I, like many of us, started blogging in the magical world of Livejournal and Xanga, offering up to the mystical world of the internet my adolescent musings and pubescent tales of love and embarrassment (often the latter). I have always loved writing, and even though the idea of putting my own words out there for just anyone to stumble upon terrifies me if I think about it too much, I’m still obsessed. For better or for worse, writing–blogging, especially–is one of my favorite things. It’s like Walter White says:
After the Xanga/Livejournal fad died out, I piddled around with the idea of having my own blog for a long time, and I even kicked off a few blogs that died incredibly quickly. Then one day I decided to really, really focus and make a blog–called Distracted Blogger, just in case I became too distracted to care for it. While it did undergo a major theme change at the start, I never abandoned it–I mean, obviously.
It didn’t take me long to realize how ridiculously steep the blogging learning curve is. Blogging is a weird world, and what works for one person might not work for you. So while there is no magical formula for making your blog successful (mostly because what a “successful” blog looks like is very different for each blogger), there are some things I wish I heard when I was kicking off my journey into blogging. I’m far from an expert, but like I said, the learning curve in blogging is ridiculously steep, so you learn a lot very quickly. Here are some of those things I learned, that I wish someone had told me when I started:
Blogging is harder than you’d think, and that’s okay.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
It doesn’t seem like it should be a challenge to fill up a blog post with words on your favorite things, but it totally can be. Sure, maybe you manage to write a post about missing out on San Diego Comic Con that you completely love, but then a year goes by and you find yourself missing out on the con again. What do you do now? How many times can you write about a convention? How many different ways can you discuss your favorite TV show? Finding content ideas, new things to say, and a good way to convey those ideas can be hard. Finding your writing voice is hard, too. It’s okay if you have to flail around a bit before you nail it down.
Sometimes the best way to overcome a block is to just write–even write badly…
Not sure what you want to do next on your blog? That’s what draft posts are for, baby. Just grab hold to an idea–however weak that idea may be–and write through it. It might suck a little, but really shine after a good edit. It might suck a lot, and you might have to kill it with fire. But remembering that you don’t have to publish everything you write can take the pressure off, and give you freedom to explore ideas and techniques.
…and sometimes you need to just step back.
While there are some blocks that you just need to push and write through, don’t be afraid to just turn everything off for a bit to recharge. Unless blogging is actually paying your bills (and if so–teach me your ways), running a blog should be, first and foremost, fun. If it becomes a chore, give yourself a little grace and take a break. You can re-run some of your favorite older posts, ask others to guest for you, or just go on radio silence while you recharge; whatever works best for you.
Keeping a schedule–whatever that looks like for you–can help you keep sane.
Personally, I have an 8-5 office job, I take ballet class twice a week, and I have a church obligation on Monday nights. That means my only free night during the week is on Wednesday nights. So with all of that plus running my own blog and guest posting on other sites? I often feel like this:
When the weekends finally roll around, I really, really try to commit to getting my blog set for the week to come. However, that doesn’t always happen. While pinning down a specific, recurring time in my week to work on my blog doesn’t work for me, I’ve found is keeping a planner really helps me keep my blogging ducks in a row. Maybe you can’t get yourself to wake up an hour earlier each day to do blog work, and maybe you can’t say that 5-6 every night is “blog time”. However, figuring out a way to keep your post ideas, some sort of an editorial calendar, and any due dates straight in your head is key to keeping your sanity and making sure you don’t feel like things are spinning out of control.
Experiment with monetizing.
Making any real money blogging is a tough nut to crack. Apart from finding a paying gig for your writing work, it’s hard to figure out the best ways to make your blog earn money. Try out different monetizing strategies, and see what works for you. Chances are you won’t be able to find anything truly lucrative for a while, and you may never. However, it’s worth experimenting with. If anything else, you could find a way to add a few bucks to your monthly income, which is always nice.
Don’t go it alone.
To get the most out of blogging, you need to find friends online. Whether you join an online group (like the Female Geek Bloggers G+ group I’m a part of) or reach out to people on social media, it’s important to network and make friends. They can help you hash out ideas, you can bounce questions off of them, and your new online friends can help you as you network. When I began blogging, I set a personal goal to someday write for Geek & Sundry. Happily, I’ve been able to land that gig, and the only reason that was possible is because of friends and connections I made through the FGB group. Even if online connections don’t land you a job, give you sage advice, or help you grow your site, blogging can be a very isolating activity, so reaching out to others online–however online friendship works for you–can help you feel less isolated and alone.
What are some things you’ve learned from blogging? What kind of advice do you offer to new bloggers? Let’s talk about it in the comments!