I've been blogging about blogging all week because Blogging Is My Favorite. Read about Blogging Boundaries, When and How Much I Blog, Blogging and Social Media, also Blogging Tools and Resources and How Bloggers Make Money.
Now that you’ve listened to me ramble all week about my passion for blogging, I’m going to lay out a few of my personal blogging truths. I still feel like blogging is part of the wild west, there are no set rules and everyone approaches it differently. But after a few years at this game, I’ve found a rhythm that works for me.
Be consistent. From the beginning I’ve vowed to myself to be a consistent blogger and I think it’s the #1 thing that has kept my audience growth steady. Of course there have been a few exceptions for illness or travel, but most weeks of the year I post at the very least on Monday and Friday. Most of the time I’ll also post in-between, but if nothing else, my readers know there will be fresh content when they check in on Monday, and if they come back on Friday there will be links and maybe something else to catch up on.
I think this is crucial when you’re starting out. You’ll lose an audience fast if they come back in a week and there’s nothing new there. A lot of Big Time Bloggers post willy-nilly, but they’ve earned that right. Their readers will consume anything they put out there, whenever they post it. For the rest of us, it’s a good discipline and fair to the readers to be consistent. Start small if that idea overwhelms you. Just say “I’m going to post on Monday. Every Monday. No matter what.” And see where it takes you.
Keep a calendar. I have a very long running list of post ideas (some things have been sitting on that list for years), but I am almost never sitting down to the computer and twiddling my thumbs with hmmmm, what am I going to write about today? I use iCal to schedule out what I’m going to post and when. I’m not crazy Type-A about it, I move things around a lot, but I always have in my head what I need to be working on for the next few days. I only plan my blog calendar out about two weeks in advance (as opposed to some bloggers, who plan for months in advance), but that’s because I can only plan my life out a few weeks in advance. Anything more than that and it’s sure to change anyway.
I don’t usually write and then hit publish. I’m about two or three days ahead of myself (this blog series excluded). I write a post, then come back to it the day before I want to publish. I edit, insert pictures and links, etc. Then I schedule it to publish for the next day. (Most of my posts go up at 3am PST.) Having a calendar just keeps me sane.
Blog with someone in mind. You can’t be everything to everyone. For a long time, I was too pleasing on my blog. This is funny, actually, because in my everyday life I’m not much of a people pleaser. But on the internet I was very cautious to keep from offending anyone or - worse - hurting someone. As a result, this blog got a little boring for a minute.
About a year ago I realized that I needed to figure out who my average reader was and what she wanted to hear from me. The average HH reader is a very specific type of person (which I confirmed with my reader survey), so when I let all other types of people fall away, and pictured one specific person, it was much easier to pretend I was just writing a lengthy email to her, instead of a generic essay to everyone.
This isn’t to say that all HH readers are clones of one another - they’re not. We’re not. But, as far as what they want to see in this space, we all have a general idea of what that looks like.
Friends and family might not understand what you’re doing with your life, and that’s okay. While I’ve crowed on about the many wonderful friendships blogging has brought me, I’ve stayed quieter about the ways in which writing publicly has changed the friendships I already had. This is one of the more taboo subjects among bloggers.
The truth is, real-life friends and family are often baffled and even hurt by my sharing our life on the internet. They don’t understand why sometimes they hear news first here, instead of straight from me. They don’t believe this is a “real job” and they don’t understand why “internet people” have become important relationships. This is a complicated issue, really, and would take longer to tackle than I have space for here, but if you’re a blogger and you’ve experienced this, understand that it’s normal. And if you’re a reader and have experienced this with a blogger friend, I think that’s normal, too.
You just have to make peace with it, and that will probably come after an emotional struggle.
I am so passionate about blogging as a medium, both the nerdy side of it and the philosophical idea of everyone having a voice. I didn’t even know how much I had to say about blogging until this series unleashed thousands of words.
If you’re a blogger, all my best to you. There’s room enough for us all. If you’re a blog reader, let me give you my biggest thanks, on behalf of all of us who work on the internet.