Let's get real here: Blogging is a HUGE commitment.
In terms of how easy it is to publish stuff, blogging isn't exactly top of the list. It's so much easier to publish content on social media. You can do it from your phone and there's not a lot of steps to go through.
Social media: Grab phone > Tap on the app > Choose a photo > Type a caption > Post!
Blog: Turn on laptop > Log in laptop > Open up browser > Log in blogging platform > Click new post > Type > More typing > Add photo > Format post > Publish!
So if blogging is a bit of a hassle -- why then do some influencers with 500k-1mil followers STILL blog when they already have so many followers on social media? The main reason is SPACE.
On your blog, you can do so much more to fully express your ideas. There’s no word limit and you can add multiple images. Not to mention, you can format your text too. (All the bolding and italicizing and underlining helps when you want to emphasize points.)
BUT... The fact that there’s so much space is what makes blogging so DAUNTING. There’s so much space to fill up but you don’t feel like you have enough points.
Is it okay to publish a blog post with just 1-2 paragraphs? I only have one good photo. That’s too short. It’s going to be awkward if I post it.
You feel worried about the blog layout and design and a million different other things that it seems easier not to blog.
So basically, you have something to say — but blogging is simply TOO MUCH for now. What’s the alternative?
Something you’ve probably already done before... MICROBLOGGING.
1. “What the heck is microblogging on social media? Explain.”
Microblogging is basically blogging on a micro scale. (“Aina, please try harder.”)
OK, so if in normal blogging you’d usually write more than two paragraphs, for microblogging, 1-2 paragraphs is the perfect length.
And BECAUSE you're not aiming for too many words, social media platforms are the perfect space for you to microblog.
- (Or any other social media that I’m not hip enough to know)
”Then isn’t microblogging like... posting on social media with a long caption or status update or whatever?”
Yes, that’s exactly what it’s like.
”Then why do you have to give it a fancy term like microblogging?”
The reason why I differentiate between microblogging and posting on social media is how you prioritize the captions.
(Note: When I say captions, I mean any space that you can put text in.)
When you post on social media like you'd normally do, the focus is on the VISUAL. If you’ve invested time in taking those great photos or filming a cool video, the captions are secondary. (“Like, let the pictures speak for themselves.”)
But with microblogging, the captions are priority. It's what you use to FULLY communicate your thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Photos and videos are great and all, but sometimes the written word communicates better.
For example, you could post a photo of the paint brushes you use for watercolour painting — but you’re going to want to explain why you like ‘em too, right? So basically, when you microblog, you get to explain more.
2. "Well, should *I* microblog then?"
If you’re already sharing your ideas, thoughts and experiences on social media — you’re probably already microblogging.
But microblogging is especially awesome if you’re in these two types of situations:
(a) You want to start blogging, but it's intimidating, you don't have time or you're not sure what to write.
(b) You want to start expressing yourself and build a brand, business, reputation, following, etc.
Because microblogging is on a smaller scale compared to full blogging, it’s way less intimidating. You don’t need to wait until you could write 1000s of words, and even sharing one small idea/thought is enough for a post.
And along the way, if you’re sharing your stuff consistently on social media by microblogging, you WILL build a reputation, brand, business, etc.
OK, imagine this.
You looove watercolour painting, and you microblog consistently on watercolour. You post about techniques, tips and tools and are NOT stingy with the explanations. Your posts are informative and fun.
Over time, your friends and family will know you as the ‘watercolour girl’. (When it’s your birthday, they buy you painting supplies)
And when someone they know looks for people who can paint, they’ll recommend you! This is how you get CUSTOMERS.
Your microblogging posts will allow you to share your journey in learning watercolour -- or any other passion or skill that you have -- with potential customers. They'll eventually trust your skill and want to PAY you to make something for them.
So it's not so impossible to turn 'hobby' into 'business'. That consistent, concentrated effort is the RIGHT effort for you to create a future that you love.
3. “What’s wrong with the things I already write for social media?”
OK, what you’re already doing isn’t wrong. But I have to be blunt here: it’s not very effective.
Writing a vague sentence or two, using long hashtags and an assortment of emojis may be OKAY, but it won’t be AS EFFECTIVE as microblogging.
Compare it to texting with a new friend. Are you guys really going to be the kind of friends who would go to jail together if you just send her a few emojis and hashtags every three days?
(“Wait. What kind of example is that?”)
Nope! Emojis and hashtags are fun and all, but they're not enough if you want to convey your ideas, experiences, beliefs and opinions. You can't tell a story with just emojis.
Your captions are prime real estate to express yourself and build a brand. Don't just use emojis and hashtags.
For example, let's look at Nina Tailles, one of my Instagram friends who does Instagram styling. What’s the impression you get when you read her Instagram posts?
(“Instagram expert!”) Yes -- exactly! It's not just about the photos. The captions contribute to the kind of impression you want your followers to have about you.
4. “What kind of social media platforms can I microblog on?”
Instagram is my favourite social media platform to microblog on. It has the perfect layout for you to show off your photos and write your captions too!
The standard way of microblogging on Instagram is to post a photo with a caption, but you can also go for Instagram Stories if you want. (Just remember to download the Stories when you’re done!)
Facebook (Account or Page)
I personally don’t use Facebook (other than for remembering birthdays), but it's definitely a strong platform if you want to use it to build a reputation.
- If you’re using your personal Account: You can microblog using status updates or publish a post on the Facebook group that you’re part of. For example, if you’re part of a travel Facebook group, you can post your travel tips directly on the group itself. (This Road to Japan Facebook group is one I've personally referred to!)
- If you're using your Facebook Page: You can microblog using post a status update as usual or use the 'Write a Note' option for your longer posts. (The Note even looks like a blog post!)
OK, call me crazy -- but I definitely think that Twitter has potential as a microblogging platform. Yes, the 140-character limit makes the micro blog post even more micro, but what I've seen people do is:
- Use the 'tweet threads' concept: Basically, a series of tweets posted one after another on a particular topic. Each subsequent tweet is a reply to the first tweet, so when you click on the very first tweet, all your subsequent tweets will also be displayed. (This can get technical, so check out this official guide from Twitter on how to create tweet threads!)
- Post screenshots of text: Most of the examples I see are people writing on a Note app, taking a screenshot of the text, and posting it on Twitter. (Like the example I have above) This way, you're not constrained by the character limit and can explain your thoughts better. You can even go one step further and create nice graphics with text to post!
5. “What do I microblog about? “
Even if you're microblogging, it can be slightly difficult to think up WHAT to microblog about. Like, what is interesting enough to post about?
This is something I've talked about a lot, but I cannot recommend this enough: The most relevant and most interesting kind of content is always HELPFUL content.
Helpful content is about sharing information that helps people (obviously) and makes their lives easier. In any aspect of their lives, be it cooking, exercising, organizing, styling clothes, or whatever that YOU like. Ask yourself: What do I know that could help people?
When you start asking yourself this, you're approaching it from the customer's point of view. (Or follower) This is great because you're still sharing what you love, but you're considering their interests. Followers dig this man.
Here's some super easy and relevant info that you can post:
- Best tools to use for _____
- Do’s and Dont’s of _____
- Comparison between ____ and ____
- Best practices for ____
- Common misconception about ____
- Did you know that ____
- Mini tutorial on ____
- What to do if ____
Just insert the related words into the blanks and that's your post idea!
6. "Won't it be pretentious if I write about things that I only know a little about? I'm not an expert."
So basically, you don't feel like you're qualified enough to talk about your interest/passion/stuff? ("Yes. I'm not an expert.")
Let me tell you what I think. I think that you don't need...
- A master's degree, PhD or professional certificate
- Years and years of experience
- 100s of customers
...before you can start talking about what you love.
Look, it's not like those things are unnecessary. They're great. But if you don't have them, it doesn't bar you from sharing info based on WHAT YOU KNOW.
Microblogging is about sharing what you already know. It focuses on your personal experience, thoughts and ideas. So it's not about you pretending to know more than you actually do.
OK, let me give you an example. You went on a trip to Morocco last October. You're not really a frequent traveller. Does that mean you can't share YOUR tips on travelling to Morocco....?
- Your total flight time was around 15 hours. ("I guess I could write about what to do during the flight.")
- You went there during winter. ("Maybe I can write about my packing list.")
- You tried a lot of Moroccon food. ("Oh yes. That's easy enough to write.")
See? Even if you could only help a few people with the tips -- it would be worth it. And trust me, you know more than you think you do.
7. "How do I start planning what to microblog?"
OK, so one of my favourite strategies for planning content is to use THEMES. Once you've chosen a theme, all your posts for that particular week or month should revolve around the theme.
For example, if you're an aspiring fashion designer, your theme for November could be on 'Jackets & Blazers'. All your posts in November would be about jackets and blazers...
- Week 1 : How to choose the best jacket for your body type
- Week 2 : Tips on accessorizing your jacket
- Week 3 : The difference between a jacket and a blazer
- Week 4 : 5 different types of jackets
So when people view your profile, they'll definitely go -- Oooooooh. Interesting.
8. “Any tips for a new microblogger?”
> It’s OK if your post isn’t super funny or witty — be genuine!
One of the things I've heard most often is this: "I'm not a good writer. I'm not funny or witty enough."
I don't call this having low self-esteem. I call this having a misconception. You're under no obligation to make people laugh. Crack jokes if you want too, but comedy is definitely NOT a required skill.
As long as you're genuine, your writing is good. Over time, you'll see that you're able to write more naturally and effortlessly. Even the jokes will come naturally!
> Be specific with the information you share.
If you want to be helpful, you can't be stingy with the details. If you're talking about tools or brands you use -- tell your followers the exact name. If you're posting a mini tutorial -- your steps need to be clear. Get what I mean? Say no no to vague captions.
> Focus on communicating one small point at a time.
Since microblogging is sharing on a smaller scale, you don't have to worry about fitting ALLLL your points into one post. For example, if you have 5 tips on how to do X, you can post one tip at a time. (One tip for each post)
This so that you can explain each tip more, AND, you get ideas for more posts too!
> Treat your microblogging platform like a mini portfolio.
One of the things people have told me is that setting up a blog/website for their art/skill/interest/passion feels like too much, too soon. Like they're going overboard with the whole thing.
I totally get that. When I first started sharing my first passion (hand-lettering), I only posted on Instagram and Facebook. I didn't set up a blog or website for it.
So the microblogging platform you choose is perfect as a 'mini portfolio' because it feels more casual. You'll also be able to reach more followers and potential customers too because of the existing audience on social media.
> It's going to feel awkward before it feels natural.
Are you scared of being vulnerable on social media? I know I am. It's not easy to share what you love with acquaintances and strangers because it's like you're showing them a part of the 'real' you.
There's so many times I've decided not to post something because...
- ...Oh man that sounds too obnoxious. I don't want to be annoying.
- ...What if someone comments mean things about this?
- ...Maybe I should post this later when the time is right.
I can't offer you any new advice for this one. It's simply something that all of us will have to work through. That feeling of awkwardness and posting-while-cringing will be extreme at first, but it'll eventually feel more natural.
Push through the awkwardness because microblogging is worth it. You'll feel like you're building something concrete for your future.
> Rotate between 2-3 topics for best results.
If you want to build a reputation, brand, business on FOOD, you have to be microblogging about FOOD. Not other topics. If you have a FASHION-related goal, you need to talk about FASHION.
That's why it's important for you to stick to 2-3 chosen topics rather than random topics. Those random topics may be fine on their own, but they don't contribute to the overall impression that your followers and potential customers will have of you.
For example, if you've chosen styling and flatlays as your topics and are consistent about posting on those topics, your followers will see you as someone who's specialized in styling and flatlays. (Rather than someone who just posts random stuff)
9. “What tools do I need to start microblogging?”
You can start microblogging without any of the free tools I’m gonna mention below — but they definitely help you microblog in a more consistent way.
1st tool: Schedule your micro blog posts in advance using Later
Most of the time, microblogging is like an on-the-go thing. You do it when the idea pops up. It’s instantaneous.
But if you’re looking to be more consistent with your posting AND make the process of typing your posts easier, you can try scheduling apps like Later.
Later is a social media management platform. So what you essentially do is write your captions in advance and schedule them together with your photos to be posted whenever you want. For example, I could write 4 posts and schedule them to be posted every Monday at 12 pm. And I'll be done for the month!
And since you can do this on your computer, say bye-bye to accidentally deleting your captions when you’ve already typed a long one. Oooh boy. That happened to me more than a few times and the rage was indescribable. LOL.
2nd tool: Design graphics for your micro blog post using Canva
Canva is a web-based design tool. Which means that you don’t need any fancy software to start designing. You only need a browser (not Internet Explorer please). And yep, it’s free.
What are these? I call these your micro blog graphics. They're the images you post along with your captions for your microblog posts.
You can make square graphics for Instagram, horizontal rectangle ones for Facebook and Twitter, or vertical rectangle ones for your Instagram stories like the ones I have above.
These graphics are awesome because...
- You don’t have to wait until you have the right/related photo before you can write about a particular topic. Just design a graphic with your topic as the title! So they sorta act as your writing prompts too.
- When your followers view your profile, they’ll immediately see that your account is a ‘helpful’ account! Which means that if they’re interested in your topic, they’ll definitely going to hit the Follow button.
- The graphics can be branded according to what you want your brand to be. Based on the three graphic examples I made above, which one fits YOUR vision best? You can then design MORE graphics like it to give your profile a consistent branded look. Looks way more professional.
(“Aina, I’m not a graphic designer.”)
Well, you don’t have to be a graphic designer because 1) Canva is really easy to use, even for non-designers and 2) these graphics are super easy to make. They’re basically text on a coloured background and not some complicated design.
You can brand your graphics by choosing the colours and fonts you like. As long as you keep your colours and fonts consistent (as in, don’t use wildly different colours and font combos each time), your graphics will be perfect. I havea blog post on branding basics you can read to get started.
(“Is it important to make the graphics every single time? Like for Facebook, I don’t have to post a photo along with the status update.”)
Oh yeah, the graphics are not mandatory. You can definitely microblog without ‘em. BUT, they do make your micro blog post look more professional. The graphics instantly differentiate your posts as helpful content (which people are interested in) and personal content (which people may not always be interested in).
("What if I already have related photos to go with my captions?")
If you have real photos to go with your captions, prioritize those! It's OK to mix real photos and graphics together on your feed.
10. "If I microblog, does that mean that I don't have to do full-sized blogging?"
Microblogging is awesome, but it has its disadvantages.
- You'll be microblogging on crowded social media platforms. This means that your posts are side-by-side with other people's posts. Your followers could easily be distracted from reading your posts. It's hard to stand out from the crowd.
- Your posts are at the mercy of the social media platforms. When Instagram changed its algorithm and started displaying posts differently -- there's been a lot of upset. Because unless your followers have a habit of interacting with your posts, they'd probably never see your posts on their feed.
- You can't brand everything on your social media profiles. Because there's limited space, not everything is open to customization. Which means that you won't be able to express yourself fully in certain parts -- like the 'Bio' or 'Description'!
So the disadvantages of microblogging are the advantages of blogging. On your blog, there's only you. Your posts are displayed however you want them to be. And you can brand your blog like it's your HQ.
But despite that, I still recommend microblogging! Because it takes time to feel comfortable in expressing yourself, your microblog is the perfect space to practice in. And once you want to enjoy what blogging can offer, you can set up a blog. No worries.
("But when I decide to have a blog, what do I do with the content on my microblog?")
All your microblog posts will be useful again when your blog is set up. You can COMPILE your microblog posts into one big blog post, or EXPAND a microblog post into a regular blog post. (I have a tutorial on how to convert your Instagram posts into blog posts!)
11. "How do I find the time to microblog?"
Because each microblog post isn't too long, you can try to squeeze in some writing time in these situations:
- While waiting for your food in restaurants.
- While waiting for your train.
- In the train -- if you have both hands free.
- While you're stuck in a traffic jam and the cars aren't moving at all. (Safety first!)
- Right before bed.
At most, you need 5 minutes for each post! Keep the content short and sweet so that you can post more regularly.
What also helps is if you could plan what you want to write AND make your graphics in advance. For example, if you're planning to post on M-W-F, you could make graphics for all 3 posts the previous Sunday. This way, you can just grab the photo, type the caption and post!
Phew! I've covered the most regular questions I've received about microblogging, but if you have other questions, let me know! I honestly feel that microblogging is something that anyone can do if they want to build a reputation, brand or business. It's more low-effort compared full-sized blogging, especially if you're just starting to get comfortable with sharing. Keep it casual, short and fun and you'll be a natural before you know it!
BTW, are you considering microblogging over full-sized blogging? Why?