The series on how to start a personal blog is an attempt to inspire students to use the power of the Internet to create opportunities for themselves. It is about channelling the time, effort and resource to prepare for life after school.
The series is a compilation of blogging tips and ideas. You’ll find out about
- how to start a free blog,
- using the free Google online tools to optimise a new blog,
- the 5 inspirational PNG websites/blogs,
- an inspirational YouTube Channel made by Papua New Guineans, and
- how to develop your potential, early.
Introduction: Benefits of personal blog
Blogging is a great platform to be a creative and responsible citizen and contribute meaningfully to the areas you are passionate about. The benefits for students are numerous. It can improve students’ writing, reading and other transferable skills.
If you have an interest in something and are passionate about it, why not blog it. Writing about your passion will help you learn new things. This is the power of writing.
In fact, using the Internet to display your work to an audience is a good way to challenge yourself and grow your potential. This may sound ridiculous to some, but it is a satisfying experience. Hence, the aim of this series of posts – how to start a personal blog and grow your potential.
The students’ focus must shift from getting the Grade 12 certificates or university degrees (and finding jobs) to using the technological privileges available today to create opportunities for themselves. When you leave school, you can develop your work further.
This blog is an example of posts that I’ve written since 2014 on Google’s free blogging platform, BlogSpot. I polished and compiled the series.
I converted the collection into a PDF document and made it available online. Download it for FREE.
The challenge presented here to students at universities and secondary schools is to identify their passion early. Develop it into something that is beneficial to others. And, make it count. The more people like your work, the more interest your work will generate.
There are PNG examples in this series that will inspire you.
The opportunities available today are many especially in the era of the Internet, social media, mobile smartphones and laptops. Opportunities included the online reading books, writing and publication of stories, creating blogs and YouTube videos…etc. The list is endless.
One day you could be a global children’s writer, artist, film director, fashion stylist, publicist or anyone the world wants a piece of. There are a lot of potentials needed developing. The sparks must start, now, when you are at school.
Put any wasted time into good use and set yourself up for life after school.
Start at school
Perhaps, it is important to start at an early age. If you make a start when you are a student, the blog you develop will mature at the end of your academic life.
Imagine where you would be in 10 years time. Obviously, get a job. Work for the government or someone else. Go back home. But, creating something that you call yours is the *one thing* that is yours for the rest of your life. No one will take it away from you.
The Internet and technology bring lots of opportunities. However, utilising the power of the Internet may not be ideal for many students because of the lack of access to the Internet and mobile devices.
The prerequisites (tools) for creating developing you potentials are listed below. If you have the first three, you can take advantage of the opportunities available. The rest boils down to you to make it happen.
The tools you need are:
- Access to the Internet
- Social Media accounts (YouTube, Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter…)
Three powerful ways to optimise your potential
Here are three powerful ways to bring out the best in you. Start now and position yourself strategically to win after leaving school.
You cannot go wrong with reading. Picking up a book could be the hard part. Especially for students using English as a second or third language, starting a healthy reading habit is the hardest part. When you realise the power of reading, you would not want to put it down a good book.
Reading is where the adventure starts for you.
One way to showcase your creativity is through writing. Writing is a skill not many people develop early. It takes time and effort to stitch together sentences, paragraphs and articles. Like many things, developing writing skills needs practice.
Use Social Media and free blogs and be creative with your writing. Avoid slang. Write in full sentences.
Write about things you are *passionate* about. Your passion will bring the best out of you. You’ll enjoy every moment of writing for a long time. Your first true writing will not be the final. You’ll go on and create amazing and inspiring work.
If you are an established writer, check out how to harness the power of WordPress and showcase your work.
3. Build Penny Box
Making money by blogging or creating YouTube videos is the *result* of lots of creativity, persistence and hard work. Building such *penny boxes* online takes months and years of work.
If you can channel your effort to yourself while you are at secondary school or university (and perfect the skill at doing it), you’ll go on to becoming a successful person.
There are examples of PNG online ventures in this series. If they can do it, you can do it too.
Kill two birds with one stone
The common adage ‘kill two birds with one stone’ applies here. Do something to develop your life skills and turn them into a money-making venture. Some examples of making money on the Internet while you are at school include the following:
- Blogging (develop your writing skills)
- Maths or English Tuition (develop your numeracy and literacy skills)
- Social Media Marketing and Promotion agents (develop your social media skills and put the time you spend on social media into something useful)
- Website/WordPress developer (develop your creativity)
- YouTuber (create trending and viral YouTube clips)
The list is not exhaustive. It presents options to explore further and find a *niche* that is ideal for you.
The Internet penetration in Papua New Guinea is better than it was 10 years ago. Some tech insiders believe that the mobile coverage in Papua New Guinea for both Bmobile/Telkom PNG and Digicel, combined, is over 95%.
Recent talks of building a high-speed broadband facility in and around Papua New Guinea is promising. So when can young Papua New Guineans take ownership of such developments? The answer is simple – get on the bandwagon now or get left behind.
If you (secondary or uni student) don’t do it now, someone else will do it. Start now while the Internet market in Papua New Guinea is unsaturated.
Only you can prepare yourself for life after school. Read. Write. Grow your potential. Learn how to make money. Do the basics early and position yourself strategically to thrive after school.
PART 1: HOW TO START A PERSONAL BLOG
In the second part of how to start a personal blog series, we’ll identify some beginner’s tips on how to start a free blog.
As mentioned earlier, blogging is a great way to enhance creativity. Successful bloggers do it for passion. It is about giving than receiving. Focus on creating something fit for the audience.
Start a free personal blog
- Choose a platform (Blogger, WordPress, Weebly…)
- Create/use an email account – A Google Gmail account for sign-in and setting up a new blog.
- Create a free blog and publish your first work
- Set up Social media accounts
- Share your work
You do not need to know any coding to start a blog. Google BlogSpot and WordPress’ admin interface is all drag-and-drop. That means that you can start now.
The links to my earlier post on free and paid blogging platforms are listed below for more information.
- Google FREE BlogSpot platform
- WordPress FREE Platform
- PAID WordPress website – How to Start a Blog on WordPress.
Tool Tips for new bloggers
Persistence and consistency are key attributes to building your potential as a student writer. The tips here are what many writers and bloggers have used successfully. They are available free online.
- Google Search Console & Google Analytics
- Google Trends and AdWords Keyword Search
- Social Media
- Images/visuals and messages
- Grammarly Spelling and Grammar Fix Tool
More details of each tool are provided on the Next Page.
Stay focused – Persistence is Key!
The important point is to develop writing skills by starting early. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot start, yet.
Look at what others are doing, how they form their sentences and develop the style that suits their audience. Use the skills you learn to your advantage to grow as a writer.
In fact, you will find that writing skills are transferable in other domains. By this I mean you can use them in other writing genres such as academic writing, report writing, etc as you grow.
Some established bloggers will attest to the fact writing is a learning journey. It is about self-enrichment too. You become aware of what is important, learn and grow as you write about things that matter to you and the community you belong to.
5 Examples of Papua New Guinean Talents
I draw inspiration from the talented people behind the 5 websites/blogs. One thing that remains true among all of them is *consistency and persistence* in their online work. Many of them have started early and have continued since.
The PNG talents have created unique websites – a testament to their passion. They have a strong online presence. This is powerful! You too can unleash the power in you if you start now.
The blogs/websites that you may find useful are:
- PNG Insight Free blog on Google BlogSpot
- My Land My Country on (WordPress ) and (Google BlogSpot)
- PNG Education Facts on Weebly
- Papua New Guinea Woman on WordPress
- PNG ICT Meri (Free WordPress blog)
As I mentioned earlier, you can make a *little* space for yourself on the World Wide Web. All the while, develop transferable life skills and becoming a powerful individual. In 5 to 10 years, you’ll look back at what you’ve started with satisfaction.
I’d like to encourage you – the students – to put to full use your free time. Start writing, creating and sharing ideas online to develop your hidden skills and talents.
Read the inspiring work of PNG Musician and Artist on YouTube in Part 2
Part 2: Free Online Tools for Starting Personal Blog
In the third part of how to start a personal blog, we will skim through the 6 tools you can use to create a successful personal blog from scratch.
Though this series is for students, any person interested in blogging can also use the tips to start a personal blog.
Google Search Console (GSC)
Google Search Console provides insights into your blog or website. The GSC is, in simple terms, is the platform where you (webmaster or blog owner) tell Google about your website by submitting URLs.
Google Analytics (GA)
Google Analytics is the platform where Google provides you (the blogger or webmaster) with the data and information about your blog or website.
If you want to understand how your blog works (and improve its performance) use both platforms provided by Google.
GSC and GA are free tools from Google!
Google Trend/Google Search
Google Trend is another free tool from Google. You can use it to see what topic is trending online in any country in the world, including Papua New Guinea.
Both GT and the Google Search (button on your browser) can be used to identify keywords to include in your blog posts. It is important that you do this right the first time, all the time when you are writing.
These two tools are best for getting *organic* visitors from Google. They are free too 🙂
It is important to create social media accounts for your blog. Experiment with various platforms that you believe will give your blog good coverage. Find the ideal social media platforms, fit for your blog.
Social media is probably the most influential platform for reaching a wider readership. Start with the common social media platforms. My top picks are Twitter and Facebook – the most used platforms in PNG.
Google has withdrawn its Google+ service effective as of April 2019 (See the notice here)
If you are planning to use images on your blog, try Pinterest. In fact, Pinterest is useful for showcasing your work as well as getting visitors to your blog.
Image – My favourite is Ribbet
Create eye-catching visuals and powerful messages for your blog. Think of it this way: the images attract readers, and the messages give the readers a taste of what the post is about. So, make the images appealing to attract readers and messages stimulating so that the readers will want to read further.
Many people are good with Photoshop. If you are one of them, use Photoshop to create or collate better images for your website.
For beginners, the two free image editors I have been using are Canvas and Ribbet. My favourite is Ribbet. You can auto-edit photos, add texts, use free photos and apply many other formatting styles.
Many of the photos on PNG Insight are examples of what you can do with an image editor like Canvas and Ribbet.
My top tip is to always keep your photos the *same size*. Consistency is the key to making your blog stand out amongst the others.
- Spelling and Grammar check – Recommend Grammarly
Grammarly is a useful online grammar and spelling checker. When you have completed your posts, copy and paste in the window pane and click Check Your Text. It will do all the checks and prompt you to make corrections.
Grammarly is one blogging tool I’ve used many times. I’d recommend it highly to any student wanting to eliminate errors in their assessments, write-ups or blog posts.
Make sure you have used the correct English version by choosing English (US) or English (UK), or whichever one you prefer.
You can install the app as an add-on on Chrome or use the online version to check your work for both grammar and spelling errors. A detail explanation of how to use Grammarly is provided in Part 3.
Part 3: Smartphone A Writer’s Tool
A 600 – 800 words post can place you high in Google search ranking. So use the keyword tools discussed in the series. Identify strong keywords that can rank better. Use them in your posts.
You do not need plenty of mobile phone *data* to publish your work. Write offline (using Microsoft Word for example) and post when you are online. Tether your smartphone and laptop and start publishing. From experience, a 60 Megabyte is enough to publish a post including uploading the image.
Some of the best and trending topics I wrote about were written using my mobile phones. The two posts on PNG Insight I wrote using my smartphone, a Samsung S3, received over 10, 000 views as I write this post.
Many notepad apps have character limitations. This makes it hard to write using smartphones. However, there are many other available for free. One useful app for writing lengthy articles is the Microsoft app. The Microsoft Word version of this app is an excellent on-the-go blogging tool.
Reasons to write
The best thing about writing using your smartphone is that you can post and use the photos that you may have taken using the phone.
But there are also challenges that you may have to overcome using a small screen resolution and correcting the annoying errors that may pop up.
The important thing is to practice the art of writing. Capture the moment on your smartphones, both the image and in words.
Part 4: Write like an expert
Students at university (or college) and secondary school may find correcting spelling and grammar daunting. Grammarly is a great tool for checking and correcting spelling and grammar.
If the answers to these questions are YES, Grammarly will help you write like an expert writer.
- Are you doing your school work in English?
- Is English your second or third language?
- Do you find correcting spelling and grammar errors tricky?
- Have you often identify errors in your final work?
- Do you want your final work to be error free?
Grammarly is an online spelling and grammar check tool. That means that you must have access to the Internet at school to use it.
Grammarly is free. Simply log in to the account and start using it. The spelling and grammar tool identifies errors and prompts you to correct the errors. (See the example in this article).
Many higher institutions have *blocker* installed on their network gateways which may not allow you to use Grammarly. But there is a way around it – you can use ‘data’ tethering. Spell checking is super fast and does not use a lot of data either.
Connect your laptop to a smartphone. Checking for grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. Eliminate any errors in your final work before submitting or publishing it.
Try it and see how many errors you may have missed whilst proofread your work.
English as a second language
From experience – once as a student and even now – English as a second language comes with great difficulty. In fact, thinking and writing in English is not an easy task.
Many students in PNG who also have English as a third or even fourth language have great difficulty with writing in English. So, it is important to use the tools and aids that are now available to make blogging enjoyable to you and reading appealing to readers.
How it works
Grammarly is easy to use. Use your email, Gmail or social media accounts to log in. There are two ways to use it: as an add-on on the Chrome browser or as a saved URL in the ‘favourite’ folder. Simply copy your work and paste it into Grammarly task-pane. Spelling and Grammar check will automatically show the stats of errors ( in red) in your work and suggest corrections.
Using the free version of Grammarly is a useful way to polish your writing and draw readers to your work.
Part 5: THREE WAYS TO MONETIZE YOUR FREE PERSONAL BLOG
Focus and passion over benefits
Let us face it. Apart from the benefits of blogging discussed in this series how to start a personal blog can monetise it.
I mentioned earlier in this series that
‘if you start when you are a student, you can develop the blog further when you leave school’.
That means that there is plenty of work you must do to establish your presence online while you’re at school.
In fact, to monetise your blog you MUST first have traffic – the visitors to your blog. It takes time and effort. And importantly mastery of the free Google tools mentioned in the previous articles.
Many others who concentrate on making money online give up along the way. Stay focussed on your interest. Be passionate about developing your hidden potentials.
Persistence is still the key.
When you have enough traffic to your website, you can consider the three possibilities listed below.
Google pays you for the clicks and impressions. To get an Adsense account you have got to own a website or blog. So, get a website or create a YouTube channel. Your work has to be established for more than 6 months and has lots of top-class content. As they say ‘content is key’. Develop great content. Post trending stories. Apply for AdSense.
That way Google will approve your application quickly.
AdSense is Google’s advertisement platform. It shows advertisements to Global visitors. If they click on the ads, you make money. The *Koble* you accumulate depends on the number of visitors to your blog. As long as the visitors click on the advertisements, you make *dribs and drabs* – not much though.
But, it accumulates over time.
If you are a student and can generate a passive income that way is better than nothing. The potential to take it to the next level is always there 🙂
It is important to know how and when to best use the affiliate links. For example, an article I wrote about Grammarly made US$25.00 when I first posted it. The article is under 600 words. Took me less than 20 minutes to write. Such affiliate asks you to write about them and they pay you upfront.
Other affiliates will require you to embed a link and you get a commission paid to you whenever you make a referral.
If you are an established blogger, you can join Grammarly and also benefit from this incentive. There are many other affiliates you can join online.
My top tip is to join the affiliate that is relevant to your work.
You have a global audience who are looking for helpful tips, inspiring stories and insight. If you do provide what others are looking for, they will be drawn to it in numbers.
Amazon affiliate is suitable for established websites and bloggers. I would recommend it to Papua New Guinean students who are based in the US, New Zealand, Australia and the UK. Amazon has changed its affiliate policies recently. This makes it difficult to become an affiliate from less known countries like PNG.
AdSense for YouTube
The song ‘Before the next teardrop falls‘ by Makali has gone viral on YouTube. Nearly 5 million views, 28, 000 likes and thousands of shares.
The channel is a great example of how a PNG artist used AdSense – see the placements on the screenshot. AdSense pays the owner of the channel for both the Impression (how many people view the clip) and clicks on the advertisements.
Presumably, at 5 million views this is a handsome passive earning.
We looked at how you could start a blog early at the university, college or secondary school in the series, how to start a personal blog.
Also, we identified the inspirational PNG websites, blogs and YouTube channels you can draw insights from. We learnt about free blogging platforms to help you get started online. You can start where you are with what you have.
The Internet and smartphone have made online blogging achievable.
Prepare your inner self. Optimise your potential. Learn early to read, write and use the power of the Internet.
I am making the series available to anyone who wants to get into blogging. Get your copy.
If you need help on how to start a personal blog, follow PNG Insight on Twitter or message me below.