A comment on one of my ovarian cancer posts surprised me the other day. The anonymous commenter asked about writing an "established" blog like mine. What advice do I have.
I still look at that comment and say "What...????" I don't consider my blog established, not by any means, unless you mean presence online. I've been blogging for a few years, yes but my blog isn't read by very many people at all. Not only am I not "popular," no one even knows who I am.
My blog is just my place to record my stories, my feelings, my life. Anything I consider interesting enough to write down and want to save. An opinion that comes to me and I feel the need to vent or express my confusion (most people who know me would be amazed at how many of those I never post - the vent is a rant and I sound far too shrewish to share it publicly!) A recipe I tried and want to share my success... or failure. Family things that someday my brother is going to be sitting around a fire pit and ask me to remember.
That's what my blog is. I never set out for a readership, not a permanent one, anyway. I joined a meme here and there and then lost interest. I entered giveaways; won a few and lost many. I keep writing because it's for me. I'm honored anyone wants to read what I have to say but I'm not driven by that.
Keep in mind everything I'm about to say is my OPINION. I have no hard facts to back me up, I haven't interviewed anyone for this. This is how I feel about the subject, what I say would be advice I would give myself - NOT as any kind of expert.
When starting a blog, be you. You can try a gimmick, look to be unique but after a while I would think that would become pure work. A blog is supposed to be relaxing, I think. It's a place to unload all that you've been carrying around in your head. Write it down and either put it out of your mind or look at it and clarify what you've been thinking.
The next advice? Don't worry about what other people think about what you write. Unless you ARE writing a factually based blog, what you are writing is your opinion, your experience. Blogs have, it seems, become a little competitive and while 99% of what I've seen the men and women who write blogs are extraordinarily supportive of each other but there are those... There are those who will be jealous if you think of something before they do or share what they share better than they do and they will try to undermine your confidence. Ignore them. There are those, too, who will steal your content. Pass it off as theirs. I've read plenty of stories of bloggers talking to lawyers to fight those who steal posts. There have also been blogs created with elaborate "back stories" of cancer or dying children or pregnancies in trouble and the people who create those are looking for attention from "popular" bloggers. Whatever their motivation, it's hard when the ruse is discovered. People don't like feeling foolish and imitation is not always the best form of flattery.
Although....in that same vein? Give credit where credit is due. My BIGGEST fault when I first started posting on my blog: I'd have found something somewhere and then couldn't remember where I found it. I'd try it, put my own spin on it and then couldn't give credit for the original idea because I hadn't noted where I found it. That is, simply put, rude. I never took credit for anyone else's idea but I still felt crummy every time I did it. So...I got smart and now I keep track of where I find things or at least I try to and link up in my posts whenever possible. Or - I don't post the project, recipe, etc.
If you enter and win giveaways? Please say thank you. Take pictures of what you've won and post them along with links to the blog who hosted the giveaway and say thank you!!! It's imperative that you not just take people's gifts and ignore them. Would you let your children get away with not thanking their grandparents for birthday gifts? No. Then don't forget to thank those who give you something they had no obligation to offer in the first place.
Always get permission for pictures. Especially if they are of children. I'm not a lawyer, I have no idea if it's illegal to post pictures of unidentified kids or not but...err on the side of caution. Ask.
Monetize or not? Up to you. I don't. Again - I am not looking to become some big popular blog. That IS work and I do not want to be forced to share. I want to write when I want to write and if someone wants to read it, fine but I'm not crying if I don't get a readership larger than say 10 people (my friends & family makes up 8 of those...).
I could go on and on and on and on. Most of what I've learned, though, is from reading other blogs - not just writing my own. There are plenty of people who will talk about the importance of good pictures and I have to admit. I do prefer reading blogs where the pictures are better, especially if there is a tutorial involved. I'm back to my preferences - I'm not looking for a major readership so I don't go crazy over my pictures. In fact, I'm lucky if I remember pictures and I have never written a tutorial (I don't think) so staging pictures & taking pictures of "steps" isn't something I've tried to do but I've read a few posts that indicate it's often a challenge.
Want to see how bloggers who have turned their blogs into business do it? Go to my links page and click on a few of the blogs I've put on there. Clarification: I haven't updated that page in a LONG time so there may be a few blogs I no longer read. I apologize ahead of time if the links don't work.
Finally? Write. Just...write. Write what interests you. Come up with a theme and go with it. Decide the time you're willing to invest, research blogs online and figure out what you want to do.
And that, I'm sure, barely scratches the surface of writing a blog but... you asked so I didn't want to ignore you. All the best, whoever you are, Anonymous Commenter. And even above that? Thank you for reading my ovarian cancer posts. They were extraordinarily hard to write and I greatly appreciate your time in reading them and for taking the time to comment. It's important to me, I hope you know that.
Hopefully this made sense. I typed this very quickly this morning with football on the TV in the background. I'll wrap this up by repeating myself - check out other blogs, blogs with readership, blogs that ARE the writer's livelihood. I'm not qualified to offer anything more than a very humble opinion. Ok...I'm originally from New Jersey. Probably not so humble but I hope you understand what I'm saying. Good luck & God bless!