Blogging Basics: Why?

Recently I’ve been asked by several people to offer guidance on starting a blog. Apparently, I’m doing something right, if people are coming to me for inspiration.

Let’s face it: there’s a lot of blogs out there. It’s hard to know which ones to emulate, imitate, or eliminate. I like that Frankly, My Dear… is a “small” blog: by that I mean, it’s still personal. It’s a two-person operation. My web designer fixes the glitches and comes up with some amazing designs. I dream, create, cook, craft, photograph and write.
That’s not to say I wouldn’t love to have thousands of followers each month with more paid sponsorships, but I’ll take what I can get. Because I love being a Blogger. I’m in it for the love of the game.

Who can forget the Grand Reveal of the new blog design with this post just two months ago:

Baseball on Pitcher's Mound. Frankly My Dear, If You Build It, They Will Come.

Field of Dreams

So yeah… I must be doing something right.

There’s a lot of advice to offer someone who’s thinking of starting a blog. The most important thing I can tell you is this: Take that first step. Ask yourself why.

My dear friend Chuck told me just tonight [paraphrasing here], “What are you afraid of? You have to put yourself out there. People aren’t going to hand you what you want until they know you want it.” And he’s right.

I’m a big fan of magical thinking. But the problem is just that: it’s only thinking. And I don’t really believe in magic. So. Back to the basics. Remember the TGIF: One post? It all starts with One. One idea. One step. One goal. One accomplishment. One foundation.

For those of you thinking of starting a blog, my first question to you is

WHY?

Never mind if others don’t get it. If you can satisfy yourself with the answer, you’re on your way.

There are many reasons to write a Blog. Some want a creative outlet or a place to vent. Others are looking for recognition or perhaps another avenue to promote themselves (writers, especially). Large companies and small mom-and-pop operations blog now and then to personalize their business.

There are Food Blogs, How-To Blogs, Craft Blogs, Family/Parenting/Mommy Blogs, Political/Religious/Viewpoint Blogs. Is the sky blue? There’s a Blog for that. Why is the grass green? Do you want the physical, environmental, creative, or religious perspective? There’s a Blog for that.

Knowing why you want to blog will guide you in designing your blog and how you promote it. But don’t feel you’re limited to just one theme. One overall idea, yes. One theme? Stagnant.

A traveler can blog about so many things: the different foods, customs, jet lag, environment.
Food blogs not only have recipes, but great kitchen product reviews and giveaways.
Photographers share their images and the stories behind them.

There’s no wrong reason to want to blog.

Do you have something to say? You can blog it!

But if you want to blog for fun without a sense of a Blog theme, I caution you to think about it first. Your Blog name will be your Brand. And if you don’t have a direction for your Blog, what you name it on a whim may end up not being at all what it’s about.

When I first started “Frankly, My Dear…” everyone expected me to write with an “I don’t care” attitude. And I can honestly say, that’s still me. Yes, the Blog has transitioned from a social experiment to a personal “here’s my day” recap to something much more fulfilling and substantial: my tales of Faith, Family, Food, Fun, and everything in between. But it’s still Me. And I don’t sugar-coat much (ask my best friend Julie. We pull no punches with each other). So whether it’s a new recipe or a movie review or a video of my cats, I blog because I’m a writer. And I can’t not write. I was born with ink in my veins. I have to write. Does it make a difference if others like my posts? Of course! I love the likes, shares, clicks and comments. Who wouldn’t? But I write what I write the way I write it. Because that’s me. And if I didn’t write the way I am, how could I authentically ask you to read my blog?

Blogging can be an adventure. A daily diary of your journey through life even if you never leave your chair. It can be an eclectic collection of poetry and prose that you’ve dusted off from the corners of your mind and want to share with the world at large. Or it can be a story, your story, on a continuing basis. Because you have something to say. And each day that you’re alive, you have more to share.

In future posts I’ll discuss ways to start a Blog and basic design options as well as posting Do’s and Dont’s. So if you have any questions about blogging, leave them in a comment below. Share this post with your friends who you think would make great bloggers. And be sure to subscribe to both the Blog (look in the column on the right) and the monthly email newsletter (click here) to stay updated with Frankly, My Dear… and New Inklings Press.

Here’s a Bonus Bit for today: Don’t be afraid to share yourself with the world. Whatever you write, write it authentically. Readers know what’s trite and what’s true. Don’t underestimate the worth of how you tell your tales.

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading these blog samplings:
TGIF: A-P-P-R-E-C-I-A-T-I-V-E-L-Y
TGIF: One
Kitchen Craft: Aromatic Mason Jar
Destination: Mission Inn, Riverside, CA
Feta Tomato Spinach Salad in a Jar
Writing Prompt: Songs
When I Get to New York
Mojo Movie Review of the Week: “Eat, Pray, Love”

 

 

 

FIVE THINGS FRIDAY: THE BIG EASY

Orange book with feather quill. Five Things Friday at Frankly, My Dear...

Five Things Friday at Frankly, My Dear…

Since last weekend, I’ve been working hard on the big writings. My weekly email from Writer’s Digest had inspiration for writing a novel in 90 days. The typical novel runs approximately 70,000 words. So writing 778 words each day will get me there. I have a bigger goal of writing at least 1,000 words each day. For each of two writing projects. Yeah. I’m bit of an overachiever that way.

I’m still adding substance to the first book in The Grenalia Chronicles with Megan. But last summer I’d started a story set in New Orleans, and that’s been my adventure this week. The story drew me back in, and has been flowing out of me with an ease I’ve not experienced lately.

Don’t get me wrong; The Grenalia Chronicles isn’t difficult to write. But there’s something even easier about the NOLA story. And I find it ironic in a beyond-coincidental way, that it’s been so easy to write a big story set in The Big Easy.

It’s been so easy, in fact, that I doubted my own talent. I was nearly certain my beta readers (that is, a tiny group of family and friends) were just placating me with their accolades. Of course Mutti is still my first reader, and she nearly always has wonderful things to say. But she has to. As old as I am, she’s still the Matriarch. She’s still my Mommy. And she still boosts my ego.

Then there’s Darcy. I trust his honesty. But a casual “I really like it” is the same as someone saying “I’m fine” when you ask how they’re doing. It’s a little parochial. Being the occasionally insecure person that I am, I need substance to his reviews. And he knows it. So today, I received this fine note:

“Ok, I don’t think I like reading unfinished works. Now I have to twist and stew while I wait for more. Answers! I need answers!”

The ultimate review came from Dot’s best friend who offered to read my story as a distraction from his summer college courses.

“… this is an incredible start to a story. I really did enjoy it… a very good tale of someone trying to find themselves in a city big enough where no one cares… I like it… Your writing is conversational, and it makes everything more comfortable… PS: My favorite line is ‘And I needed to be unnoticed by strangers.'”

I can’t share what he wrote between those lines, because that would give too much of the story away. I’m pleased that without knowing the plot past the first seven pages, the story is having a Big impact on the readers. Which, in turn, is having a Big impact on me.

It’s easy to doubt myself. To lose sight of the fact that I am not only a writer, but worth reading. Rejection comes in many forms, but the worst is from inside myself. This past week has caused me to stand a little taller, feel a little better about my works. To feel that self-confidence that comes with a job well done. And even if others hadn’t noticed, I’d still be taller. Better. Stronger. Because inward thoughts dictate outward behaviors.

And that’s the first of my Five Things Friday: The Big Easy. Here are the rest:

2. Harry Connick, Jr. has a new album out. Every Man Should Know. I’ve adored HCJ’s music since he first popped onto the scene in the late ’80s. Knowing my love for the man and his music, Darcy blessed me with an iTunes gift card so I could acquire the newest album. This of course was after I died and went to heaven while viewing Harry’s title video.
Just watch and listen:

(For those of you who don’t know, Harry was born in New Orleans.)

3. Jambalaya. I’ll be in my kitchen soon, cooking up a Mojo Original Jambalaya. I’ve never made it before, but I have a shaker of Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning that I love to dash on just about everything. I figure it’s time to use it for it’s intended purpose and make those mouth glands water! There are so many ways to make Jambalaya that I’m pretty sure I can’t mess this up.

4. Last year when I first started my N’Awlins story, I created a Pinterest board. I’ve added ideas, locations, recipes, party goods, and media for inspiration. I’ve been listening to a lot of Jazz and watching movies set in the South to get a feel for the accents, behaviors, settings, and characters. Since it’s likely I won’t make it to The Big Easy before I finish the story, I’m okay with living vicariously through the creative minds of others. Currently, my movies of choice are Double Jeopardy with Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd, and Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with Kevin Spacey and John Cusack.

5. To keep me inspired, I created a simple photo collage for my computer background. It’s a compilation of the first online resource materials I collected, as well as the writings I worked on this week. It’s colorful, detailed, yet simple.

A photo collage of online resources to inspire me while writing my story set in New Orleans, Louisiana.

NOLA Inspiration

I would love nothing more than to tell you as you read this, I’m enjoying beignets and coffee at Cafe DuMonde. Or even enjoying beignets and coffee from Cafe DuMonde. I know so much about them. Unfortunately, they’ve yet to know about me. Sometimes, soon can’t be soon enough.

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

You may also enjoy reading:
Five Things Friday: Poetry
Five Things Friday: Everything Old is NEW Again
Five Things Friday: TRAVEL
N’Awlins