Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ten Things I've Learned About Blogging

Welcome to another Ten Things Thursday at Saturday Sequins! It's been awhile since I did one of these.

Today I'd like to discuss the ten most important things I've learned about blogging. Things that have helped me make genuine friendships, create content I'm happy with, and have fun as a blogger, in general.

So without further ado...


1.) Take all blogging advice with a grain of salt. Yes, even my advice. There's a lot of blogging advice out there. Some of it will resonate with you, and some of it will leave a bad taste in your mouth. Be choosy.

The thing is? Blogging is like any other art form. You learn so-called rules and techniques, but the more you experiment, the more you discover what works for you. Then you can choose which rules to follow, which to bend, and which to break.

For every successful blogger who does X, there's another who does Y.


2.) Have fun. Keeping a blog can be a lot of work, so make it worth your while. Write the kind of blog you'd want to read!

  • Write about projects, causes, artists, and topics that excite you.
  • Share your favorite photos.
  • Choose a blog banner that makes you happy.
  • Make friends with people who inspire and entertain you.
  • Worry less about the image you present to the world, and more about having a fantastic time.
  • As you write, pretend (to yourself) that you're publishing your own little magazine, that you're teaching a class, that you're writing a private diary, or that you're a famous motivational speaker.

3.) Think Epic. One of my favorite pieces of blogging advice comes from ThinkTraffic, and it's this: Write Epic Sh*t.Link
Intimidating? A little, but epic can take many forms. An epic post can mean...


So come up with your own definition of epic and go from there!


4.) Controversy isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's one thing to write about an issue you're passionate about -- that falls solidly into the Epic category.

It's another thing to write something controversial for the sake of being controversial. For getting people riled up so they leave comments. I've seen so, so many sites that encourage people to take this route, but I've also noticed is that if it's not partnered with passion, and with compassion, the line between controversial and mean can blur.

I think it's also sensationalist like the headlines in a tabloid magazine, and just like the Enquirer, it isn't genuine. There are so many other ways to generate interest in a blog post -- like being insightful, helpful, candid, funny, informative, brave.

Note: this post on BoostBlogTraffic.com gives a great description of controversy done well.


5.) Don't be afraid to set boundaries! Speaking of being genuine, I honestly believe that blogging is more fun for you, and your reader, if you put yourself -- your history, your personality, your quirks -- into your writing.

But! It's up to you how much of yourself you share. We all have things we'd rather keep to ourselves, and we have a right to these things, and to our privacy. Exercising this right does NOT make us dishonest, withholding, or untrustworthy. It just means that we know how far our comfort zone stretches. Some zones are more elastic than others, and there's room for all of our rubber bands in the blogging world.


6.) It's about us.

One thing I hear a lot is that blogging is never about you -- it's all about your reader. That people don't care about you, so much as they care about what you can do to
help and entertain them.

Well, I agree that readers are very, very important to a blog. I also enjoy helping, inspiring and entertaining all of you in those moments where I get it right. But. I look at blogging as being about us, not you or me. The way we spend time together.

Also? Maybe I happen to know the best people in the world -- I'm open to the idea -- but I don't believe readers care nothing about an author. Some of the most amazing interactions I've seen have happened when a blogger has reached out to her audience for help. I've also seen posts where an author has invited readers to share their own troubles, and deep conversations have resulted.

The common thread? Author-reader interaction.


7.) Try new things! Especially in the beginning, it's fun to experiment with....

  • Post topics.
  • Post lengths.
  • Weekly features.
  • Fonts.
  • Post formats -- interviews, polls, lists, embedded videos, contests.
  • Photo placement.
  • Blog banners.
  • Writing style.

As you play around, you'll see what you're comfortable with and what readers respond to. You'll grow as a blogger and artist in the progress. Also, you'll avoid the dreaded Blogger's Burnout.


8.) Want to make friends? Make meaningful blog comments. This is one I'm still struggling with as an introvert and an occasionally shy person, but I've found that the best way to convince new people to interact with you is to give them a sample of who you are before they even get to your blog. There's no better way than to say genuine, and meaningful, things.

I have a post devoted to commenting in the works, and I'll go into more detail there. For now, I'll say that you can make a meaningful connection by...

  • Asking questions
  • Giving specific compliments.
  • Sharing resources.
  • Sharing personal anecdotes.
  • Promoting related posts by friends.
  • Responding to previous comments.

9.) Read blogs in your field... but also stretch.
I have a jewelry blog. I read a lot of other jewelry blogs, but since the beginning, I've included blogs about creativity, painting, business, blogging, DIY fashion, and fiber arts on my list. It's helped me meet new people and consider new techniques, but there's also a lot of overlap that I find fun and interesting. We all get blocked. We all experience burnout. We all wonder if we're "good enough."

As soon as we realize this, we begin to feel less alone, and we can help others feel less alone. That's a nice goal, isn't it?


10.) You don't have to get it right the first time. Even if you read every article ever written about blogging, you'll still have to learn through trial and error. Through experience. That's just fine!

There are things I still struggle with. Many are things I've listed today! I'm sure I'll figure them out with time, and with patience. And if you struggle with certain areas, I know you'll figure them out, too. Just keep writing, keep learning, and wear your problem-solving hat.


Now it's your turn: What are your favorite blogging tips? Which ones do you struggle with?

Thanks for reading, thanks for commenting, and have a sequintastic day!

PS: Did you know that Lori Anderson is writing a book about creative blogging? Talk about an epic project!

19 comments:

  1. Hi Sarah!! I read all your posts but run out of time in a day for the responses that I so sadly lack. This is yet another great post :)

    I have no tips. When I started blogging, I just did it. I didn't read any tips or tutes, I just sat down and started writing and learned along the way. I don't even know that I ever planned to keep doing it. I think of it as a journal, more or less, in which interested people are free to read. I probably should follow a few "rules", though. Like the daily meme thing (I don't even know if that's the right way to say it! LOL!)

    You have a really great blog, Sarah! I really enjoy it... and the eye candy. :)

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  2. Hey, Tela!

    I know what you mean. There are only so many hours in a day.

    (Also, am I the only one who sometimes crafts a post comment in her head and forgets to actually write it? I do this all the time!)

    I like that you did it all by yourself without reading any advice. I read so much blogging advice, and it can sometimes get in the way! Which is why I'm learning to filter out the bad stuff.

    Thanks! <3

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  3. Great post. It's gotta be fun, it's gotta be entertaining, meeting new virtual pals and exploring new avenues to open your eyes to the big picture around you. Thanks for sharing. xox Corrine

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  4. Sarah,
    Super interesting and educational post :)
    Greetings,
    -Eva Maria

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  5. Great post Sarah, you've obviously put a lot of thought into it and thank you for sharing with us as it must have taken you a long time to write too. You always ask questions that lead me to write ridiculously long comments lol so I'll say sorry in advance because this will probably be the same haha. I'm pretty much like Tela, I never really thought about blogging in terms of do's and donts - I think that may be because I approach everything a certain way already (ie, I will always live by the rule of treating others the way you wish to be treated & things like being genuine, never offensive & tolerant of others etc) so blogging just came under those rules also for me. Sometimes I find it really difficult to blog, I just cannot get the right words out, others it's an absolute breeze. Recently though I've stopped putting any pressure on myself to think 'oh it's been x amount of days I really must blog' and stopped apologising to my readers when it's been a week or something because i don't think they really want to read it, and nor do I think they care. I think anyone would prefer to read one good post, rather than 3 rubbish ones so I post as I feel now, without the guilt and I enjoy it soooooooo much more. So I guess that's my top tip, do as you feel because then you're bound to write better. Much love Jennibellie xx

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    1. Jenny, I always enjoy reading your comments!

      Very good blogging advice. I think that you and Tela are lucky that you haven't read a lot of blogging advice and that you're doing what comes naturally. I've learned a lot of great things from blogging advice posts, and I'm the kind of gal who likes to obsessively research things, but sometimes I feel b(l)ogged down.

      Also, I'm glad you've decided to not apologize. When you don't post for awhile, I miss you, but I always assume you're off doing awesome things. :)

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  6. Oooh!! I want a problem solving hat! That would come in handy ALL the time I bet. And I imagine yours has sequins and pretty little seed beads on it! :)

    I just love blogging, because I do it just for me, and write about whatever seems fun at the time. I think when I don't love it is when I am thinking about what other people are thinking about it! So my advice is to let it ride, be what it wants to be,...follow your blog (bliss?). :)

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    1. If I knew how to make hats, I would totally make a sequin problem-solving hat. With all kinds of advice sewn into the lining. :)

      Excellent advice, Annie!

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  7. Great post. As for number 6. I too must know the most fabulous people in the world because I have hundreds of readers who do care about me and I have made some amazing friendships. I have met many of my readers in real time too. I agree it is about "us"
    Nicole/Beadwright

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    1. Thanks, Nicole!

      I've definitely noticed that you have some awesome and caring people leaving comments on your blog. It makes me happy to read what they have to say, and I'm glad your blog has attracted such a great community! <3

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  8. Such a great post, Sarah! It's very thorough, with great ideas. Blogging, like any other art form, is full of rules to be made, broken and bent along the way. I think like many others, it's something I jumped into only intending to share with close friends, but I pushed myself and learned a lot in the process. Sometimes I get nervous thinking about what a commitment it is!

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    1. Thank you, Erin. <3

      You're doing great with your blog, and I'm glad you pushed yourself!

      It really is a huge time commitment, isn't it? I marvel at people who post every day.

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  9. Replies
    1. Thank you, Lori! I'd been working on this post for a few weeks, and when I found that you were launching a blogging book, I thought it was perfect timing -- to stop fussing with my post and help promote your book! :)

      (Because otherwise, I would have worked on it for a month, just like the bead embroidery post.)

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  10. Excellent post with some wonderful ideas- I am not the most dedicated blogger- I write a couple or three long posts in a month. I have added more photos and try to pose questions to those who might read my blog.
    Thanks for sharing some excellent ideas - I know that I am going to come back and read your posts again.
    Warmest regards,
    Anna

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    1. I'm glad you liked it, Anna! Even if you don't post all that regularly, you're doing the right things asking questions of your readers -- people are happy when you invite them to participate. :)

      I'm glad you'll be back! Since you quilt, I recommend the Shirlee Fassell post and the Bead Embroidery Resources post, since they both show some gorgeous fabric work.

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  11. thanks for the nice blog. and i am glad to come here

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