Last month I had the deeply satisfying experience of getting together with five friends—who blog. That’s right. Instead of just a meet-up with other bloggers—I now consider them first and foremost to be friends. I walked away knowing that how we each blog is actually just the foundation for who we are as women, and what we value and appreciate. To me it is so interesting that although we are all very different people, with rather extremely different lives (not to mention blogs), we share something fundamental. It’s likely that when you start with such a connection there is almost an immediate sense of belonging.
So while we did a lot of talking about blogging and how we each out-picture that, we also talked about our lives and everything else. Donna, our host, even took notes from the discussion. But rather than list those notes that may or may not interest others, I instead came up with another plan. That idea is to have each of us share ten things we should have, or wished we knew, before we started blogging. What I find fascinating is that these ten things from all of us offer a glimpse into our personalities and how we approach both our blogs AND the world around us.
Here they are:
Donna who blogs @ Retirement Reflections
- There’s lots of advice on ‘blogging musts’ out there… but not all of it is a must for me!
- The learning curve can be straight up (mine was)!
- The ‘work’ does not end when you hit publish. Blogging will take as much time as you allow it.
- Avoid taking on too much.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- I don’t need to be perfect…and neither does my blog.
- If you want readers to feel connected to your blog, be yourself…and write about what matters to you.
- When it’s no longer fun, it’s time to take a break and rethink.
- There’s an incredible blogging community out there, filled with remarkable people. I was drawn to blogging because of the writing but have stayed because of the friends.
- And my most recent take-away—Less can be more!
Janis who blogs @ Retirementally Challenged
- The blogging community is vast and wonderful. There are a lot of intriguing people out there doing interesting things.
- Blogging can be very time-consuming. Researching, writing. re-writing, finding/taking relevant photos, posting, and replying to comments takes a lot of time.
- There are zillions of blogs out there. Choose the ones to follow with care (don’t just reflexively follow someone else just because they followed you – check to see if their blog is relevant and resonates).
- Once you find a blog you enjoy, follow and comment generously and thoughtfully. That’s the best way I’ve found to make connections and increase the number of people who follow your bog.
- Blogging is a tremendous creative outlet: writing, poetry, photography – whatever it is – share your creative spirit.
- Blogging will teach you new skills and open you to new experiences.
- It’s OK to step back now and then. The world will not end if you take a break from blogging.
- If you follow a blogger who posts more than a few times a week, you can set your notifications to once-a-week so they are grouped together. Reading and commenting on one person’s multiple blog posts a week can be overwhelming… give yourself a break (you don’t always have to leave a comment).
- You’ll always remember your first follower (that isn’t a friend or family member). It was so exciting to get that first follow and comment (thanks, Shelley!).
- You’ll still be at it – and loving it – six years later!
Erica who blogs @ Behind The Scenery
- Spend time researching domain name. It will likely stick with you for a long time.
- The technical aspects of setting up and navigating a blogging website are challenging and will continue to challenge you.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. There are many amazing blogs and bloggers out there. It is a very supportive community.
- If you enjoy writing, interacting with bloggers and you expect challenges, stick with it.
- You thought you were busy before starting a blog. Guess what? You now will truly hope you had more than 24 hours in a day.
- You will likely take/need a break from blogging at some point in time.
- Do not overthink or over research starting a blog. You will likely not begin if you do.
- Know your “why.” There is a great deal of advice available for bloggers. As with all advice, take it with a grain of salt.
- Initially, I felt overwhelmed by the blogosphere. The concept of “following” and “followers” was new to me. After one year of blogging I have found that new relationships develop organically for me.
- You will hear the phrase finding “your voice.” Your story, your writing, your blog is like your fingerprint, as individual as you are.
Ann who blogs @ The Unretired Life
- The teaser web sites that offer to help you make money blogging are just sites that get you to pay money for whatever service they are offering which is often useless suggestions about making money blogging.
- The more research you do on a topic, the fewer the views.
- The most views appear to be from personal anecdotes and/or pictures.
- It is not possible to earn money blogging with a few exceptions and they are not explaining how to do it.
- Comments don’t seem important
- It’s a good way to make new friends.
- It’s a good way to hone writing skills
- It impresses people despite being easy to do.
- It has not been useful in marketing my ESL business
- It has given me a vehicle to express my rants.
Jude who blogs @ Dr. Sock Writes Here
- I wish I had known I was going to keep on blogging for years and years, because then I would have given some thought to my blog’s name and URL, which were just some silly things that I pulled out of the air when I needed a name.
- I wish I had given some thought to the purpose of my blog, which has shifted over the years. At various times, it has been a technical learning experience, a writing blog, an art blog, a retirement blog, a chronicle of what I have been doing, and a soapbox for my opinions about things. Presently, it’s a little bit of all of those things.
- I wish I had steeped myself in blogging culture a bit before starting my own blog. I had hardly ever read a blog before I started one.
- I wish I had known that there are people out there who actually read blogs. At the beginning, I threw words into the ether with no expectation that anyone would ever read them.
- I wish I had learned the principle of reciprocity a little faster. That is, if someone comments on your blog, it is polite to respond to their comment.
- I wish I had known that bloggers aren’t just strangers on the other side of the world, but real people — people with shared interests — that you can actually meet in real life.
- I wish I would have known how much enjoyment I get from regularly reading selected blogs. You can learn a lot about people, their interests and lifestyles, and other places through reading blogs.
- I wish I had known how much time blogging would begin to take up in my life as I became more integrated into a blogging community.
- This is not an “I wish” point, but an observation. I am endlessly fascinated with ordinary people’s everyday use of writing, images, and videos on the Internet to represent themselves to the world, express their point of view, interact with other people, and form communities. Blogs are a great example of that.
- No number 10.
My list of 10 things I (Kathy) should have known:
- Blogging (or at least the way I blog) requires more time, energy and focus than I ever imagined.
- The good news is that blogging is more personally rewarding and enriching than I ever guessed.
- Don’t automatically assume that friends and family will be big fans. Many won’t read it and some won’t like what/how your write. Do it anyway.
- Never just pull photos off of Facebook or Google. This nearly cost me a small fortune early on.
- It looks easy! Hahahahahahaha!
- Starting and maintaining a blog is better for your brain than crossword puzzles, playing bridge, or learning a new language. It is a constant learning experience.
- There are a LOT easier ways to make money than starting and maintaining a blog—that’s why I’ve never made mine income producing.
- If you want to meet people from around the country and around the world—start a blog about something that interests you. Some of those you connect with will become good friends.
- What you give out comes back to you. Want more followers—follow others. Want more comments—comment on other blogs. Be generous. The best way to get what you want is to give it away.
- There are tons of articles about how to grow a blog but if you aren’t true to yourself and following your heart you won’t stick with it.
So that’s a little window into each of us and the motivation behind our blogs and our lives. Like I mentioned, each of us approaches the work in our own unique fashion but even then, just the awareness that we all strive to write, create and put our words out into the world, bonds us in a deep way.
I’m not sure if or when I will ever “meet-up” with these bloggers IRL (in-real-life) again, but I do know we will stay friends. A “Big Thank You!” to our event hostess Donna for putting it all together. I’m also reminded of how important it is for all of us to find a place where we feel we belong. The SMART approach is to make that a priority and never, ever take it for granted.