I started blogging late in 2012, following my beginning a journey in mental health treatment. Blogging wasn’t completely foreign to me; I had participated in LiveJournal accounts. This post is about advice in regards to blogging. So: here are 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging.
10. Have a plan
When I started blogging, I wanted to track my journey with mental health professionals. Basically, my posts were mostly angry and self-pitying. There was no plan behind my blog, no awareness of niche. In a way, I approached my blogging as a LiveJournal writer might: as a diary.
My assumption was that someone with mental illness would connect with me based on having the same diagnosis, which is a very flawed series of assumptions on my part. Again, there was no planning. I had zero recognition of process and intentions (because there were none).
9. Know Your audience
I am still very guilty of this, because I don’t quite know who the “masses” who visit my blog are. Perhaps I can do polls to get to know them better. For the most part, they are fellow book readers. There’s a lot of common approaches to writing in this community, and I am trying to see what works for me as a writer.
Awareness comes from interacting with your audience (which is something I’m new to). No one is obliged to read your posts.
This networking thing is very strange to me, because I am very bad at approaching people. If anything, my whole book blogging career is owed to Inge. She introduced me to people who are so lovely and kind to me. Then, Ely added me to this group of bold and strong individuals while we worked on the Disability Diaries.
I am not good at making friends, but I’d tell myself to try to comment on more blogs and network better to get a better sense of audience, content, and ways to present myself.
7. write what you like
Shannon always says this on her blog: write what you like to talk about. At first, I was like, “Pfft, Shannon.” But, the more I read her blog, the more I see what she means. The more passionate you are about the topic at hand, the more engaging and interesting your writing becomes. Also, and this is kind of something I didn’t ever consider before, when you write about what you’re truly passionate about, you start connecting with your own people–folks who have things in common with you.
6. keywords and seo plugins
I am very new to WordPress Up until September of 2016, I was using Blogger. Now, with this new web hosting service, I am able to use some nice plugins to help guide me along the way. In a way, these plugins help guide me until I get better at writing posts that are streamlined.
5. Consistency matters
Some people say that if you write amazing posts, you’ll be successful. I don’t agree with this approach to blogging. Instead, I am keen on posting consistently to have a nice batch of content for people to enjoy.
4. Write in Advance
This ties back to posting consistently. For me, I get bouts of heavy depression and general anxiety (along with other issues). Life happens, too. Writing in advance and scheduling posts helps keep the blog consistent, even when you are not actually writing every day.
3. List new ideas somewhere accessible
I am a fan of Evernote but I also like writing in a notebook. Always brainstorm new topics. Explore things that interest you. See what other people are writing, and fill in the holes in the narrative from your own perspective.
2. Don’t do it for the money
Blogging is not easy, and I am not sure how one can actually sustain themselves with this job as their main source of income. If you approach it as a business, it loses its fun. This is not work, this is your passions laid out for people to see and connect to. Sure, you can still consider it a serious job (I do!). It’s my main job and has been this way for a year.
Money can dampen your fire, though, because you’ll feel pressured to post things just to get views. And, that’s not the kind of life I’d want for us to have. The way I think of it, your posts should be things you genuinely feel connected to at the time.
1. Be Yourself
Finally, remember who you are. Your values and sensibilities are ultimately what will define your blog and its direction. Use writing as a way to chart your development as a thinker, writer, reader, artist, person.
Being yourself is the best shade of you that anyone could ask for. But, also, be open to learn and grow–develop yourself as a person and blogger.