I’ve gotten a huge response to the post this week on real income figures from bloggers. Below are three of the major groups/questions I received by email this week from readers on the subject of starting a blog. Whether you’re eager, indecisive, or terrified, there’s something here for you. And for those totally uninterested in blogging, no worries – consider these general tips for creating any sort of scary new project, from what subject to focus on to how to get over your fear of failure.
For the Eager: My Best Tip For Blogging Success
I’m so pumped for all of you folks who are ready to get going. Several of you have left comments or emailed me personally asking what if any tips I’d suggest to get the most out of blogging.
My single best piece of advice to enjoying and succeeding at your blogging venture is to set a posting schedule. There is not a single tip you will receive that will benefit you more. The hardest part about any new venture is building the momentum flywheel. Writing can be a notoriously fickle venture. Setting a schedule, such as promising to post twice a week on Mondays and Wednesdays will get you on track. I didn’t start posting on a schedule until two months into my venture, and when I did it was night and day.
My (few) readers knew when to look for new posts, and it would motivate me to get something up at the right time. I’d look for new topics as I went through my everyday life, knowing I was going to have to post something on Monday or Tuesday or whatever the deadline was. A routine is the scaffolding your creativity needs to build something great. For those just starting out, I recommend a posting schedule of two to three times per week. Any more and you’re likely going to have uneven quality because you’re spreading yourself thin. Any less and you aren’t really getting enough practice and exposure to iterate and figure out what topics/voice/style are going to work for you.
For The Indecisive: What If I Don’t Know What To Write About?
I have found that when I say this, I generally mean I have too many things to write about and none of them seems particularly more suited than the rest. The solution to this is actually very simple: give yourself permission to write about them all.
The Money Habit was not actually my first blogging idea. When I started writing after retirement, I was paralyzed by indecision on what to focus my work on. I knew I wanted to write about self-improvement topics, but my list ranged from relationships to money to communication to career advancement. I wasn’t even sure about the medium. Should it be a podcast? E-books? A blog?
I completed 20 hours of exercises in several “meaning and work” books and was still no closer to the One True Topic. Then I chucked it out the window and just let myself write all the articles that were in me, no matter what subject they were on. Here’s the thing when you do that; you will discover very quickly that you only have one or two big articles on most subjects. Once you get those out of your system, the topic will hold less appeal to you. You’ll realize you don’t want to write about it day in and out. The idea of months honing on different facets of that topic will start to look dull to you. You will find your mind wandering to a new topic.
I let myself write about relationships, and communication, and how to get ahead in your job. And after two months of a hodge podge of articles on my first blogging site, I noticed that I was coming again and again to personal finance topics. I could always think of something more I wanted to say on the subject.
So if you’re stuck at step one because you don’t know what to write about, think about 3-5 subjects that come up regularly in your life – subjects you find yourself Googling or joining forums about. Topics that catch your eye when you’re scrolling news and lifestyle sites. Then let yourself write about any and all of them. Show up and write the prescribed number of articles per week. Some of them will feel like absolute masterpieces. You will feel like a tiny writing god. Some of them will be absolute shit and you’ll wonder how this ever came out of your brain and whether you can hide it in the annals of history. That’s fine, you’re just detoxing. You have to get all the crud gumming up the system out of the way so you can do your real work. Then it’ll come. It will take pity on your flailing efforts and eventually fight its way to the forefront of your mind.
Overall, I found this exploratory period extremely valuable to me not just from a future blogging perspective, but from a personal knowledge perspective. Topics I thought were near and dear to my heart turned out not to hold as much interest for me as I thought. And things I had dismissed as not that interesting or valuable to others surprised me by coming to the forefront. As someone truly entering adulthood and developing my own strong opinions of what matters in life, this was an invaluable life experience.
For the Terrified: What if No One Reads My Stuff?
I received a couple of very honest personal emails in response to my post earlier this week. In it, I’ve had readers share that they were interested in something like blogging (or podcasting or writing ebooks, it doesn’t matter what specific medium they choose) but that they were afraid of how it would pan out. Wouldn’t it suck to put in all that work and get nothing out of it?
In a word: no. Sorry. I absolutely get this feeling. I am a Type-A worrier. It definitely crossed my mind more than once that maybe I’d put all this love into building a blog that no one wanted to visit. And you know what? That happened.
My first blog is lost to the sands of time – the one where I tested out all sorts of topics. I also tried a podcast on a different topic for a while and I wrote a few ebooks on yet a different topic before I started this blog. None of those were major successes. I don’t regret any one of them. I got so much out of just putting myself out there and creating. From a pragmatic perspective, I learned skills and honed my topic in ways that would eventually benefit me when I started The Money Habit. From a personal perspective, creating something, even without commercial or critical success, is a balm to the soul. It’s what got me through some hard times the last few years of my working life. So no regrets. And I suspect if you bit the bullet and gave it a shot, you would discover the advantages far outweigh your fears as well.
It helps to write under a pen name. It creates a little bit of distance between potential rejection of your work and rejection of you as a person. You can always choose to ditch the pen name later in your work, but it may give you the shield you need to get started.
Maybe you’re still not ready. That’s okay. Just keep it in mind. One day you’ll have to put yourself out there for the thing you want. It may not be a blog. It may be something else. Rejection is part of the path to success. When you accept this and focus your attention on how you’re going to deal with it when it comes rather than trying to avoid it, you’ll skyrocket over your peers and speed toward your goal, whatever it is. Just don’t take too long to get started.
Think You’re Ready To Get Started?
If you think you’re ready to push the go button, get started here. I’m kind of a fan of adventure with a fallback plan. And know that you have a full 30 days to get a full refund and wipe the slate clean if you decide it isn’t for you.
For a more in-depth walk-through on how to get set up, check out this tutorial on How To Start A Blog.
Happy blogging! The world could use your contributions.