“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!