This whole “blogging” thing – let’s chat about it.
I remember the first time I decided to start my blog. I thought about it for a while…posted something…then didn’t actually tell anyone that it existed for a long, long time. Then one night the perfectionist in me had a second glass of wine…a ‘lil liquid confidence…and then I did it. I finally made my blog “Facebook official” and invited anyone to follow along as I shared my little corner of the world.
I was terrified.
I still remember hovering over the “Post” button on my status to share the link. I’ll admit it – I was scared of what people would think. What exactly was I doing? Writing about how to make chicken soup? About the fact that Sean and I were engaged and we lived in a house with our dog…wooopdiedooo! Would anyone care? Was I being silly? Then, fully annoyed at my momentary lack of self confidence I decided to stop posing ridiculous questions to myself, took a sip of my wine, and hit “post.”
…then I hit refresh…
“Ohhhh! Someone liked it!” I said to myself. “Two..three..FOUR people like it!!” Then I switched tabs over to my WordPress statistics of blog-volume and how many views I got. “What’s up with the stats…OMG people are reading my post!?” I was excited (obviously), but still a little terrified. It was a classic reminder that I’m my own worst critic; the case for many of us, I imagine.
Blogging is such a fun, creative outlet. But what most readers/non-bloggers don’t know is that it can also be a little scary. You’re putting your own words out there for people to critique you. Not only can they judge you on that misspelled word or run-on sentence, but you welcome others to have an opinion about what you’re doing with your life.
Don’t let it get too heavy though, because, as many of you know, your biggest fears are often what propel you to greatness; to something you KNOW you can personally grow from with hard work, soulful dedication, and good ‘ol fashion patience. Everyone has something that humbles them; that challenges who they are and ultimately makes them stronger.
I’m curious…what’s yours? I’d love to hear about it. Is it that promotion for more money or a well recognized title that you aspire to reach in your career? Is it that presentation to 70+ people that you aim to perfect, and ultimately inspire your audience with? Is it that athletic goal of getting a P.R. on your next marathon? Or, maybe it’s the classic fear of breaking your habitual laziness and finally doing something about your ambitions to live a healthier life? We’ve all been there…heck…I’ll certainly raise my hand for some of those!
I can’t even begin to put into words how helpful writing has been for me to stay accountable, consistent with my goals, and aware of my weaknesses. It’s a recipe for success, really.
I’m no blogging expert yet, but I’m lucky enough to know now that I adore writing. I adore how it challenges and even surprises me. My friend Bridget (hey hey, fabulous lady!) recently asked me to write a post on my top 5 tips for new bloggers. Bridget – that meant the world to be asked! I can’t wait to follow along and be inspired through your words!
I hope these tips below help any of you who are interested in sharing your own voice, skills, and passions with the world through your writing. If you decide to create a blog, or already have one for me to follow, PLEASE let me know! I can’t wait to follow along your journey!
So…here’s what I’ve learned:
When I worked at George Mason University’s Admissions Office, we decided to start a student + staff blog. A member of the IT admissions team recommended using WordPress and showed me the basics to get started. I have to admit, it was a little overwhelming at first. There are tons of options which is GREAT now, but was hard to comprehend at first. I chose to stick with WordPress when I wanted to creative my own personal blog because I liked how it’s not just a community for bloggers – it’s also a strong community for writers and the whole literary world.
I slowly began to learn about “widgets” and how I could stream my tweets and Instagram photos along the side of my blog. I discovered the widget where I could have a countdown to my next big adventure or holiday. I learned that I could also showcase a text box where I then created my “Yay for the Day” section. It’s completely up to you! I’m sure other blogs do most of those things too…but I’m partial to the way I can manipulate WordPress look the way I want it to look.
As you discover which blog site to use, make sure that it can adapt to the changes you see yourself making overtime. I’ve been able to change my web address from newlie.wordpress.com, to newlieliving.com. I’ve changed the blog’s design from time to time. I’ve even changed my header to represent this little Southwestern stage in my life. I’ve had the freedom to make it my own and I love that! Find a domain that best suits you, but be sure to shop around first to confirm that it’s not only right for you now, but also for years from now.
This is usually what happens when I write a post…
An idea for a post! Type...type...type...type...add photos...type... Walk away for a bit. Edit what I wrote... Write more....type...type...type... Preview how it looks... Edit what else I wrote... Read it over again... Edit a little more... Tell myself I'm being a perfectionist... Find a misspelled word... Thank myself for being a perfectionist... Assign a "featured image" to represent the post... Add "tags" to get the post noticed in google searches... Assign the post to a "category" (i.e. food/fit/travels/etc.)... Breathe...hover over the "Publish" button... Smile. Hit it!
Notice something consistent? I edit often. I edit, walk away, edit, and edit again. This is not necessarily because I can be a perfectionist from time to time. Instead, it’s a lovely little education I give myself. I ask myself things like “does that make sense?” or “is that sentence redundant…and is it even necessary?” or “did I really evoke that feeling eloquently?” Sometimes I think I wrote a beautifully illustrated paragraph, and then I walk away for a few minutes to later return with fresh editing eyes. Then, many times I realize “……hah……yeah that sentence is terrible. I don’t even…uh…rewrite!” I learn SO much this way. So, allow yourself time for many edits.
Don’t you DARE hold back. If you’ve got a good story, recipe, or trick for repurposing an old antique abacus then you better tell the world! True, someone may find it to be uninteresting. That’s perfectly fine – they don’t have to read it. You can’t expect everyone to wanna read that you make a mean marinara sauce, but someone (yourself, your mother, and me at the very least!) will applaud your work and be inspired by it. The right audience’s interest will grow if you just give it time and have faith.
If I could say this a million times, I would:
As long as you have something positive to share then you will never know how inspirational your words will be to readers until you shatter your self-doubt and just SHARE it. Tell the world about it. When those few people do tell you how your post inspired them, it will make your day/week/year 🙂 I mean it! You’ll never forget it.
For those who do “like” or comment on my posts – it means the world to me.
I stopped writing for way too long at one point. I think it had been like 6 months or something. I didn’t really think my writing was making any kind of impact, and I just assumed that no one would notice or care that I had stopped. Well…overtime a few friends did notice and asked when I would be writing again. You should’ve seen my face. It was shocked! “You mean you actually liked it? You read my blog?”
Seeeee? Just give it faith, give it time, and keep sharing.
WordPress has two things that keep their bloggers’ literary inspiration fresh and fabulous:
- “Reader” – a news-feed of sorts where all of the WordPress blogs that you choose to follow will stream onto one page. It’s a great way to see what new post is up!
- “Freshly Pressed” – ladies and gentlemen…the day that my post gets “Freshly Pressed” is the day that drinks are on me. Kidding…I don’t have that kind of money…but it’s to that effect. It’s an HONOR to have your post Freshly Pressed. WordPress’ team hand picks their favorite posts each day and shares the best and brightest in a really awesome news-feed. It’ll also spike your stats of viewers and interest like crazy. As a new owner and freelance writer – that’d be pretty great to have that kind of interest in my little LLC!
So, between both of those little news-feeds you’ll have plenty of literary inspiration surrounding you…so READ! See what’s out there! Comment on others’ posts, follow their blogs, “like” their posts, and get inspired.
You never know – you may even make a new friend…
…’cause I totally did!!! It’s true. Shout out to the fabulous Coach Jessica Sprenkel!!! One day, before our big more out west, I decided to search for blogs on WordPress about Tulsa. So I literally just searched “Tulsa” in my Reader and came across her blog. After reading a post or two I learned that she was about to move to Tulsa only 2 months before me & Sean, so I commented, we kept in touch, and now we’re friends! She’s absolutely awesome, an inspiration for health and fitness, and you should follow her blog. If you ever need any recipe or workout advice, she’s your girl! Check it out: Coach Sprenkel.
5. Be Sensitive To Time
And more patience 🙂
Building a blog is like building a business that has NOT been snatched up by a member of The Shark Tank yet. You’re gonna have to give it some love, lots of attention, and precious time. It’s been 2 years since I finally made my blog public, and only a year and a half that I’ve really devoted attention to it. No…that’s not even true…I feel like it’s been a hobby of mine for a year and half and only just recently have I given it the true attention it deserves. It takes time.
Don’t get discouraged when you have like 3 followers on WordPress, and just 4 comments in like, 6 months. If you post consistently, you’ll be surprised by how your readership will grow and ultimately follow along. If you don’t post consistently (which has been my own fault in the past!) well then, they’ll pretty much stop hoping for a post to come along!
Try to blog once a month at first, then maybe move to twice a month. Are you not too bogged down with work/life? Great! Keep up the great writing by stepping it up to once a week or even twice a week.
Your writing skills, your readers, and your heart will thank you!
Happy blogging, friends!