A few years ago, I had some friends suggest I start a blog. “A what?” I asked. I was certain they’d lost their minds. To me, a blog was nothing more than a digital diary. A public digital diary. Why would I want to spill my guts to a bunch of strangers?
I had a mental image of a Blogger as being someone who drank Starbuck’s all day and jotted down notes about things they wanted to (but not necessarily should) share with the World at Large. Someone who had nothing better to do with their time than write instead of work. Boy, was I so very wrong!
If you’ve been around Frankly, My Dear… for any length of time, you know that turning into a “Professional Blogger” was not my initial intention. I merely wanted to expound my writing skills while also sharing my social forays.
And then I discovered the difference between keeping an online diary and writing a Blog. The behind-the-scenes work that it takes to put together a Blog is remarkable. And the great ones make it seem so effortless. It’s like putting on a stage-play with each post. Do the characters (story elements) shadow or compliment each other? Is the set (website) designed to help or hinder the performance? Are there too many distractions, or not enough decorations?
Blogging, I discovered, is so much more than words.
As time went on, I found myself growing and changing along with my Blog. I found what worked for me (and what didn’t), what stories I wanted to tell, and what you wanted to read. It may not seem like it, but I strive hard to not be categorized as a Foodie Blog or a Mommy Blog. Frankly, My Dear… is so much more than that.
Just as you have many facets that sparkle and shine, so does a well-written Blog.
I also found myself craving the acceptance and recognition I get when reading comments from people I’ve never met. And what a feeling to read other blog posts I can relate to. Blogging is a wonderful community!
I follow other Blogs and seek advice from Bloggers. I discovered that discovery is part of the process. To learn, ask, inquire, seek, research, and hunt for the path that would get me from here to There. I’m still learning how to build a better blog. And I’m learning that it’s a whole lot more than just good writing.
The blogs I first had for reference were those from people who vented online. Bad grammar. bad spelling. Bad stories. It was all just very… bad. There were also those who told cute stories about their cute kids and had cute backgrounds. It was all just very… cute.
But I’m a serious writer, I argued. Blogging isn’t writing. It’s… well, it’s just blogging. That’s right. I said it.
And I’m sorry. Because there is such a difference between writing a blog and Writing a Blog. The more I wanted to know about writing a good blog, the more I read other blogs. And I found some amazingly helpful ideas. I also saw what not to do.
First, find a niche. Some blogs are about one thing: Cooking. Automobiles. Crafts. Felines. Some are about life. Life with kids. Life with a Significant Other. Life Without a Significant Other. Still others (my favorite kind, of course!) incorporate a little bit of everything.
As long as the writings are coherent and connect to other posts, I think any number of categories works. Of course, disjointed posts and ten thousand themes in one year can make it difficult to follow. I try to keep it simple but real. I don’t expect every one of my friends to like every aspect about me. Neither do I expect every one of my readers to like every post I write. It’s the overall appreciation, the intrinsic value of all parts combined, that keep us together.
Add photographs. The bigger the better, but try to keep them similar in size. If you’re a blogger, invest in a good digital camera. You’ll be oh-so-glad you did. I know several bloggers that post copyrighted materials. Even though media sites such as YouTube and Pinterest gives us access to review someone else’s work, I personally stay away from putting it on Frankly, My Dear… unless I know it’s absolutely approved. Just as I would hate for someone to put all my photos on their blog without compensation, I don’t want to take advantage of others’ hard work (and copyrights!).
Comment. Find other blogs you like, and comment on them. If someone leaves a comment on your blog, reciprocate! The Blogging Community thrives on recognition. Promote other blogs. Ask for help with your own promotions. When a blog you like links up to a third blog, check it out! I’ve found several great blogs this way; and made some fantastic blog friends.
Don’t be afraid of social media. Sign up! Link up! I have Facebook, twitter, StumbleUpon, and Pinterest. So do many of my blog friends. We cross-promote and help each other out. If your blog is just for yourself and close friends, numbers aren’t too significant. But if you’re looking to get recognized and earn some corporate sponsors… well, the keyword here is earn. You have to work at promoting your blog. And ask your friends and fellow bloggers to help you out.
Don’t be afraid. Reach out! I am a big fan of asking questions. When I see a feature on a blog that I admire, I find a way to contact the blogger. Whether it’s an email, Facebook post, or direct message through twitter, I reach out. I ask, how did they do this? Who do I contact? What do you recommend? And most of the time, they reach back. They, too, know the importance of interacting.
But it’s still so much more than that. I spend several hours each week reading other blogs and leaving comments. I send emails to people and entities that I want to partner with. I’m on my social media sites throughout every day.
I’m just now learning what attracts sponsors and what doesn’t. How certain layouts can actually turn readers away from a Blog. Why sometimes short is better. What makes a good post. How to take a good photograph.
I didn’t come by this knowledge on my own. I sought it out, certainly. I googled my questions and read article upon article, blog upon blog. But without mentors and fellow bloggers, I’d still be in Bloggy Kindergarten. I’m so thankful to be striving for Blog recognition, and to have so many wonderful tutors.
Just as a diamond is made from coal, which is made from elements pressed so very tightly together into something so remarkably beautiful, so are individual people. And so are the blogs they write.
So you see, blogging really can be a business. At least, it should certainly be treated as one. The next time you read a blog post, I hope you notice the little details. But if you don’t that’s okay, too. Because sometimes, we writers only want you to read. And leave the behind-the-scenes stuff to us.
I invite you to click on the following blogs. They never cease to inspire me, and I hope they’ll do the same for you.
Jenn at …so this is love…
Ann at Doodles and Jots
Larissa at Papa is a Preacher
Winnie at Winnie’s Inky Fingers
Sylvia at Living and Homeschooling With a New Normal
Kathy at Bereaved and Blessed
Margaret Christine at From Maggie’s Farm
Shell at Things I Can’t Say
And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!