Friday, May 23, 2014

10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Blogging

1. Build Community. I had people comment on my posts in the early days that I didn't respond to for one reason or another. Those could have been my long-time blogging buddies by now. And I commented on a lot of "bigger" blogs, not realizing that those bloggers didn't have the time, even if they had the inclination, to respond to or encourage less known bloggers.

2. Aim for an Audience Outside of Family. I didn't start the blog to be private, family only updates but I also didn't make it easy for new readers - I assumed they knew who I was and where I was coming from.

3. Plan Ahead Instead of Reacting. My thought process in the early days went like this: "Oh such and such popular blog is hosting a link up on Friday? That one is hosting this other unrelated link-up on Wednesday? Hurry, create something that fits!" I felt like my content needed to match the link-ups I knew about. I squeezed my writing into boxes created by other bloggers.

4. Finding Your Own Voice Takes Longer Than You Think. My first posts, when I re-read them now, I can almost tell which "Big" (or at least "Bigger") blogger I had been reading before I wrote because I'm a mimic (even in real life). Developing my own authorial voice was not a natural thing.

5. Take More Pictures. Excuse time: I didn't have a good camera and I didn't know how to use any photo editing software. Consequently, pictures are few and far between (and tiny!) in many posts. Even now, I'm a beginner in this whole "take a picture, make a graphic" thing, but I'm enjoying learning about it. Just because words are my favorite medium doesn't mean I should just forget about photos, graphics, etc.

6. Leave Politics Alone. I used to love talking about politics. I read The Corner (National Review) and bloggers like Karen Braun (Spunky Homeschool) and I thought I could do that too. Turns out: I can't. I don't have thick enough skin and there are so many other things I'd rather talk about in this space. And I don't like scaring off my potential friends and readers by promoting one politician over another. I have opinions (STRONG ones!) about politics, but as a general rule, this blog is not really where I prefer to discuss them. (A few opinions and links do slip through. Hey, I promised to be Candid. It's right there in the title!)

7. Be Consistent. I still struggle with this. When I look through my old posts I see far too many, "Don't really have much to blog about, be back soon," kind of posts. Maybe I was busy, maybe I was just tired, maybe I should have taken a meaningful break. I try to be more direct about that these days. I'm also experimenting with posting every day (except Sunday). It's been a challenge but writing begets writing, ideas inspire yet more ideas, and creativity spurs further creativity. Now I have a notebook of ideas and I need to find time to finesse them into actual posts. This is a fun problem to have.

8. Learn to Promote Without Feeling Manipulative. I struggle with this. I have trouble saying, "Hey, I wrote this. Please read it!" I resisted Google Plus and I still haven't figured out my Facebook page. But self-promotion isn't always wrong and I'm working through the mental blocks I have against it. (I'm an Introvert. It goes against everything in me to say, "Hey! Look at me!")

9. Be Cheerful and Encouraging. In the early years (and, OK, longer than that) my posts were a lot of venting. I stay at home, homeschooling my children. My husband is sometimes the only other adult I see within the span of days. I didn't have a lot of outlets and writing has - ever since I could hold a pencil - always been how I process feelings and events. But reading through those posts now, they just sound whiny and negative to me. Yuck. No one likes a champion complainer and I certainly don't want to be one. Does that mean I'll never write another "venting" post again? Probably not. But I want to proportion to be right.

10. Keep Stretching. I don't have hundreds of followers or thousands of hits a day. I'm not making any money (other than some Amazon affiliate money once a year or so, which just about pays for my hosting fees). But that's OK. I can produce posts I'm pleased to call my own. I can enjoy the online friendships that have grown. I can stop comparing myself to the big fish in the pond and just be happy to be swimming here. I can learn new blogging skills. (How to write an eBook or make printables, any one?)

Here are some posts about blogging that have encouraged or inspired me:
What about you? What do you wish you had known when you started your blog?
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I promise to be candid and you can be too. Blogging is best when it's a conversation. Thanks for taking the time to read this post and respond. I enjoy hearing what you have to say.

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