The Big Deal About Blogging
A few years ago (about 5/6 to be exact) I started my first blog. Incognito obviously. Too afraid to face criticism from those I know personally. Would they think my writing boring or too “out there”. Would they believe me to be silly or worse… They would actually read too much into a simple post or misinterpret the true essence of it. The horror. Would they automatically assume that they know me and judge me. All some of the thought that almost made me give up on writing altogether. It took me a while to find my “voice” and today I’d like to share the big deal about blogging.
Fast forward to now. A few incognito blogs that has received some positive comments later, to me sharing my life as a mom and experiences when I first “came out” and now that I’m so into the game that I often get asked for help from hopefuls wanting to start blogs. I’m really not that great, but I know a quite a bit about what works and what doesn’t. Assisting my son with his grade 11 Life Orientation project and explaining what a positive online presence is along with concepts of blogging was an enriching experience. Knowing that he gets it is a major win for me and a definite badge to add to my ever growing collection in mommydom. Watch me blow my own horn. I’ve been ghost writing for websites and pages for about three years now and that is what qualifies me to write this.
The truth about blogging
While many people see the glamour in it and all the freebies they may be receiving, they don’t realize the hard work it takes. The time spent between writing a single post, editing, spelling and grammar checking, inserting images and proof reading before clicking post can range anything from 1 hour to a few days. Even the most seasoned blogger or writer will tell you this. Then, that is but the basics. There are other factors to consider. Your website, albeit a free platform or your own domain. Is it visually appealing and what is your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking.
It takes hard work and dedication to run a successful blog. Finding your niche and marketing your brand can be tricky. How do you promote yourself and how often should you do it? A few questions that can only be answered by the amount of time and effort you are willing put into your online presence.
While I could answer some questions for you, my son and I decided to do a little collab on this post with the information he’s learnt upon researching his project. Below are the guidelines he shares in his blog post.
The importance of a positive online image and guidelines for readers
By: Kyle Jonkers
Having a positive online image may not seem important to you now as a young adult, but you need to remember that it’s your online footprint. Once a post has been posted on the internet it cannot be removed.
Having a positive online image will make people see you as being internet savvy. The online world is more about perception than real life. This may benefit with your future career by advertising positive information as employers now look at social media accounts of prospective employees.
As a learner in grade 11 and 12 the following guidelines are useful to enhance your personal brand and build a positive social media profile:
- Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Objectives
Be specific as to what social media accounts you wish to choose to enhance your personal brand. Ensure that your goals are measurable and achievable. Make sure that your brand is relevant to what you are advertising and time should be at your own pace.
Thorough planning and a social media calendar can help you schedule in advance to maintain consistency. Useful for days when you are not in the mood or too busy. This will also help you strategize as you get to know your audience. You will also be able to plan on how to engage with readers.
Visually appealing images are important as readers are attracted to vibrant images. Maintain a certain consistency across all of your social profiles. This helps control the public’s perception of your personal brand.
- Be Authentic
People want to read about real life stories and experiences. They want to also relate to the writer. Be yourself.
Research and useful links to follow:
Now that you have some insights from my son, whom I fondly refer to as #1stK, allow me to give you some more details on blogging without confusing you with jargon and information overloading.
Things to remember about starting a blog:
- Go at it with your eyes wide open. You will be exposing yourself to the whole world. Or at least everyone who has internet access. Not everyone will like your style of writing or the category you choose. That is perfectly OK. Choose your niche and write to your audience. Even if your audience consists of 1 reader.
- It takes time to create a following. Don’t get despondent if after a week or month you don’t have any followers. They probably just don’t know of your existence yet.
- There is no right or wrong way to write or blog. It’s your personal space and you decide what goes. Although I have to agree with my son that your a positive online image is imperative.
- You don’t have to have your own domain and know the workings of how your content managing system works right away. It’s a learning process. There are plenty of functions I still haven’t figured out and many I don’t even know exists. It is however important to get yourself familiarized. Personally I find WordPress is the most user friendly platform.
- Join a blogging group. The blogging community is an awesome bunch who don’t mind sharing their knowledge and assisting you. Many of the people I’m proud to be associated with are bloggers. And those are people I don’t see in the real world. There is a camaraderie amongst us that cannot be rivalled.
- Don’t go into it expecting perks to fall into your lap. There may not be any event invitations coming your way for a while if ever. I receive goodies from time to time as well and as great as it is to unwrap a courier parcel, it’s not worth selling your soul for. Some of it is not worth the time and effort it takes to write and publish a post. There are many opposing opinions amongst bloggers about those who are monetizing their blogs vs those who are willing to write a post for a bar of soap (not really that bad, but you get my point right). It’s all politics that you don’t have to entertain right now. And if you ever get to that point, you decide on whether you want payment for a job or not.
- Read fellow blogs and comment on posts. Get to know the bloggers through their blogs. It’s a community and almost everyone knows everyone. Commenting on a few blogs may just get you recognized and meet up with other bloggers who are commenting on posts too. Just dont be selfish and do it for attention only. Be authentic in your comments as well. Don’t just say “great post” and expect a relationship to form.
- Consistency benefits your blog on so many levels. Not only will it give your readers more opportunities to get to know you, they will also learn to know the days you post and seek you out. Consistency doesn’t mean that you have to post every day or week. It can be once a week or month. Try it to schedule it for the same day at the beginning and take it from there. This is something I fail at horribly. I wont even bother making excuses for it. In my defense I’m a ghost. I could probably make more time to blog. Even though this is the one aspect of successful blogging I don’t follow, trust me on this. I told you I know what I’m talking about.
- Be authentic. In other words, be you. You dont have to be perfect. No one expects it from you. Besides, you’ll find the more you write the easier it becomes. Don’t try to copy someone else or worse put up a pretense. People can spot that quickly. Again, not everyone will like what you have to say but say it. PS: this is not an open pass for you to be crass and a turd.
- Engage with you readers. People take the time out to read your posts and type up a comment. Have the courtesy to respond to them. Not everyone will leave a comment either. It’s somewhat intimidating to respond to a post or article online. Believe me sometimes I refrain from commenting because I think my two cents will be silly. I’m human.
- Having a positive online presence doesn’t mean you have to be upbeat all the time and talk in song about sunshine and unicorns. You are representing your brand and no one wants a bad rep. Remember that once on the internet, always on the internet. People remember. Penny Sparrow is a perfect example.
In conclusion, blogging has it’s pros and cons. You are putting yourself out there and may be judged by readers. There may be trolls who wait around for any random post to unleash their inner turds. Let them. It’s never about you and more about them being miserable humans. Social media shouldn’t be taken too seriously at times.
Both #1stK and I hope you enjoyed this post. If you want to know mote about blogging or want to see another collab post don’t hesitate to give us a shout.
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