I wrote my first blog post on July 1st, 2014. A little over a year later, I’ve found my writing style has slightly changed, my blog topics are somewhat all over the place, and I haven’t been getting the response I imagined. I’ve read articles that tell me, “Don’t expect your blog to go viral overnight,” which I didn’t expect or really care to do. I just wanted to make an impact in one form or another.
Here’s what I’ve taken away from this past year:
It’s not #allaboutme.
It’s easy to confuse blogging with journaling. But c’mon, who wants to read about your life unless you’re James Franco? People want to read about things that will better their lives, and if you can’t offer that, they’re onto the next thing. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t weave your life experiences into your blog. It will offer that sense of humanness most will appreciate. People like when you act like a real person, so keep it real.
Experiment with different topics (but don’t get crazy.)
I had no clue what I was going to focus my blog around. Marketing? Advertising? My generation? Traveling? Music? I did a little of everything, which is cool when you’re first starting out. However, it won’t drive the specific audience you might expect. Brainstorm by jotting down all the possible blog posts you could create from that topic. Research what other bloggers write about. You’ll get a good feel of what you’re passionate about which make what you write about easier to decide.
No one likes getting ignored, whether it’s through text, email, social media, whatever. If you’re going to blog and want people to read your posts, be kind and reply back! It’s that simple. Your readers will appreciate your thoughtfulness just by acknowledging their opinions. It’s important to create a deeper relationship with your readers that will keep them coming back to your blog.
Put yourself out there.
Blogging should be about taking a few risks. Imagine having an idea that can flourish with the help of sharing with others your collective thoughts. It can be difficult to decide just how far to go, but don’t stress out! Experiment with topics you have a strong opinion for, but be sure to provide opportunity for both sides of the story to be told.
Update/write often – practice makes (almost) perfect.
I’m guilty of not doing this enough. It’s easy to blame life for getting in the way to not put time aside for yourself, but that’s also not healthy. I started out with a goal of writing one blog post per week and stuck to it for the most part, but slowly strayed. Set reminders for yourself on your phone. Write a Post-it note and stick it on your mirror. Put a journal next to your bed and write every night. Not only is writing a stress-reliever, but it puts life in a different perspective.
Writing a lot also perfects your style and improves your grammar. It’s just like playing a sport or practicing your scales on the piano. Practice makes (almost) perfect.
Read. A lot.
I got this piece of advice from a journalism professor I had at Fresno State (shout out to Gary Rice!) We were required to read one book (Wild by Cheryl Strayed) the local newspaper everyday, and news articles online. His point was to show us that reading other people’s work would reflect in our writing. In this day and age, we read a lot, (think Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo News) but the key is to read well-written material that rubs off into your own writing. One of my favorite books is Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, a novel about a young Hawaiian girl with leprosy that finds her way through life with the help of other leprosy patients after being shunned by her family. Brennert uses beautiful descriptions of the island and characters to make this book come to life. I believe it played a part in making my writing more vivid and charismatic.
What blogging lessons have you learned? Sharing is welcomed!