Wow. Talk about eating your promises, readers. I used to tell myself that I would never be one of those self-help bloggers. Part of this was based on the fact that some bloggers whose sites were on my watch list when I started out had a surplus of free advice. “Write lists,” they said, or “post about blogging.”
Yuck, yuck, yuck! That was all I could think about such advice. It did not appear particularly helpful to me. But there is a first time for everything, readers – including eating one’s promises to one’s self.
So, with the disclaimer that free advice is worth exactly what you pay for it, here are some things I have learned about blogging which might help you new bloggers to get on your feet.
- Your blog is YOUR blog. In other words, you decide what you want to write about and put in your posts. A blog is a digital version of a magazine, newspaper, or The Prancing Pony of Middle-earth fame. If someone says something you don’t like or asks you to do something you would rather not do, then don’t do it. You do not have to do anything you do not want to do. Though I would recommend being polite when you end up in situations where someone asks you to do something you would rather not do. We like it when others are polite to us, after all.
- Scheduling. Scheduling a post does a lot to ease your mind. You know by now, new bloggers, where the Publish button is. All you have to do to Schedule a post is change the date from the exact moment you are writing your post to a day you feel would be better to publish it. Unless the WordPress program glitches magnificently or some such other hiccup occurs, the post will – well – post itself. Scheduling takes the pressure off of a blogger and lets you focus on the other things you have to do over the week, month, whatever. Posts do not have to go up immediately. As long as they are going up, you are fine.
- Check out the widgets. These can be found near the bottom of the tool bar on the left hand side of your WordPress Administration screen, under the label “Appearance.” There are lots of widgets, tools, and what-not to choose from. While not all of them are useful or of interest, I have learned that some are of great help to visitors to my blog. The one “widget” I recommend most is the Search widget. Activating this widget adds a search engine to your blog. It can help a reader save time in hunting down old posts you have written – or learn where your interests lie.
- Categorize and tag your posts. This is a recommendation, readers. It is not set in stone. But tags are supposed to help other WordPress users find posts in which they are interested. I tag my stuff like nobody’s business so anyone can find my stuff. (I hope; I have no idea if it actually works!) I use categories in large part because it helps me keep my posts organized. Even if readers on my blog do not notice or care for the categories I set up, I know where everything is, and that helps me classify the material I discuss here. This latter suggestion is just for your own sanity’s sake, new bloggers. If others prefer not to look at your categories, that is fine. But it helps writers to have some sort of organization.
- Avoid burnout. Coming from a “write-until-you-drop” blogger, this is something! I never, ever, wanted to be one of those people who wrote a post every day. That may work for some, but the idea of maintaining a 365-day writing schedule makes me want to pass out. If this method works for you, new bloggers, all I can say is good luck. If some of you would prefer to leave time in your lives for more than blogging, work out a schedule and do your best to stick with it. If you are worried about keeping your blog “fresh” and new over the time period between posts, then you can put up something small and relatively inconsequential every now and then. That is the purpose of my “Quotes” posts. This way, the administrators of WordPress know I am still actively using my blog account, as do casual readers or followers. It really does not matter if the “Quotes” posts are read. They are published mainly to keep the blog going.
- Do good work. That is, do your research (or as much as you can), and check your grammar and spelling (dictionaries are very useful). Most important of all, write well. “If you do good work, someone will notice you.” That was a piece of encouragement someone passed on to me when I started out, and now I am passing it on to you, new bloggers.
- Don’t give up. When I first began blogging, I did not like the fact that so few people followed or visited my blog. This was before I realized that just because someone follows your blog, it does not necessarily guarantee that they read everything you write. If you start a blog and are disheartened by the fact that you only have a small number of followers, new bloggers, or that you get about one view per week at something you did ages ago, then remember this: don’t give up. Keep plugging away, and soon you will have more views, visitors, or such like than you know what to do with! I have not reached the point where a comment or a like appears on my blog every day – but I do not get one view per week anymore, either. Persistence is everything, and it pays to be tenacious. Never give up!
Again, new bloggers, this is free advice. It is worth as much as you pay for it. No one person is exactly the same as anyone else. And no one works the same way as the rest of the crowd. We were all made different for special purposes, and we find our destinies in diverse ways. These are just some things that I have found useful in my blogging. Maybe they will help you, too, new bloggers. If they don’t, then just remember – NEVER GIVE UP! If you keep plugging away, somehow, things will work out. 😉
Go have fun, fellow writers!
The Mithril Guardian