your interest, let’s proceed?
Identify your blog’s subject.
The first step to creating a blog is to identify the subject you wish to write about. Out of all the things in the world that you could write about—if you had to draw a box around a specific area of interest, what would be between the lines? Take a few days to ponder on it. What would likely still be satisfying to write about two or even four years from now?
Don’t get too hung up on this though. Since beginning this blog in 2015, I’ve found my lines have shapeshifted to adapt to ever-changing areas of discussion. However, my lines have distinctively always been around matters of self-development—and my readers know this.
The best tip I’ve heard for helping you complete this phase if you are struggling is to: Establish your WHY statement.
This tip comes from the famed organizational consultant Simon Sinek in his best selling book Find Your Why.
In this illuminating book, Simon notes that each project or business that you begin can be described on three levels:
1) What you do,
2) How you do it, and;
3) Why you do it.
Simon believes that the 3rd level is the most difficult question for people to articulate to others when it comes to describing their project. Moreover, he believes that the WHY statement has a significantly deeper, more emotional value to people who would engage with your project than either of the previous two. In addition, Simon insists that once you are able to establish your blog’s WHY statement, it becomes the primary reference point for guiding your strategy going forward and inspiring others to join your cause.
In a nutshell, the aim of this concept is to be able to answer the question: Why do I blog? In the following format:
That simple. Just one sentence.
As an example, Simon expresses his WHY statement as follows:
TO inspire people to do the things that inspire them SO THAT, together, we can change our world.
Give it a shot. And feel free to have your statement front and centre on the blog so that people can see what you’re all about.
Choose a name for your blog.
Your blog needs a name. And don’t rush it. You don’t want to find yourself needing to change the URL if your discussion points shift over the coming years.
Keep it short and easy to communicate with others. Ultimately, you want people to be able to find your blog online. So a short and catchy name certainly helps with that. A long and tedious name doesn’t quite stick in people’s minds.
Choose a blog platform (WordPress.org)
There are several different platforms out there for people wanting to start their own blog. This blog utilises WordPress.org—a free, self-hosted, open-source platform that is used by over 30% of the web. WordPress.org comes with a huge support community, plugins that allow you to customise your blog in any way that you want, and thousands of beautiful themes and templates.
Get online: Choose your Host & URL.
Your hosting is the foundation for your blog—when choosing a host for your blog, you really need to think about the following 4 factors: The speed, the blog’s uptime, the cost and the support available for any technical issues.
This blog has proudly utilised SiteGround as its host over the years.
- Speed: All hosting plans are stored on Solid State Drive technology in addition to utilising Cloudflare = Buttery smooth content delivery.
- Uptime: Boasting 99.99% Uptime.
- Cost: Plans start off as little as 3.95 €/$ mo.
- Support: 24 hours a day, seven days a week—if you find yourself with a technical issue, you will be able to converse with an expert (over the phone or via online chat) who will assist you in resolving the issue in no time. Truly 5 Star customer support!
Finally, you need a URL. Similar to when you had to choose a blog name, you want to keep it short and easy to communicate with others. If you choose a domain name that is long and complex, you risk your followers mistyping or misspelling it. Keep it short and simple. Just remember, there are literally millions of registered domains out there now—think of something catchy and memorable that makes you stand out. If you choose a host like Siteground, the URL selection process is seamlessly integrated with the setup. Otherwise, you may have to purchase a URL from a separate domain registrar and have it redirected over to your host.
Customize your blog: Choose a template and tweak it.
WordPress is a powerful tool that enables you to build your blog in just about any way you can imagine. This is due to the numerous plugins and themes available on the WordPress platform. “Themes” are what define the appearance and display of a WordPress blog. When you begin your WordPress installation, your blog will begin with a basic default theme. But not to worry—there are thousands of themes available across the WordPress ecosystem for you to choose from. Ranging from free solutions to premium solutions.
Write & publish your first post!
The establishment of a personal blog arises from humble beginnings. Your first blog post will serve as the primary basis of your blog’s subject (that you established in the first section).
This is obviously the moment where the fun and games begin. Take note: This first post of yours will initially determine if people come back to your blog or not. The brutal truth is that if your first post fails in capturing the interest of those readers who stumble upon your blog during those humble beginnings, you’ll most likely lose them forever.
In addition, social media provides us with an excellent opportunity to tap into our personal network to disseminate that “acclaimed” first post of yours. Lots of your friends and peers will be intrigued with your new venture—enough to give that first post of yours a few guaranteed readers. And so with this first post, you want to captivate them so much that they can’t help but stick around for the next one, and better still, support and share it to others.
It’s not make or break if you get this inaugural phase wrong—so don’t fret too much. It’s impossible to know what ideas will be well received by the public until they’re out there. I’ve often published a post thinking that it will be well received that garnered very little attention—and then I’ve published a post thinking little of it, and the readership and responses have exceeded my expectations. What can we take from this? Don’t try to predict the outcomes. Just focus on writing valuable content and let reality take care of the rest.
Promote your blog.
The game is on. With your first post out there we intuitively want to get as many eyes onto our work as possible. Looking back at my own experience with this blog however, I don’t necessarily think this was a good idea.
When this blog went live in 2015, I put far too much attention into the promotional aspect than I probably needed too. In the previous section, I noted that in the beginning, our personal network really does want to read our content. We truly have enough eyes to get started with.
If you have a consistent 20 people reading your content in its entirety within the first 6 months—that’s a huge win, believe me. Think about it. 20 people are tuned in—wanting to know what you’re thinking. 20 people have a genuine interest in your ideas and think highly enough of them to come back each time. That’s not a trivial number! And those 20 people already likely exist within your own network. Don’t overlook this! It’s easy to be blinded into thinking that your blog will find its power through mass dissemination, but it most likely won’t.
The best advice I have ever heard on the matter of promoting your blog is the 1,000 True Fans concept. I will simply advise you to read the link to get the best out of this idea. But in a nutshell, for your blog to be truly successful in the objective sense of the word, you really only need one thousand true fans to make it happen.
If I could go back and change my approach during the inaugural promotion of this blog, I would have built my following through genuine connections on a small scale, and work it up from there—rather than building my following through mass dissemination. I would have known all of the names of all of the people reading my content in that first year, rather than identifying my readership through analytical numbers. I would be discussing my articles with them (ideally face to face) and asking for feedback—rather than judging my success on shares and likes. If I could do it all again. This would be my advice. This is the foundation that a strong blog is built upon.
There is no knowing about your blog’s success until you try.
This is often the reality of the opportunities we face in life. We will lose with each swing we don’t take. But by swinging when the chance presents itself, we increase our chances of success.
Take the swing.
Build your own blog.