This is continued from last week's Blogging Is A Lot Like Golf, part I.
I covered the most basic basics last week, so now I want to address more specifics. Several people asked me IT-ish type questions, so let me get that out of the way. I do all of the technical aspects of my blog myself - the design, the widgets, all of it. But I make it up as I go along, mostly. I keep a document of some simple coding language, but usually if I need to know something, I just google it. If it's something really hairy, I set up a help ticket with the Typepad team. All of this to say that although I do all the backend for my own blog, I am not the person to ask about that sort of thing.
On with the show:
How much do you have to post?
There is a school of thought that one should post every day (or almost every day) just to get into the rhythm of it. I did this at first, and I do think it helped me find my voice and my blogging style. Some of those early posts are just terrible, but you have to write the terrible posts in order to recognize the good ones.
One thing that I suggest to everyone, new or veteran blogger, is to have a topic schedule that keeps you and your readers on track. With the exception of holiday weeks, I always post a Mommy Monday and a Friday Links. My readers know this, consequently my traffic is highest on these days. Not only do my readers know that I will have something new up on Mondays and Fridays, they also know the general content of those days. I have readers who only come to HH on Mondays. They like the parenting stuff, and don't care too much about the beauty/home/entertainment stuff. I also have readers who always skip Mondays. They're not parents, so that topic doesn't interest them.
Having set days like that give your readers an expectation, so they'll keep coming back. If you post whenever on whatever, sometimes readers may pop in, but maybe they won't. It's my personal opinion that when you're growing the foundation of your audience, you don't have the luxury of being willy nilly about posting.
A bonus to having the set days is that you don't have to scramble around with a topic to write about. On Sunday, I know I need to post about parenthood the next day. It eliminates the option for anything else. It's a good discipline for the blogger.
Which brings me to...
What is your process?
I don't have a set-in-stone process. I do write my posts in advance. Sometimes it's the day before, sometimes it's the week before, it just depends on how crazy life is. I feel like my content is better and my mindset is better if I'm running several days in advance. I set my posts to go live at 3am PST. This means that there's a new post for the east coast when they're drinking their morning coffee. I have blogging friends who say that it doesn't matter to their stats or their readers what time of day they post. They may be true for them, but I've set up this expectation with my readers and myself that new stuff goes live in the middle of the night, so I'm sticking with that.
My best time to write is late morning. Try as I might, as I just can't force myself to wake up super early and get my writing out of the way. It's just not my best brain time. Our family schedule works out so that we often have breakfast together instead of dinner, so after family time and my husband leaves for work, I sit down at the computer. Otherwise I'm a natural night owl, and will write late into the night. But, although I may be awake, it's usually not my best work.
What about privacy?
I do understand this concern. It's your blog, so you control your level of privacy. Don't do anything you're not comfortable with, and don't be stupid. If it makes you nervous to show pictures of your kids, then don't. If you're worried writing publicly about your marriage, don't.
In regards to safety, I just try to be smart. I don't use my kids real names. I don't show pictures of the outside of my homes (at least not from the front). We almost always have housesitters when we travel, but if we're all gone, I don't say so until the trip is over. I blog about the trip after the fact, and I'm careful about Instagram and twitter, too.
In regards to family privacy, I am also careful. I do believe that your stories are yours to tell, but I also don't want to hurt others with my words. I try to frame my stories as only my experience. It doesn't always work, of course. Other people are always in your stories. You have to weigh that out for yourself.
The other answer is more simple. What you see on this blog is about 8% of my life. There are just so many aspects that I'm unable to share, either because I don't want to or someone else doesn't want me to, or my husband's career means I can't. It's okay with me. I'm able to pull enough content out of that 8%.
Still, with all of my precautions and awareness of privacy, we live in an age where people can find you. If someone really, really, really wanted to know where we lived, they could. This is scary sometimes, but this is life in the 21st century.
How do you use social networks to integrate and bring people back to your blog?
Popular social media tools are a fun way to find people and hope that people find you.
Currently I use the HH facebook page, twitter (read why I love twitter here), and Instagram as my main SM networks. Other than the safety issues mentioned above, I'm not calculated in how I use them, I just use them. I do all of those things from my phone mostly, so it's easy to browse twitter while I'm standing in a line or whatever. I do not buy into the argument that technology is making us less engaged. If you want to use facebook at the park, then use facebook at the park. If you're feeling convicted about your screen time, then put your phone down. Life isn't as complicated as we make it.
And blogging isn't as complicated as I make it in my head and when I'm around other angsty blogging friends. Blogging has brought so much good into my life: real friendships, real beauty, and real writing. Three of the things that matter most to me.
I've tried to answer the questions that you posed last week and on the facebook page. If you have more, leave them in the comments and I'll either address there or see if there's a need for Part III. Thanks for hanging in there with my wordy take on blogging.
photo by chispita_666