About four and a half years ago, I asked my then agent what I could do to better my odds of success as an author, other than writing and writing some more. Among his chief suggestions? Start a blog.
Write for free in the spare time I don’t exactly have? It sounded like dreadful homework, but like many writers, I was eager to do whatever it took to move forward. That “whatever” turned out to be one of the most important professional decisions I’ve made.
Over the weekend, my blog reached 1 million views. While numbers are by far not the most important thing and all relative, this felt pretty awesome—especially considering I recall very well a time I nearly pleaded people to check it out. (Uh, that’s not a suggestion.)
Some writers might hear “a million views” and think, “Yeah, but it was all for FREE!” Heck, if if I’d received a penny for every hit, I’d be $10,000 richer. But I can assure you, I’ve received much more than that.
Blogging has helped me build a readership before my first book even released, introduced me to wonderful friends and given me a platform to share and connect with others in ways I hadn’t imagined possible. It’s led to speaking and writing gigs, including my highest paying magazine assignment, some groovy awards and, three years ago, facilitated the launch of Girl Boner®—which led to Girl Boner® Radio. It continues to fill the emotional gaps between writing for others, this writing that is fully mine—no rules or hard deadlines, no editor’s sharp eye or endless rewrites—only me, my soul and my fingers, typing to my heart’s desire, very often letting whatever’s on my mind spill out on the page. In that vulnerability lies strength and even healing.
Blogging isn’t for everyone, but if you’re the least bit curious about what it might bring or allow for you, I highly recommend giving it a try. If you do, or if you’re currently blogging and it does feel like annoying homework, here are some of my favorite strategies:
Write what you’re compelled to write, no matter how seemingly “big” or “small.” When I speak about blogging, I’m nearly always asked what one should write about. The answer is, whatever you wish. Your content doesn’t have to tie in to a particular theme or product. (Yes, Girl Boner® is my brand now, but you’ll also find me reminiscing about whatever and writing about my dog.) It simply has to matter to you.
Be consistent, but not rigid, schedule-wise. When I first started blogging, I’d read that three posts per week is ideal. Holy way-too-much-for-me. I tried it, then quickly realized that I needed to make time for stuff like sleep. If super frequent posting works for you, great! I find that about once per week suits me. Find a rhythm that works for you, and if you need a break, take it.
Set aside fear of what others might think. Yes, it’s important to consider your audience and loved ones when blogging, but there’s a huge difference between consideration and fear. Don’t let fear of others’ judgment hold you back; that’s stifling in all life areas.
Prioritize authenticity, not popularity. When I started Girl Boner®, a few told me I’d definitely gain readers, because “sex sells!” Everyone wants to read about sex, right? Yes and no. There are gazillions of sex blogs and articles, so joining that genre was a bit like becoming a drop in an ocean, versus a kiddie pool. My most popular posts aren’t my most explicit or seemingly “marketable” posts. They’re the ones I feel most compelled to write.
And remember, building takes time. Here’s how my blog’s growth looks visually:
Don’t over-strategize. Hey, isn’t this a list of strategies? Yup. But I’m talking about not becoming an over-strategizing-numbers-likes-shares/trendy-topic-obsessed monster. My favorite people to read and follow online are those who are *gasp* human. They share to share or because they feel (that word again!) compelled to, not for a particular reaction. That authenticity shows in their writing, their brands and their worlds. And you know what? They’re going far. Gentle strategies here and there, groovy. Fixating on acclaim, not fun or helpful.
Lastly, dive into the community. Seek and explore other blogs. Follow, comment on and share those you dig. Mix and mingle with Kristen Lamb’s brainchild, the #MyWANA community. Check out BlogHer—the best conference on anything I’ve been to, and much more. Spend even 10 minutes a day scoping things out through WordPress, Twitter or Facebook. Chances are, you’ll find your tribe. That is the beginning of awesome.
What has blogging taught you? If you’re thinking of starting, what’s holding you back? Any questions you’d love thoughts on? I love hearing from you all—and am so grateful for the time you’ve taken to read any of my work. It means so much. ♥