My blogging experience over the past two years has taught me some valuable lessons and given me great insight.
It can be (and for the serious blogger/writer, should be) considered a job. Accordingly, I need to approach it as such. That means I keep at it, even when I want to call in sick or take a personal day. I show up, I put in a good amount of time and effort. And when the situation calls for it, I go above and beyond the norm. Maybe this means finding a hot topic to discuss, or just a new writing style to try out.
I used to think blogging was for wanna-be’s and cheaters. No way am I putting my writing out there. On the internet. For everyone to see, and, you know, steal. No. Stinking. Way.
But then I got sucked in. A few friends were blogging, so I checked it out. Oh, okay. It’s like an online journal that you share. With strangers. Yeah. That’s not intimidating.
Facebook gave me my first taste. I started posting Notes, and getting some responses. Hey. This isn’t so bad. And I felt… valued. Like what I said was important to someone else. And it was. How do I know this? Because. They left comments. Saying what I said was important. Huh. That worked out nicely.
Over a year ago, I started my first blog. It went nowhere. I had five followers ~ all friends. And not a clue about what I was doing. I mean, I loved writing. And sharing little life-stories. But it wasn’t growing, and neither was I. It atrophied. And I was a bit embarrassed.
So last April I tried again. I thought I had this Blog-as-a-Job thing figured out: I had a clear goal, a direction, a theme. I knew what I wanted to focus on, and how to focus. It was a mainstream blog idea. It should have done fine.
Because I didn’t.
Because I still had no clue what I was really doing.
It was like being made office manager when I didn’t even know how to answer the phones.
But little by little, staying in the deep end that I had thrown myself, I learned how to swim. I read other blogs. I googled ideas. Most importantly, I received an immense amount of counsel and assistance from two professionals: Keri and Erik, distant (as in, physically far away) friends who, through the blessings of the instant internet, have been available to answer all my questions and help me out accordingly.
I soon realized my blog had its own idea of what it wants to be. Well, you can raise a child but you can’t control them… so my blog and I grew together. We branched out, tested some waters. Stepped out of the swamp of chaos and into the cool, refreshing oasis that is now Frankly, My Dear…
And it’s working. Because I treat it like work. In the past three months, my dedication to my blog is superceded only by my love of writing (I miss you, Meg!) and cooking. I giggle every time one of my unsuspecting friends suggests I remind them of “Julie and Julia”. I’m just waiting for that literary agent to notice my blog and call me up with a book deal. (I’ve got tons of ideas, and some are even finished.)
So. Blogging is my job. I put in hours every day. I count other blogs as coworkers, and check in regularly. I look at the want ad’s: those blogrolls that list other blogs I might be interested in. I’ve found quite a few. It’s fascinating how many blogs there are. For any and everything.
I look at formats: do I have too much? Not enough? How can my content improve? And I get ideas. I get links. And now I’m getting Likes.
Readers are the currency of blogging. I know I’ve written a good post based on how many “likes” it gets, how many “shares” and “posts” and “tweets”. (It never ceases to amaze me that the ones I think are going to be popular, aren’t so much; but there are other ones that just take off and surprise me!)
For a few weeks now, I’ve seen my blog grow. In content. In design. And lately, in readership. Every time I get a new subscriber, it’s like getting a pay raise. It’s like a floral delivery and a chocolate cake all rolled into one. It’s like saying I have something worthwhile.
And while I’m not trying to be narcissistic about it; being a writer, you can’t help but have a bit of that. Because if I didn’t have faith in myself and my writing, how on earth could I possibly put it out there for everyone else? Yet, I always say, a writer is only as good as the readers allow. And getting new readers is that acknowledgment that I must be finally doing something good. (And now, for some strange reason, I’m singing the song, “Something Good” from The Sound of Music). But that’s actually how I feel: perhaps in the past I screwed up, perhaps I’m not all I once thought I wanted to be. But here, on my blog, you accept me. And you make me feel okay about being who it is that I now want to be. So I just want to thank you.
All of you.
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote.