Lisa Gail Green did a great post on Blogging Etiquette, which should be standard reading for everyone starting out a new blog. Lisa's post, and a plea for help from new blogger Lynn Kelley got me thinking. After blogging for about 18 months, what tips did I have to share with someone just starting out?
Lisa's Etiquette covers the Do's and Dont's extremely well (seriously, go read it!).
If you do all those things you will have a professional blog that will attract followers, which is very fine. But that's also a lot of work, and many people look at all the blogs around them and think, How the heck can I do that?
So, here's a few things I've learned along the way that keep me going.
Blog What You're Passionate About
Like an internally conflicted character, whose contradictions are an endless source of fascination for readers, a blogger who talks about their passions will attract readers. Many of us are writers, so that is certainly a passion that we share, but carving your niche within that passion will keep people coming back. I love kids, books, and the tech stuff, so that's my niche. I can (and have) talked endlessly about all the ways those topics intersect! The magic of the blogosphere means that people who share your passions will stick around, while others will move on. It's a wonderful thing, because you end up with a group of people with shared interests ... otherwise known as friends.
Some of my most popular posts were ones I concocted when I had no idea what to post. I stared at that blank Blogger "New Post" screen and thought, That's It. I'm done. I don't have one single idea left in my head. And then I dug deeper into what was going on in my life, in my head, at that moment. And that's where the best stuff came from - a deeper sharing that I had to work for. I'm not talking about sharing the intimate details that are no one's business. I'm talking about finding the deeper human struggles that we all have. That's when I came up with On Being Present and Creativity and Failing the Right Way. (And also today's post.) Those posts resonated with readers, but they also helped me become a better writer.
Blog As Much As You Enjoy, and No More
Don't feel guilty about not blogging or not commenting. Don't feel bad that people comment and you can't respond. Don't feel negligent if you don't follow everyone who follows you. Is it nice to do these things? Yes. Should we try to do them? Absolutely. But the only way to stay in this game for the long term is to avoid burnout - and for that, the guilt has to be thrown out the window with no looking back. I'll repeat it, because it's important: Only do as much as you enjoy, and no more. When the fun gets sucked out of it, that's when you need a break. Taking a blogging vacation is totally acceptable - a week or two vacation is far better than a 3 or 4 month hiatus while you recover from your burnout.
These are the things I've learned along the way. I hope they help you stay in the game.
Because I've met some of my best friends here! And I want you to stick around. :)