Friday, April 12, 2013

Author Blogging 101: What’s Stopping You?

By Joel Friedlander

Stella, an old friend, told me this true story:

One day Stella decided to go to her favorite piano bar. She was one of the regulars there and enjoyed the camaraderie and loved to sing along with her favorites.

She got dressed and headed to the piano bar for the evening where, true to form, she had a great time singing old songs, having a few drinks, and talking to friends.

At the end of the evening she returned home. But when she went to get undressed, she realized something terrible: she had had her dress on inside out the whole time!

Nobody said anything; maybe they didn’t even notice.

She told this story, laughing at her own mistake, to make the point that we focus on our own real or imagined shortcomings a whole lot more than other people do, no matter what we think.

And That Goes for Blogging, Too.

Sometimes I think about Stella’s story when I talk to authors who are having a hard time getting started with a blog.

They keep trying to get going, but there’s always something holding them back.

 “I don’t know what platform to use, but I’m going to decide next week.”
 “Is what I have to say really worth someone else’s time?”
 “I realized I need to look through all my old newsletters and manuscripts and book drafts to get everything in order before I get started.”
 “People will see through me, that I don’t really know that much after all.”
 “There’s no way I can keep up a blog; it’s way too much work with everything else I have to do!”
 “I’ll write something I regret, or that’s stupid, or that’s poorly written, and it will be there forever.”

Behind a lot of this hesitation and stalling, I suspect, is the terror of putting yourself out there, for all to see.

Yes, hitting that “Publish” button when you’re a new blogger can take quite a leap of faith. But there’s no better time to do it than now.

The Importance of Time

Time never restarts, have you noticed that? Whatever we did in February, 2013 is now history; we can’t go back and do the things we thought we were going to do, but somehow never got around to.
Before you’ve created your own blog, you don’t realize how much a blog is like a garden. In both, you need to put in work up front—maybe a couple of years of it--before you start to get the benefits of a bountiful harvest.

In blogging, each month builds on the last. Growth for most bloggers is slow and steady, and will continue that way if you practice basic blog marketing.

It does take time. Time to find your blogger’s voice, to find your style, learn different content formats, become familiar with the power of syndicating your blog, get to know other bloggers in your niche—all the things it takes to run a successful blog, one that will truly make a difference in your readers’ lives.

But none of that can happen until you start.

I Know About You

Here are some things I know about you:

 You’re creative, you have no lack of new ideas or new insights into how things work.
 You love to write, and you know how to write reasonably well.
 You’re keenly interested—even passionate—about the things that really matter to you.
 You’re glad to connect with someone else who shares your interest or passions.

It doesn’t take much more than that to start a really great blog. Just a few technical bits that are easily mastered, or for which you can get help.

If you start your blog (or revive the one you abandoned) now, you’ll start working, no matter how modestly, on:

 building new skills as a writer
 finding readers who resonate with your writing
 adding people to your mail list
 establishing connections with other bloggers
 learning what your community needs from you
 attracting speaking, writing, and teaching opportunities

And all of the other opportunities that open up to you when your blog becomes the center of an active, engaged community of likeminded people.

And maybe you will say something stupid, find out you need to learn more about something you thought you knew, or tick some people off. Maybe, like Stella, you’ll go out with your clothes on backward.

But then you’ll find out, like she did, that you can still have a good time while you’re doing it, and that’s what people will remember.

So, what’s stopping you?

Joel Friedlander is a self-published author, an award-winning book designer, and an accomplished blogger. He's the founder of the Self-Publishing Roadmap online training course, and a frequent speaker at industry events where he talks to writers about how the new tools of publishing can help them reach and inspire their readers.

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