The other day I realised that I have been blogging for two months! Whilst this is hardly a long time, it’s already starting to feel like I have always been dreaming up fresh blog posts and obsessively checking my blog comments and Twitter feed in my lunch break. It’s certainly been a learning curve, going from a person who is generally fairly inept with computers (I usually just shout my tech-savvy sister to help!) to someone who has successfully set up a blog, and whilst my design is pretty minimalist, it still seems like an achievement! So I decided to do a post sharing what I’ve learnt so far, whilst I’m still in the ‘newbie blogger’ stage, and thought this would be pretty interesting to repeat six months and a year down the line!
So here is what two months of blogging has taught me:
1. A whole lot of technical stuff!
Web-hosting, domains, WordPress, themes, plugins, SEO… two months ago it all seemed like gibberish! And whilst I’m still not exactly an expert (SEO, for example, still baffles me!) the fact that I’ve grasped the basics proves that literally anyone is capable of starting a blog. Whilst I had done extensive research into blogging before I began, I found that the best way to learn really was just to do! There came a point where I realised all my researching was just procrastinating (a tactic I recognised from my university days: research the essay excessively then you don’t have to write it!), and it was time to just take the plunge!
2. Don’t be shy – comment!
The art of the thoughtful comment is one that can take time to acquire, and I’ll admit that when I first started blogging, I was a little comment shy. Often I would read a great blog post and really want to respond, but hold back. How to word what I was trying to say? What if what I said was stupid? What if people disagreed with me? What if it simply got no response? Particularly if I agreed with what the blogger was saying I would often find that I had simply repeated back to them everything they had said, and as such, wasn’t really adding much to the discussion. But one thing you learn as a blogger is that bloggers LOVE comments! I always get excited when I Iog-in to my blog and find someone has taken the time to comment on my posts, even if it is just to say that they liked it or that they also enjoyed the book I reviewed. So I’ve learnt not to stress over coming up with something really amazing to comment on other people’s blog, and just to let people know if I enjoyed their post, or agreed with what they said.
3. Twitter is your friend!
Before I began blogging, I’d never used Twitter. As an introvert, social media usage doesn’t come naturally to me, so previously I’d only had a personal Facebook page which I rarely posted to. Therefore it was with great reluctance that I finally set up my blog’s Twitter page as it became clear that there was no getting round it. BEST DECISION EVER! It really is an incredible tool, not only to promote your blog, but to interact with others and keep up with your favourite blogs, as well as find new blogs to read. I’m officially a Twitter convert…who are we kidding? I’m a Twitter addict!
4. Don’t worry so much!
My first few blog posts took me literally ages to write! I dithered over every word and reread them countless times, analysing them in meticulous detail. I changed things, I changed them back, I restructured them, I scrapped them and started again… It was ridiculously time consuming! Although you obviously want your blog posts to reflect your best work, and you want to create content that is interesting and well written, over-analysing it and worrying about it too much gets you nowhere. I try to post at least two blog posts a week, and whilst this is hardly a gruelling schedule (I know there are bloggers who post every day!), I probably wouldn’t be meeting that target if I dithered over every post the way I did at the beginning. So what have I learnt? Write them, revise them, post them and don’t worry so much!
5. Be yourself!
One thing I find exceedingly difficult, is ‘writing in my own voice’. Now it sounds crazy to say that I can’t write as myself, but that is something I truly struggle with. Before I began blogging I had only really written fiction, where you speak in a character’s voice, and academic essays, which obviously require a formal style. However, when I looked at other blogs, they all seemed to use a fun, chatty style of writing that gave you a real insight into the blogger’s personality, and made you feel like you were having a conversation with them. So how could I possibly learn to write like that too? I didn’t want to be some boring, stuffy blogger who wrote every post like it was an essay, and reviewed books in much the same way students analyse texts for their latest assignments. So I learnt the same way anyone learns anything: I practised! And I’d like to think it’s paying off!
So that’s what I feel I have learnt from two months of blogging, and I’d love to know what other bloggers feel they have learned!