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“I used to think you were crazy…. then for a few years I thought you were a glutton for punishment… now I realize you’re on a mission from God!” –Steel Magnolias
One of my favorite movie lines ever, and it pretty much sums up what I think to myself about deciding to become a blogger. Stepping out into the world of blogging was scary. I knew next to nothing about this process when I started, so I relied on Google and faithful friends who were a few steps ahead of me. Some I had to seek out, and some were just divine appointments – I’m convinced that where God guides… He provides!
Whether you are brand new and checking things out, or searching for better ways to do things, thank you for stopping by. My goal is to help you understand the basics, the highs and lows, and that the journey will come with bumps along the way.
Let’s be real: You will want to quit, probably several times. Every time this feeling creeps up and whispers in my ear, I have to remind myself the truth about why I embarked on this adventure in the first place: to love and encourage families to build strong families.
Now I truly believe it’s a calling. Maybe not blogging specifically – this online platform is just a start to many other avenues of communicating, but reaching people in ways that I never could have before with a message that changes the way they think. Communicators are influencers of culture, and if that excites you, you’ve come to the right place.
The Basics of Blogging
To understand blogging, you need to look at it from three vantage points: WHAT, WHERE, and WHEN.
The WHAT is the CONTENT – what exactly you’ll be writing about, who you will be writing to (audience), and how to communicate that effectively
The WHERE is the PLATFORM – the technology tools you’ll be using to get that message out to your audience.
The WHEN is the TIME – how much time does it take to produce these things, and some tools and strategies you can use to manage that time better.
Let’s look at these things in the form of a three-sided pyramid. Think of these three basics of blogging as disciplines you will use cooperatively as you climb the pyramid to a finished product (which could be one blog post, one image, one collaborative email… any task you’re trying to accomplish).
These three work together, and can also work against each other at times. But you need all three to reach your destination. I’ll explain what I mean in the three parts below.
If you feel like you’re a natural-born communicator, teacher, coach or motivator, blogging is a great discipline to learn. No doubt, you have a message that will inspire people to change their lives. Maybe you’ve had a life-changing experience of your own and you just don’t know how to reach people who need to hear your story. Finding your “niche” or your area of focus will help to hone in on who you will write for… you you will serve.
Crafting the Story
This is when you learn to develop your story into bite-sized pieces. In the blogging world, blog posts serve as mini chapters in a book. If you don’t yet have a vision for publishing an actual book yet (if that’s even on your list of goals), blog posts help to craft the message in a clear, concise, maybe even entertaining way. Your message will come through in your voice, or the style that you communicate.
Audience’s Felt Need
But first, you have to know who you’re talking to. The tendency of first time bloggers is to start with a wide audience, because you know your message is important, you want to cast your bet as far as possible. But I’ve learned that the clearer you focus your message on a specific group of people (or even just one person), the more impact you have. If you practice writing to one person (your “avatar”), you will hit on specific needs and feelings, and end up connecting with more people who feel just like that person.
You’ll want to write in specific categories – remember to cast a shallow but deep net. Pick three main subjects you can speak to very well. (For instance, I began by speaking to every family issue until I narrowed it down to parenting, education, and faith. Other ideas will cross over like marriage and recipes, but my focus is on the big three, not all at once.
Network of Bloggers
Join blogging groups on Facebook or sign up for writers training like Compel Training or Hope Writers. Offer to write guest blog posts for other bloggers within their niche, and seek to serve them before you ask for something from them.
The number one killer of blogging creativity is to compare yourself to other bloggers and then feel like you’re not good enough. We all feel that…. like every day (no joke). When someone is further down the road than you are, admire their work and make mental notes of what you like. Don’t try to be them, but use their style to develop your own. Learn from them and work with them to be better.
Serving Your Audience
Always check your motivations for being in the online space. If you continue to produce or write to get attention for yourself, to feed your ego, or to become popular, people will see through that and you won’t significantly impact anyone. Find ways to create things and give them away until you consistently put out valuable resources. Starting a blog just to make money will frustrate you to no end because you’ll be chasing the wrong things.
Try, Try, and Try Again
Blogging is a journey, and like anything worth doing, you have to take it one day at a time. Dedicate yourself to learning new things, read recommended resources, listen to podcasts, and just keep moving.
You will try different things along the way – some you will keep, some you will toss, but know that everything you try is a step in the direction of building on your skills. Nothing created is wasted because it adds to your experience, teaching you what not to do, and as long as you don’t stubbornly follow those paths, you can stay the course and produce beautiful things to impact the world around you.
Let’s look at the next area together… Platform.
Next Article | Blogging Basics: Platform
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