At the start of every new month, us bloggers get that thrill of having a fresh start and blank page to blog all over. A new year basically quadruples this feeling – so many possibilities, a passport for change since it’s the new year and everyone is changing something up, a very clean and easy opportunity to do something different.
It’s for this reason that the first few months of the new year are my absolute favourite for blogging. We have the motivation to drop our bad habits (my big bad habit is not replying to comments – boo), try something new and most importantly keep it all going. Most of us are back to the grindstone and we don’t have the distraction of summer holidays or festive content. This time of year it’s easiest to be truly authentic, honest and progressive.
Like many of you reading this, I started 2018 certain that this was going to be my best blogging year yet. I might not win a Blogger of the Year award or smash all my statistical goals, but without a doubt, I was going to work smarter, get more involved and enjoy my blog more in 2018 – but how?
It’s a popular question, and everyone tends to have a different answer. Even though none of us can definitively say how to have your best blogging year yet, we all have a few ideas and today I’m sharing mine.
Be an offline blogger
“What? Becky, this doesn’t make any god-damn sense!”. Usually, blogging takes place online, but being a blogger can take place online, offline, on top of a mountain, on the tube – wherever. Being a blogger means being creative, creating and nurturing ideas, all of which can (and often does) happen offline.
I’ve always found the best blogging comes from spending time offline. It’s hard to come up with real-life relatable ideas when you’re inside, living online and not actually participating in the lifestyle you’re writing about. Of course, I only know this because I’ve been an online blogger and struggled when it came to writing about anything beyond my desk chair.
Be an offline blogger by unsubscribing to the idea of sharing your whole life online. Try and live in the moments that you experience and create around what you do in life, rather than writing about the ideal life you don’t really live. The honesty and authenticity of this style of blogging will leak through onto the
page screen and I promise you’ll enjoy your work more (and other people might too).
Treat people like people
If you’re a regular reader (or commenter or general interact-er) of my blog or online profiles then I love ya – I really do. Mostly because you have amazing taste, but also because you’ve stuck with me through my sucky communication skills.
See, people are people, not just bloggers, not just ‘fans’ or readers. If you don’t know what to say to a comment or person who has reached out to you, then just be human. It took me a long time to learn but people are just people. For an embarrassingly long time I stared at the rare comment and felt bewildered, why was this person talking to me? Do they have an ulterior motive? Is it a joke? Do they just like my content and want to reach out, letting me know that I should keep going? Who knows.
Even if a blogger you love gives you an opportunity or interacts with you, they’re still just a person communicating, so communicating back is the only way to get any value from the comment.
Starting to reply to comments swiftly and honestly communicating back has been a turning point. It feels more real, I feel more satisfied with what I’m putting into the world and from a reader’s perspective, I probably seem a lot friendlier. Everyone wins.
Give every idea the green light
Some ideas are pure trash. Now that’s out of the way, here’s why you should pursue every idea you have – trash or no trash.
At least half of blogging is drafting, constructing and writing actual words and the only way to get better at the activity core to blogging itself, is to practice. Drawing on every idea you have and nursing up to an actual, full-length blog post is the perfect way to finetune the craft of creating quality content.
Of course, if you get to the end of the post and hate what you’ve done, you don’t have to send it out into the world. I often keep ideas that didn’t work out in my drafts and months later I’ll stumble across is, realise what was wrong with it and edit it to be something half-decent. It’s kind of like the rule of never deleting unflattering pictures – they’re unflattering now, but in 6 months or 3 years, it might just be the perfect memory for you to keep.
The half-hearted idea you’ve developed into a blog post now might not be your best work, but it’s still serving your blogging journey (and might even come in handy in a few months).
Stop consuming so much
The credit of this point goes back to a blog post (don’t ask me to find it) written by A Branch of Holly. I read this post maybe 18 months ago and the big thing that stood out to me was the concept of consuming less to create more.
Looking back now, it is an obvious conclusion to a problem of oversubscribing to other people’s content. Too much of everyone else’s ideas mean that we don’t have enough empty space for our own – or that we end up second guessing every idea we do have because someone else did something similar or compared to another piece of writing it’s not good enough.
For a while, I didn’t consume any blog content at all – which was an extreme take on this point. Eventually, I realised that by not exploring any other ideas or opinions I didn’t have any markers of what people were talking about and why people felt like they did towards certain things. A more balanced approach is to consume content that genuinely draws me in – and I’m sure it will work for you.
If something shouts out at you then read it, view it, interact with it, but save your energy for creating your own content.
It’s scary being the one to send the first e-mail, the one to leave a comment or being the person to initiate something fresh and new – it’s also a damn good feeling of accomplishment (no matter the outcome).
Reaching out is the thing that will change the blogging community. Whether you’re reaching out to collaborate, to ask for sponsorship, to build online friendships or just to promote yourself, it’s the action that stops you shouting into an empty room. Naturally, we won’t all want to reach out all the time. Sometimes we want to blog to no audience, but to open doors and create your own opportunities, shouting from the rooftops about your idea or the new thing you just created is the way forward.
There are some great and exciting projects, groups and shared content happening this year, mostly because people have reached out and started something. Start small and shoot off a collaboration idea, put together a pitch for a brand or just send off an email to one of your online friends (or online acquaintance).