Today, a friend asked advice on starting a blog. I’m hoping she does; she’s funny and snarky but also humble and working on herself. That’s the kind of author I like to read. So here are my thoughts.
These are not expert thoughts. You should know that blogging experts would say that I blog too infrequently (at least once a week is suggested by my personal blogging hero, Michael Hyatt) and I don’t do anything to really create a platform (advice from the same expert). Thus, while I have about 600 followers, that has stagnated because I don’t promote. So take my advice with a grain of salt.
Here is the conventional wisdom I agree with, even if I don’t do it:
- Blog at least once a week, but unless it is a the kind of blog that people expect content daily, not every day. I’m trying to get better at the once a week thing. So far, so bad.
- Create a platform and drive it (to learn more about that, read and listen to Michael Hyatt here). Confession time: I am not actively trying to get better here. More on that later.
- Use a good blogging site. I use the free WordPress tool, but there are others. It needs to look clean and professional. I’m no designer, so I like the sites that give you good templates that are easy to design. That’s all I know about “look” so I can’t advise anymore on that.
- Guest-post on any blog that is an affinity match for you and your writing (or at least doesn’t turn your stomach). I guest post on some blogs occasionally (not as much as I should–which is part of my platform problem). I once guest posted on Jon Acuff’s Stuff Christians Like, no doubt the pinnacle of my blogging career. I also guest post on some legal, technical blogs but that is not to boost my blog traffic; that’s to do my job. So that is really not applicable here, at least for me and my motives for blogging.
- Have a system for proofreading and posting at optimal times. This is great advice; I’m just not going to do it (I even proofread after I post, a huge no-no, but I’m impulsive). I blog when the notion hits me, so I don’t post at optimal times (there is research on this and people differ but 8 pm on Friday night is not it, so I need to stop). Which leads me to why I blog.
Why I blog:
I blog as an outlet for my writing. I have always been a writer. For a long time, my personal writing was eclipsed by my professional (legal) writing. After repenting of this behavior, I slowly regained a non-legal writing voice. It has become an outlet for me, as well as a tool that I do use for what I would call slow-pitch evangelization. I write about my faith and how it has impacted me. Sometimes I wrap it in humor, even sarcasm, but I do want to express how my faith has impacted my life. I also want to attract readers who don’t share my faith. Because most of my Facebook and Twitter friends do not share my faith, that’s not too hard to do. But my blogging isn’t about you agreeing with me or even converting and me signing you up for some Christian class where you’ll secretly sign your name in blood in a dusty old Dickensian book. No, it’s slow-pitch. Read if you want. Ask more if you want. I’m here for you but I love you regardless of your Sunday morning (or rest of the week) habits.
Therefore, I haven’t made any huge effort to expand my platform. I should, but I haven’t, and I probably won’t. I’m a busy mom and lawyer with a globe-trotting husband who does shift work when he’s stateside, a very busy daughter in college, and a daughter in high school who doesn’t know the meaning of “over-scheduled.” So I do what I can, and what I can do is write a blog and stick it on my social media outlets.
Many people blog because they are building a platform for business and/or reasons where reaching large numbers of people is critical. That is a perfectly legitimate reason to blog. It’s just not why I do it. My business is not blogging. I’m a lawyer working in a non-profit. Sometimes I do blog about work (indeed, that is a subject of my blog subtitle), but I blog about work as it intersects with my faith and family.
Why Should You Blog?
You should blog if you have something to say. Look, you know if you wish you had a place to write your thoughts and someone might see them. If that is in your heart, then definitely think about blogging.
Blogs should have parameters–they should be about something that has a consistent thread. If your blog will be a professional one, then the thread might be easy (but even that can get broader than you think, so put some parameters in place). If you are an overworked HR middle management professional who struggles to find peace in your work-a-day world, make that your parameter (hint, hint).
My blog started off as a way to inject humor into life, where work and faith and family are, in fact, my whole life, really. I tend to stick to this theme, but I’ve deviated. This blog is a deviation. That’s OK. But you can’t deviate too much or then you have no platform, and only your mom will read it. Really.
Some people blog for, let’s be honest, popularity. In fact, I’d say all bloggers are interested in that. If they weren’t, then they would just have a Word document on their desktop to post their thoughts (remember Creed Bratton’s “blog” on the Office?!) However, if you are only blogging as the equivalent of a word-cloud selfie, you will be disappointed and you should probably stick to the traditional selfie.
There are a lot of crappy blogs out there. If you can write, please blog. I probably want to read it. If you can’t, I’ll still look at your selfie. Once. I’ll look at your selfie once.
Then stop, please.