I’ve been blogging off and on for a really long time. In my younger days, I pretty blogged about whatever was on my mind, whether it was politics or whatever random online games I’d been creating at the time. Then I got older, social media became the soup de jour and I didn’t dip my toe in again until I thought a personal blog made sense. And by make sense, I mean that I wanted to see whether any of the stuff clanging around in my head met muster.
That led me to Twitter. Most of my connections made these days are through Twitter or conferences. The other day, it occurred to me that blogging was responsible for my ascent and I should dive back in. Except, I’ve always wanted to dive back into it and have opted against it. Why not? A fear of saying something that might offend. If you’ve ever met me in real life, you probably understand that I have a lot of energy and personality. You also realize how boring I’d come off if I restrained all of that in an effort to sanitize content so as not to seem to controversial.
Herein lies the problem friends. When I had no followers on Twitter — it didn’t exist yet — and I wasn’t sure if anyone would ever read my blog, I was free to type whatever I wanted and felt emboldened to do so. Bottom line is, I just didn’t care very much. I just figured if someone found me, great. And if not, that was okay too.
I’ve written variations of this post in the past, but it’s still a conversation that comes up a lot. Not just for individual blogging, but for organizations. Here are a few tips.
1. State your purpose. If you want a professional blog, great. But you still have to give people a reason to care. Be comfortable with no one reading. Set a personal goal for why you’re doing it in the first place, so when you’re bored of it, you have a reason to keep going. This is likely to happen within the first few days, too.
2. Recognize that it’s work. Just because you can share, doesn’t mean you should. Once you decide to do it, recognize that it’s something that requires an investment of time to be great. If you can’t commit several hours a week to it, reconsider whether you really need a blog or not.
3. Know your audience. There are going to be surprises. You might find the people you really thought would be interested in your work are less so, but others like the content. What’s more likely to happen is that no one will read at all. You need to know who you want to reach. After all, you’re sharing something and figuring out what people are sitting somewhere yearning for a voice like theirs needs to be in your head.
4. Read other blogs. I know that when you start blogging, it’s easy to want all the traffic. It doesn’t work that way, friends. You need to see what others are talking about. Don’t be jealous. Sometimes, you can get into situations where someone will blog and you can use that as a chance to respond with your own perspective. Then people are able to read your blog and theirs. Ultimately, you need to be a better reader than a writer.
5. Know when it’s over. Blogs don’t have to go on forever. At some point, you realize that it’s time to shift, pivot or stop saying anything. That’s okay. If you’ve achieved your goals (or even if you haven’t) you can walk away knowing you tried your best.