I am actually a mere five days away from my three-year blogiversary. Three years isn't really that long in the greater scheme of things. But somehow it seems as if three years blogging is forever. Three years recording every wonderful and terrible moment. Three years snapping everything that moves - and plenty that doesn't.Three years falling in love with writing. Three years pouring out my soul in cyberspace.
I have 598 posts on my dashboard, which averages out to about 200 posts per year. Seems reasonable, right? There's nothing in that figure to suggest a blogging addiction. But ask my husband. Ask my kids.
My three-year-old has been blogged about his entire life. I've been The Press with camera clicking at every party, playdate and pancake breakfast. There's not much that has escaped unblogged. Even my dirty dishes and unmade beds have been photographed in the interest of "keeping it real".
And after three years I have a blog I am proud of. 598 stories written about all the insignificant and earthshaking moments that have made up the past three years of my life. Somehow I never seem to run out of things to write about.
Three years ago I barely knew what a blog was. Some weird hybrid between a diary and a website. I certainly never knew how important blogging would become to me or what a wonderful community of women I would discover. So what advice would I give my blog-novice self, if I could?
Ten Tips I Would Give My new-Blogger Self About Blogging
1. Blogging is addictive.
You have been warned. You will find yourself hunched over the computer with icy fingers when you could be curled up on the couch by the fire. You will find yourself endlessly clicking onto your blog to see if you have any new followers/comments/pageviews. This can become quite irritating to the people you live with. You will need to watch that and put in some boundaries. Keep it all in perspective. There's no point having an amazing blog about motherhood if your kids are stuck in front of TV all the time so you can blog about them.
2. Your kids will get sick of being photographed.
They will call you a Japanese tourist and moan when you pull out the camera. Photograph them anyway. One day they will thank you.
3. Your mother-in-law will read your blog.
She will see the unmade beds and unwashed dishes you photographed in an effort to keep things real.Don't worry. She has to love you. You gave her three beautiful grandchildren. When she sees the photos of your ironed tea towels she may fall off her swivel chair. You might want to post some kind of health warning.
4. It would help if you thought up good nicknames for your kids before you start blogging.
It will be a real pain to go back and change every single name on every single post when you've already been blogging for six months and then decide you want to protect their privacy (so future employers can't read about their tantrums in the Mall and weirdos can't stalk them).
5. Blogging is a conversation.
If no-one is reading you're just talking to yourself. Its not like Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams - "If you blog it they will come..."
No. If you want readers (and even better, commenters) for a two-way conversation, you'd better get out there and read/comment on some other blogs, make yourself known. If you want a blog friend, be a blog friend. Trust me. Its as simple as that.
6. Nobody likes a know-it-all blogger.
If you make out you are an expert who has it all together, you will turn people off, so you might as well just go ahead and admit your faults and flaws from the beginning. You know you're not a perfect mother/housekeeper/wife. Your kids know it, your husband knows it, your friends know it. You'll be a whole lot less anxious when the rest of the world knows it and you won't have to worry that someone will blog-recognise you when you're in the middle of dragging a screaming toddler out of the mall. Admitting your faults (and laughing about them) is what helps people love you and relate to you. I mean, we've all dragged screaming toddlers from the mall, haven't we?
7. Find your voice and be yourself.
You will not be everybody's cup of tea. But if you discover who you are as a writer, a person and a blogger then your blog will have a uniqueness that attracts readers who like you for you. The more you write the better you'll become. Practise makes perfect. So keep practising.
8. There's a cool fun blog thing called Linky Parties. Or "Memes".
Linkies are lovely. They give you ideas for material and help you put your blog out there. But don't feel like you have to jump on every meme-wagon. If you're not a cook/crafter/DIYer forget about writing posts for Tasty Tuesday/Creative Space/DIY Club. Find what fits you and your blog's focus; You can find linkies for pretty much anything if you take time to google. Develop relationships and connections around your strengths and interests (maybe even start your own linky - how about a Book Club...?)
9. Don't worry about trying to be a super-blogger.
Don't compare your follower numbers to others. If you get obsessed with numbers and stats it will steal your blogging-joy. You will become discouraged when other bloggers seem to be more successful than you. Remember why you started your blog. You love to write, create, share fun ideas, encourage other women - do what you do and do it well. The numbers will take care of themselves.
10. The best part of blogging is the relationships you form with other bloggers.
Yours is not the only great blog out there. Other bloggers are awesome too. Go looking for them and actually read them. Don't expect "big" bloggers to connect with you. They might. But you are more likely to get a response from those who don't get 143 comments per post. So find some bloggers around your level and befriend them. Comment regularly. Make your comments meaningful - show you have actually read what they have written.
In no time you will have a bunch of wonderful blog friends - your very own online community. Who knows? Maybe you will even meet up with some of them. Have coffee, dinner, even host them for a weekend. You might find they are there for you when you are struggling. They might send you care packages in the post, bake you cupcakes for your daughter's birthday, send you cards with hand-written verses. All these things are possible when you take the time and make the effort to be a blog friend.