Dear Reader,

I am sorry for this prolonged interlude in uploads.

I have been holed up in my office, nostalgic for a child-like state of consciousness,

where the need to control every facet of life did not exist, because I had not yet been conditioned as such,

where the simple fun of play – the uncomplicated wistfulness of running with reckless abandon – was enough to levitate the heart;

where things could be accomplished with the might of a fleeting whim, the moment it entered the mind,

where there was yet things to be discovered, in an unknowable world.

Now, I know too much and doubt often clouds my mind.

What now, when I am so aware of the self, the exterior body – a world of surfaces?

How do I return to that child-like state?

The time of possibility, that escapes the gravity of our time,

that sees no war nor terror,

no trees collapsing – seeping – into dust,

nor existentialist reminders of the fragility of life.

Oh, to enter that space of consciousness again.

How To Launch Your Blog in 10 Minutes – The Amateur’s Guide

Yes, it really is that quick!

Having recently made a case for why you need a blog in the digital age, you might be craving more actionable advice about how you can get started. When I first had the idea to create a blog, I was determined to learn the whole web design package: HTML, CSS, and Javascript, through various online courses (Udemy Academy for one). I wanted to stake my claim: this was my website and mine alone!

Six months down the line, and I’m knee-deep in ‘Ruby on Rails’ – the software that powers Netflix – and free coding challenges I found online. I’d completely forgotten the reason I decided to learn web development in the first place and I was no closer to launching my blog than the six months previous. 

My advice to all those of you who are not tech geniuses- yet – focus on the content creation, not the fancy formatting. In the beginning, creating content for your blog takes precedence over the appearance of your site. 

So, how do I get started?

Picking Your Hosting Site

Method #1 – I’m a Lazy Son of a Gun

If you’re anything like me, coding is not your strong suit. That’s why I chose WordPress, as a complete content building platform with a grand selection of themes, fonts, and even beautiful images. 

While the WordPress platform is free, domain registration and hosting are not.

So, why do I need them?

Well, web hosting sites are essential when creating content, to safely store all your articles, posts, and video data. You can’t have all that high-quality work just disappearing off the face of the earth – or the internet, I suppose.

It’s important to select the right hosting plan for your needs. Often when starting an online shop you will anticipate customer traffic flocking to your website. In this case, you want to ensure that the page runs smoothly and efficiently so that the customer buying experience is top-notch. Hence, you may have already budgeted for business services, like online payments or tailored advertising that monetise your website. 

What’s more, your domain name is what people will see whenever they search for your website or business. Domain names are about £6 to £10.50 to buy and can be renewed each year. I suppose it’s just like paying rent to the internet!

Method 2# I’m Watching my Wallet

For those of you who are still cringing at the idea of spending money on a website hosting platform, I had similar aversions to the idea myself. I would much rather spend it on coffee. Although, I found this article on NameCheap.com pretty helpful to understand the importance of reliable web hosting. 

Alternatively, creating your website might be a hobby or creative experiment – and that’s okay! You are likely more focused on building your craft and honing your writing skills, than a fancy page. There’s a multitude of hosting sites out there, including Ghost, GoDaddy, and Bluehost. Squarespace – which Youtube advertises to me about five times a day – is another great option. 

After extensive research, Bluehost seems to be – by far – the most popular hosting site, starting at £2.09 per month – you even get a free domain name for the first year. For a first or personal blog, this is a great investment and really is as cheap as chips (from McDonald’s at least). 

Selecting a Blog Title

As Cathrin Manning discussed in her video guide to blogging, your title defines you and is the first thing the audience sees when stumbling upon your page. For that reason, I chose my name and my full name at that – you can’t really miss it. But maybe your blog is for you to be anonymous, and speak freely about a number of topics.

The bottom line is: pick a name that you can stick to since you will build your identity around this title and your content will be a reflection of this. 

What’s more, Manning points out that your blog’s name will appear on social media outlets and discussion forums, flagged up whenever you comment, like or interact with other bloggers online.

Start uploading content

This is perhaps the most important step. If you are running a blog, you only need three pages:

  • About page
  • Blog page
  • Contact page

One to showcase all your recent updates, another to inform readers of your goals and background, and finally a page that enables readers to get in touch. A simple, easy-to-read format is one that users can get behind.

While the themes and extra features are important these days, it’s the power of your written or multi-media content that speaks on your behalf. So make sure that’s your focus above all else. 

Final thoughts 

And there you have it: how to launch your blog in under 10 minutes – there or thereabouts!

If you have any other questions about this blog, be sure to ask in the comments sections below 🙂

Making an Impact: Why Everyone Needs a Personal Blog

I started this blog about two weeks ago now. And a lot has happened in those two weeks, not least that I now have my own sacred place on the internet ready to be transformed into a curiosity shop of wonderful things. In the 16th Century, it was entirely normal to fill cabinets or entire rooms with a scattered assortment of flamboyant and eerie items: human skulls, sea coral, ribbons, or stuffed pigeons. 

Now, we have the internet. 

… 

So, you might be thinking: there are already so many bloggers out there documenting their lives – why would anyone be interested in what I have to say?

Truly, the blogging world is highly saturated with content creators, but – as cliche, as it gets – there is no one with your particular spin on the world. You are experiencing the human condition in an entirely unique way. I had to affirm this to myself many thousands of times before I realised just how powerful that awareness is. 

For me, this recent year has been hugely isolating in many aspects, and I love to share. What I mean is, my greatest interactions with the world are social ones, such that my most developmental learning occurs in these social settings. So, with the recent barriers imposed on social life, a blog can be a great way to open up those avenues for sharing once again. 

So what happens when you start a blog?

Venturing Outside Your Village   

One thing I’ve noticed, especially over this period of Covid-19, is the shrinking of my social circles. Occasionally, I would meet up with friends and family and have the privilege of connecting with students across the globe. 

As for my creative work, on the off chance that anyone was interested, I might send them a poem or read one aloud at a poetry convention. But on the whole, my creations had a limited reach. 

Ali Abdaal uses a wonderful analogy for this: life in the metaphorical village. Say that, for instance, that Harry resides in the quiet village of New Haven, only interacting with individuals from the village – co-workers, family and friends. His exposure to new opportunities would be greatly limited. Whereas, if he were more adventurous, travelling to neighbouring villages, interacting with a multitude of others, his development opportunities would inevitably increase. 

Starting a personal blog is simply a way to connect with like-minded others in dispersed and far-reaching communities. 

You might watch on, with disappointment, as your blog post gets one view from Norway. But fear not! The fact of the matter is, that something you said mattered to someone for a time. 

Emancipation from Perfection

It’s funny how easily we apply an exceedingly high standard of perfection to ourselves, but not necessarily to others?

Austin Kleon, perfectly summarises a creative solution to this predicament of perfectionism, with the idea of rejoicing in our amateur selves. While the amateur has no formal training, they commit to life-long learning in the public eye, “so that others can learn from their failures and success”. 

Nowadays, our morbid curiosity leads us to wonder about the behind-the-scenes aspect of people’s lives, not only the final product – film, Youtube video, book, or Instagram post. After all, the creative pieces that we produce don’t just occur in a vacuum but the complex and chaotic landscape of life. 

If you are trying – regardless of failure – at something, the likelihood is, someone out there is interested in your experience. 

Documenting Life and Telling Better Stories

Recently, I’ve made a commitment to journaling about life. 

Firstly, when I’m not journaling, it’s terrifying how much of life I forget. Between one day and the next, there isn’t much to distinguish my experience of working from home: work, eat, sleep, repeat. Life appears to follow cyclical patterns, but journaling allows you to magnify crucial moments in your mind – why would you want to forget those? 

Secondly, documenting your life can actually make you a more interesting person. Bear with me on this one, maybe this rule doesn’t apply to everyone. Most certainly not Ronald at the party who’s always talking about his chaotic mayhem of a holiday, darling. Surprise, surprise, the best stories you can recount are not about your recent vacation. No one can relate to that, especially not during Covid. 

Dare I say, people want to know about the insight you had about that recent book, your future dreams, or what you really think about salmon fish cakes. I don’t know but I think it’s those thoughts you had in the shower that people are much more interested in. 

So, by documenting life through a personal blog, you can connect in the most fundamentally human way, practised since the dawn of time: storytelling. 

Sharing Good Work

Maybe you’re on board with me by now – maybe not – but nonetheless, you are wondering: what do I write about? 

Good question. 

You can start with what you know. Perhaps you are obsessed with the niche topic of curating bonsai trees or making wearable garments for labradors with arthritis. It doesn’t really matter: someone out there is interested in what you have to say. What’s more, the fact that you’re passionate about a certain subject or interest is highly contagious. 

We have a habit of internally devaluing the importance of our own experiences when they seem insignificant to the remarkable feats of others. There is, in fact, so much value in what you have to share if it can help just one other person by enhancing their worldview, or their understanding of themselves. 

Final Thoughts 

For now, I rest my case. 

Those were four very genuine reasons that prompted the creation of this very blog. 

Hopefully, this article inspired you to begin your writing journey. 

If it did, I’ll be posting a follow-up article with more practical advice about web domains, hosting sites, and how to schedule content very soon.

Half the Battle

Now I realise that the poetry would quite happily write itself, 

if only I would open the document, 

unveiling the ego with the shattering luminosity of a blank white page. 

Now I realise that half the battle is pretending that there is no time for indulgence, 

in my thoughts and creativity, 

when it is only ample and abundant, waiting to be expressed. 

I await the battle cry and feel myself sweat with the shame of an anticipatory release. 

But I could never be as great as them,

could I? 

Surely they were possessed by the creative divinity, that escapes the great multitude. 

But what if creativity is simply time?

The desperate and unwavering will to discover what is deeper;

the certain truth that makes you tremble to voice it. 

What if that was the only thing that we dared to speak?