Some notes on blogging: what I've learned


While I've only been blogging for just over three months, it's certainly been a steep learning curve and I thought I'd write down a few things I've discovered in that time - just in case anyone new to blogging comes across this and would appreciate a few words from someone who's only a little less green than they are!

Despite being a relatively new blogger, some things definitely stand out as being good lessons to learn - and learn early - if you'd like to feel more comfortable with your blog and the whole blogging process.

Here's my list. I'm sure plenty of other things could be added: feel free to do so in the comments!

Have a voice

This is an essential tip for any writing. Being a writer and editor by trade, I've learned the importance of having a voice many times over.

Have a voice that's completely you and hasn't been lifted from anywhere else. Have a voice people will relate to and remember. If you're worried about putting yourself out there and just being you, ask yourself how much you want to blog, and whether it's the right thing for you. Know there will be people who don't like your voice and be prepared to live with that - it comes with the territory.

As you're trying to find your voice (because it doesn't always happen straight away in any piece of 'work', and that's fine), it helps to take note of the kinds of blogs that you like to read: ones with a distinctive/different voice, ones that read as though the blogger is speaking out loud, ones that make you laugh or are nicely gentle (or otherwise!) in tone? If it appeals to you, chances are you'll be able to do it naturally yourself.

Give a bit of yourself - but not too much

Related to the voice thing, readers respond well when they get a sense of you as a person: we want to know who you are! It really helps to humanise your voice and your blog. If you have funny quirks etc, let people know. But don't go too far: while people might be interested to learn that you're ridiculously bad at cooking (and might have a few giggles if you share some anecdotes on that point), they don't need to hear what you have for breakfast every day of the week.

People tend to overshare on social media these days - have a look at your Facebook feed if you don't believe me! - so be careful to tread the line when it comes to your blog.

Improve, and keep improving

This applies across the board when it comes to blogging - over time you will want to change the look/layout of your blog, maybe improve your spelling/grammar or how you set out your posts, fix the quality of your photos etc.

Don't stagnate: grow with your blog. In this way, for many bloggers it helps to have a blog that isn't too focused on any one particular thing - not only might you run out of material on the topic (or get bored of it), you might also find yourself wanting to write about other things. While of course you're allowed to write about dogs if you're writing a blog on cats, it might be a better idea to make your blog focused on pets in general. Having said this, plenty of decent and super-focused blogs exist in cyberspace - it's just up to you to decide whether you can sustain it.

This is one of the reasons I chose to have a 'life' blog, rather than just eg a travel or beauty one (although I have plenty of posts on those two topics, and there'll be plenty more). This has meant that, for example, when I became pregnant and wanted to say a few things about that, I was able to do so while keeping within the focus of my blog. The 'looser' focus worked for me; you will find out what works best for you.

Learn your lessons

Be alive to lessons. For example, do you find that your readers are all viewing particular posts of yours and not others? What does this say about your content and how can you respond to that?

You'll soon learn that, if you're going on holiday, it helps to have a bundle of posts sitting in your drafts with the photos already done. While you're of course entitled to a holiday from your blog, you may not want one! Plus it helps to keep your readers in the loop: if you're going away for a couple of weeks, let them know and try to do a few posts while you're gone to stay connected (people have such short memories these days; you don't want to vanish!). Hell, I know some people who have posts already drafted and timed for publication while they're on holidays. Not a bad idea if you want a break from your computer for a while.

One lesson I've learned relates to social media. To start with, I wasn't giving myself enough of a presence so I started posting on Facebook. Then I realised I was posting too often and, since people are generally annoyed easily by Facebook 'behaviour' (have you noticed that? People seem much more likely to get annoyed by other people's Facebook posts, than they are in getting annoyed with 3D people - something about the degree of removal), I realised I was posting too much. So I've had to find a balance. No doubt it's a balance that many bloggers search for - and continue searching for over time, since nothing is static.

Your photos etc are important, but don't stress too much about your weaker points

You will know when you start blogging what your strengths and weaknesses are. To use myself as an example, I know that my spelling, grammar and sentence structure are generally ok because that's what I do for a living, but I know that my photos need work because I don't know the first thing about photography. If I look back over my posts, I can see an improvement in my photos over time - although they still need work.

If you're anything like me, you'll look at the images on some of the better blogs and wonder how the hell you're ever going to make yours look like those. The answer is, unless you get some professional help or take a course etc, yours may never make the grade. But unless your blog is on photography (in which case your photos are probably good anyway!), don't worry too much about making every single shot perfect. While images are important, it's ok to run with your strengths and just make the other things good enough.

By the same token, if you know that your spelling and grammar aren't good, while you should aim to improve these as you become a more experienced blogger, don't get too worried about it - chances are, your readers don't come to your blog for the spelling/grammar anyway. Perhaps you have a really distinctive voice, and that's what keeps them reading - so nurture that more than anything else.

Work with your strengths and 'level' your weaknesses: you don't need to do any more than that.

Make friends, establish connections

One of the best things I've learned in coming to blogging, is that you meet some really cool people via social media. I've made quite a few 'friends' already, and look forward to making more. It's a crazy, wonderful world out there, and plenty of awesome people exist who have similar interests to yours. Be open to meeting them! Surely that's one of the reasons why people blog : )

Listen to your readers, commenters etc

Read your comments and respond to them. Write comments on others' blogs. This is related to the whole establishing connections thing, and it's really important. If you want to have a presence, then be present. Meeting and engaging with your community is fun!

Go with the flow, be prepared to adapt

It's important to keep moving and view the blogging thing as an evolving beast. In blogging I've had to learn how to do a whole bunch of stuff with my computer (like inserting code, fiddling with templates/layout etc) and, as someone who's never been friends with computers or technology in general, this has been super hard. But you have to do it! You might just grow as a person in the process : )

In sum

That's all from me for now! I'm sure there's plenty more I could say, but I think that's enough for my first post on this subject. Let me know if you've anything to add - I'd love to hear.

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