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My cousin Katey — who is a certified Insanity instructor, fitness coach and goodness knows what other awesomeness — got in touch recently because she was planning to start a blog for her business. It was right at the end of my book deadline, so I didn’t have a lot to say, but in the meantime I’ve had a chance to think about it, and ask some of my awesome friends about it, and here’s what we all have to say to anyone starting a blog.
Know What You Want to Talk About
This one is from my friend Jacqueline, who more specifically said that you should pick three to five things you want to write about and focus on those things.
For my blog that’s things like crafting for kids and adults, writing/blogging tips, parenting/life reflections, and things that will make life happier and closer to the ideal you want.
For Katey, it’s maybe workout tips, diet/recipes and motivation. That doesn’t mean you can’t write about other things, but you should know going in more or less what you want to focus on.
Have a Schedule
I think a lot of bloggers start out thinking it will be easy to write every day. They think they have so much to say and they want to make a big splash.
The trouble is, that beginner enthusiasm can wear off pretty quickly, and you don’t want to get your readers used to a post every day or two and then suddenly disappear because you got burned out or busy.
The ideal schedule is going to be different for everyone, but you could start posting a couple of times a week and see how that goes. Write ahead and save things if you feel like writing more. Then if you get a huge backlog or find you really enjoy it, you can start publishing more often if you want.
Related, though, is to not beat yourself up if you miss a day you meant to blog. Or a week. Just get back into it where you left off. (Thanks, Jamie.)
Write Like You Talk
[Tweet “I’m a stickler for grammar and spelling and all of that, but please write like you talk. It’s more fun for everyone that way.”]
I consider myself a writer and I encourage bloggers to call themselves writers. But I know that doesn’t work for everyone. If you get hung up on school ideas of what writing is, that it has to be perfect all the time, and that fear keeps you from writing, feel free to ignore it.
Blogging at its best is a conversation. It’s a look into your life. It can and probably should be more like talking than school term paper writing.
I’m a stickler for grammar and spelling and all of that, but please write like you talk. It’s more fun for everyone that way.
And if you don’t believe me, take it from Debbie, a retired English teacher, who said your authentic voice is more important than grammar.
Try Not to Compare
It’s so hard, even for those of us who have been writing for a while, to resist the urge to compare our blogs with others. As time goes on you’ll make blogger friends and your mind will automatically go to things like she gets more comments or that person retweeted her post and not mine.
You need to resist that as much as possible. Because your blog is personal, it’s easy to take it personally when people aren’t commenting, or when they say mean things (Monica noted this).
Ignore the haters, obviously, but remember, too, that a lot of people are reading and not commenting. And as you write more and share more, more people will find and follow you. In the meantime, just keep doing the work, keep learning (Mel) and growth will come naturally.
Find a Community
No matter where you live there are other bloggers near you. If not in your city, at least in your state. And they probably crave connection just as much as you do. In Arkansas (and spreading to other states) we have Arkansas Women Bloggers, which is a great place to connect and learn. There’s a conference each year, and local bloggers in my area have a monthly meetup where we don’t really talk about blogging, but it’s nice to have that in common.
Knowing other bloggers is great when you have questions, but it’s also just good for people to understand what you’re talking about.
Now, get out there, have fun and share your stories!
Do you have any blogging advice you’d like to share? Add it in the comments!