Everything I Learned About Blogging So (So So) Far (to Go)

Now that I’ve been blogging for a while, I thought it would be a good time to look back at where I started and where I am today. I’m not exactly in the place I thought I would be, but I’ve still learned a lot. Read on to see what I’ve learned in the nearly past year I’ve been blogging.

Why Did I Do It?

I started blogging regularly as a part of the DIY MFA Book Club challenge. If you are not familiar with this group, it is a great way to kick-start your writing and connect with other writers. It’s not necessarily blog specific, but I used the assignments as blog posts. Once the challenge was over, I kept posting.

My bigger goal with blogging is related to my memoir. It’s about my brain tumor, my father’s stroke, and how I finally found my place in my large family and stopped being the sick one. I wrote it a few years ago and am hoping to publish it.

This blog is part of my attempt to connect with others who might read my book or be interested in such topics or my writing. I built my website before the challenge, but had no real fire to start blogging regularly until then.

What Did I Expect?

Truthfully, I thought blogging would be a drag. Though I had built my website at least six months before I started blogging, I really didn’t want to blog. Even though I liked to write, I didn’t think I would like to blog.

I thought it would be hard to come up with topics. Years ago I started a blog related to Community Supported Agriculture. I basically posted about the vegetables I received and the recipes I made from them. I knew I didn’t want to write about that anymore since it didn’t have anything to do with my book, but I didn’t know what to write about.

What was it Really Like?

I realized that blogging was fun. Blogging is different from the more formal memoirs and essays I write. It is more immediate. Usually, I get an idea and write it and post it in a few hours. I feel it is a place where I can come back to and may go deeper into topics later.

Part of my reticence to blogging was that I thought I would have trouble coming up with things to write about. There have been weeks where I have had to think a little harder about what I wanted to write about, but I can usually come up with at least one or two.

I’ve tried to blog about topics in my book, such as health and the brain, motivation and mindfulness, migraines, and family. I also have written about other memoirs I’ve read, which is something I haven’t done before. Not all posts fit these topics exactly, but I’m somewhere on the dartboard.

What Did I Learn?

I’ve learned a lot in my almost year of blogging. Compared to my last foray into blogging, I’ve really enjoyed this a lot more. I have connected with a lot more readers, many more bloggers, and learned so much about blogging and other topics that I find interesting. Here are the top three things that have helped me keep going.

Make Yourself Accountable

I make a rule to write and post at least one blog a week by Monday. I chose Mondays so I’m ready for:

  • Sharing my post on Facebook. I do this on the amazing Alexa Bigwarfe’s Write, Publish, Sell. On Monday’s members are invited to share their latest blog post. There’s a real community who don’t just post their own blog, but read and follow each other.
  • #MondayBlogs on Twitter. This is a way for bloggers to connect and share other blogger’s posts on Monday using the hashtag #MondayBlogs. If you aren’t participating, check it out.
  • #MMBC — Monday Morning Blog Club. This is a blog link up where bloggers share their blog and read other blogs. It goes live in the morning in the UK and goes all day.

Read and Follow other Bloggers

In addition to connecting with bloggers and sharing their content in the ways mentioned above, I’ve learned how important it is to read other blogs. Here’s where I put my focus:

  • Find other blogs similar to mine. I searched WordPress reader for brain, stroke, migraine, memoir, and other words that are similar to those and followed them, joined their email lists, read and commented on their posts, and followed them on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Networkwith other bloggers on blog link-ups. In addition to connecting to other bloggers in the ways noted above in my Monday activities, I also connect with bloggers on other link-ups I see. I participate regularly in these on Mostly Blogging and on Twitter via Blogger Love Share and USBlog Retweets. These are good ways to connect with bloggers on other platforms and that you may not connect with in other ways. It’s also a way to connect with bloggers who blog about blogging.
  • Check out the people who like the posts you like. When I read a post that is similar to mine or that I really like, I check out the other people that have liked it, by clicking on their profiles. If they have blogs, I check them out and follow them if it looks interesting.

Keep the Ideas Coming

Here are a few ways I keep the ideas coming so that I don’t miss any of my Monday posts.

  • Write down ideas as they pop into your head. They don’t have to be fully thought out. Scraps and bits of ideas are great starting spots for later. Even better, if you have time, type these tiny pieces of thoughts into a draft post that you can fully flesh out later when the rest comes to you or when you are having trouble thinking of something to write about.
  • No idea is too dumb. Even if you don’t love an idea, or you don’t think it’s the best blog idea you’ve ever had, give it a chance. Every post doesn’t have to be the best and don’t expect perfection from yourself. Plus, you never know what’s going to really hit the reader.
  • What regular topics can you cover? Think about your topics and see what regular features might be related. For my own blog, I started writing reviews and thoughts about the memoirs I read, which I hadn’t planned on doing. It fits with my topic and is content I regularly have.
  • When you have nothing to write about, remember that you’re not alone. When you don’t feel like writing or you can’t think of anything to write, Google “What to write when you can’t think of anything to post on your blog”. You’ll get loads and loads of ideas. One of them should get your creative juices flowing. Or if nothing else, you won’t feel so bad for not being able to come up with an idea.
  • If you still can’t think of anything write “10 Reasons I Can’t Think of Anything to Write” or any other type of list.

I know I have lots more to learn and I can’t wait to see what another year will bring. So tell me, whether you’ve been blogging a day, a year or a lot longer, what advice would you share? How do you connect with other bloggers? How do keep the ideas coming? Where do you network? What other lessons have you learned?

Originally published at catherinelanser.com on November 25, 2018.

Narrative nonfiction and memoir. Querying my memoir about my family, told through the lens of brain tumor and father’s stroke. www.catherinelanser.com

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