In all honesty, I find the whole thing overwhelming. I just wanted to show off a few scribbles, but now it seems there is far more to it.
I have to write articles, push myself on social media, give advice, run competitions, give things away, answer questions, count keywords, be a constant presence... As someone with a full time job and an overreach of projects calling my name [and, if truth be told, a lazy bum] I find it hard to live up to the expectations of what it means to have a blog these days. With so much going on it's difficult to sit down and dedicate time to a well thought out and aesthetically pleasing article.
Time to write being a separate issue, my first real problems are as follows:
Things bloggers do...
- Talk about themselves and their lives
- Give advice on lots of things
- Be friendly and generally chipper
- Write consistently and deliver on time
Things I hate to do...
- Talk about myself or my life
- Give any sort of advice to anyone
- Act a different way to how I feel
- Adhere to deadlines
The world of blogging doesn't really seem to have a lot of space for me. As a grouchy, brutally honest British girl with a stiff upper lip and low tolerance for shenanigans I can't seem to find the right voice. All the popular blogs I've come across seem to be written by blissfully delusional stay-at-home-bake-and-sew-doting-housewife-mom-of-twelve types. Not saying that I have a problem with it, but it's just not me. And if that's the audience then what do they want with the opinions of a 26 year old ginger living in sin with her equally cantankerous boyfriend?
The answer is not much. But at the end of the day, everyone is different and the key is embracing who you are and what you have to say, rather than fighting to emulate other people. After reading a few issues of Artful Blogging and doing a bit more actual research, I jotted down a few good tips for getting a little more serious about writing articles for my blog.
- Take Note - Like all creative thoughts, blog entry ideas will come swiftly and silently out of nowhere, filling your head with a buzzing energy that won't stop yelling point after amazing point in your ear. You start to build up the best blog entry you've ever thought of, it sounds like a total winner. Then something shiny distracts your attention and like a house of cards it all flutters away with the wind.
WRITE. STUFF. DOWN. When I do, I find it much easier to gather my thoughts into something coherent that other people will understand, and from my notes I can gather together a format that covers all the points I want to make.
- Find Your Own Voice - As I said before, when trying to copy someone else who is popular or even whom you admire you tend to lose sight of your own goals. Whenever I move away from my own personality I find it's always with the idea that I have to please other people. Imaginary readers that are judging every last word, waiting behind the screen with torches and pitchforks to rally against me. Being true to yourself is important, in all aspects of life not just blogging. Once you land on what you really, truly want to write about exactly how you want to write it, the flow will be a lot more natural and way more enjoyable. Explore what you love, and you'll find it easy from there.
- Tell The Truth - So many times I've put off updating my blog because I don't feel like my opinion matters, I don't feel I'm an expert on anything, or the stuff I think is cool is weird and sometimes scares people. But as long as I'm not selling a lie or pretending to be something I'm not I don't think any of that other stuff matters. All the things I think about and the advice I give myself works for me, and maybe it'll work for someone else too. So it's worth sharing, even if only a few people enjoy it. If you speak from the heart and tell your story like it really is, it doesn't matter that you're no Martha Stewart, your camera is 4 years old and you don't fart rainbows and glitter. My life isn't perfect, but I love it, and that's the angle I'm going with. Be original and create your own content based on your own research. Better for the soul than to rip anyone else off.
- Stick To A Format - I've found that formatting my entries a certain way leads to better articles and a smoother flow. I start with the scruffy list of notes in my notebook, and put them into an order that makes sense. From there I work out a list of points I want to make and how I want to make them. From that list I can construct full sentences, although they usually find themselves back a bullet point list... Once my points are made, I can go through and make it funnier, wittier, more to the point, whatever it needs. There's also wiggle room for keywords, another important part of getting noticed. A great article isn't going to come first try. Get everything out of your head, then you'll find there's room for more new things, like jokes or humerous metaphors and similes. The fun stuff.
- Give It Eye Candy - I have a tendency to write a lot. But that's just my style. What helps when you have a lot of content is visual breaks, like banners, titles and lots of imagery. It's worth putting time into good photos and images that look like you've taken the time to get looking spiffy. If your entries don't look like you care about them, it's hard to get other people to care. Attention to detail is key. Don't just put the first picture you took up, go through and make a selection based on angle, lighting, what gives the best impression of your topic. I like to use original photos and drawings of my own because it helps reflect my brand, but if you use someone else's it's good to give credit where it's due. Think about formatting and how your images are put together, where they line up and how the whole piece flows. A tidy article looks more professional and is much more plesant to read.
Now that I've got a system in place that works for me, I've found my blog much more enjoyable to interact with. Before I saw it as a chore, something that loomed over me like overdue chemistry homework. It's still time consuming, and a struggle with myself to do something constructive rather than sit with my feet up and a cup of tea watching true crime documentaries. But with all this in place it's getting easier with every new entry, the difficulty now is how many witty metaphors I can come up with in a day...