They said that they started a new blog, forgot about it after a while & then it felt weird to go back so they created a new one. Well I laughed a little because it was definitely a been there done that situation for me. I thought I should share my story with blogging, I hope it can help readers who are bloggers (or planning to start a blog) put things in perspective.
I have had an account with blogger since 2001, which is two years before google bought it. I’m not implying that I knew what I was doing back then, because I didn’t most of the time. I didn’t know about image hosting or css or anything, & handling a blog was so much harder then. Nobody I knew had even heard of the term blog & nobody in the local media was really talking / writing about it then. It went on like this for a couple years. In the meantime lots of things changed, both in my life & the blogosphere. I probably created & deleted a multitude of absolutely mediocre personal blogs in this time.
When in my first year of college (2009) I started this blog under a slightly different name, with a firm resolve to make it work this time. College as well as all the things my peers were into like petty gossip or hanging out everyday didn’t interest me much, I yearned for something at least slightly more meaningful. Blogging soon became one of my hobbies. At first it was purely for myself. I documented bits of my life in words, wrote about my views on current affairs, talked about my latest whims & fancies etc. I had two readers, one was my mom & the other was a Bangalorean blog friend who I ‘met’ online many moons ago on a completely different website. At this stage blogging still felt pretty private. My display picture was my own, my names then (Maggie / Mags) were some of my many real life nicknames. I was not very comfortable posting pictures then (it’s not like I took that many or was any good). The blog felt like a safe place, I could comfortably rant or write personal things & I didn’t share my blog on my social networks at all.
And then (with the help of a blog networking website) I had real visitors & followers, ones who even took the time to comment. I was thrilled. I gradually started to talk more about my blog in real life, mostly to college friends & acquaintances, i.e. people who would have some rough idea of what a blog is. Then I found twitter in May 2009 & became a little more regular.
After I had been blogging for a couple of years I knew that it was thankfully not just a passing phase (I’d had a lot of those in my early teens. But it’s normal, I think to experiment till you find something you love) but something I could describe as a passion, something I would be doing for many more years to come.
So most people find it easy to create a blog, but following through is the hardest. I’m not sure exactly how to help, but all I can say is that I was very much like that, but I’ve definitely improved. I find that once you start to get real visitors & comments, that encourages you to blog further.
And now for the advice part of this post.
- When someone gets a new camera & asks me how to learn of get better, the single most important piece of advice I can give them is shoot. Keep doing it everyday. Blogging is not very different in this regard. If not everyday, you need to blog often (ideally three time a week, at least) It is something you need to get into the habit of doing regularly. In December 2009 I did a challenge called NaBloPoMo, where you have to post everyday for a month. Those it was a tad stressful at times, these kind of challenges really get you into the habit of regular blogging.
- Time management is important too. A common excuse from irregular bloggers is that they don’t have time to blog… so in the last five months you didn’t have twenty minutes to write a post? Agreed it’s your blog & it’s up to you to decide to update it, but just know that every time you stay away for too long you lose readers. Do you really want that?
- Have a story. I think blog niches are overhyped… I have seen personal blogs that are very well curated & stick to their niche like chewing gum to the sole of a shoe. To each his own, but I don’t like the idea of restricting yourself. For me to like a blog, it’s important to feel like I know the blogger at least a little. Let who you are shine through. Mix it up a bit but remember that random is not a good headliner, you know? Everyone has hobbies, things they like to do & are good at, maybe you could share those on your blog? Eventually you will find something you enjoy blogging about.
- Change is good. I’ve seen bloggers been in a dilemma when they start a blog with one idea but later want to blog about completely different things. Don’t sweat it… every blogger evolves in time. If you feel that you want to take your blog in a new direction, go with it.
- Visit other blogs & leave meaningful comments. Leaving relevant comments is one of the best ways to get other bloggers to visit your blog. Who knows, you might probably end up becoming blog buddies? Never ever leave a comment that goes anything like this- “hey nice post, visit my blog at asdfg.com”.
- Know your strengths & weaknesses. Don’t try to have a blog about writing if you can’t spell & don’t know how to use spell check either. Be realistic.
- Have fun! This is very important. Blogging is not a task but something you should truly enjoy.