This time last year, I was working myself up to starting a blog. I’ve never been the most courageous when it comes to putting myself out there. I can’t help but think that my high school bullies are lurking in the corner, waiting for me to make my move. This is absurd, but one of those feelings you (or I, at least) just can’t shake.
I feel as though I’ve made some progress over the year, coming from a place where the idea of sharing my blog posts led to some hardcore anxiety dreams. Of course, I’ve made quite a few mistakes along the way. Here are a few that stand out.
1. Being too impersonal.
It’s hard to open up, even to strangers on the internet. But, if there’s one thing I have learned, hiding behind impersonal speech makes for a boring read. I read blogs that give me honest insight into the experiences of others, and I shouldn’t expect anyone to read my stuff if that’s not what I’m giving.
2. Getting caught up in “shareability.”
It’s obvious when someone is writing about something that they haven’t given all that much thought to, and I definitely want to steer clear of that type of writing. I’ve learned over time that the ideas flow more freely when I write what I want to, rather than thinking about what is “shareable” at the time.
3. Not writing things down.
Remember the name of that really cool tree I saw that time in Northern Australia? Me neither. It’s mystifying: sometimes the internet can’t give you all the answers. Next time you meet a local who gives you a cool tip, write it down. Sometimes the best bits of information aren’t mainstream knowledge, and you’ll want to remember them.
4. Being lazy.
I think I’m doing well because I update often, but I have to remind myself not to be lazy with my posts. It’s important to do the extras every time: adding in extra background information, editing photos in a way that makes the important things pop, linking to relevant websites when it makes sense. Going the extra mile can make the post so much more, even if these steps just seem like extra work at the time.
5. Thinking that people care.
I was terrified to share my blog because I thought people were just waiting to tear it apart. What happened when I did share it? People didn’t really notice, and the people who did were those that would support me in anything. Over time, more people will care about what you write, but in the beginning the intimidation is usually unwarranted. You’ve got plenty of time to grow and develop your voice before the haters come out of hiding.
6. Pushing too hard.
Being lazy and pushing too hard so close together? Seems contradictory, but I swear it really makes sense. I pushed myself to post a lot more than I could keep up with, and sometimes felt disappointed when I put out a post that wasn’t something I was proud of. I’ve learned to work myself up to a more regular schedule, and to consider quality over quantity.
7. Moving too slowly.
When is too soon to start a mailing list? To treat your blog like a business? Who knows? I told myself many a time “I’m not at that stage.” But if you don’t push yourself, you’ll be stuck in one place. Maybe you’ll try something and it won’t work out, maybe it will be too soon–better to try than to stand around and wait for something to change.
8. Not engaging with other bloggers.
I’m shy. I’ve said it a million times. It was very difficult for me to write my first comments on other blogs that I read, but it got a lot easier with time. I want to get to know other bloggers, to work with them and connect over shared interests, but it’s still tough for me. This is something I have to work on a lot in 2015.
9. Reading too much into other “methods to success.”
There are a million sites out there telling you how to build a successful blog. They can offer tips, and tell you how a few people made it happen. There are things to learn there. But, in the end, the internet and blogging are changing all the time. To make it work, you’ve got to be creative and stand out–make your own path. Imitation can only work to a certain point. This isn’t a bad thing, I mean there’s always a formula: work hard + try something new + fail + try again + keep working. This year, I have to trust my own instincts and not compare so much. There’s room for all of us in this world.
10. Failing to find enjoyment.
I enjoy writing, reading other blogs, taking and editing photos, and trying out new forms of storytelling. That’s why I’m doing this. However, it does get easy to get caught up in comparing your blog to others. Sometimes I need to haul myself back and remember that we’re all in different places, on different journeys, and I really should be seeing the success of others as inspiration. In 2015, I want to have a laugh, to find enjoyment in the things I do, to spend more time on things I actually like, and to never take myself too seriously. There are plenty of things to be anxious about, why be so hard on myself about the things I choose to do?
What is your biggest lesson of 2014? Any ideas for things you could do better in the coming year? Share with me–I’d love to hear about it!