August 15, 2015

How to be a blogger

This post might seem untimely. But it's pretty relevant to me. I used to spend a huge part of my day reading blogs. I had a list of all my favorites and I would hop around the Internet from one to another taking in the latest posts. This was back when I worked at a regular 8-to-5 job that I left each day and didn't give a second thought to during my downtime.

Since making a shift to my current work in the world of marketing, there's less definition about when the work day begins and ends. Meaning I'm always thinking about one work-related thing or another at all hours of the day and night. And I really love my job. But I don't have much time to read blogs anymore.

The other day, I found myself with some free time and ended up going down a rabbit hole of blog reading, trying to get caught up on what some of my old favorite bloggers were up to. I was surprised to find that many had not posted anything new in several months and some seem to have quit blogging altogether.

Then it hit me. If anyone else found himself doing the same thing and landed on my blog, he might think I had given up on blogging too.

For the first three years after starting Southern Belle Simple, I blogged regularly, religiously, at least 5 times a week (Monday through Friday). Then I made a career shift and my time was more filled with work responsibilities. Since 2012, my blogging frequency has slowed significantly (once or twice a month?).

If you are an avid blog reader, you may have experienced this as some of your favorite bloggers have slowed down or stopped blogging. Or maybe you are a blogger yourself and this is you. One thing that may be to blame is burnout. I've experienced this for sure. Something else that may be a stumbling block for bloggers is frustration from not having many readers or feeling like your voice doesn't matter in a sea of others who are louder and more "popular."

Here's the bottom line...

If you feel in your heart the urge to blog, you should go for it. 

For that matter, blogging is simply a means of communication and not the end-all and be-all by any stretch of the imagination. The deeper calling is to write.

If you feel led to write, it means there's a reason your voice needs to be heard.

Don't be selfish with the incredible gifts and talents God gave you. The world needs your unique perspective, just like it needs mine. And for the record, I'm mainly writing this post to myself. I just thought there might be others who could benefit from it too.

A year or so ago, I was invited to attend an exclusive event for bloggers. Everyone was talking about different funny things they had experienced while blogging and also what kinds of emails and correspondence they received from readers.

One blogger in attendance is pretty popular among certain circles. She was complaining how she got all sorts of requests from readers asking for guidance on how they could make their blogs as popular as hers. She basically said that because of the influx of bloggers out there all vying for attention of companies and readers, the window to become a successful blogger had shut.

To me, it sounded like a message of "don't even try. You won't make it and it's not worth it anyway."

So is that what we would tell young writers? Just because a ton of great books have already been written, it isn't worth trying to write another? Or what about songwriters and composers? Are there no great songs still left to be sung? Or what about filmmakers? There will be no more movies in the future that are worth watching because all the good ones are already out there?

Nonsense. There's plenty of good stuff to go around. There's enough pie for all of us.

So that being said, here are my best tips for how to be a blogger...if you were wondering.

1) Just do it. If you feel it in your heart, you gotta run with that. It doesn't matter that other bloggers are quitting or that social media is always changing. Maybe a long-form blog isn't what you had in mind anyway. Find what works for you and do that.

2) Tell your truth. Blogging isn't really about painting a picture-perfect scene that presents your life in such a way that everyone wants to be you. I mean, there are plenty of blogs like that but do they make you feel better about yourself? They usually serve to make me feel worse. But when you tell your real-life, gritty truth, it gives the world a chance to relate to you. The real you.

3) Don't bury your treasure. When a thought or idea comes to you, and you ruminate on it for awhile and it seems like a good topic for a blog, explore it. Ideas are like Velcro. If they stick, it means something is working. Sometimes a thought comes to me for a blog post, but then I bury it under busy schedules, household chores and mindless social media scrolling. If you do this long enough, the ideas will seem fewer and farther between. I oughta know.

The bottom line is this: It's never too late to start something new. It's never too late to give life to a dream in your heart. All we get is this one life (if we're lucky). Do the stuff that matters. And if for you, that includes writing or creating something, do that.