Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So you want to start a blog

I have had this draft saved for months. I was so scared to post it... like what do I know about blogging to even say anything? But like I'll mention later, blogging is all about being vulnerable, so let's see how this post goes.

People are always telling me that they wish they were blog famous, Instagram famous, Twitter famous, Pinterest famous, etc. IT’S TOO MUCH FAME. They think that starting a blog makes you instantly famous. It doesn’t. I hate to be annoying about this, because I am most definitely not an expert in any of this. It feels like I just started. But if you want to start a blog, you have to understand that you don’t do it for social media fame or any sort of perk.

When I wanted to start moving my blog up, I read a lot about it. ‘How to start a blog’, ‘Blogging for Beginners’, and on and on. The great thing about it was that I already had a blog, I just wanted to up its game a little bit. Regardless, the biggest tip that they had in all of these how-to guides was that you should never, ever start a blog with the intent to make money. Or in the case of my peers, never start it with the hope to gain fame. (Fame and money go hand in hand, right?) I will say this over and over and I hope that you understand how I mean it-- I do not blog for money or to gain popularity. It’s an odd thing to comprehend, because people ask me, ‘Well, don’t you want something out of it?’ or ‘But don’t you want your blog to be seen?’. The thing is, what I get out of it isn’t money or a sense of achievement correlated with fame. I get personal enjoyment and an outlet. Of course, I love it when people read it. More traffic gets me giddy like a little girl. But I only enjoy it because I don’t expect it. I blog what I enjoy, and if people enjoy it, too, that’s fabulous. If you start your blog with EXPECTATIONS, then don’t count on them getting there.

The reason I say this is because blogging can come with lots of disappointments. It takes a lot of time, a lot of hard work (and a lot of work that’ll go unseen by most), and a heck of a lot of patience. You seriously cannot start it with the hope that you’ll go viral after one or two posts. You have to understand that there will be posts that you think will go great but don’t get as many views as you want. That’s happened to me countless times, whether it’s a recipe I worked really hard on and took great pictures for, or a writing piece that people didn’t go crazy for. Hard work and patience are the two key factors in blogging, and I live by those. Hard work has something that’s always driven me, but patience, not so much. (So when you ask what I get out of blogging, know that my patience skills have grown. Hopefully.)

You have to understand that you won’t have many ‘followers’ like you maybe do on social media and if that bothers you, rethink it a little. You have to know why you’re blogging. If you can’t come up with a reason, then maybe this isn’t the best for you.

And the biggest thing that irks me about this whole thing is that you have to differentiate between people with blogs and bloggers. This is going to sound harsh, and again, I don’t mean for it to. Blogging is hard because it requires fresh and original content on a regular basis. People that want to start a blog always say, ‘But I don’t know what I’d post!’ Oh trust me, I feel you on that. I was a rare poster  until I started to get the hang of it. Coming up with new content is really, really hard, especially during those times where you don’t know exactly what your blog is. For example, I had first mentally categorized my blog as DIY. L-O-L, guys. I don’t post as many how-tos as I wish I do. But the difference between me in March and me now is that I now feel like I’m a blogger. A blogger is someone who, yes, has a blog, but also blogs on the bad days and on the good days. That’s hard stuff. It’s really hard. But when you sit down and think, I have nothing to say, trust me, you probably do have something to say. What’s the funniest thing that you saw on Twitter? What touched your heart on Pinterest, or in real life? What did you do today? What are you lusting after that you saw at the mall? What’s going on in real life? These are the things that make you a blogger. When you can put your heart out there on an online journal, decorating it with the things that you love, then you’re a blogger. Again, it’s alright to not have as many at first. But again comes patience, where you have to love it enough to stick with it. When you stick with it, posts come a little more naturally.

You have to be vulnerable, and you have to be real. That can be pretty hard, too. Some of my most vulnerable posts were really hard to click 'publish' on. And guess what? They’re some of the posts that have the most views. Because they’re true from my heart. I was so scared to post them, but so glad that I did. You have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone to keep being real. You can tell when a blogger has BSed their way to get more views.

You have to stay true to who you are. I’ll be honest, if you stick with it, there’ll be a point where you think, I am so good at this. Good for you!! If you’re there and have the confidence to keep doing it, you realize why you love it, then there’s confidence and morale for the next post. You need boosts like that.... but don’t get too big of an ego. Sadly, there are blogs that you can tell where they thought that their posts were invincible because they hit their level of fame, and their remaining posts went downhill. Stay true to keeping your blog as an adequate description of who you are. There shouldn’t be any discrepancy between how your friends see you and how your friends read your blog. Yeah, you should put your best self out there, but don’t fake it. I think one of the posts where I felt like my blog was the best description of who I was in real life is my Polo dress post.

You have to know who you are. When you get comments that aren’t so kind, you have to remember that you are individual, unique, and that it’s okay.

This one’s on more of a light side-- bloggers are annoying. I don’t know how people put up with me sometimes. I joked once on Twitter that my family told me I had to stop taking photos of our Thanksgiving dinner. You have to be annoying to take good photos, to have people take your photos, to stay on your computer working on something, and something that I’m still working on the balance of is social media. If you want your blog out there, utilize your social media to the best of your ability (there’ll be another post on that). Know that your blog is who you are, so if you’re sharing yourself on social media, it’s okay to share your blog on it, too. Know that blogging can be annoying to take photos of your food before you eat it, in between steps of your DIY project, and to take quotes. (It’s almost like journalism.)

Another FYI with being vulnerable-- sometimes, too much is too much. I’ve been very careful about what I post in the context of professionalism and relationships. Don’t post what you want a college admissions counselor or possible employer to read. I’m hesitant to ever write about college choices (think about it: if I were to write that College A is my number one choice over and over, College B might not want to accept me. And it’s embarrassing if College A doesn’t accept me. Or, you shouldn’t bash College Z, because College A might think that it’s tacky). And if you’re going to write about your friends, that’s a totally personal choice. I have most definitely written about or mentioned my friends in my posts, but because I cleared it with them first. Assume that whatever you’re going to write, everyone will read. Not everyone wants their information out there. And if you do take a more anonymous approach (ie, not putting it on Facebook and Twitter and signing your real name with everything), that’s totally fine, too! Just know the differences.


Some of you might read this and go, ‘Wow, what a *mean word*. I can do what I want! What does she know?!’  I’m sorry if I’ve come across this way. It’s just that blogging can be so hard and it took me a while to realize that and not take it to heart. And I say all of this because blogging has changed my life, absolutely and completely. It is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I am 100% proud of it and the things that have come from it. I hope that I am always staying true to myself through it, and that maybe, somewhere along the way, it’s touched someone else, just the way that I’ve felt welcomed and comforted in the blogging world. I say all of this because if you want to start a blog, GO FOR IT. I hope that it brings you the same joy and escape that it’s brought me and many others!


Have any questions? Let me know! 
And a more lighthearted post tomorrow about why bloggers are the coolest.

LOVE EVERYONE LOTS,
Meredith

13 comments:

  1. You are flawless. This post is perfection, and I don't think I have read any posts that nail everything that you do. Blogging isn't the easiest at times and you said that perfectly, and just everything was so perfect and this post was great and you should be so so proud of it. Oh, but you forgot to mention the best thing that comes out of blogging, besides of course personal contentment. Blog friends!
    Love you! xo

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    1. Aw thank you so much, Kathryn! And yes, of course, blog friends are the best!! That post is tomorrow :)
      Love you too!!

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  2. Great great post! I don't know how it could have been better said!

    agirlandhersparkles.blogspot.com

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  3. This is so perfect. You are ten times the blogger I am, and your posts are so genuine. It's obvious that you put your heart into every single one. This post motivates me to be a better blogger. Couldn't have said it better myself :)

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    1. Melissa, you have no clue how much that means to me!!Like seriously that means the world to me. Thank you so much, keep on blogging (because I LOVE yours!) :)

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  4. Great post! Your blog was one of the ones that inspired me to start blogging and the truth is-it is a lot harder than I thought it would be!

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    1. AHH Rachel I didn't know you had a blog, that is so awesome!! And that means so much to me, thank you!! It is kind of hard at the beginning, but eventually, you fall into a routine and love the challenges it brings! :)

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    3. I think I'm finally getting the hang of things! The best part is meeting other bloggers and small businesses. Our blog is hismuddypawprints.blogspot.com/!

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  5. Such a true post, I'm in awe! You go girl, I completely agree that blogging has got to be one of the best things that has happened to me.

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  6. Meredith this is amazing! I'm a rookie blogger and I'm really glad I read this

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  7. Twitter followers, you will always want to save as much of your money as possible.

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Well thank ya for wanting to leave a comment! I love reading what you think! xoxo