Blogging: guess what? It’s hard work

coffee book reading
stocksnap.io

I was at a blogging event recently and arrived a few minutes after it started to find a slightly unusual dynamic had emerged:

An older American lady sitting in a chair, surrounded by young English bloggers – some of whom are still very new to blogging. The American, who had never been to one of these events before, was dominating the conversation and had been from the beginning of the session, and it soon became clear that she had *no* experience of writing or publishing for anonymous readers, blogging in general, commenting, networking, social media accounts and in fact, had little experience of the internet as a whole.   She had decided that she was going to use this event as a “learn how to blog in an hour” session, and wanted to learn *everything* about blogging, whether or not that’s what the event was about.

I got the impression that she had the belief that it was “build it and they will come” when it came to blogging and that she would have to do very little work in order to get lots of hits and comments – and that they would all be positive.  “What happens if someone says something horrible?” “Well you can either delete it, or accept it if it turns out to be correct. Or just not allow comments. If you delete it, you will still have to read it however, so If you’re not ready, don’t allow comments”.  I think she soon began to realise that there was more to blogging than she realised, that there was a lot of work to be done, and the experienced people in the room had been doing this for several years.

So I’ve decided to brush off some general tips to those thinking of starting out in blogging – no matter the platform and no matter the niche.

  • Write about what you know and enjoy. Readers will be turned off if they think you’re not sincere. It will also make it easier to keep going when it seems you’re posting into the void
  • Do NOT think that writing one post and telling no one about it will make you a star – your post will be lost mere seconds after you hit the “publish” button, and no one will find you, so you have to get the word out.

Time and effort

  • Blogging takes a lot of work. At the minimum I will spend a couple of hours a week promoting posts, doing admin etc. A post can take several hours and multiple edits before it makes the light of day, and even then I will spot a spelling mistake only AFTER I publish.
  • Be regular with your posts, even if it’s once a week, or once a month. People won’t come back if they don’t know when you will post next, but they just might if they know there will be a post on the third Friday of each month. I used to post every other day, but that’s because I had the opportunity of building up a decent backlog of posts and have them scheduled. I’m now publishing less regularly, but still get similar levels of traffic, but that’s in part due to my back list of posts still getting hits.
  • Keep some kind of tracking tool going. I have a basic spreadsheet that I got free off the internet, where I track which posts are scheduled when – which is really when scheduling posts well in advance (e.g. I’ve written a holiday related post). Other people track how diverse their reading is .  My books – and where I got them from – are tracked using Goodreads, for the simple reason they have optional tags.
  • You don’t live in a vacuum. Get out and socialise in the internet community. Take part in challenges like Bloggiesta; follow other people’s blogs; Comment, without spamming (no “nice post, please follow my blog” type of comments); Tweet; use Facebook including group pages; use Google+, including communities; Pinterest, Instagram.
  • Learn comment etiquette – don’t be rude, don’t flame someone else. The rule stands: if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. However, there are always trolls and spammers around so you have to develop a thick skin, delete and move on. Too many authors and bloggers have made a name for themselves for have a meltdown over something innocuous and have ended up as a laughing stock. If you think you cant cope with negative comments – don’t allow comments!

Reality can suck

  • Don’t expect to quit the day job tomorrow. You will not generate enough money to be your sole income in the next 6 months. Or perhaps ever.
  • Benefits come in more shapes than money. Making new friends even if it’s “only” online; Free books; free random gifts (I’ve had knitting needles
    open book
    stocksnap.io

    and a ball of wool from a publisher before now); free beauty products for beauty bloggers. If you are talking about something you’ve received free in exchange for a review, you need to disclose the fact in your post. Mostly it’s good manners but in the US I think it’s a legal requirement that you do so.

Sharing is caring

  • Make it possible for others to share your posts. Include social media buttons on your posts so that others can tell their followers about what you’ve written.
  • Include a “sign up via email” option for those who don’t use the same blogging platform as you do.
  • Follow your favourite publishers, authors, brands etc  on what ever social media works for you.
  • Remember to include the related brand when sending a review out. If they thank you for the review – have the decency to thank them back, at least for the product. You never know where the conversation may take you!
  • Unless you have a massive following (and even if you do), your voice will be very quiet in a very big room. Use software like Hootsuitetweetdeck or Buffer to schedule your updates and promotion links at times when people are likely to see it (Follow the dawn and dusk?)
  • Subscribe to sites like Problogger and DailyBlogTips. Not all tips will be appropriate to you, but once in a while you’ll find some tweak that’ll help you out.

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Blogging: guess what? It’s hard work

  1. I’ve often thought of blogging as a public diary. A way if leaving a mark or your thoughts and words in a way that are perhaps if more interest to descendants. Breaking through that morass of other bloggers to become quoted and “important” should not really be a goal or you will become disheartened. Blog for yourself, to create aide memoirs or just to vent and self mental health medicate. Well, that why I do it. Great talking piece – see you soon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your comment Anthony. I dont think the American woman quite understood the reasons behind blogging/putting something out on the internet and therefore why she should/should not do it. I think she just assumed “I’ll write something, publish it, everyone will see it and all fall at my feet” – and then began to realise the amount of work involved….so yes, know why you’re doing it, and write what you enjoy first!

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  2. Hi Sorcha! It was a very odd dynamic wasn’t it? I found it very strange at first but me and another attendee did think it was an interesting way to kick things off as it got us all sharing advice and learning from each other! I don’t think the lady had too many delusions of grandeur to be honest, if I remember rightly she seemed very shocked that if she wrote a blog that anyone in the world could find it!

    I think the beauty of blogging is that you really can make what you want of it. It’s hard to build a following, though personally my blog is a hobby, I don’t care if people read it or not and that keeps it fun and simple for me to do 🙂

    I hate to be presumptive, but was I one of the younger bloggers ‘who are still very new to blogging’? I am actually older than I look and have been blogging for more than four years now. Not to take offensive or cause commotion, but you’ll find many of us young ‘uns are veterans in our own rights!

    Looking forward to seeing you at the next event 🙂

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    • Hello! I didnt pick anyone specific as “new to blogging”, though the dyslexic kid I was talking to (terrible with names!) hasnt started writing yet….though has very interesting ideas.

      She was asking LOTS of great questions, but in such a way that she was dominating the session, and trying to cover the whole subject of blogging in the course of the hour, which, as you say, some of us have had to learn over years! Me, being me, naturally had to break the dominance but I hope it resulted in a more productive and interesting session – more people were talking this month than the session the month before!

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