My last post was my 200th on this blog, and here I am still at it. In this post I wanted to write about a few of the things I’ve learned since beginning blogging three years ago. Three years and 200 posts isn’t all that long and I am certainly no expert, but this list may help those who are just starting out. All these are still things I need to be reminded of when I feel unsure and stuck, which still happens a whole lot.
Commenting with grace on other people’s blogs: This is how you build reciprocal relationships and find common interests. It is a wonderful way to find inspiration for your own posts. Only write positive comments. I say this because it is so easy to be misunderstood. Without the benefit of tone and facial features, comments can be taken to be more hostile than you intended. It is entirely possible to put across your differing point of view in a positive way without being rude and stirring up conflict. I admit to having been guilty of this in the past – we do so like to be right – don’t we?
Commenting with grace on your own blog: If someone came up to you in every day life and praised your latest piece of writing, would you turn away and ignore them? Would you just smile and walk off? If you have a busy blog, it may not be possible to respond to every comment, but your readers will want to see that you have at least tried to make the effort. If you have few commenters, it would be wise to reply to them all. On the other hand, if someone makes a comment that upsets you or is downright rude, have no qualms about deleting it. If it is a comment that is merely annoying then feel free to ignore it. Responding in the heat of the moment can often leave you regretting your words… I speak from sore experience. Take a grace period and think about how best to deal with it.
Ignore your follower numbers: Just that!
Keep posting and confidence and topics will come easier with time: Over the years I have struggled to find that elusive ‘focus’ for my blog and have posted about all kinds of things. Maybe I will eventually settle onto just one topic, maybe not. What matters is to be brave and keep posting. Let your interests guide your way, and the way will become clearer as you progress.
Don’t spread yourself too thin: You don’t need every social media account to have a worthwhile blog. What matters is creating worthwhile content and interacting with your readers, so put those first. The more time you give to your life away from the Internet, the easier it will be for you to write interesting stuff on it.
Find your own way: There are a billion posts giving advice about blogging (just as this one is); take what you need and ignore the rest. Your unique approach to life and writing is what readers want to read. Don’t compromise this for popularity. I’ve seen too many blogs change from personal and unique, to popular carbon copies of a thousand others. Yes, the blogs that write template posts with perfectly pin-able images will get more followers – but take a closer look at their comments section – is there real human interaction or a whole lot of attention seeking and advertising? What kind of interaction do you want on your blog?
Set a schedule: It doesn’t have to be carved in stone, but a regular schedule of posting will help you immeasurably. If you make an intention to post once, twice, three times or more every week, and build it into a habit, you will find that your brain works unconsciously to find material to post about.
Don’t make blogging harder or more important than it is: RELAX! (ha, need to tell myself this every day) Life is full of uncertainty. I am most wary of those blogs where everything seems to be worked out, where the writer is an ‘expert’. We all know that life is not like that. Life changes direction in an instant, some days we are wobbly and unsure, some days we think we are on top of it all. Both are valid. So my favourite blogs are full of both… a little wisdom, a little uncertainty, a little imagination, a lot of real.
It is not necessary to criticise the way other people do things: Whether that be the way they live or what they write, even if you strongly disagree. This is a personal preference. I want to read blogs where we help each other not tear each other down.
“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” ~ Socrates.
We all have our flaws; a single ill-thought comment could destroy a person’s confidence forever.
You don’t have to share everything: I recently read an article about sharing opinions. Just because you didn’t post about the latest news headline doesn’t mean you don’t care and doesn’t mean you haven’t taken action behind the scenes. Everyone is making a contribution in their own way though it may not be visible online. Lamenting the fact that you are the only person that seems to care about this, that, or the other, is narcissism. You can’t see inside people’s hearts, or know what they do away from their computer screen.
Maybe we can try to think the best of others and still share what we believe and how we like to do things on our blogs. As a caveat, I do think it is important to share at least some personal details, otherwise there is a feeling that the writer is hiding something and we may distrust them. As a reader we can understand a writer not wanting to talk at length about their children or very personal subjects, but a balance is important. We can share just a small portion of our lives here on the Internet and that is okay.
Connecting with the everyday: For a long while I wondered what it is that brings me back to a blog. There are several that I have read for years, and some I have read a little and left and later returned. Asking the question of what most attracts us to a blog will help us find our way to our own blogging style. I read blogs about all kinds of things – nature, gardening, art, craft, writing, knitting, daily life, cooking, books. I love writers who share titbits of their own personal life – their unique perspective of the world shines through their writing. I love to read about bloggers who are making a difference without pretending to be an expert or criticising the failings of others. These people inspire me to live a deeper more creative life and find a small way to make a difference myself. It has nothing to do with ‘niche’ or professional looking photographs. Though the way a blog looks is important, more than anything, it is authenticity that counts.
These are just my personal findings – your experience may be completely different. For me, blogging is a continual process of discovery – of how I understand myself and the world around me. It is an ongoing process, and it is fascinating to look back and see how much you learn and grow over the years. I am sure I will learn so much more in the years to come. I would love to know what you have learned about blogging, and what you personally look for in a blog?