Tomorrow marks seven years of blogging. In seven years, I’ve learned a couple of things about this process.
Here are seven lessons about blogging that I’ve learned over the past seven years.
- Keep proper perspective. Your writing is important, both to you and to your readers. But it’s still a blog. This world will keep on going if you need to take some time off. And you will keep on going if you need to take a break every now and again. In fact, you’ll probably be better if you sometimes don’t post. Which leads me to number 2…
- Know what healthy blogging looks like for you. There will always be people telling you how many times you should check your stats or how often you should post or what topics you should write about. And there is some good advice out there. Refreshing your stats every couple of minutes is not going to bring more visitors to your site, but regular posting tends to mean regular readers. And you may find that narrowing your topics can help build traffic. But you also need to figure out why you want to blog and pursue the ways that make it enjoyable. When it’s a burden, that’s not healthy. Unfortunately, the only person who can figure out how to avoid that is you, so these first two are pretty essential to one another.
- Tell your story. There are some really amazing stories out there. People who have overcome incredible odds, people who have had fascinating or horrifying experiences, and when we read them, it can be difficult to see how our regular lives are worth writing about. Fred Rogers wrote, “It’s very dramatic when two people come together to work something out.” That has always stuck with me, because there is drama, even in the seemingly mundane things in our lives. And the only person who can tell us about that is you.
- Use your voice. This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to learn as a blogger. I still often want to be one of the pretty writers. Folks like Sarah Bessey, Shawn Smucker, or Addie Zierman make me crazy because I long to be able to write that gorgeous prose. But that’s not what my writing voice (or actual voice) sounds like. More than simply beautiful writing, I want to hear the real person’s voice in their writing, so I sigh over their lovely words, and then write my own, because I assume that’s what people are showing up to read. I realized that I was getting better about this when a friend quoted something I had written on his Facebook page on Twitter and a mutual friend of ours said, “That sounds like something Alise would say!” It wasn’t eloquent, but it was me.
- Writing the truth is not the same as writing the truth in love. Authentic writing is important. Our stories need to be told honestly. However. There is always a way to do that which respects the people involved. I have messed that up a few times and it is never, ever a good feeling. The best way to avoid this is to…
- Take your time. Blogging time is much faster than regular time. The consensus is that if you want people to read your post about a given topic, you have to be the first to write it. Pastor says something stupid? Write a post right then! Major scandal happens in politics? Get a jump on the other bloggers! Somebody pisses your off in the grocery store? Get to your computer now! Because blogging requires you to be on the lookout for material all the time, the temptation is to get that material down as fast as possible. But the truth is, if you have something good to say, A) you likely need a minute to organize it and B) people will read it because it’s good, not because it’s first. My most popular posts have not been because they were the first ones written on a given topic, but rather because I took my time in putting them together.
- Be generous. This is probably the best thing I have to say about blogging. Honestly, it’s probably the best thing I have to say about living. Selfishness is easy and usually goes unnoticed. Most people won’t know if you tip the bare minimum. Most people won’t know if you take the bigger slice of cake. Most people won’t know if you don’t let the car pull out in front of you. The same is true of generosity. It probably won’t be noticed by most people. But neither of those things goes entirely unnoticed. The same way that small acts of selfishness start to add up, small acts of generosity also add up. I have a bit of a reputation for being generous around my corner of the internet. Please know, this is not because of some grand gesture, but rather because of various small things that I have made a habit of doing. I hope I have a similar reputation out in the real world, and I know that it is achieved by similar means. Small acts of kindness and generosity.
If you blog, what would you add to this list? Be sure to leave a link to your blog so we can check it out and if you don’t blog, leave a link to one of your favorites. And thanks for reading along!