So, You Want To Start A Blog? REM Runner’s Guide to Reaching Blogosphere Nirvana

“Everything starts as somebody’s daydream.” – Larry Niven

Thinking about blogging? Start today. It’s a new year, after all! There’s no “right way” to blog, but I’ve listed the four things I most wish I’d known when I started two years ago.

1. Set moderate goals (i.e. – one post a month).   

Your blog is NOT a failure if you don’t post everyday or take a few months off.  Setting easily attainable goals (like once a month) will help you stay motivated to keep it up long-term. Ironically, your readers may like hearing from you less often – as it’s less daunting for them to keep up.

Summer 2010, I lacked inspiration. I wrote a few short posts, but nothing special. Had REM Runner died? A year and a half later, 134 posts, over 30,000 hits and 20,000 unique visitors later – I guess not!

2. Don’t worry about readership size or responsiveness – instant gratification isn’t always there. 

An amazing post idea strikes you. You rush to your computer and pour your heart out. You hit “publish” and wait… Wait for what? The world to stop and congratulate you, of course! You link to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – still, no comments, no thumbs-up, no re-tweets…

You cannot judge your post based on instant readership or responsiveness, blogging just doesn’t work like that.

I’m shocked when people tell me months or years later how much they loved a certain post or how much my blog means to them. You may never know the lives your blog will touch. Some folks just don’t think to tell you. Others hesitate to comment if they don’t know you personally (for the record, I love comments from all readers!).

Blogging is timeless. Individuals diagnosed with narcolepsy tomorrow can be inspired by what I wrote two years ago. Cool, right?

3. Find a theme that attracts a diverse audience.

My description states: “I will share some of my experiences as a person with narcolepsy, a runner, yogi and photographer…”   I can choose what I want to post about, depending on my mood. Also it attracts a wider audience – runners and yogis visit because of our commonalities, but end up learning about narcolepsy.

You create a niche area to call “your own,” so you won’t be the 1 millionth person blogging about celebrities, but the 1st person blogging about celebrities, racecars and celebrities who race cars (random example).

4. Most importantly: Blog for yourself. 

“I want to blog for my friends and family.”

When I hear this, I cringe. The bad news: blogs aren’t for everyone. Some people stalk them, others would rather be dropped in a shark tank than read a blog.  If your loved-ones are anything like mine – it will be a mixed crowd of blog-lovers and haters.

But it’s about me – they should be interested!” I know, but some won’t be, so the faster you can get over it, the better. Try not to take it personally: it’s not that they don’t like you – it’s that they don’t like blogs.

The good news: You will meet people who love your blog, but don’t hold your breath or force it. Vow to blog for yourself because you are interested in the topic and it makes you happy. 

I recently started a second blog. No one reads it. No. One. Regardless, I’m exploring new places in DC, taking photographs and learning tons.  Also, I took a photo for this blog that later won a competition. You never know where a blog may take you, but you have to start to find out!

Where to start? Inspiration for Posts:
1. Personal experience & writing prompts (set a 15-minute timer and use a prompt like : self-portrait, holidays, the new year’s resolution you didn’t keep, a piece of clothing you keep but no longer fits, a window, your hero, a meaningful conversation with a stranger, your first childhood memory)
2. News stories and google key-word alerts
3. Photos, videos and quotes – people love multimedia!
4. Highlight other bloggers, interview other people, invite guest bloggers5. Lists – your 5 favorite blogs, 5 favorite songs, 5 favorite quotes, 5 favorite people or places

These suggestions are from my “Writing and Blogging Roundtable” presentation, given at the NN Conference in October 2011. Please feel free to ask additional questions or post helpful tips as comments below. Happy blogging!


  1. saltgirl on January 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks, Julie, for the inspiration. I'm still working up to my blog. Happy New Year! Happy blogging!

  2. MmommaT on January 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm

    Wow, it's funny that you post this today, because, while searching for natural narcolepsy treatments (a most unsuccessful search), I stumbled across a slew of blogs–which goes to show how little "official" information there is about the topic in general. I was a self-proclaimed blog-hater until, well, this morning around 6 am. What I read was bits and pieces of experiences of narcoleptics of different ages and backgrounds and was hooked. While looking for something that I wanted, I found something that I needed: to hear the words of others dealing with what I do everyday… And so I was inspired to write. I started my blog almost immediately, excited to share. Thanks for the tips! I haven't published anything in a looong time, so this will make me feel like I'm putting my mark on the world, even if no one ends up reading or following… Happy blogging, indeed!

  3. Lelia on January 2, 2012 at 11:43 am


    You did indeed hit it on the nail. I found a few things that were, "wow ya that really would help" and "Yes, the sooner I get over it the better" I started my Blog a month ago today and have had 212 unique hits and even though some of the people I originally wanted to read it, havent, I have possibly helped 212 people just like me feel like they aren't alone. I use my blog for self reflection. This is how it was, or felt like, and though it was like that, or felt like that, I learned this. In other words, I try to find something positive about my experiences. It helps to keep me going. If I just focus on the negative, I become depressed and that's not how I want to feel and not what I want my readers to feel after they leave my blog.

    Now off to find some multi-media for my blog 🙂 Thanks Julie!!

  4. Gail on January 2, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing the blogging info. I do love your District of Sculpture blog! It amazes me how many fabulous sculptures we have in the Washington Area and you make them new to me. They come alive in my mind. Keep on blogging! We are reading and absorbing your gems of wisdom, the beauty around us and inspiration.
    Happy New Year of blogging!

  5. Denielle Nigretto on January 9, 2012 at 2:39 pm


    Hello Julie,

    For one, I was very happy to see your page in the magazine. I happened to stop off to get some lunch, and picked up the mag to bide myself some time…. and there it was.. wonderful in black and white… an article adressing Narcolepsy.

    I have had this since as far back as I can remember. I have dealt with hefty hallucinations, cataplexy while sleeping, light sleepwalking/talking, dozing off in an automobile while stressed… you get the picture.

    I have always been hesitent about talking about it. For one, I am concerned about having my license revoked, as well as the stigma… funny enough, for a long time I was more comfortable with people knowing I am a recovering addict, than knowing I have a severe sleep disorder.

    I have to say, I am not a big supporter of medication… I work on managing my stress levels, and getting to the root cause of the disease.

    I look forward to hearing from you. I am interested in getting involved with the WDC Narcolepsy group.

    Denielle Nigretto

    I have begun a blog concerning personal evolution… I'd love to add your site as a link, please check it out.

  6. rkmlai on January 11, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    Hello REMRunner,

    I appreciate your post. I appreciate the sharing of your perspective, as it has been what has been useful to you.

    I appreciate the suggestion to set moderate goals. I hear in that suggestion the permaculture principle "Start small". I also appreciate the suggestion to have a theme that attracts a diverse audience as increasing diversity is also a permaculture principle

    Sharing; as an architecture student of Wurster Hall, I do enjoy what I have seen of your pictures posted at


  7. Alanna on August 4, 2013 at 12:50 am

    I totally agree with your points! Writing for yourself is so important, and the lingering, unsatisfied craving for everybody and anybody to be reading it and loving it and telling the world about it loudly, can be a motivation killer. In the end writing is best when it isn’t affected by our need for affirmation.

    • julie on August 4, 2013 at 9:35 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment, Alanna! So true that our writing is best when not thinking about what others will think. 🙂 Much appreciated, Julie

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