5 things I learned during my first week blogging
What I’ve learned from starting a blog:
I am a just another expat blog novice, that much I am completely aware of. If this were a school, I would be a shy and unassuming Year 7 surrounded by sixth-formers. However, I have learned some lessons about starting a blog during my first (official) week as a blogger, that I think stand me in good stead. These lessons are:
1)You’re not nearly as unique as you think you are
Herein lies the problem: our parents are hopelessly flawed in that they, on the whole, think we’re great. What I mean by this is that if you are a millennial like me, you have spent the majority of your life being stuffed to the brim with clichés. These clichés include, but are not limited to:
- “Be yourself: everyone else is already taken”
- “Shoot for the moon- even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars”
- “Baby you’re a firework, come on let your colours burst”
Scratch that last one, but you get my drift.
We have all been told, individually, that we are completely, authentically, undeniably unique. However, upon joining the world of blogging, I was reminded of another quote. This one comes from a certain Tyler Durden, of Fight Club fame:
“You are not special. You’re not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You’re the same decaying organic matter as everything else. We’re all part of the same compost heap. We’re all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
To illustrate that for our own purposes, here’s a funky fact- on average, there are 2.73 million posts written every single day. That is an appalling amount of content to compete with. In my mind, it’s equivalent to being trapped in an echo chamber big enough for, say, 2.73 million people, off the top of my head. These people are all stacked on top of each other, with the phrases “top 10 interesting places to visit” and “100 best ways to…” bouncing around like nobody’s business.
So no, you are not nearly as unique as you think you are. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything worthwhile to contribute.
2)No one cares unless you do
Continuing on this, frankly, quite bleak path that I’ve started to lead you all down, I’ve also realised that no one actually cares that much what you say. As humans we’re all quite big fans of validation. So, when you write what is, in your own view, the best piece of content that’s ever been birthed and christened via the Internet, it can be a little disheartening when the only person reading it is yourself, when you proofread it for the fifth time and laugh at all of your own jokes…for the fifth time.
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I’ve started following a mantra that my caffeine-muddled brain thought of in the early hours of the morning today: “have persistence and you’ll go the distance”. Roughly translated, that means “keep obnoxiously shouting in people’s faces about your opinions and somehow, someone, somewhere will start to care.” Right?
3)Twitter and Instagram are KING
This isn’t some big revelation, granted. It’s common knowledge that the way you get people to follow your social media is, yep, you guessed it – even more social media. What a world.
However, where I’m going with this is that on the flip-side of the volume of blogs is the volume of blogs. Behind these blogs are people, people who are like you, who are helpful and interesting and share your interests and who will help you succeed if you ask. There’s a whole Twittersphere full of little birds who tweet and retweet, and a big world of little photo squares who will (double-t)’appily comment positive things on your content. These platforms hold great power – harness it.
4)Plugins are your friend
Last week I didn’t know what a plugin was, and that’s the honest truth. Now I’m recommending some of my favourites? If that’s not character growth, I don’t know what is.
The ones I’ve found most helpful in the initial steps of setting up a blog are Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights, which you can link up with your Google Analytics account for an easy way to keep track of how visitors find and use your website.
Yoast SEO is also a great and simple way to optimise your blogposts for SEO. It analyses your post’s readability and highlights areas for improvement.
Beaver Builder is a great customisation tool that has a drag-and-drop feature and allows you to move elements around your page quickly and easily. Instagram Feed lets you link up your Instagram account and feature it on your page (this one isn’t pivotal, but I personally think it looks really cool). In the same vein, a way to make your blog look more professional is to utilise the Recent Posts Widget Extended, which allows you to adapt how your site displays your most recent posts.
Get me, eh.
5)You WILL cringe asking your friends to read your blog
Maybe this is just me, but the idea of writing about myself isn’t something that really appeals to me. Maybe it has something to do with the typically British, cripplingly, practically debilitating fear that people will think you’re self-important and up your own arse.
However, needs must, and a sure-fire way to get your content to reach a larger audience is by forcing it on the people who have a vested interest in your happiness and success. Yes, that means your friends, family, casual acquaintances, old secondary-school teachers, local pub landlords…no? Too far? You get what I mean.
That doesn’t make it any easier, though. When I introduced my blog to my best friends, despite knowing full well that they’d have nothing but kind words to offer, I still made my message a form of weird self-flagellation that slated practically everything from my own writing style, to my character, to every achievement I’ve ever made. This is an exaggeration but truly not a large one. I’m still working on getting over my own fear of sharing my work, but if I don’t have faith in it, why should anyone else?
So what have I learned? Big yourself up, but not too much. You may not be a beautiful and unique snowflake in the world of blogging, but you can at least be unapologetic about your merit as a writer.