photo adapted from an idea by marathoner81
thank you for the inspiration!i love the suggestions you guys came up with and i will be using some of them (yes, including a helleristning stone giveaway, HRH TFM that was a good idea) in the coming days, but what i thought i'd do today actually isn't really in the comments (i said i was going to be dictatorial about this). but i do thank you all very much for giving me some great ideas and you will see them coming to a blog post near you very soon.
since BoN hit me a little over a month ago, i've had a number of quite a few people email me to ask for blogging advice. how i got started, what i do to stay motivated (P&P asked some of this in her suggestion below), how to go about it, how often to post--a whole range of questions. just this morning, gypsyfeet, a blogging newbie who is a canadian living in korea (cool!) emailed me and asked for some advice. then it hit me that THAT was what i should write about for my 700th post.
i know you regulars don't really need any advice and i'm not sure i really have anything worth saying on this topic, since i've really no clue what i'm doing, i just keep doing it. however, i won't let those doubts stand in my way, it's just that i wanted to give you the chance to skip to other posts or another blog at this time because this may not apply to you.
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i created this blog in 2004. i had just been wrongfully fired from microsoft (as my lawyer ended up proving, but which i knew from the moment it happened) by my total crap hack insecure middle-level fargo-based manager. my original intent was to expose the middle layer of management fat around microsoft's middle (i'm sure it's still there and likely still needs exposing) and it made me feel good to create the blog.
at first, the blog was closed to the world--i wasn't naming MS by name b/c my case was pending and i didn't want to jeopardize it. what i ended up writing about was how i felt about being fired and my subsequent search for a new job. then i got a new job and i was really busy and i didn't post at all during 2005 and 2006. towards the end of 2007, i was feeling really tired and burned out and wrote a few posts again. it was also at that point that i opened up the blog, thinking no one would find it anyway, so what did that hurt. then it hit me that my job was actually killing me and my relationships and my family life and so i left it at the end of 2007. i decided then that blogging would be a way to heal and find my way back to myself.
i've always written journals and used journaling as a way of thinking things through and helping me sort out the world around me. my need to do that after leaving the stressful job was great and this little blogger compose space just spoke to me, so i started channeling those musings through the keyboard rather than writing them out in journals. i found it was an easier way of being sure that i wrote every day--which had also been a longtime goal that i had never really been able to fulfill. i type fast and so i could get the thoughts down faster anyway. whatever it was, the blog as a medium clicked for me.
so i wrote happily along, trying to find my way back to myself and especially to my creativity and my family and well, my life. i also started reading a lot of blogs. i lurked, because i didn't really know how the whole commenting thing worked and it seemed like all those people commenting knew each other and i just felt like an outsider. i also was in a process of working out what i liked and what spoke to me, so i favorited a lot of blogs in different categories and visited them regularly, but quietly. i doubt any of them knew i was there. some of them i still occasionally check in on, but for the most part, i'm not really actively reading the same blogs today that i was then (that's mostly because i've moved on from the scrapbooking thing).
in mid-march 2008, around my birthday, i got my first comment. i was astounded that someone had found me as i seriously never imagined anyone finding me or reading what i was writing. i was writing instead of going to therapy and just enjoying it for the act of it and for myself. so i was totally surprised how cool it was that someone left a comment. that someone was the elementary. she writes lovely, thoughtful posts and can turn absolutely any tiny detail into a totally delightful story with a life lesson attached. she's wonderful.
getting a comment on my blog gave me the courage to comment on some of those blogs i was reading. and it turned out that then those people came to visit me and suddenly a few more were commenting and it started to feel like a community with friends. to this day, i still don't feel worthy of commenting on a blog like hula seventy, so it can be that you'll feel that way too. but maybe it's just me. and it can cut you off from wonderful people--for example, for the longest time i felt unworthy to comment on paris parfait, but tara is one of the most generous, wonderful bloggers i know. all it took was that i finally had the courage to leave her a comment.
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i love the blog as a medium. i think it affords the opportunity to be all over the place and explore different genres. one of the early comments after BoN hit me was, "i love your blog, but i don't know what it's about." i felt like, "yes, success!" you see, that's precisely what's cool about the genre of blog (if it indeed is a genre, i'm on the fence about that--i think it's becoming one)--it's anything and everything you want it to be. but, from my point of view, it's above all personal. so my advice (and it is advice, not rules, i don't think there are really rules to blogging) will reflect this--i'm not advising you how to sell your etsy stuff (as if i know anything about that) or find customers for your interior design business or photography studio or create a blog where you post tutorials of crafty stuff. all of my advice is about blogging as a personal expressive tool--gypsyfeet called it my "thinking out loud" style this morning and i think that's an apt description. so this is my advice for thinking out loud. :-)
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- be real, if you're bummed out, say so. if you're elated, share it. people will see through it in a minute if you're not real. that annoying blog that made me hate the word "rad" is so thoroughly and completely fake sappy sweet that it makes me want to throw up. and i'm certain it's all an act because that shines clearly through in all of the vapid self-portraits that are used in every post. and i refuse to link to it here so that you are spared and to avoid sending any visitors her way. instead, i'll give you a link to a new blog i found recently of someone who i think is blogging in a very real way and i love that! go read marinik's blog, her husband has cancer and is dying and she's writing about it so beautifully and so authentically, i'm amazed.
- go out and read a lot of blogs, when you find one that speaks to you, click on their blog favorites because chances are it will lead you to more blogs that you'll like.
- don't be afraid of leaving a comment--but leave an honest comment--if they moved you or made you laugh or even pissed you off--say so (politely, articulately), but don't just say, "nice blog." and leave a link to yours. i never ever click those links, but if someone leaves me a sincere comment, i always click on their profile and have a look at their blog. it's really about being real again, just like in #1.
- by being real, i don't mean that you have to expose real names of your family members and such--i refer to husband as husband because that's what we all call him, but i know some people say spouse or hubby or kid #1 (please don't say kidlet, that's just wrong, but of course, it's a choice and you're welcome to make it) or whatever because they want to protect their privacy. that's totally cool and doesn't mean you're not being real.
- it's up to you to decide how often you want to post. i post every day because that's part of what i want with blogging--i want to write on a daily basis. but one of the very best blogs i've ever read and which i read religiously is truth cycles and hele posts only once in awhile, as the spirit moves her. i'm sure i'm not the only one who wishes she would post every day, but that's not her way of blogging and every one of her posts is worth the wait, so whenever a new one pops into my reader, i rush to read her first. what's interesting is that i don't always comment the first time, her posts merit careful thought and i often go back to post a comment later.
- use great photos. i have come to the point where i would almost call myself a photographer (don't worry bill, i won't actually do it ;-)) and i can tell you that if you look back at my early posts, that was not the case. i bought my nikon D60 in early may last year and my photos have steadily improved since then.
- carry a little notebook with you to scribble blog ideas in. whenever i'm out, i see half a dozen things i want to blog about later. for this reason, i don't go anywhere without my camera or my little blog notebook. and i mean nowhere. they come to the grocery store with me, just in case.
- if you see a blog post you love on someone else's blog--be it a list or writing in reaction to a particular question or quote--write your own version and link back to the person who inspired you. inspiration is viral in the blogosphere, but do give credit where credit is due. it's not nice to steal people's words and ideas.
- try out other voices. write in the 3rd person once in awhile. write a fairy tale. i never do poetry, but lots of people do to good effect. the medium allows you the freedom to try out all kinds of things.
- listen to what people say in the comments. i've been amazed, especially of late, at how reactions to various posts were very different than what i had imagined they would be. i thought i was being really funny with my snow white post and people found it to be a sad little tale. i hadn't seen it that way at all, but could totally see what they meant after i got that reaction. listening to the feedback you get in the comments can totally help you grow as a writer.
- i love to change my blog header regularly. it makes me happy.
- don't go too nuts with the gadgets in the sidebar. (i know, i don't follow this well enough myself. but i do try to avoid things that are flashing or have too much distracting motion.) the star of your blog is your blog posts. there are tons of awesome free blogger templates out there to help you be creative and display the things you want to display.
- this is a personal preference, but i really don't like those music players that trigger music automatically when i visit a blog. you don't really know where people are when they're reading your blog. maybe it's late at night and their baby has just gotten to sleep and they click to your page and music blares out and wakes the baby. or they're at work and don't want to broadcast to the world that they're reading blogs. put the player on, fine, but don't have it trigger the music automatically. or share your playlist in another way--i've seen blogs with changing "listening to now" lists. that's cool and i've discovered a lot of great music that way, so i love people sharing their favorite music, i just want to be able to play it on my own terms.
- answer your comments. i don't always have time these days, but i try to, especially on the "important" posts or on a post where i wanted a dialogue about the topic. if there's an email address on the comment, i often answer directly to the person. sometimes i indulge in these (perhaps annoying if one has subscribed to comments or if one feels left out) IM conversations, which are an occasional bit of fun. i love that whenever i comment on magpie's blog, she always answers directly to me. it makes me feel recognized and worthy and like a friend. mary and meri both do that too. and i think that's way cool.
- if you don't feel like posting, don't post. everyone goes through periods where you just feel a lack of motivation. there's nothing that says you MUST post something--it's really totally and completely up to you. that's the beauty of blogging, it's totally subject to your whims.
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i write for a living in addition to all this blogging, as well as coming from a long line of journalists, so writing is in my blood. i might feel a lack of motivation some days, but i can't imagine having nothing to write about. i think about blogging all the time--everything i do, everyone i meet, everything i observe, every picture i take is all potential fodder for a blog posting. i scribble them down in my little notebook and if i'm having a blah day, i turn to that and find ten ideas that get my mojo back. in my view, the more you write, the more you will have to write about.
everyone always asks me how i have the time. it's because i prioritize it. it's important to me--more important than watching t.v. and getting enough sleep. i'm a night owl, so very often my posts are composed late at night and set to post at a particular time the next morning.
blogging has made me more present in my everyday world, despite the fact that i send it all out into cyberspace. i'm more grounded and more observant than i was. and it's what has brought me here, to my 700th post. and i think that's a good thing.