so you wanna start a blog, eh?
well…i’ve been blogging for four years now. and although i would not consider myself an expert by any stretch, i’ve learned a thing or twelve about putting oneself out here on the interwebs for all the world to see. so i thought i might share some of my best blogging advice.
before i get started though, i want to say this. i am a not-for-profit blogger. ok sure i’ve got a blogher ad running over there on the right hand side…but with the money i’ve made from that, i might be able to treat us to a couple of grande mocha frappucinos. so if you’re here reading this blog post looking for tips on how to quit your day job to stay home and blog. or looking for tips on SEO and marketing/branding. or how to create viral content that’s going to get pinned zillion times on pinterest or wind up in somebody’s facebook feed….well this post won’t be of much use to you. sorry.
but, if what you want from blogging is a gratifying experience. a place to express yourself. a place to share your pictures and story. a connection to other like-minded bloggers… well then i have a few thoughts that might help you on that journey. so let’s get started shall we?
1) write the blog that you want to read. i can’t stress this enough. you have to write for yourself. i sort of think of this space as, in the words of jean fleming in pursue the intentional life, my ‘old woman file’…. a collection of thoughts and stories that help me to make sense of my life. honestly, i could never have imagined how incredibly cathartic it would become to express myself in this way.
2) don’t worry about what others think. this is sort of a complement to #1. but here’s the thing, some people are going to get what you have to say and some aren’t. if you are writing from the heart as authentically as possible, that’s all that matters. oh believe me, it totally sucks when share something that is really personal and all the sudden you lose five blog subscribers at once. yeah…that happened to me. and it made me question everything about why i started a blog in the first place. but what it comes back to is a place for me to share my thoughts and my stories. so…my advice to you is, in the words of the indomitable taylor swift, shake it off.
#bloggersgonnablog #ohyeahiwentthere #mydaughteriscringingrightnow
3) don’t be afraid to blog about the weather. so if you’re just getting started on your blog, you might be thinking to yourself, “what in the world am i going to blog about?” and i totally get it. four years of blog posts later…and i’ve blogged about everything from clean sheets to the meaning of life. and it’s all good. because once you have a certain amount of content under your belt you’ll start to make connections about your life. you’ll start to understand yourself better. and the best part… you’ll see the magic in your most ordinary days.
4) buy a notebook. here’s the deal, once you open yourself to this kind of expression, get ready. because before you know it, your creative mojo is going to start bubbling up. you’ll be sitting at your desk at your ‘real job’ and all the sudden you’re going to have a great idea for a blog post about blog advice. or you’ll go for a run and come back with a million ideas for your blog. so keep your notebook close by for those occasions. trust me on this.
5) give yourself room to grow. like i said before, in the past four years i’ve blogged about a lot of different things. but that being said, there are also many themes that recur in my own life. sort of like the seasons, a cyclical nature to things. and what’s interesting is that even though summer still looks like summer, the thing that changes is me. each year as i’ve grown and evolved, my writing has grown and evolved, and perhaps more importantly, the way i see things has grown and evolved. seeing the same old life through new eyes has profoundly changed me and i have blogging to thank for that.
6) there is nothing new under the sun. it’s true, there is probably nothing you have to say that hasn’t already been said before. but it doesn’t matter…you need to say it anyway. i will tell you that this concept, while on the outside it might seem a bit defeating, it’s actually so liberating. it takes all the pressure off trying to be original which was something that i really worried about in the beginning… how to tell my story in a new way. but then i discovered this quote by c.s. lewis:
even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
see? completely liberating! so just tell your story…be honest, be ethical. but tell your story because the world needs it.
7) play nice. so my guess is that if you have the desire to start a blog, you’re probably also a fan of reading blogs. and as austin kleon suggests in his book steal like an artist, as bloggers (artists), we gather inspiration from a variety of sources…including each other. but i would also like to offer this – if you happen to come across a particular blog post that really speaks to you. that really touches your heart in some way. that inspires you to write something of your own… i think it’s always a nice gesture to give a little nod to that original post in your own post (or even better, leave that person a little blog love). because as bloggers, we’re all just out here to trying make sense of our lives. share our art. spread some light. and to know that something we wrote connected with someone else…well that’s an awesome feeling.
8) embrace imperfection. as bloggers we have to be careful. because if the only thing we ever blog about is all the good stuff, the pretty stuff, then it can sometimes appear from outside that we lead these beautiful, perfect lives. a life where everyone is happy and all our clothes are folded and neatly put away and our litter box empties itself. which is not at all how my life is anyway. so don’t be afraid to share your struggles (to the degree you feel comfortable)…because so often, that’s where grace lives.
9) blogging is not dead. i read an article recently that said something along the lines of how instagram was chipping away at the traditional blog platforms (blogger, wordpress, typepad). and to some degree i get it. i share a good bit of my life on instagram. but i am going to say it again and declare right now that blogging is not dead.
there is no way that i could have put this all into an instagram post. there are things in life that need more than a snapshot and a quip. so if you feel compelled to blog about your life and your cat’s hairballs, and the changing of the leaves in the fall… then do that. please. tell the world about the time you discovered the light. then share it. because we need it. the world needs your light.
10) say thank you…often. once you’ve started blogging, it probably won’t be too long until people (other than your mom and your best friend) stumble across it. and pretty soon, to your amazement, you’ll make friends and have a following of people who get you and what you have to say. and these lovely souls will not only get it, but sometimes they will leave you the kindest comments. just reach out to you and tell you that you’re doing a good job. or share with you that something you said made them see something in their own life. or that your words helped then in some way. this is the most wonderful feeling. but it’s also incredibly humbling. so never….never ever ever ever forget their kindness. and never, ever forget to say thank you.
so there you have…my ten best pieces of advice for new bloggers. and now i’m going to turn the comments over to my incredibly talented and generous blogging friends and let them share their blogging advice in the comments.
and one final note. thank you. thank you for reading my blog. that you for getting me. you have profoundly touched my life and my heart.