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.
Intimidating? A little, but epic can take many forms. An epic post can mean...
- A description, or photo, of work that stretches your creative boundaries.
- A mistake you made -- and what you learned from it.
- A confession.
- Words of encouragement and inspiration.
- A hilarious or heartbreaking story from your past.
- A goal that scares you.
- An obstacle you're overcoming.
- Scenes from a life that's lived with joy and intention.
- Lots of information on a topic, all in one convenient spot.
- A tutorial that covers a new technique or explains an old technique in a new way.
- A fresh perspective on a commonly-discussed topic.
- An awesome, brilliant idea or solution to a problem.
- About a million other things.
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.
- 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!