August 2, 2011

How to Blog

Alternative Title: Don't Ever Give Up.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is also starting up a blog. She's a nice girl but she tends to think negatively about many things -- a trait which annoys me to no end. I understand she believes she is being "practical" and "realistic," but the biggest problem with the way she views issues (such as blogging) really serve to harm future possibilities of success. I know many people have opinions such as hers, so I want to tell every reader this: Giving up is losing. The only way to succeed is to never stop trying.

I do not, and never will, consider myself a social media expert or anything along those lines. As of this writing my blog has 4 followers and my twitter account has only 800. I am exited and proud when any of my accounts gets another follow or watch because it means I'm doing something right. I am even more excited when someone contacts me to tell me that they have enjoyed something I've written or suggest something for me to write about or even just to say hi. This post should not be taken as a "cheat sheet" to get popular from an expert. It should be taken as inspiration for my fellow beginning bloggers (or anyone doing anything, for that matter). All I want this post to accomplish is to help someone, somewhere, find some drive in them to start a project or keep working at something that may seem too difficult to ever be successful.

To many new bloggers the concept of getting followers seems daunting. Their favorite blog has thousands of viewers and the thought is appealing: Thousands of people checking their website because they are genuinely interested in what they have to say. Then they start blogging. The follow number stays low...

It is certainly frustrating. It leaves you wondering if your blog will ever take off. This thought process bothers me. It is detrimental to anything you are trying to achieve as a blogger. If you go in with the assumption of failing you will preform to lower standards and thus you will fail. If you go in with high standards you will at least create quality posts. Quality posts are what attracts people. You need to believe in what you are trying to accomplish and work at it. Even if it takes time, even if the results don't seem worth it at first...

It is better to try legitimately and fail then to never have tried at all.

You won't get followers overnight. It takes effort and time and if you want your opinions heard and your voice out there then it's worth it in the end. When people tell me that blogging is a waste of time because I don't have followers, you know what I tell them? I have four followers. That's four people who read what I have to say and are interested in my opinions and experiences. That's five more people than if I never had a blog to begin with. It's worth it to me. And if it's worth it to you, you will work at making quality posts because if you don't there's no reason for anyone to read your blog at all.

There are a million things in the world to write about. Always think about how you can make your thoughts and experiences come alive to whoever will read. Because it's your effort that counts. Things will never happen for you unless you make them happen. You're in charge of your content. You're in charge of your fate.

There is one more issue I want to touch on: Critique.

Many people do not enjoy critique. It's understandable: You work hard on something and it becomes important to you. A part of you even. It is difficult at times to accept that your effort is flawed. I have lost a friend giving a critique and I have definitely made several people angry. It has never been my intention but when someone's work is under the scope things get personal. My friend, after I gave her a critique, told me to "let the writer write." Many people think that changing their work stifles their creativity and forces them to change what they intended to create. I disagree.

As a writer and an artist I know that creativity benefits from critique. I firmly believe we are all humans and that as humans we make mistakes. The only thing we should do about mistakes is to realize them -- perhaps from out own findings or perhaps from someone else -- and to fix them as best we can and learn from them. Critique helps a blogger do this. It helps you find your typos and your inadequacies and your flawed logic and anything else you may have missed and it allows you to fix it so the next person to come along reads a better product than the one that you had posted before. The beauty of a blog as opposed to printed media is that you get direct contact from readers and an easy way to edit when mistakes are found or when opinions or facts change. It's amazing.

My point is that it may hurt when you get a critique. It stings. Everyone feels this way. But instead of boycotting the person who critiques you or quitting blogging at the first sign of disagreement, you should learn from every piece of feedback you receive. You may not always agree, and that is fine as well, but it is important to take feedback to heart and improve accordingly.

What I hope someone takes from this is simple: Don't give up. Never give up. If you care, read and write and study and live and do whatever it takes to make ideas flow onto paper or computer screen or hand or wall. Work on making the best product possible and get it out to as many people as you can any way you see fit.

The readers will follow.


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