ADVICE: How to build, sustain and grow a blog from scratch

Blogging has become a part of everyday life for many around the world, with 409 million people viewing more than 20 billion pages, and 70 million WordPress articles posted every month. While blogging is a highly effective way of telling others about your story, product, or advice, it’s far from simple to build and consistently maintain a high-quality blog.

In this interview, Chloe Tear, an award-winning disability blogger, shares why she first got into blogging, how she keeps up a routine of blogging personally and writing professionally, and her advice to other novice bloggers starting out.

  • What do you love most and least about blogging?

Blogging has become such a passion due to the way I am able to express myself and share my experiences. It is incredibly powerful to have someone say, “I can relate to that, you’ve made me not feel alone”. Also, exploring different aspects of my life have enabled me to view things differently as well as challenge stereotypes.

I dislike the perceived pressure to constantly write amazing posts and imposter syndrome about not being good enough. Yes I am an established writer, yet I still can hesitate to hit that publish button. There is no pressure to do anything – you do you!

  • How do you come up with the content calendar for your blog? Is it a strict schedule?

I’ve never had a strict schedule when blogging. This mainly is due to always blogging alongside education or working full-time. Also, blogging started as a hobby for myself. When I truly fell in love with content creation and blogging, I wanted to post once a month. On the whole I was successful, but missing the odd one due to assignments or exams wasn’t a major concern.

Currently, I aim to produce two pieces a month for my own blog, with other content often written for a freelance publication or website. I’m not going to lie, it’s a challenge at times. Similarly, I’m a strong believer in not posting for the sake of it. If you have no ideas or time to produce content then don’t force it!

In terms of the things I write about, this can be really varied and has no structure as such. I have a list of blog ideas which I add to whenever something comes to mind. Quite often something will happen that triggers an idea or I’m reacting to the current situation. As a result, I rarely have content sitting in my drafts for very long. Yet I do have a rough idea of topics, which tend to be a few months in advance.

  • What’s your advice to others considering starting their own blog? How do they start with a blank screen?

When starting a blog, be clear about your aims. What are you wanting to achieve? Who is your audience and what topics will you write about?

I would advise building up a few pieces of writing before you publish and promote your site. This will mean that readers have a few things to look at and are more likely to stick around and know what your topic areas are.

Start with your site. Using WordPress or Blogger is the best for blogs, but a lot of websites allow you to have blog elements. Research what is out there. The main pages you might see are home (your blog), about me and contact. However, it’s all about trial and error. Don’t worry about getting things perfect – it’s your content you want to focus on. It can take so long for your layout to be exactly as you want it. I migrated my blog a year ago when I rebranded and I still have things I want to change!

Finding a starting point can be hard. My advice would be to get stuck in and see what happens. Write and write, even if it’s not posted or you hate it. Words on a page can spark ideas. If you know a topic you want to write about, break it down in the main components or even a list. These can later become your subheadings which makes things easier for your readers.

If I’m staring at half a paragraph and have no idea how to end it I move on. Leave a gap and start a new paragraph. I often have a lot of half finished posts which I tend to not look at for at least a few days. When I go back, I normally find it easier to then make it flow better as a piece.

  • Lots of people start a blog, but struggle to keep it going long-term. What’s your approach to this?

Write for yourself. If you aren’t doing it for yourself then what’s the point? It’s hard to be motivated when you don’t have the passion and desire to write. Is that goal to share your life? You might want to educate others?

Don’t have strict guidelines but do make time, even if it’s once a week, to think about ideas or make plans. You will start to come up with ideas in the shower or at 3am when you’re laid in bed. Having a place to capture these can really help you going long-term. I simply have a note on my phone full of random titles or paragraphs.

If you need a break from writing, take a break. It’s not going anywhere and forced content or work can only diminish your passion and will be felt by readers. My blog is my biggest achievement and something I am immensely proud of. All it took was a small idea that I worked on. Keep pressing publish and who knows where you’ll end up!


About the expert

Chloe Tear is an award-winning disability blogger and freelance writer. She has been writing for 7 years and is particularly interested in challenging negative attitudes and assumptions around disability. She works for Scope on their online community and within content creation. www.chloetear.co.uk