I’m not an expert. I’m a highly distractable, over-wrought moron who has written a blog for a couple of years. You can read my full disclaimer and my checklist for whether or not you should start blogging right here. The purpose of the last post was to help folks figure out if they SHOULD start a blog. The purpose of this post is to help people new to blogging avoid some of the same mistakes I made right out of the gate.
No one cares about your blog (as much as you do). I won’t go so far as to say that no one cares, some people care. But it’s your baby. In fact, it’s a lot like having a new baby. People quickly get tired of hearing about how many diapers got wet and that cute thing she did in her high chair, especially people without kids (or in this case – blogs). So try and keep discussions about your blog to a minimum so you don’t burn them out. Maybe pick one person who is also really into what you’re doing (or is also a blogger) and you guys can chatter away all you want. My husband was really supportive, but he quickly got tired of me asking him to proof read things and sigh over the fact that two new people liked me on Facebook today! And I don’t even know them! Eeeeeeee!!!!
Know who you’re writing for. I believe that the primary audience that I should write for is myself. If I wouldn’t want to read it and share it, then I don’t bother to publish it. One of the first things I wrote was a blog post called “Is This the Right Blog for You?”. I wrote it for two reasons:
- I wanted people who landed on my blog to know what it was about and what they could expect. If they didn’t like what they saw or if they were offended by certain language, it probably wasn’t a good fit for them.
- I wanted a place to come back to when I felt myself drifting or uncertain of what I was doing. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it. I’ve changed it slightly to reflect what I’ve learned and where I’m at – but the fundementals have stayed the same. It’s given me direction and a reminder of why I started blogging in the first place.
If you write something about someone, thinking they won’t know – THEY WILL KNOW. It happened to me. It happened to my friend Mommy Shorts. It happens to everyone. That’s how you piss off your real life friends and family. Maybe you think this is really obvious, but if you want to write about someone and you’re not 100% open about it – it can cost you. My biggest blog regrets all relate to this – trying to work through an issue with someone else by writing about it instead of dealing directly with them. It’s a dick move.
Write the best stuff you can, don’t worry so much about how often. This advice is pretty much the opposite of what I got when I was starting out. I used to think it was really important to post A LOT of stuff. I had strict deadlines of posting at least 5 days a week at the exact same time every day. If I had it to do over, I wouldn’t do that. I would have focused on fewer posts and better posts. I would rather have someone click over to my blog for the first time and only find good stuff. Maybe there will be less for them to read, but hopefully that will leave them wanting more.
Because let’s be honest, there are so many talented people out there blogging, it’s enough to make you want to curl up and go fetal. Or just give up. So just be yourself and write good stuff. Take some risks and be authentically you, even if its embarrassing or silly or scary. Your individual voice, experiences, and perspective is all that you have to differentiate you from the literally millions of other bloggers out there.
Please don’t let it take over your life. I’m a medium blogger (if that). I’m really, really lucky that I get paid to write. I am so grateful and astonished that anyone actually reads my stuff. I love blogging (even with all the negative stuff that sometimes comes with it). But it can take over your life a little bit. It’s like being a photographer, you stop really seeing the things around you because you’re always framing shots. I stopped experiencing life in the same way because I was mentally composing how I would write about it or weighing events to see if they were suitable fodder. I’m not proud of that.
Promoting your blog can become a full time job. Don’t let it. Just don’t. It’s very easy to allow social media and ad networks and affiliate programs and networking and commenting and guest posting and pitching ideas become all that you do. But know this: you can promote crap all day long. But why would you bother? If you’re lucky enough to get a new person to to click on your blog, give them something worth staying for. If you’re spending more time networking and promoting your work than actually writing blog posts, you need to stop that. See the graphic below – it’s pitiful but true. Choose the right two.
It’s just a blog, after all. Real life is a lot more important.