Blogging for Beginners at First Nations Australia Writers’ Network

[Forgive the late-night typos in this post. Will fix up when I update it. Thanks, Leesa]

Today I am presenting the workshop “Blogging for Beginners” at the First Nations Australia Writers’ Network Workshop in Brisbane.

Slides are available from SlideShare

Blogging for beginners? So much to say … where do we start? How do I summarise blogging in one hour? Because it’s pretty much impossible to say everything in sixty minutes, I’ve summarised the key points of my presentation {with hyperlinks!} so that attendees can take their time and chase up additional resources at their own pace.

I’m publishing this early Friday morning, but will come back and update when I return from the workshop.

Righto .. let’s start ..

1. Before we talk about how to blog, let’s consider these three points –

You don’t have to blog. What was that? What did you say? Yeah. I said it. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BLOG!

Unless you’re contractually obligated to create a blog, you do not actually NEED to do it. I know I’m guilty of saying “you should/could blog that” to everyone. However in all honesty, you can get away with not doing it. Many careers have been built without the use of online tools. You don’t NEEEEED it.

Blogging is NOT about technology. It’s about communication

Yes. Blogs are online and being online means computers and computers means technology. But today, in 2013, having a blog is not (only) for the technically minded. If you can send an email, you can upload a post. Literally. You can upload posts via email and/or text messages. Many people put up barriers when it comes to online activities because they assume that it’s about technology. If you focus on communication, it all becomes a lot clearer.

You don’t have to share yourself OR Share only what you feel comfortable sharing

You can talk about your last boyfriend or your latest illness if you want to, but you don’t have to. You only need to post about what you choose to post about.

2. What do you want to say?

So you finally figure righto, I’ll start a blog. Then you think – what on earth do I write about? There are no hard and fast rules, but let’s start with assuming there are two distinct, yet related core messages or goals with your blog. You can choose one of them or do a mixture of both.

  • Blogging as part of your marketing strategy – having a blog that you update with your News+ Events, new publications, travels, work etc, lets you connect with your audiences. You have an opportunity to engage with them – answer their questions, accept their fandom (?)
  • Blogging as part of your creative journey (experimentation) – blogs can be started and deleted with just a few clicks. Do you have a new character and/or storyline that you want to try out? Are there writing exercises that you would like to undertake? A blog is not like a book. A book requires a specific type of input, a long gestation. Whereas a blog, you can start quickly and begin creating.


  • Anita Heiss is arguably the most organised in terms of her use of social media tools. Her blog is a combination of marketing and writing exercises. She links extensively to social media communities (more on this below).
  • Siv Parker started OnDusk in January. Each week her posts are experiments and exercises in writing.
  • Venus from Hell by Hazel Dooney, a non-Indigenous visual artist, is a single project blog on the Tumblr platform. From this project, the artist was able to develop a series of prints that are now available for sale.

It’s an good idea to make sure that your approach to your blog is consistent with your existing brand or the brand you’re developing. Or alternatively, it’s an opportunity for your to re-imagine, expand or build your brand.

What platform are you going to choose for your HUB?

  • Happy to pay and/or play? You’re happy with play with hosting companies, dashboards, CSS or can pay someone do it that stuff for you? Then you should aim for a “self-hosted WordPress” site. Will need back-end maintenance from your TechDude (TD).
  • Doing it yourself? Want to just focus on writing/creating content? Don’t want the hassle of making constant updates? Don’t want to spend $ on an TD? Use Blogger. It’s easy and simple. And with a bit of creativity and TLC, it can look good. Because Blogger is owned by Google, you will need a Google account to access it. There are less features on a Blogger platform, but Google takes care of everything – including hosting, maintenance.

Other platforms you can use for creative projects.

  • Tumblr – it’s free, easy to set up. Your work will get shared widely.


When you sign up for free platforms, your URL will inevitably contain the name of the platform, eg.,, You can buy your own domain and have these sites point (redirect) to your own domain.

Common Gripe I hear: But I don’t want a blog. I just want a website. A blog is a website that has particular features. Lots of businesses now use blogging platforms for their whole website. They don’t have two separate sites, they’re combined.

The Anatomy of a blog

If you understand what blogs are made of, you’ll get a better understanding of how you can organise yours. These are some of the body parts of a blog –

  • URL / Domain
  • The Title of the blog
  • Posts
  • Comments
  • Sidebar
  • Link List
  • Dashboard
  • Log-in
  • Sharing buttons and social tools
  • Categories/Labels
  • Pages

It’s a great idea to have a look at as many blogs as you can. Gradually you will begin to find the commonalities and look for things that you recognise.

Incorporating social media tools with your blog to create a digital strategy

Problogger outlines a way of understanding what we do in social media and how it can work for blogs. He argues that your blog is you home base, while social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, are your outposts. Each outpost will have its own conventions and its own communities. Your goal is to interact and engage within your outposts for the purposes of driving traffic back to your homebase. At your homebase, your audience can take “action”, ie. buy your book, comment on your posts etc.

Paid, earned and owned media

As artists we can think about the way our work is marketed in terms of bought, earned and owned media.

  • Bought media – is paid advertising
  • Earned media – do something newsworthy to generate reportage
  • Owned media – your own social media channels.

Your publishing house will have strategies and tools that they use. What can you as the individual artist be responsible for? How can you make it easier for your work to sell?

You can only start by starting

  • Take baby steps
  • Start blogging and don’t tell anyone
  • Have a test blog, that you practice on
  • Be brave, experiment. You can’t break the internet by creating a dodgy looking blog.
  • See what other people are doing – find what you like and see if you can emulate it

Additional things to consider:

  • Follow copyright and intellectual property laws
  • Don’t give away your good stuff, but don’t be stingy either
  • Posts don’t have to be text. They can be images, songs, audio, video

Who you should follow:

All the Deadly Bloggers (see the list on the side), in particular, Anita Heiss and Siv Parker.