Ever wish someone had told you how to get from Point A to Point B as a blogger? What to do and what to avoid? What works and what’s a waste of time?
I wish someone had told me some things when I first started blogging – shortly after the discovery of fire. After many, many fits and starts and enough mistakes and mis-steps to choke a camel, I’ve learned some essential blogging truths. Here are three:
Sometimes you don’t feel like writing. I can spend a whole afternoon puttering around doing absolutely nothing. Just to avoid writing. (This never lasts. I just threw it in to see if you’re paying attention.)
But sometimes the mere notion of sitting down and banging out something brilliant is as appealing as a slug. Like: I haven’t even started writing yet, and I’m already exhausted.
Sometimes writing is as attractive as a root canal sans Novocain. Or my mother in law. (Wait. Did I say that out loud?)
But you realize that blogging is about connections. You can’t connect without putting in the time and effort needed to write interesting, engaging content that matters to your audience.
Because the more you write, they better you’ll get at it. So write even if you don’t feel like it. Maybe especially if you don’t feel like it.
Your readers don’t really care about what matters to you. They care about what matters to them.
So how do you know what matters to your readers? Ask. That’s right. Ask.
Do a poll or a survey. Ask for comments and respond. Give your readers a chance to chime in on what matters to them. It may take some time. But they will.
Say It Again, Sam
Once you know what matters to your audience, you need to figure out how to say it so they’ll read it. And it resonates. So:
- Write like you talk. This doesn’t mean meandering or herky-jerky. Check your spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Just write like you’re sharing a cup of whatever over your kitchen table, not like a university prof who spends all day, every day cooped up in an ivory tower.
- Be available. Try to respond to as many comments or emails as you can, quickly.
- Be authentic. Don’t be afraid to share your story or show your scars. Be vulnerable.
This doesn’t mean sharing all the nitty-gritty of your personal life. Or running your dirty linen up the proverbial flag pole so the whole world can gawk. Puh-leeze!
Just be yourself. If you’re comfortable inside your own skin, your readers will feel comfortable, too. And keep coming back for more. That connection thing again.
Example: Awhile back I “applied” to be part of a “grow your blog” group hosted by a big-time Five Star Blogger. Let’s call him “StarDude.” StarDude neglected to mention that the privilege of being included in said group was based on numbers of followers, including Facebook and Twitter.
I was a newbie blogger. Just starting out. I had a small all but engaged following. Well. I didn’t “make the cut” as StarDude put it. My numbers weren’t good enough.
Ever felt like you’ve just been hit by a freight train?
There I was. A brand new blogger, trying to learn the ropes. Mr. StarDude dangled a lifeline allegedly designed to help newbie bloggers like me boost their readerships and improve their blogs. And I got shut out cuz my numbers weren’t good enough.
I’ve never forgotten that. That sense of rejection and inferiority stayed with me for a long time. Poured cold water on my blogging aspirations. Held me back.
It took a while and the gentle encouragement and support of some dear friends and family members until I was ready to venture out into the blogging world again.
But I did. This time I sought out blogging help and resources on my terms. I also decided not to care about a whole lot of stuff that used to matter. Like numbers.
Forget numbers. Because we need you. Not your stats.
We need your stories. Your voice. Your light in dark places, telling us how you lit a candle so we can share that spark. We need you to push us to ask questions. Dig deeper. Excel. Soar. Climb out of our blogging comfort zone so we can learn and grow together.
I know, I know. It’s hard. Demanding. Exhausting. It may feel like you’re whistling in the blogging wind. Is anyone listening? you wonder. Where are my readers? Does anyone care?
The answer is, Yes.
Blogging is hard work. It requires insight, sensitivity, growth, maturity and discipline. But if you keep at it, with patience and persistence, readers will find you. You’ll start connecting. Building your “tribe” of like-mindeds.
How do I know? Because it happened to me.
Once I stopped trying to parrot Mr. StarDude and started standing on my own two blogging feet, using my own voice, readers began to find me. Not a lot. Just drips and drabs. But the more I learned, studied, and reached out, the more people reached back. And slowly, this little bookish blog started growing. Organically. One authentic reader at a time.
And that, my friend, is worth far more than any accolades StarDude could ever offer.
So don’t despair, dear blogger. Remember our “three truths”:
- Write even when you don’t feel like it, because the more you write, the better you get at it.
- Readers don’t really care what matters to you. They care about what matters to them. Find a way to provide some ‘value-added’ to your blog by asking what they want.
- Forget numbers or stats. Be yourself, not someone else. Be patient and persistent. Don’t give up. If you build it, they will come.
So c’mon. You got this. Now GO!