The Mind Blog-gles; a few ideas for starting your first piece

Before this, I wrote a piece on why it's important to blog. Although I meant it as a few quick notes, it actually turned into a blog of its own and inexplicably mentioned sky diving. Hopefully, it also explained a few reasons why blogging is beneficial and how it’s really easy to get started. So, eager with endeavour and sufficiently seized of blogging’s benefits, you’ll no doubt be chomping at the bit to get some ideas down on paper. So, what's the best way to get started?

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Before this, I wrote a piece on why it's important to blog. Although I meant it as a few quick notes, it actually turned into a blog of its own and inexplicably mentioned sky diving. Hopefully, it also explained a few reasons why blogging is beneficial and how it’s really easy to get started. So, eager with endeavour and sufficiently seized of blogging’s benefits, you’ll no doubt be chomping at the bit to get some ideas down on paper. So, what's the best way to get started?

Short and Sharp

Keep reminding yourself that blogs are meant to be short. If you’re worrying that a blog needs to be long and winding with a beginning, a middle and an end, you’ll most likely not set aside the time to do it. Most of our blogs are quick-fire opinion pieces of 400-700 words. It just needs to express the point you're making and wrap up with a nice conclusion. This one took me less than an hour and even the longest of blogs don’t have to take much longer. Some people blog in less time than it takes to get control of the office kettle (around 15 minutes if you were wondering).

Passionate Polemics

Pick a topic you’re passionate about and one you either know a lot about or are prepared to research. You need to write in a level of detail that isn’t boring, but that will alert people to things they didn’t already know, or at least had forgotten about. Sticking to something you believe strongly is the easiest way, even if it's an opinion you've only just formed.

The beauty of blogging is that it’s not a school or university essay, so you only have to consider one opinion and that's yours. Plenty of people start out writing balanced blogs, looking both sides before coming to a conclusion. My advice is don’t bother. This is your arena, so just give your opinion. The only reason you need to mention the 'other side’ of the debate is so you can explain immediately why you disagree with it. If you've ever wanted to argue that black is white and night is day, this is your chance.

Simple and Straightforward

This isn’t a thesis, so don’t feel the need to make your blog into a showcase of all your skills. If you can recite Pi to 12 decimal places and conjugate a verb in eight languages (no I can't and no I can't, by the way), don’t feel the need to try and display that and all your other skills in one piece of writing. Leave out the jargon as well. You want as many people to read your piece as possible. Stick to what people have signed up to read, namely your opinion. If they don’t agree with it, you can just arbitrarily decide they're wrong.

Covet the Controversial

If you write a blog that says the telephone was a good invention, you’re unlikely to get 1000 comments disagreeing with you. On the one hand, that’s good in that you’ve agreed with the masses. But have you really contributed to anything? How about "Texting and mobile internet' why our parents will never understand” or “10 reasons why Alexander Bell ruined my life.” I’m not saying you have to argue against something for the sake of it (although feel free to!), but you should try and pick something you have a rare opinion about. Someone is much more likely to read something original.

Tantalising Titles

I don’t have the stats to hand, but I’d imagine the main reason someone reads a blog is because the title interested them, as often that's all they'll see unless they open it. We always put a pun of some description in ours, other people always have numbers, like "five reasons why...". Whatever your style (and it may change), remember one thing – “A critique of Labour’s media and communications policy from 1997 to 2001” doesn’t have the broad appeal of fun as “Blair’s Witch Project – how hocus pocus media tricks left the Conservatives spellbound.”

Legal Loopholing

Do remember, that whatever you have printed can fall foul of a variety of laws, including defamation and contempt. They’re fairly dramatic and although you’re unlikely to get into trouble, take a look at our other blog on this. There are some interesting examples and it might even save you some money! That and there's a nice reference to the McAlpine legal freight train.

So now we’ve told you why to blog and how to start, the rest is up to you. Give it a spin. I'll arbitrarily decide you're right.

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