A friend recently approached me and asked, “I want to start a blog. Can you give me a list of helpful tips?”
This great social experience actually started August 1st and will finish August 5th. I’ve already read through several well-written, established and successful blogs, gleaning great advice and perspective. Sadly, it has only made my blog seem, well…less.
Less goal oriented.
However, it is not necessarily less visited or supported, so perhaps I have inadvertently done a few things right. Now, if only I knew what those were, so I could duplicate them.
In an effort to give myself some clarity, and hopefully save you from making my same mistakes, here are My Top Ten Blogging Epiphanies. (prompt number 2, Advice for Others)
- Blogging late at night will affect your sex life. The supportive husband who first flattered you by reading your blog posts, asked what you wrote each day, and congratulated you when you had your first 100 hits, will quickly disappear if he constantly goes to bed by himself. In other words, don’t let blogging become more important than the very things that probably inspired you to blog in the first place – your family. Not only will they start to resent “the blog” (not to be confused with “the blob”, although it may feel like it is sucking you under at times) but you will start resenting what used to bring you joy too.
- Blogging may make your butt look big. My assets are directly proportional to the number of blog posts I have written this year. I developed tunnel vision, forgot how to manage personal time, lost hours either writing, reading, or commenting on blogs. There is a life outside of blogging, and I don’t mean a virtual life. You still have to take care of you, so make time for it without the guilt. Read a good book, go the gym, take a walk or have a meal with a friend you haven’t seen in a while. Besides, the more you venture outside the same four walls, the more opportunities to uncover great blog inspiration.
- Blogging might cause you to lose friends. Blog with integrity, people. Write from the heart, be as honest as you feel comfortable, air your own dirty laundry if you want, but never air someone else’s (even if you were some how in the mix). Embarrassing friends and family in a way that is disrespectful or demeaning is never okay. Sure, I could write for days about all the reasons why my first marriage didn’t work, but that would be reckless and damaging. Yes, it’s a part of my history, but it’s not mine to share. I have to be more interesting than the mistakes of others.
- Blogging will require you to be reptilian. There will be times you get your feelings hurt by either mean comments, lack of comments, or rejections. Technology and social media might make your head spin so fast you feel like you’re on a never-ending merry-go-round. You will have to learn how to shed your skin and move on, toughen up a little, because the triumphs far out way the frustrations.
- Blogging will not make your life more interesting. When I started this blog 18 months ago, I was convinced great ideas would flow freely. My children and husband would surely give me inspiration daily. The first few weeks were a breeze, but then suddenly, I realized there just wasn’t that much to say about scrubbing toilets and folding laundry. I needed to pay more attention to the little things, take a look at my life from a writer’s perspective, and participate in writing communities that would nurture my creativity.
- Reading other people’s blogs will make you a better writer. The more blogs I read, the more I realize what I like to read, which transforms how I write for others to read. I found myself skimming longer posts for the main idea – so I started to write shorter posts. I struggled to connect with blogs that didn’t give enough detail or description but read more like a news commentary – so I started using more imagery and conversation. I loved reading blogs that helped me see the author as a whole – so I started to focus more on personal experiences to “show” rather than “tell” my audience who I am. Surround yourself in the talent that you want to achieve.
- Blogging requires you to write. Shocking, I know, but you do actually have to write consistently for this blogging thing to work. Unless you really are writing it as an on-line journal for your own personal enjoyment, then by all means, write as sporadically as you want.
- Not everything you write will be good, some of it will be crap. Refer back to #7, please. My biggest frustration is not feeling brilliant every time I sit down to write. There are a lot of posts I read later and say, “What the hell was I thinking?” However, because I try to write every day, there are more opportunities for personal excellence. Like all things in life, the more you do it, the better you get.
- Blogging will not make you rich, in fact, it might cost you some money. People who think bloggers are sitting around in their pajamas collecting advertising dollars, free products and trips, being sought after for speaking engagements or publishing opportunities are obviously totally high. (okay, well, I actually do sit in my pajamas often. That part is true.) You have to write a blog for the love of writing and a desire to reach out to a community or else, don’t bother. You will be disappointed. And don’t be afraid to spend a few dollars for things like logos, mast-heads or self-hosted sites (I’m still dragging my feet on that one) because they only make your blogging experience more enjoyable.
- Blogging will boost your self-esteem. It has been sort of a domino effect. Before blogging I felt lost and lonely. Now I feel like I have another purpose. I have a community of friends that understand me on a very personal level as a parent and wife, but also as a writer. If you had asked me 18 months ago what I do, my response would have been, “I’m a stay at home mom” now I boldly say, “I’m a freelance writer and blogger”. The greater your self-esteem the more important you feel, catapulting you further in the direction you want to go. Want to be a public speaker? Want to get paid to write? Want to start an after school writing program? Want to start your own business? All of these things are possible when you believe in your ability.
I am excited to read more insight from all the bloggers participating in the #SummerBlogSocial, and will hopefully implement many of their great ideas.
What blogging epiphanies have you had?