Creating a blog can be a perfect retirement project. It’s a great way to connect with others while you pursue your own interests.
You might think blogging is an activity just for younger folks, but the truth is, people of any age can blog. In fact, the number of Americans aged 65 and older who use social media has quadrupled since 2010, according to a 2022 report by the Pew Research Foundation.
As blogger Margaret Manning writes on her own site, Sixty & Me, “It’s never been easier to start a blog. In terms of audience, older adults are still the fastest growing demographic online and in social media. If anything, now is the perfect time to be an older blogger.”
Here’s a closer look into some of the benefits of blogging, plus ways to begin.
The benefits of blogging
When you think of healthy activities, sitting in front of a computer probably isn’t what comes to mind.
But blogging can actually give a big boost to your well-being. A 2020 study of bloggers between the ages of 60 and 83 found that they felt more satisfied because they blogged. They also reported they had better relationships with family and were sharper mentally. Here are some reasons why:
You’ll feel more socially connected
Blogging lets far-flung family and friends know what you’re up to and how you’re doing. You may also form friendships with other bloggers that you meet online.
You’ll exercise your noggin
Your brain is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will be. Blogging provides two benefits: it lets you learn new skills, and it encourages you to write. Both of these help reduce your risk of developing dementia.
You’ll probably feel less stressed and depressed
Research has shown that writing a blog is a better way to reduce anxiety and distress than writing in a private diary. It might sound strange, since a blog is public, but it’s really another way to get social support.
As if all that weren’t enough, research also shows that writing about your thoughts and feelings can provide measurable physical benefits, including:
● Better immune function
● Lower blood pressure
● Slower heart rate
● Fewer asthma symptoms
● Less arthritis symptoms
● Better sleep
Who knew writing could be so powerful?
How to get started
Blogging is more involved than writing in a journal. After all, you’re writing for an audience now. There’s also a blogging platform to get familiar with. Fortunately, you don’t need to be a tech wiz to start blogging. Here’s what to do.
Pick your passion
Focus your blog on something you have a particular interest in. This could be cooking, gardening, or even pets. Choose a subject that you have some knowledge of but want to learn more about. You want your blog to keep you engaged, as well as your readers.
Select your platform
One reason why it’s easy to start blogging is because there are so many different platforms to do it on. Many are free or have small monthly charges. Here are a few to consider:
● Wix. This is a great choice for beginners who want to dip their toe into blogging. You can start by creating a blog for free and choose from over 800 templates. The only downside are ads–if you want to avoid those, then upgrade to the unlimited plan, which is $22 per month and comes with 24/7 customer support.
● Squarespace This is a very easy-to-use platform. Just select one of their predesigned templates, and go from there. It also has 24/7 customer support. When you sign up, you get a 14-day trial. After that, it’s $16 a month.
● Medium. It’s free and easy to use, and since the site has millions of readers, it can be easier to get a wide audience. On the other hand, you’ll have a lot of competition for those readers!
● Wordpress. You can create a blog for free using WordPress.org, or you can pay $4 a month for a hosted site. There are also thousands of tutorials and resources to help you use it. But many of the fun options, add-ons, and customization require a little coding know-how, so Wordpress can be better suited to those with more computer experience.
Name your blog
It should be short, catchy, and speak to what you hope to blog about. It’s a good idea to google any names you are considering, to make sure they’re not already in use. (Although it’s unlikely a fellow blogger would sue you, it could create confusion and generate less traffic to your site.) A good rule of thumb is to make it fewer than five words. Still stumped? Wix offers a blog name generator here.
Write your first post
Nervous about writing? Blog consultant brand Bluehost recommends that you sit down for a half-hour and free-write. Don’t self-edit. Just focus on getting the words out. Use your own unique voice, and let your readers get to know you as a person. If you want to share your own stories, go for it! It’s all about drawing people in. Once you’re done, run a spelling and grammar check, then ask a trusted friend to do a second read with fresh eyes. Use their feedback to help you revise.
Craft the headline
You’re not done once you’ve polished your prose. You’ll want a grabby title to draw your audience in. First ask yourself: what’s your post about? If it’s focused on gardening, then focus on using keywords that will help get your blog picked up by search engines and social media. If you have a Google account, you can search for the best keywords here.
Pictures will make your post look more appealing. If you don’t have any of your own to upload, you can go to a website such as Unsplash or Shutterstock that offers royalty-free images for low or no cost. Just make sure that you read user agreements and give any photo credit required.
Hit the publish button
Voila! You’ve completed your first blog post. Remember to share on all your social media accounts. If there are people you admire on sites such as Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, tag them so that more folks can see your content. You can also email family, friends, and even old work contacts to encourage them to subscribe to your blog and follow along.
Remember, the key to a successful blog is consistency. Set goals for yourself to publish frequently, ideally at least once a week.
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