As soon as I recommitted to writing, I had several friends decide that they wanted to try their hand at being a blogger. I can’t blame them because it can be a LOT of fun and very rewarding.
I’m also a part of a Facebook group filled with bloggers who are all taking the same #write31days challenge. (waving hello). It’s a mixed group with all levels of experience including quite a few brand new bloggers.
I <3 the beginning bloggers. All of them.
I realized I have a LOT that I want to tell them all. More than I can possibly fit into a post on Facebook. More than I can fit into a text message. More than I care to say in an email or leave in a comment.
Dear Beginning Blogger
First of all, thank you. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm and excitement and eagerness about blogging. It’s contagious and I absolutely love it. You’ve helped me remember why I fell in love with this blogging thing to begin with. I needed the reminder, so thank you.
As for the rest of what I have to say, take it with a grain of salt. I’ve been doing this for a few years, but by no means would I say I’m a commercially successful blogger. There may be others who can tell you a faster and more fool proof way to fame or fortune. I haven’t mastered this stuff, and I don’t even pretend to have. I just know I’ve learned a few things I wish someone had told me at the beginning.
Everyone’s first post stinks.
Take the time to scroll back to the early posts of any long-term blogger and you’ll see what I mean. If you don’t, it’s probably because she went back and deleted the first few months of postings. If yours feels awkward and weird, don’t stress about it. It’s ok because…
No one knows who you are.
It will take strangers a few months to find you. The first few people who read your blog are going to be your mom, your sister, your husband, and your bff. They already know and love you. (If you have an email subscription option, your dogs are probably going to end up subscribed to the thing just to boost your numbers.) It’s ok. Everyone starts that way.
Take your time.
Don’t worry about the numbers. It’s OK if your page views per day are under 25 and your comments equal zero. It’s OK if you don’t even know what page views are. It’s OK if you don’t have a ga-jillion Twitter followers or a presence on all the social media platforms. There’s time for that – later.
For now, resist the urge to join link parties just to boost your stats. There is always another link party next week. Always.
For the first month or two, just focus on writing.
Get comfortable with the idea of writing EVERY SINGLE DAY. Even if you don’t feel like it. Get used to the rhythm of writing and editing and posting. Fall in love with the crazy dance that happens when you show up to write every day whether you feel like it or not.
Write for the digital era, not for your high school English teacher. The rules of writing for blogs are different than for school or even a printed book. You’ll figure out just how far you want to push the rules, but in general, write so that it’s easy to read on a mobile phone.
Read a few blogs about blogging. Read some comment threads and get a sense of what makes for a great discussion and when someone is just going through the motions of commenting. Read about your passion. Research your “competition” and learn from them. Read the bible. Read a great book.
Great writing comes from great reading, so read with abandon.
Take a breath and go live your life, no matter how obsessed you are with your new blogging thing.
When you come back, you’ll have new experiences to write about that are far more interesting than you would have imagined. Trust me, the internet will still be here while you go catch up on laundry or go have dinner with a friend or even pause to watch the sunset.
Figure out the whole Google thing.
Find someone nerdy if you need help, but you really have to make peace with Google. Learn how to help Google know about your blog. Figure out what makes Google fall in love with your content. Take a few painful hours to learn the “rules of Google” and then follow them.
But don’t be a slave to Google.
Don’t take it too seriously. Sometimes, Google’s rules get in the way of great writing. Besides, Google’s quirky ways can be unpredictable at best.
After several years, I’m still the accidental queen of “egg puns” according to Google. Of all the things I wanted to be known for, egg puns wasn’t in my plan.
And above all, don’t obsess over your stats.
Unless you had something go viral, you really don’t need to check your stats every 30 minutes (or worse yet, watch the “real time analytics” show on Google. Don’t ask me how I know about that last part. Please?)
If you have something go viral, pour a cup of coffee and watch those stats every second. You earned it. Until then, once or twice a day is enough.
It’s OK to want to make a buck.
In case you missed it, the original goals for my blog included “become rich and famous, preferably for just being me… because I’m awesome.”
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big. Just be realistic enough to understand it will take time before you cash that first check.
Give it time.
Blogs are weird. They require new content almost every single day. They’re always hungry, so it’s easy to focus only on the most recent posts.
It’s easy to look at yesterday’s post and think “it only got 2 page views and zero comments… it must have been bad.” There’s no way to know, but six months from now, that post may explode and go viral. Or it may turn into one of those things that brings you a steady 20 page views a day for months on end. (Or some weird pattern of spikes in popularity.)
Don’t tie your worth to today’s numbers.
Don’t evaluate the success of your blog on the page views of a single post. Don’t compare your comment count to someone else and declare yourself lacking.
Give it time. Look at the weekly trends for your blog and not the daily numbers.
(And for goodness sake don’t look at the names of your email subscribers. You really don’t want to know if your dog unsubscribed himself from your email list.)
Give yourself Grace.
You’ll mess up.
No matter how many times you proofread, there will eventually be a typo that gets through. No matter how many times you edit, something ungraceful will get published. No matter how you try, something will offend. No matter how you promise, you’ll eventually miss a deadline.
Pick yourself up and move on.
Do this because you love it.
Don’t sell yourself short. Write what makes your heart sing. Create the content that makes you happy. Don’t ever post something you don’t believe in just for the sake of a buck (or just for the page views).
Do it for the love of writing.
ps – please turn off captcha. You’ll never get people to leave comments with that thing on.