Blogging is not what I thought it would be.
I thought it would be a one-way process. I write, readers read.
I soon learnt that it is far more interactive. If you want others to read your blog, you have to be a bit more extrovert, and put yourself out there. You have to engage with social media. And you have to read other blogs.
I say ‘have to’. Actually you want to. There are blogs on every topic imaginable. It is a cornucopia of reading material, and photography, and arts and crafts.
Potential Pitfall 1: Managing your time!
It is really hard to balance writing blog posts with reading blog posts. You can lose hours reading blog posts. So set aside some time, and try not to go over this time, or meals will not be made and dishes will not be washed! I am no longer allowed my phone in the living room, because I cannot multi-task. No one can. And I do need to garden. And go to work. You need to settle into your own routine, and find a blogging routine that works for you.
Potential Pitfall 2: Memes and Linky Parties
A meme is a theme that another blogger invites you to write about. There are some brilliant memes, and these are a great way to get to know other bloggers who write on a related topic. I love The Propagator’s ‘Six on Saturday’ and Cathy at Rambling in the Garden’s ‘In a Vase on Monday’ memes. Being a fairly conscientious sort of person, if I am participating, I feel the urge to read every single post in the meme, and so I refer you back to Pitfall 1! I manage memes and Linky Parties by taking part when the urge takes me. But if I have other posts spontaneously bursting out of me, I write these instead. I don’t want to feel constrained by memes, and so I dip in and out.
Potential Pitfall 3: Images
Re-size your images. I use Tiny PNG. Now. After several months of not resizing images. My ‘media’ became so slow to load that I couldn’t write a post any more. The lovely team at Word Press had a quiet word with me, and now all is well. Learn from my mistakes, and get into the habit from the start. No breakdowns needed.
Potential Pitfall 4: Quality not Quantity
In everything, actually. Don’t become obsessed by your stats. Don’t compare the number of followers you have with others. Don’t join those retweet chains on Twitter. I’ve learnt from experience. You will find your twitter feed clogged with beauty blogs. What are you blogging for? Do you want hits or do you want people to enjoy your posts? Of course I can completely understand just trying to get your blog out there, and a scatter-gun approach may attract a few genuinely interested readers. But don’t become so focussed on numbers that you forget why you blog. Blog because you want to. Blog when inspiration strikes. Don’t worry if it doesn’t: save it for another day. Write about what you want to read about, and if you don’t think a post is ready, then come back to it later. Which leads me to…
Potential Pitfall 5: It doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough!
I do like to read posts that have been proof-read. For gardening blogs it is important to check the names of plants. Punctuation is nice too. If you feel you could brush up on your apostrophes, then do a quick google search, or visit this website. I suppose it depends on the readership you want to attract, and the purpose of your blog. You will find your style. I think the first few posts are always going to be a bit klunky. You will go off on tangents sometimes. Whilst my blog is a gardening blog, I do occasionally talk about food, dogs, walks, life, feminism, racism… I can’t help it, because these are topics that are important to me. You can delete a post if it embarrasses you to read it back. And handily, on Word Press, it goes into ‘trash’ and you can also resurrect it if you have second thoughts!
And now for the pleasures…
Pleasure 1. Writing
Which is surely why you are writing a blog! This is my absolute favourite part of blogging. I have written for most of my life, but rarely let anyone read it. Blogging makes me braver. It makes such a difference to get feedback from readers. Now stuff just pours out of me. I might be making up for lost time. Maybe I will calm down, and get into a slightly slower rhythm of one or two posts a week, but for now I have endless ideas for posts. This does often means getting up at 5am. I have discovered that this is my time for writing. I love being in the kitchen with just the dogs, a cup of tea in front of me, tapping away manically.
Pleasure 2. Photography
You can write a blog without any pictures, and you can use the stock images on Word Press or other host. But often I want a very specific image, and only I can make it. Or it’s the other way round. I will take a series of photos, and the blog post unfolds as I am looking back at them. Blogging has re-ignited my interest in photography. Also reading fab posts from actual photographers has inspired me. I have bought a new camera because of blogging (did I miss out a pitfall? Blogging can be expensive.) I love the multi-media aspect of blogging. Blogging opens new doors to…
Pleasure 3. Creativity
Blogging fuels creativity. I love the diversity in the blogs I read. I love the cross-fertilisation of ideas. Reading blogs makes me reflect, makes me want to discuss issues and expand my thinking. Playfulness is a recurring theme of my blog, and so I think much more about playfulness, and indulge in playfulness more often, so that I can write about it. My tag-line for The Mindful Gardener is ‘The sensory pleasures and earthy delights of gardening’. Every time I view my site I see this, and this subconsciously reminds me to focus on these aspects of gardening. And so I do. And it gets me thinking, which gets me creating, and this makes me feel vital and vibrant and full of vim!
Pleasure 4. Connectivity
I have made connections with strangers through blogging. Which is ironic because for the last five years I have told my children to never make friends with someone online you haven’t met in real life. But, you know, I’m an adult, I can break my own rules. I also go over the one hour screen-time I allow them. I can justify this (I am good at justification) because I have met some lovely, inspiring people through blogging. If you have a particular passion or hobby or obsession in life, it can be difficult to find others in your immediate vicinity who share that. It is wonderful (and a little bit scary) when you meet someone else with your obsession for roses. It is also wonderful if you meet someone with slightly different expertise or experience, or completely different expertise or experience, but who, for some reason, you just connect with. We could all do with being a little more open-minded…
Pleasure 5. Setting your own rules
You can feel free to completely ignore all this advice. It is your blog. You can do what in the world you like with it. You answer to no one. You don’t need to pitch. You don’t need to keep to a brief. Your blog can evolve. So long as you are not being abusive or disrespectful to anyone, then go ahead, indulge yourself. No one could write a blog like you.