People ask me all the time about my blogging. It’s usually quickly followed up by, “and so will you help me get mine off the ground?” And I’m cool. I usually say, “of course!” and then quickly throw a million instructions at them and leave them with a napkin full of HTML and a trail of soggy tears.
(Unless you’re my mom or my sister, in which case I’ll probably do everything you need for you because you either changed my diapers as a baby or physically barred me from walking out of the house in high school with a neon fuchsia messenger bag, thanks.)
But what I find is that most people don’t really “get” the realities of blogging about your life. And they’re all like…
But blogging is tough job, and I’m not just saying that because you often don’t get paid for it, don’t get credit for it, don’t get comments for it, and did I mention you usually don’t get paid for it?
Anyways. Here are some thing I’ve noticed about blogging that might help newbies grasp the kind of adventure they’re in for:
1. Blogging About Your Life Means Blogging About Your Mistakes
If you want to blog about the footwear of every American Idol contestant over the past ten years–you don’t have to worry about really baring your soul. But the majority of successful blogs are successful because people really do put their heart and soul into them.
And that means not just posting about the good stuff in your life–but posting about the bad stuff. The times you’ve done’ fucked up. Like remember that time I wrote about my paralyzing fear of flying, or when I ( in general) just never know how to handle a gastroparesis flare-up, or that time I almost lived in my bathtub forever?
Yeah, you guys know all my humiliating fumbles. It may give me a case of the cringes sometimes, but it’s all part of the creative process–you know? (The part where you sell parts of your soul for up votes and readership.)
2. Blogging is a Trade
Blogging involves several trades: being a writer, being a photographer, being an idea person, being a web designer, being a marketing team, and also knowing when to delegate and knowing when something is worth paying for.
If you want to start a blog you’re going to have to take the time to learn things: how to buy a domain name, what is a hosting plan? How much bandwidth do you need? How are you going to build the actual website? How are you going to input your information? How are you going to make it aesthetically pleasing to your readers? What are you going to write about?
What are you going to have to learn to be an authority on what you’re going to write about? What sort of format are your posts going to be? And when it’s all said and done–how are you going to get people to actually read it? I don’t help people by holding their hand through the first few steps. I just deprive them of knowing how to do something even more complicated further down the line.
3. Blogging Means Choosing Your Reactions Carefully
People are assholes. Especially people on the internet. When you blog about your opinions and people disagree, it can be infuriating. It’s super easy to get on your megaphone and start blasting your argument.
But don’t do that. It only makes you look like an asshole too.
You know what’s worse? When you’re not blogging about your opinions–you’re blogging about your life and people disagree with that. Don’t like people giving you feedback on how you live your life?
Don’t write a blog about your life.
That one was obvious, right?
4. Blogging Means You Can’t Just Stop…
If I had a reader for every TEN blogs that were started and then forgotten about when the new Shopaholic book came out–well, I’d be a successful blogger. And so would you. It’s a commitment, having a blog.
It means blogging when you don’t feel like blogging, about things you don’t want to blog about.
You can’t just quit, man.
5. Blogging Can Be Lonely
It’s the big launch day. You’ve posted your first entry, you’ve shared it on your twitter and Facebook–five minutes go by. Ten. Someone should be commenting any second now, right? I mean you wrote it. They’re going to read it. Then they’re going to respond…
I get an average of a few hundred hits on each post I write…and I average maybe one-three comments a post. And that’s like, a good day. A lot of posting is one-sided. Make sure you have a good stats counter so you don’t go insane. Commenting isn’t entirely natural for all readers. Think about ALL of the shit you read on the internet every day. If you commented on every article you read, every status you followed, every tweet you thought needed some retweeting–you’d lose your job, and your family, you’d wither away… And you can’t quit just because it’s a little lonely up there at the mic. Someone will throw a tomato at you eventually.