Alright, so I’m taking a slightly different direction today. I was going through some emails this weekend, poring through questions from the best readers on the Internet (this would be you). I have quite the back log of fantastic reader questions and post suggestions, and I hope to tackle a number of them this fall.
Quite a few repeated themselves about the same subject — blogging. Apparently, some of you think I know how to blog daily while keeping a dust-free home and perfectly groomed children who love each other and never fight.
I have absolutely no idea how one does that. I’ll keep my eye out for the answer, but in the meantime, I I’ll compromise and answer the overarching blogging question, which basically asks, “How do I blog well?”
I don’t know everything about blogging. But I do know some things. Here are my best tips about blogging while still miraculously getting dinner on the table.
1. Decide your reasons.
Think through your purpose in blogging. Blogging for fun looks a bit different than blogging to promote your Etsy site, which also looks different than blogging to practice your writing skills and maybe land a book contract, which – guess what?, looks different than blogging to make a little side income with ad revenue.
You can have more than one reason, of course, so long as they don’t conflict. But if you’re blogging simply to share photos for the grandparents (a great reason, by the way), don’t be disappointed when the ad networks don’t come flooding your email inbox.
Likewise, if you’re blogging to earn revenue (and you therefore want to build an audience), don’t be frustrated when your readers move on when they haven’t heard from you in six weeks.
Blog consistently with your main purpose in doing so.
2. Flow with the seasons.
There are some seasons in life that are more conducive to more in-depth blogging. Enjoy those, and reap their benefits by reading and writing all you can about the topic. For me, I started Simple Mom when my second was a newborn. I nursed all day long, so during those long periods of sitting, I read and read and read some more about blogging.
I started with ProBlogger and went from there, in case you’re wondering.
It wasn’t long before Reed was walking all over the place and scooting the step stool up to the kitchen counter holding the knife block, so needless to say, I was up on my toes much more then. I didn’t read much on the subject of blogging any more.
Go with the season you’re in. Don’t fight it. Another season is probably just around the corner.
3. Marry and keep an amazing man.
Joking. Well, sort of. Honestly, one of the reasons I started Simple Mom — and why I can continue to keep it up — is because my husband Kyle is my most loyal reader and fan. He is a big reason I can write regularly throughout the week, and he sees himself just as much a part of the blog because he helps with the laundry and dishes and carpooling.
I am blessed in that we both work from home. We tag-team our approach to work and parenting, and every Sunday evening we dig up the weekly calendar to decide who works when.
I know not everyone can do this. But I add this to the list because I want you to know that he helps an enormous amount, so I definitely don’t “do it all.” Not by a long stretch.
4. Be you…
Don’t try to be Heather Armstrong, or Ree Drummond, or Ann Voskamp, or Amanda Soule, or Alli Worthington. Be you. Write like you. It’s way more fun. You’ll definitely stick with it longer, and people will enjoy reading you more.
5. …But keep your readers in mind.
This is particularly true if you’re writing with the purpose of generating a community or earning revenue in some form. Yes, in some way you’ll still write for you, but if you’ve created a place where people feel like they belong, like they’re in a community — it’s almost like they have part ownership.
That doesn’t mean you worry yourself to sleep making sure everyone likes you. You still write for you, and the things that interest you. But keep the readers in mind who are blessing you with their time and their eyes.
If they’ve expressed an interest in a topic, go with it.
And also — you can’t say thank you enough. Thank your readers all the time. I slacked off showing my gratitude the first half of this year, and it showed in my writing. Plus, I missed saying thank you, and it made blogging less fun.
Thank you, by the way.
6. Get to know people, and ask good questions.
I’ve rarely met an unfriendly blogger. I’ve met extremely busy bloggers, but I can’t imagine any blogger I’ve met who knows a thing or two honestly wants to withhold major blogging secrets or not reach out and say hello.
Don’t think of bloggers with big audiences as anyone different than you. If you have a good question, just ask. Get to the point, and don’t expect an answer right away, but don’t let intimidation or cynicism stop you from initiating a conversation.
Also, make friends. Blogging is much more fun when you make blogging friends. Email or tweet a blogger, and see if you hit it off.
A hint on this last tip: Reach out to a blogger that seems to have about the same size audience, or who writes about the same topic as you. That way, you can share ideas and experiences as you journey together. (But you never know, really — Alli and I are fantastic friends, yet our blogs could not be more different.)
7. Drink water, get exercise, and sleep.
Blogging is a sedentary activity, and if you’re not careful, you’ll spend hours and hours of your day not moving much. Move a little every day. Drink water constantly, and keep a cupful right by your laptop. And go to sleep. Shut off that computer and enjoy the three-dimensional world before hitting the pillow.
8. Organize yourself.
If you want to create a blog that posts regularly, has a specific niche, and fosters a community, then you’ve got to plan a bit in advance. Pencil in regular writing, editing, and networking times throughout your week.
Write an editorial calendar. Right now my posts for Simple Mom are more-or-less planned for the next two months, and I keep track of them on a separate calendar within my Google calendars.
Oh, and don’t leave your email client, Facebook, or Twitter open while you write and edit. You’ll never stay focused.
9. Use “use” instead of “utilize.”
Edit, edit, and then edit some more. For every hour I spend writing, I spend about three editing. Choose your words carefully. Spell correctly. Use adverbs where there should be adverbs; adjectives where there should be adjectives.
Get to the point — I’m regularly surprised how much deleting I do before I publish a post. I’ve already deleted paragraphs from this post, in fact.
Don’t use too many exclamation points, and don’t use emoticons — unless you’re blogging for yourself, or for fun. Or if this is your genuine style of writing (see point number four). Then go nuts.
And almost every time, “use” is more appropriate and more pleasant to the ears and eyes than “utilize.” I’m just saying.
10. Don’t forget about the kids.
Remember your priorities. What good is an enormously successful blog if your family is left in the dust? It’s a blessing if you can contribute to your family’s income through your blog, but not to the detriment of your relationships, well-being, and unity.
Close the laptop regularly, and give your kids quality face time. Go on dates with your spouse. Continually kindle your three-dimensional friends.
11. Keep it fun.
This last point is definitely not the least important. Because at the end of the day, if you don’t have a ball running your blog, then you’ll fizzle out, and it’ll show in your writing.
If you’ve noticed you’re no longer having fun, change it up. Take a little break (if your blog is more than just a hobby, re-run posts at least a year old, or find some guest posters). Try vlogging, or taking more photos.
Listen to music while you blog. I do. It makes it a lot more fun.
I could say a bit more about blogging, but I’ll stop for now. There’s already so much out there about the subject — if you’d like to learn more, I’d start with ProBlogger, Blog Coach, and Blogging Basics 101.
Really, at the end of the day, you’ve just got to be you. Your blog, your family, and your self will be all the better because of it.
Alright, fellow bloggers, now it’s your turn. What’s your best blogging tip?All images in this post are from Mike Licht