Blogging in the New Year

When I have time, I go through the list of followers to see if there are new blogs that catch my interest. There is always an influx around this time of year – resolutions are in play and people have a little extra time on their hands. On a side note, I have always loathed the word “Follower”. It sounds like one is starting a cult. If I were to start a cult, it would be one where no one is allowed to make eye contact or conversation, hugs would be banned, and every book would be THE sacred book. Apparently my cult is a library. But that is neither here nor there. At least once a year, I like to do my version of a blogging advice post. So here it is for 2019:

There is no one-size-fits-all blogging advice. Have at it. Have fun. The End.

Just in case you were reading this post for ideas, I can only share what has worked for me, where I find value, and what my own resolutions are in terms of blogging. I’m soon entering my 8th year of blogging, which in digital terms makes me an old-timer. I’m just about to cross the threshold of 19K subscribers and while I recognize the imprecision of that stat, it’s still an indicator that I’ve attracted a little attention. Even if it’s only a cabal of spam bots.

The About Page

canstockphoto37956792Here’s what happens to me frequently. I see someone has followed the blog, I click on the link and it takes me to a template. I’m a little disappointed. I’m always interested in what people are writing and what they are about. But I get nothing.

If you really want to get things going, have that About page done. I know it’s tough. I’ve seen all varieties of About pages: the third person authorial page, lengthy explanations that gave my scrolling finger a cramp, the dating page (my likes are long walks down the hallway and pistachio-colored slippers), the abrupt “I write for me” scoff, and sometimes, awkwardly, pages that make me wonder if I should comment with a suicide hotline number. I go to the About page to find out what kind of writer you are, what topics you might be writing about, and if you care about your reader.

Caring about the Reader

Caring about the reader is considered a no-no for those writers who truck along on faerie dust and high-minded art mantras. I care about my reader in that I want to do my best work. I want my writing to be relatable and just smart enough so that the reader comes away with something to ponder. I care about my reader by using proper grammar – checking spellings and punctuation. I care about my reader by not spraying universal certainty and opinions. I recognize that my own shit is my own shit and may not apply to anyone else. I care about my reader, because those are the writers I want to read.

Tagging and Other Etymological Plot Points

canstockphoto45824701.jpgI originally wrote this section title as Tagging and Other Mumbo-Jumbo. Then I thought, where does the phrase “mumbo-jumbo” come from? From a language perspective, I began to wonder if it were another one of those racist phrases that came into popular use and that I needed to check. I did – and white people were at it again. It can be tracked back to 1738 when a European went to Africa and mispronounced and mischaracterized an African god and tribal language. A century later, it came to mean nonsense words. The linguist in me is both irritated and embarrassed.

The point of that little story is that blogging can be a learning experience. I don’t think that I’d have kept at it this long, if I didn’t learn something each and every time I wrote a post. There is some learning that is very useful up front. Learn how to write tags, how to add links, and how to link your Gravatar to your blog (so your comments are linked to your blog). These things will help your traffic right out of the gate. WordPress has a fairly good reference forum, but a simple search will dig up a lot of people who have written posts and even made videos explaining how to do those things. It’s a good investment of time.

Blogging as a Gateway Drug

One of my own intentions for 2019, is to write more frequently. I fell down the rabbit hole of comparison when I read about one blogger celebrating her 500th post in under two years. This post is my 471st post – in 7 years. Once I stopped hand-wringing over that, I reminded myself that we have to work at whatever pace we’re comfortable with – and for me, it’s simply a slower pace.

canstockphoto37956766What is different in 2019, is that I’ll be learning how to be a working writer with a schedule, deadlines, and actual submissions. So I’m going to up my game on social media as well – posting more frequently with potentially shorter pieces. It’s an experiment on my part – to balance between social media and offline writing that I’m submitting for publication consideration.

People blog for a lot of reasons. And those reasons can change over time. I started off just because I wanted to get over my fear of writing publicly. Then it was about the habit of writing. Now that I’ve fairly mastered both of those things, my next phase is learning how to keep doing this thing I like doing, while taking my work commitment to the next level. For you, it might forever and always be about wanting to get your thoughts out, or a lure for your YouTube channel, or just a connection to the world. And that’s just fine.

There is no one-size-fits-all blogging advice. Have at it. Have fun. The End.

Wishing You Happy Blogging in 2019!

27 Comments on “Blogging in the New Year

  1. You are so true. Write as much as you want and when you want. I really hate this “2-3 post a week”-“rule”. But I also want to write more and of course in german (as I am from Germany) and also some interesting posts in english for example about “staying in hostels in Germany” and “Vintage-Fashion”. Have a wonderful year 2019.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I never bought into blogging advice, but one does hear that one over and over. I don’t see the point, unless you’re blogging for some commercial reason. I never was, so I had the luxury of finding my own pace. I hope you find yours as well – best wishes for the new year!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s the sharing that keeps me going – I have so many stories (and photos) to tell from my travels that I can’t imagine not sharing them, even if after 7 years I “only” have 7.5K followers and admit to some envy of your 19K. I wonder about the frequency of posting. At the moment I’m only posting about every 2 weeks because life is busy, but also because I’m full of excuses, and because I justify it by thinking that people have busy lives and only have so much time to read blog articles. I don’t want to inundate them. I never understood the “post every day” advice. Anyway I plod along with it because . . . stories.
    May 2019 be all you could wish for!
    Alison

    Liked by 2 people

    • The only reason I even mention followers is because it gives me a little cred, but in the scheme of things, I don’t think it is necessarily a reflection of good blogging. The interaction is usually a better indicator and the part that puts the “social” in social media. I was fortunate, when WordPress was doing their “Freshly Pressed” thing, to get a lot of exposure early on, which helped tremendously, but it does skew the numbers a bit.

      For me, it is now becoming part of my “career” plan, which I hope doesn’t screw up the quality. I didn’t have any ambitions in particular when I started, but they have taken shape as my confidence as a writer has grown. I still value the authentic connections here and it will likely remain the place where I write on whim. It’s good to have a place like that, isn’t it?

      You are right in that it’s about the stories. We read blogs because we want to hear other people’s stories. I’m so glad that I’ve been able to read and see yours – wishing you a healthy and happy year ahead!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Hey Michelle, please check out my blog. I was diagnosed with a chronic disease back in 1995. I decided to start a blog to share my experiences with Interstitial Cystitis (also known as Painful Bladder Syndrome), and hopefully lend support to others suffering from a chronic disease. I am hopeful that 2019 will be a great year! Happy New Year!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post, I agree on the posts, I tend to go for more of the content, length, versus writing shorter. Often, when the mind gets going, the intention of one topic transforms into another.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have such mixed feelings about where I’m headed with social media. But I’m happiest here, where thoughts can be explored and are less fleeting. I often start in one place and end up in quite another – the discovery process in writing is invaluable. Best wishes for a happy 2019!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Lovely post and made me reflect on my own motivations for writing each month. I’ve found it to be a lovely supportive community. A goal for me in 2019 is to connect more with people. I too easily write my posts, publish and leave. I’m excited to consume more content and connect with others 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is where I think blogging excels over other mediums. Because it is a longer form and takes more of a time commitment, people are a little more thoughtful about connections. I’ve had a handful of negative interactions over the course of my blogging journey, but they were nothing compared to the people I’ve connected with and who have added to the experience in a positive way.
      Best wishes to you in 2019!

      Like

    • Thanks. I don’t see much in the way of change, except in people’s attention spans. It’s an unfortunate side effect of treating creative work like a consumable item. People are leaning more towards instant gratification junk food, rather than expecting anything of themselves as readers. That’s my old lady self griping. There is plenty of evidence that people are still reading longer form writing, but it does have to be a more deliberate choice to read and write longer work. Best wishes as you dive back in!

      Like

  6. Thank you for your post. “People blog for a lot of reasons. And those reasons can change over time.” I just gave those lines a thought and how my reasons for writing has changed or will change this year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words. I had to look up the phrase “abundance mindset”, so thank you – I learned something. Most things in life are not zero sum games, where if you win, I lose. We all win if we share knowledge, lift each other up, and help each other out. It applies to a creative life, social policies, relationships. I might have to write a post about that…

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Blogging in the New Year — The Green Study – Weevl 'Getting you Online to Offline Community Activities'

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