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.
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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?