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To Blog or Not to Blog, What’s Holding You Back?

It’s week three of the online blogging course, Should I blog? and things are on a roll. This is the week when facilitator, Rebecca Hogue says, “If you want to blog, and haven’t already started, this is the week to get things going.” Rebecca has three blogs (I know, mind-boggling isn’t it?), so she knows a thing or two about blogging. You can find her cancer blog here. She also has two other blogs, one on travel (that sounds fun) and an academic/professional blog as well. Check any, or all of them out sometime. And remember this course restarts every month, so there are more chances to sign up.

In this post, I’m addressing a few things that can hold bloggers back, making them hesitant to start or continue blogging.

When I started my blog over four years ago now, the number one thing that held me back at first was just setting it all up, in other words, the mechanics. Tech-savvy I am not. But I can learn what I need to, when I need to. Well, most of the time anyway.

There is information in the course about how to set up a blog. For me, it was easier to enlist the help of my family. Dear daughter blogs at ThatMutt (yes, lucky me) and she and her-at-the-time fiance, helped me with the mechanics. If you don’t want to get bogged down in the mechanics of it all, ask someone you know who’s tech-savvy, or at least more so than you are, to help you. Maybe you have a son, daughter, other relative, friend, neighbor or someone else you can ask to help you out. Otherwise start Googling and learn as you go.

Another thing often wondered about is the question, how do I find my voice?

You always hear that everyone has her own writing style and this is true.

Don’t try to replicate what someone else’s style is. Be you. Decide if you want to be mostly funny, serious, informative, visual, or whatever. Of course, you can be all of these and more; but overall, a general tone will more than likely come through in your writing. This is your unique voice.

In addition, you might ask yourself if you want to advocate  for a cause and/or take stands on controversial issues, or is controversy not your thing? I will let you in on a little secret. Controversy drives traffic your way, but be careful to not let this backfire because it can also cause you to lose readers if they disagree with you.

Some potential bloggers also wonder about whether or not they must include images in their posts.

Doing this is a great idea because we do live in a visually-oriented world do we not? Some blogs are all about the images shared. Some never have images. Others are a mix. Which kind appeals most to you? Maybe answering this question will help you decide what you want to do about images.

Concern about personal reputation, image and privacy has been specifically expressed to me as something that holds some bloggers back.

I addressed privacy in a prior post called, “When You’re Cancer Blogging, Where Do You Draw the Line.” After reading my post, fellow blogger Nicole McLean offered this sound advice:

I only consider TMI when talking about someone else. When it comes to myself, there is no ‘too far.’

That’s pretty  much how I roll too. Thanks for that great advice, Nicole.

Still, you do need to always think about your reputation online (and off) because as we all know, once it’s been taken down, or even taken a hit, it’s hard to build it back up. Having said this, if you do screw up, readers are forgiving if you admit your errors. Just like real life, right?

Yet another concern that holds some bloggers back, not just in the beginning but ongoing, is figuring out how to get and maintain readers. 

Mostly, it takes time. When I started blogging, no one was reading except dear daughter. But it didn’t take too long until a few other breast cancer bloggers found me. You know who you are and I am forever grateful.

What’s the best way to gain readers?

It’s all about leaving a trail. Unless you’re already famous, for the rest of us, this means you must read other blogs and leave comments. If you leave comments, eventually the trail will lead back to you and your blog. Again, this takes time. And therefore patience. Of course, some bloggers don’t give two hoots about how many readers they have. But in reality, most of us care at least somewhat. I will not lie, having loyal readers is lovely. Having readers who leave comments is too. But don’t get caught up stressing about how many readers you do or do not have or you’ll drive yourself nuts. Just start blogging and let things develop.

It’s also important to step up your game on social media.

Of course, the best way to build readership is to showcase your best writing efforts. It really is mostly about your unique content and finding that niche in which to share it. And it’s there, you just have to find it.

I’ll share more tips on building a readership in next week’s finale post for the online course.

Okay, so you are blogging; but then after a period of time passes, you find yourself running out of ideas. You stare at your computer screen, but nothing comes to you. You’re losing your mojo (or you think you are), and then what? Do you take a blogging break? Do you quit? Or what?

I hear about this particular ‘blockage’ a lot and of course, there’s no right answer here either.

To get ideas for what to write about, reading other blogs always helps me. As does staying on top of relevant (to your blog and interests) news articles. Branch out and write about other interests you have too. Show readers your personal side. Write about whatever you want to write about. Just because you have a cancer blog, this doesn’t mean you can’t write about other stuff too if you want. So, experiment a little and see what happens.

And yes, sometimes a person just needs a break or wants to stop altogether.

You can blog, stop blogging and/or restart blogging whenever you darn please.

After all, it’s your blog.

And everyone’s story matters, including yours.

Sign up to receive my monthly emails here.

If you’re contemplating starting a blog, what’s holding you  back?

If you have a blog, what advice for new bloggers do you have?

 

To blog or not blog, what's holding you back?
click on image to learn more about the online course, ‘Should I blog?’ Image credit – Rebecca Hogue

 

18 thoughts to “To Blog or Not to Blog, What’s Holding You Back?”

  1. A great set of advice. I think everyone has their advice. I pretty much tell myself only my mom and my dad read my blog (maybe a few more do), but I am also fine updating them via by blog. Cuts down on phone calls. 😉

    1. Mandi. I think you are being pretty modest there as I know quite a few people are reading your blog. I know what you mean about those updates cutting down on phone calls, although I never really blogged about updates. I usually blogged and still blog about stuff after the fact. Sometimes way after. Your experience as a metster probably requires more updating with all your appointments and such though. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Mandi, you have a beautiful website and I love your list!! Reminded me to make sure I talk to my family about all the things I want do with them. Really lovely!

  2. Nancy, getting started is most important and to me, blogging is about thinking out loud and clarifying my thoughts. Yes, sometimes my spontaneous self produces wonders and often regrets for saying something un-thought-out. Often, my blog becomes an audience and sober adviser but if it seems important I’ll push an opinion of half-baked thought and see how the response looks.
    Admit I’m bothered by apparently no readers but the back-up plan is to always be someone who comments. I think this fits your notion that leaving comments attracts attention–you can’t just move into town and keep to your own (admittedly spectacular) self. You need to step into the community and earn readership by being supportive of others. I almost see it as a form of mini-blogging and because my comments are spread all over the internet I never have to be consistent:-)

    1. Scott, Yes, blogging is sort of like thinking out loud. I hadn’t really thought of it quite like that before. Readers who leave comments are important, to me anyway, because blogging really is about community building. And you’re right, commenting is like mini-blogging. Hadn’t thought of that either! Thank you for your insights.

      1. For me, blogging is not thinking out loud. Each draft might start out that way, but if my posts were just me thinking out loud, I don’t think I would have many people reading. That’s just me and doesn’t mean it won’t work for someone else. I plan each post carefully and re-draft many, many times.

        1. Lindsay, thinking out loud might be the wrong term. At the current stage of my chemo it’s hard to generate ideas, so I mostly wander around responding to other blogs. The way the cancer system is run here there’s no room for feelings and I’m not being interested in the medicine leaves the field pretty empty of topics. Maybe I could blog as a robot:-)
          I’m interested in your redrafting. My strategy in writing used to be write and then tune it up. Now I change almost everything and I’m not sure if it’s do to a short attention span or something I was taught in writing class? Or maybe lack of topic?

        2. Lindsay, I agree with your points. Thinking out loud sounds way too dangerous anyway! However some posts start out that way and cancer bloggers do tend to gravitate to others who think like them and we probably draw in like-minded readers too. So in a sense, blogging is like thinking out loud if that makes sense. Having said that, I also always hope to appeal to those who think differently than me as this, of course, generates meaningful discussions. Like you, I plan, draft and redraft posts, often many times. Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts about blogging.

  3. Nancy,

    I love this post. I remember when I started blogging, I had no readers for a long time. I just kept writing. I’m very thankful for readers like you, who leave me comments, but as you say, it’s not just about the comments. Like you, I do enjoy getting them, though.

    Your tip about leaving a trail is completely true. Reading others’ posts and leaving comments is a great way to get noticed.

    1. Beth, Yep, gaining readers is all about leaving that trail. I’m grateful to have loyal readers too. And comments are always like icing on the cake. Sometimes I think a post with no or few comments means it wasn’t well received, but I’ve learned this isn’t always the case. Then again, sometimes it is!

    2. Beth and Nancy both…. I was fixated on Twitter until you two inspired me to hop on the blog community. It’s enriching and enlightening. Thank you both and I’ll work on “leaving the trail” so I can get my own word out about breast reconstruction and all that goes with it.

      1. Terri, I’m so glad you hopped on! The blogging experience can be enriching and enlightening for sure. Good luck with all your efforts and thank you for the kind words.

  4. Hello Nancy,

    Very informative article, even if I am just starting with the responding to blog posts and not really sure about the whole blogging/writing piece. I am learning so much great information and *meeting great people by just responding. Now I found Mandi and Beth through you, thank you.

  5. Wonderful post.
    I don’t feel like blogging is for me, at least not right now. I am practicing my writing however. There are books about dealing with cancer, including some wonderful devotional books written by survivors for the person who can expect to recover. But, there seems to be none for the metastatic cancer patient. Someone needs to do it. The perspective of someone who is metastatic is just different from the person who successfully went through initial treatments and now is cancer free.

    1. Elizabeth, as the only guy among the mentors I often feel out of place or like a non-native speaker. In no way does this come from anyone here is somehow excluding me–fact is, everyone here is wonderful. Yet I am “different” and unable to get my bearings in the “cancer world” because my experiences are somehow unacceptable, my behaviors incorrect. It might be that you don’t feel different at all but I do sense you feel separated from the general story of cancer–like it doesn’t represent you. Can you write down what this feels like? Just random thoughts are fine.

    2. Elizabeth, Well if you ever do decide to blog, I’ll be reading! I agree that the perspectives of the metastatic patient are entirely different and desperately need to be shared and heard. Maybe you should write that book you are looking for… Just a thought. I think you’d do a great job.

  6. Thank you, Thank you, Nancy! From someone who just launched a blog a week ago this post is music to my ears… or should I say fingers. 🙂 These are all great tips and ones that I shall keep readily available to continue honing my skills. It is so rewarding to me to see this community and the inspiration they provide to each other. I look forward to branching out in the blogosphere!

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