Let me guess: your business needed a blog. You’d never considered yourself a writer, but you had enough industry knowledge to add something to the conversation. Dutifully, painstakingly, you poured blood and sweat into your first posts and then stood back to watch the comments and business pour in. Except that they didn’t.
Spend 5 minutes Googling “blogging tips” and you’ll find so much information it’ll make your head hurt. Define your goals, know your audience, produce high quality content, yadda yadda yadda.
Inevitably, the more you read, the more anxious you’ll become. You’ll start counting the ways your blog is currently falling short and marveling at your own incompetence. How is everyone else doing this so easily?
People might tell you that blogging is hard and that it takes time. But here’s what they’re really trying to say:
1. Your blog will suck at first.
You can read as many Blogging 101 articles as you want, but no matter how much wisdom you have coming into the process, there’s just no way to bypass the necessary evils of practice and time. If you look back after a year or more of blogging and think your first post is as good as your last, you’re doing something wrong.
And don’t fall into the trap of comparing your fresh baby blog to The Top Dog Blogs. You wouldn’t compare your 4th grade paper to someone’s grad school dissertation. Cut yourself some slack.
2. You won’t always have time to be profound.
I know—the content marketing moguls say that, in order to be successful, your website must provide exceptionally high quality content day after day. To really impress Google and keep your readers hungry for more, your blog posts should be razor sharp, shockingly innovative, and ideally, outrageously funny.
Maybe this seemed feasible in the beginning, when you had that stockpile of brilliant ideas stewing in a Word document somewhere. But in the age of the internet, an idea’s shelf life is painfully short, and it gets harder and harder to stay fresh and current, much less profound.
The reality is that not everything you say will be awesome, so don’t expect it to. You can’t sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. Just show up, get words on paper (sorry, “get words on monitor” doesn’t have the same zing to it), and hit Publish. Make writing a habit, and in time, the genius will come more naturally.
3. You will have no idea how to “be yourself.”
Another thing the content marketing moguls push is personality. You know you’re supposed to be real, quirky, fun…you just don’t know how.
You’d think it would be easy to “be yourself,” and yet when you sit down to write, this super formal, long-sentenced academic essay comes out.
Finding your voice as a blogger takes a lot of time. And it’s not because you’re a bad writer—it’s because blogging is an art that takes crafting, just like any other learned skill.
If you’re not quite ready to be yourself in your posts, start out by just being human. Write the way you talk. Start sentences with “but” and end them in prepositions. Include the word “suck” in a post without fear or shame. (If anyone protests, we’ll cover for you.)
4. You will feel vulnerable.
Anything you put on the internet under your name (or your company’s name, which can be traced back to your name) is personal. Whatever happens to it after you hit Publish is perceived (by you) as a reflection of yourself.
You’ll write a deeply insightful, perfectly crafted post that’s way before its time—and get zero comments or shares. Then, you’ll dish out some cheesy one-liner about seals on Twitter and get 50 retweets.
Blogging is an emotional rollercoaster. Interestingly, the most successful bloggers are often the most transparent ones—the ones who embrace their vulnerability. They post pictures of themselves, talk about their failures as well as their successes, and share intimate details about their businesses that make readers feel like insiders.
Make your blog a place of collaboration and two-way learning. Don’t be afraid to admit that you’re not an expert (at least not yet). Ask your readers for advice or input to show that you’re not just talking to them—you’re trying to converse with them.
5. You will wonder why it’s so hard for you.
You probably feel like the top bloggers just sit down and churn out genius content. Maybe some of them do—either because they’ve had a ton of practice or, in the case of a small minority of bloggers, they’re just exceptionally gifted. (Or they’ve secretly hired a team of brilliant paid writers to ghostwrite for them.) But most of us have to spend a lot of time on each post—researching, writing, and rewriting until our chicken scratch ideas and disjointed points start to look sort of like real, intelligible prose.
Don’t be alarmed if you have to do a ton of research to write your own posts. Your brain will fight you on this, saying “This is your industry! You’re in the trenches with this stuff all day, every day. You should just KNOW what to say!” But your ideas are not going to be valuable in the blogging world unless they’re written not only well, but in the right context. They need to fit comfortably into the current
conversation, which means you need to know what that conversation is, who the ringleaders are, and what’s been said so far.
6. You will feel like you’re always a step behind.
Things change fast and the internet is an overwhelming place. You’ll think of an awesome post idea—one that will totally floor your readers—and one quick Google search will reveal that the very same post has already been written 100 times in 100 different ways, starting several years ago. Where have you been?
Then, you’ll be checking your daily blogroll and you’ll come across an article that, by all accounts, SHOULD have been written by you. Why didn’t you think of that?
Sometimes, when these things happen, there are ways you can still add value to the conversation. You can respond directly to another blogger’s post, taking their points a step further or playing devil’s advocate to them (as long as you’re open and honest about where the meat of the conversation originated). This habit can even help you establish new relationships with other bloggers and, potentially, redirect some of their readers your way. You can also revive ancient posts by outlining ways those old ideas are still relevant in the context of the current industry environment.
The only way to keep up is to do your due diligence. Stay on top of industry leaders’ blogs, comment on them (meaningfully) to insert yourself into the conversation, and keep an eye out for more obscure sources that you can pull into the conversation. Eventually, you’ll start having brilliant new ideas in the shower too.
7. If you write it, they will not come.
Finally, your content is mind-blowingly awesome. You’re funny and on point. You’re finding truly inspired new ways to present information and your Word document is exploding with fresh ideas. But the comment and share tallies on your blog are still tragically low.
Marketing your blog is a whole different beast. Like everything else, it won’t happen overnight. All you can do is keep paying your dues and putting yourself out there—and, of course, reading everything you can get your hands on about how to market your blog. Here’s a great place to start.
What have you learned about blogging that you wish someone would have told you in the beginning?