How to blog. There are so many questions that I see being thrown around continually among bloggers. How often should I post? Should I create a Pinterest or Stumble Upon account? What plug-ins should I use? How often should I share my posts on social media? Should I be self-hosted? There is no definitive guide as to how to create a successful blog, and therefore there are no definitive set of right or wrongs. Most of what I have learned has been through trial and error, and from advice given by bloggy friends. Some of it has worked, some of it hasn’t, and I have shared my experiences in the hope that they prove useful for others. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that my advice will be successful for everyone, if indeed anyone at all. Focus on doing what works for you, don’t be afraid to try new things, and most importantly, don’t be afraid of failure. Blogging is an exciting process where I’m learning new things all the time, and that’s one of the many things that I enjoy about it.
Content. I’ve always been an avid believer that, above all, content is key – it’s less likely that readers will return to poorly written posts. However, who makes the decisions on what makes a successful post? Each individual, and therefore each blog is unique, and the important thing to remember is that so are potential readers. Some will enjoy your content, others may not. Focus on writing posts that you and you alone want to write, not what you think others may want to read and concentrate on those who respond positively.
Comparisons. Blog envy is a natural part of the process, but not if it means your perspective of your own little space of the Internet becomes negative as a result. Yes, I see a whole host of things on other sites that I’m envious of every day, whether it’s the design, layout and/or content, but that doesn’t take away anything that I’ve created here, and I’m proud of it.
Your organisational skills (or lack of). We all have that online friend or ten. The ones with strategies, schedules, charts and plans, who know exactly what they’re going to post and when they’re going to post it. I’m not one of those people. I write when I feel like it, and press the publish button when I’m satisfied (so I can then inevitably go back and edit it when I spot a bunch of mistakes that I missed, despite reading it through several times). I then spend some time promoting it through social media. No plans, no schedules. Perhaps I’m doing myself a disservice, but I’m conscious not to make blogging become a chore and simply posting something because I feel I have to. Remember, you’re a human being with a busy life and commitments, and unless you’re willing to pay for a team of people to help you, there’s only so much that you can do. Give yourself a break.
Your own abilities as a writer. One of the most common things I see among bloggers is their lack of faith in their own abilities – as little as a few days ago two of my favourite writers were discussing their fears and self-doubt, despite the fact that they have a seemingly natural talent to put pen to paper (or I suppose, text to screen in this case). My main question here is simply this: Whose opinion are you basing this on? Your writing style will inevitably change over time, but you will always naturally write in a way that suits you, and this authenticity is one of the things that will keep readers coming back for more. Embrace it.
Your progress. Haven’t gained 50,000 readers, 100,000 Twitter followers, had that viral post or been given a book deal yet? Neither has 99.9% of the blogosphere. One of the many misconceptions about blogging is that pressing the publish button will mean instant success, and many lose faith and become disillusioned with the process after a few months when they haven’t achieved all of their goals immediately. Regular blogging is an enormous amount of hard work – publishing, editing, promoting, networking – and to do all of this on a regular basis takes an extraordinary amount of time. So, instead of focusing on the enormous targets you haven’t yet reached, reward yourself for the little achievements on a weekly basis. Published a post that you’re proud of? Fantastic! Gained new followers? Great! Every new post, every new reader, comment, tweet, pin and share is progress. Keep going, and be patient!
What about you guys? Have you been struggling with self doubt recently?
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You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog, and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks, my Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/suzie81speaks and my Instagram page http://www.instagram.com/suzie81speaks.