Next week it will be six months since I created this blog and tentatively published my first post. Prior to that I had only been reading blogs regularly for about five months and before that I had no concept of the world of blogging that I now consider myself a part of.
The blog that really got me started on this path was Chris Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-conformity, which I stumbled across after following a link on a friend’s Facebook page. At the time it blew me away, presenting me with a whole new way of looking at the world. Six months on from launching Life is Limitless, I feel in a position to share some of what I’ve learnt about the art of blogging.
1. Being visible helps you connect
Everyone has something to say on the Internet but just like in real life, people don’t just want to connect with your words they want to connect with you. I got some great advice from an established blogger when I first started out, which was to get a picture of myself on my site pronto.
I know from personal experience that some of my favourite bloggers are those that I’ve been able to watch on video, hear in audio or see in pictures. For obvious reasons we trust people more when we can see and hear them and therefore connect with them more strongly.
For this reason I’ve found the courage to put videos online of myself doing a video blog, dancing in public, giving my first speech, interviewing another blogger, jumping out of a plane and I plan to show many more. The first video I published was a video blog and not only did it take me hours of filming to get some footage that I felt I could live with but I then felt terrified about publishing it for fear of feeling judged by others. However, having done so once, I’ve never felt the same fear since. As with most fear facing it only gets easier the more I do it and now I don’t think I would give publishing a video of myself a second thought.
2. Give yourself a schedule
When I first committed to publishing a post every Wednesday, I remember feeling extremely daunted by that promise. Now my weekly post is just part of what I do and I feel proud of the fact that in six months I haven’t missed one week. I know that some bloggers publish only when they feel they have something to say, which is an approach I completely respect, but for me having a schedule has forced me to have discipline around my writing.
Generally, I start mulling over topics for my next post the weekend before and by Monday I like to have the title and topic area decided. I can then start to make notes mentally or on paper of the outline of the post and the shape I want it to take. More often than not I starting writing the post on Tuesday evening and finish it first thing on Wednesday morning. I then like to sit on it for an hour or so and then re-read and tweak before publishing some time around midday.
However, it doesn’t always work like that. Sometimes it gets to Wednesday and I have no idea what I want to write about, sometimes I have several ideas and start several different posts before deciding which one to complete. I’ve even written a whole post on Wednesday morning, only to change my mind and write a whole new post the same day.
But regardless of what happens, having made that promise to you, my readers, I know that I will do everything in my power to write and publish something that I hope is deserving of your attention.
3. Just because it’s obvious to you doesn’t mean it is to others
Because I write about personal development, I’m often writing about lessons I’ve learnt about life and those light bulb moments that change the way I behave forever. When I first started writing this blog I worried a lot about coming across as patronizing, or as if I was telling people how to live their lives. I also worried that what I might be putting out there would be obvious to other people.
What I’ve learnt, however, is that if there is an issue that I have struggled with then it is an issue that others will have also struggled with or might still be struggling with. I’ve learnt that when I give my personal perspective on an issue, that I shed a new and unique light on it that may or may not resonate with others.
I know myself that sometimes I can read or hear something several times before I actually ‘get’ the lesson in it for me. Each iteration of that lesson brings something new and it can be just one person’s unique take that makes the penny finally drop and allow me to understand what I need to do differently in order find peace with that issue in my life.
A reader of this blog once wrote the following comment on a post of mine: “One thing to watch out for is the line “This probably sounds really simple but for me this has been quite a breakthrough.” …Your learning process and insight are always fresh because they come from you. Even if someone has a handle on this particular subject matter, I’m certain they would appreciate the observation and personal stories that you share around the topic.”
What a wonderful comment to receive and on reading it, I finally understood the importance of sharing what we’ve learnt about life with other people.
4. Be true to yourself
When I first started out on this blogging journey, I remember being very aware of what people would think about what I had to say, I knew that there were like-minded individuals reading my blog and I also knew that there were family and friends reading it too.
In the early days I used to ask people around me what they thought of my latest post and placed a lot of importance on what they said. Because of that there were times when people said things like ‘you might want to be careful of saying that on your blog as it may alienate some people’. What I’ve learnt over the last six months is that my opinion will always alienate some people. Not because I have radical or offensive views but because there isn’t a person on this planet whose views everyone agrees with. This has been an incredibly liberating for me.
With this realization in mind, I’ve learnt that my words and thoughts won’t be for everyone and I can’t write trying to make that so. There will always be people for whom my words resonate with and people with whom they wont and I’m okay with that.
5. Blogging creates communities
When I started blogging, I hoped that there would be people in the world that would welcome what I had to say and may even stop by to comment on my posts now and again. What I never predicted was the sense of community that blogging has brought to my life.
I’ve spent most of my life desiring a different path to many of the people around me but through blogging, I’ve realized that there are so many other people who think, feel and live in ways similar to me. People who want to do something different to the norm and who are committed to their own personal growth and that of others.
As a result of my blog, I am now part of several online communities, filled with people who I don’t just connect with through writing but who I talk to regularly on Skype and Google hangout (try it if you haven’t already!) and who I am now collaborating with on exciting new work (more to come on this soon).
We’ve known for a long time that the Internet brings people together but for me blogging takes this to a whole new and very exciting level.
6. Blogging will change your life
I nervously hit publish on my first post just under six months ago with little more than a desire to talk about my personal development journey and hopefully attract a few readers in the process. Boy has my life changed since then! Through my blog, not only have I met numerous people who are doing incredible and inspirational things (many of whom I now consider friends) but I’ve also done and committed to doing so many exciting and life-changing things myself that my life is completely unrecognizable from the one I had six months ago.
One of the original goals of my blog was to inspire others to be the best that they can be and whilst I knew that this meant I would have to raise my game in order to inspire others to take action, what I never predicted was the impact that publicly stating my goals would have on my ability to achieve them. It has been a welcome and added bonus of my blog that my desire to help others through my writing has also resulted in transforming my life.
As a result of making this commitment to my readers, I’ve publicly set myself and achieved a number of goals and challenges over the last six months. Despite how much I feel I’ve achieved I know that this really is just the start, my future goals are even bigger and more life-changing than anything I’ve done to date and I wouldn’t hesitate to put this new found courage down to the creation of this blog and the incredible network of support it has generated. In all my wildest dreams, I could never have imagined what that first post was going to lead to!
These lessons are the just some of the things I have learnt over the last six months and I would love to hear any lessons that you would add. I’d also love to hear from you if you are someone who wants to blog but hasn’t yet taken the leap and if so, I’d love to know what is holding you back.
To say thanks for your support
As a special thank you for all the support I’ve received from my readers over the last six months, I’d like to offer a 60-minute Skype call to one of you, to discuss the topic of blogging some more. You can use the call to ask me anything about my blog, or get my opinion on your blog (if you have one) or ask me anything at all about what I’ve learnt on this subject over the last six months.
If you are interested in this offer please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with “60 minute chat about blogging” in the subject line and on Tuesday 1st November, I’ll pick one name at random and will be in touch to schedule the call.
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