There’s no reason you can’t make your own these days. If you want a platform to express yourself, to give your takes on important topics, or provide a space for others, you have the ability to do just that. You can do podcasts, you can vlog–anything.
If you’re here, I’d imagine you were looking to start a blog because someone said “well if you don’t like it, make your own” and you were all like “well maybe I will” and so you set out to do so but you wanted some queer intersectional sauce up in your startup. We got you, boo.
In this post, we will go into the “program” aspects of creating a blog and not so much of the technical aspects.
1. Theme & Purpose
So why are you starting a blog? Are you doing it so you can build up your writing experience? Draw in readers from a particular community and become an authority voice? Just want to be one of the cool kids? Or even make a space that can be a conduit for other voices?
Your purpose is important because then you’ll have a driving force behind your platform. It’s like the mission statement to a business: What are you serving and why?
For example, Contemporary Queer has a mission to bring relevant topics and nuggets of thought to queer Millennials while empowering them to be agents in their own destinies. Everything we do here is meant to reflect that.
If you were to make a blog, what would it center around and how would you drive that theme forward? Is there a group already into what you’re thinking that could lend a hand or an ear? Could you do it without getting bored for a long time or would you have to develop discipline like none other just to create a few weeks worth of content?
Audience is very important. And it’s important that you be genuine or else you’ll be seen through immediately. Why? People prefer authenticity.
When you are authentic, there’s just something that other people (especially other people in your community or group) can recognize and identify with. There’s an air of “walk the walk” that, when you fake it, doesn’t go very far. So why is that important for audience?
If you want loyal readers (especially from a community based on the same interests and way of life) you have to speak to them in the same language and tone they use with each other (if appropriate). You’ll have to speak to them in the tone they want to hear what you have to say in and it’s easier when you’re not speaking at them, but to them or with them.
And even if you aren’t writing for a community, having one in mind may help your writing direction. More on that in the next topic…
3. Community (or Nah?)
So while I just waned poetic about the necessity of speaking to folks in their language, that’s kind of dependent on a few things. Like–are you trying to appeal to a community/specific type of person? Conventional wisdom holds that when you communicate it is likely to another person/group, but it could very well be that you’re just throwing blog stuff at a wall and seeing what sticks.
But even if you do decide to write without a community in mind, you’ll still want to keep your blog’s tone consistent. This way people can know what to expect from you, and if they appreciate your content (while perhaps not being a part of the community you’re writing for/writing for “theoretically”) they’ll come back often.
But aside from writing/content, it also comes down to this: Are you allowing yourself to be beholden/accountable to a specific group of people? When you write for a community, you embed yourself into the community and its members will accept, tolerate, or reject you. Likewise, you begin to customize your writing based on the specific issues affecting them at any given moment in time.
If you choose not to be a part of a community but still write content that concerns them or on behalf of them, you are more free to write however and whatever you choose, but it will be your content that gets praise/shared when it is good and you personally who gets dragged/called out if it is insulting.
When we want to praise, we uphold the words. When we want to drag, we look for the @.
~Sage Nenyue, “Yes, I Quoted Myself” Vol. 3
In my case, I’ve been “in the community” since I was 15, in the sense that I have always looked at things equality-wise and used my writing to serve my understanding of justice and liberation. So personally, if I’m going to blog about LGBTQ stuff, I’d rather write for the community as a part of that community.
If you love creating, there’s reward in blogging for the sake of blogging. You can do you for you and can’t nobody but you hold you back. There might also be other reasons you blog which I break down into “glory”, “impact”, and “gain”.
Glory refers to the social capital you want to build or your own personal brand. When people hear your name and they think of how you brought them a smile or how you always liven up their days, that’s glory. The positive in this one comes off as two-fold, because if you’re looking for glory and you try too hard, it will show. People will clock you quickly. On the flip side, if you’re humble (or at the very least have a good humility mask on), people will speak highly of you and your refined dignity and creations.
Blogging with impact as the focus mostly takes you out of the equation and makes you the byline with the message as the most important part. While you don’t have to be as stiff as a news blog, your writing will come off as informative and heart-touching without all of you and your feel-feels getting in the way. It will feel neutral/natural and the reader will be able to see themselves in your creation. And if it’s great content (and you protect yourself against being plagiarized or cut out of the credit), you’ll find yourself with relative glory and gain in time while belting out Bey’s “I Was Here”.
When you blog for gain, you do so with the intent of making money or getting presents from brands that you can deliver the eyes of your audience to. Instagram and Youtube bloggers are the first ones that spring to mind when creating that visual lifestyle of ostentation. It’s not wrong or bad–everybody needs to make a buck under capitalism–but blogging for gain is associated with ugly things for those who can spot it: Shoddy content, unnatural writing (SEO), quantity over quality, shallow community relations (if any). It makes the readers feel cheated, especially if they aren’t getting any value in return.
So if you blog for gain, either make quality content that readers enjoy and can identify with, or make it worth their while to be associated with you.
In the spirit of full disclosure: You might notice some ads on Contemporary Queer. Well, until we get funding from a rich daddy or mama that’s tryna pay our bills but not expecting us to compromise our message or audience, Google is one of the few low-cost investments I know to make money to be able to pay writers and develop programs in the future.
These are some things to consider when starting a blogging platform and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. I share these because I want to see more spaces that prioritize us flourish and thrive. Do you know how it broke my heart when I couldn’t find a compact trans take on “Trans Day of Visibility” in time for the Five Queer Holidays post and had to use the MSNBC storify? Nothing against major mainstream news networks, but I am more interested in empowering our folks first and foremost.
If you have tips to add, leave a comment and we’ll share them on Twitter. If you are interested in writing for Contemporary Queer, here’s how!