Are you looking to start a personal blog, revive an abandoned one or get more out of your current blogging venture? With nearly 7 years of experience blogging for Lune I can tell you what I've learned on my own journey towards loving blogging. Here are my top 3 ways to create a personal blog you can truly love. I hope these suggestions will give you some encouragement toward making your own blog fit like a glove.
Tell your story in a natural way
Learning how to author your blog in a way that is natural to you is an essential step toward enjoying blogging. I've spoken to many people who express an interest in starting a blog, but just can't get past the idea that they are not a very good writer or that they can't take what they consider to be a good photo. The thing is, there are many approaches to how you can tell a fantastic story through online journaling. The key is to look toward your strengths as a story teller. Are you visually adept, but lack confidence in the ability to carry on a narrative? Then consider a photo blog with very minimal tags and captions. If you're camera shy, allow your written word to shine. Maybe a collection of illustrations is your thing, or a combination of photos, quotes or poems. Video blogging is well received if you are comfortable there. For the audiophile, a thoughtfully selected song can accompany any story just as well as a first person narrative can. Don't shy away from being different. The intention is for you to find the most comfortable, enjoyable way to tell your story. What feels natural to you?
Ease the Pressure to Perform
When you put a part of yourself out there for others to partake in, you invite a form of anxiety into your life. It's inevitable. Questions of, "will anyone read this?", "how is it going to be received?", and " is it good enough?", among other doubts creep steadily into the back of your mind. It can cause a crippling fear of moving forward with your project, a sort of blogging performance anxiety that shutters many blogs before they have the chance to get off the ground. It's natural to seek approval from your peers, but there are a few steps you can take to ease the attention away from measuring your blogs worth by outside validation points. Consider how measurable interactions add value to the story you are telling through your blog. Are comments, likes and shares adding anything to your experience of blogging, or adding anxiety to it? I have written articles that I was very proud of putting out there into the online community, AND read posts from other bloggers which I though were excellent only to see them get one or two comments marked at the bottom of the entry. Personally, I felt as a blogger that this show of minimal interaction was giving me a failing grade, and as an outsider, I found myself questioning the value of posts I read on other sites when the comment or like count was noticeably low. Facts are, a big chunk of blogging audiences are reading your material through convenient feed readers and engaging less and less as they turn to other forms of media like Instagram and Twitter for online interactions. That doesn't mean that your blog isn't being enjoyed, it simply means you may not find what you consider to be equal input to your output. If this bothers you, you are not alone. It's simple to eliminate what's not adding value to your blog by turning off comments, like buttons, page view counters, and follower counts. Show your readers you care about them by providing them with the best content you can, and engage in a way that feels fun and natural to you. I'm a big fan of Instagram personally and have made great friendships there.
Blog for Yourself First
Is that a selfish statement? I think it's the simplest way to make the point that every time you create a post, you should be asking yourself, "Do I care about this?". Essentially, if you feel that you won't have an interest or inclination to revisit a particualr post again in the future, it really isn't adding value to your blog. I like to think that even if I lost every single Lune reader one day, I would still be proud of the body of work I have created because it in itself has value to me. It wasn't always this way, and yes, I personally have some junk posts floating out there in my past.
There are several reasons why a blogger puts out flat material but I have found that there are two main sources for less than inspiring entires. One, sponsored and affiliate posts. They are so commonplace now that readers can spot them from a mile away. Monetized posts absolutely have their place in a business/commercial blog as a contributing factor in making that blog a functioning income generator. However, on a predominately personal blog, they stick out like a sore thumb and fail to contribute meaningfully to your collection of posts, or to the experience of your readership. If you do choose to partner with a company on your blog, make sure it's a natural fit that doesn't take away from the soul of your work, and what you love about it.
The second source of out of place content is a bloggers tendency to mirror the masses. By this, I'm referring to the types of formulaic posts you see popping up on blogs everywhere. Outfit posts, makeup reviews, DIY's, and overplayed themes that end up coming across as uninspiring filler. That's not to say that you can't take a common theme and run with it naturally. What I'm suggesting is that you choose what feels organic and true to the collection that is being curated through your blog. I speak from experience in looking back at my own work and being able to pick out what didn't fit, and what I was being influenced by. It's a bit of "what the hell was I thinking?" If you are reading back through your posts, month after month, and feeling engaged or even enamoured with what you've created, you know you're on the right track. Readers can tell when you are passionate about blogging, so focus on being passionate first and foremost.