How did my blog Edenland even come to be like this? A few key factors - luck is a big one. I was blogging before blogging became so well-known, back when only weirdos did it. It's been a bit hard to share the online space with so many new douchebags but there are also so many good people out there sharing it too so that's cool. Pretty sure the internet is big enough for all of us. My blog isn't for everybody, it can't be. Nothing is for everybody, not even the Bible and why do they even call it Good News when it's filled with so much doom?
Anyway so I happened to be online during the rise in awareness and popularity of the online world. Seven years ago I'd tell people I'd blog and they'd be like, you WHAT? Nowadays it's a savvy marketing tool, a great way to make money, an instant way for companies to connect with their consumer. Luckily for me, the net is still a place for other personal bloggers like me to hang out, spill their stories. We all got 'em.
My writing evolved and became more distinctive, finely tuned. I kept pushing the envelope, writing things I know I "shouldn't" but hey, come on. Being a human is fascinating and ridiculous. Life is too important to be taken seriously. Loosen up a little. It'll all be over soon and then how much will you care?
In honour of this weekends Annual Problogger Conference, I humbly submit to you my five top tips for being a better blogger.
5. Whatever your niche, whoever you are .... just be your bloody self. The word that gets bandied out a lot: "authentic." It's hard to be authentic if you don't know what that means. Just be you - let your guard down, let some people into your place, your heart. Even if you're running a business blog you can still be you, you don't have to be all stuffy. Loosen your tie.
4. Write as if you're about to rush out the door in five minutes. Get it out. Keep the words clear and the count down. Once you have seven hefty paragraphs, sharpen your knife and whittle them down to five. And then four. You'll ALWAYS say stuff that doesn't need to be said and the more succinct and quick you are, the better the read. People are busy. You want to grab their attention, savour it, and then walk off leaving them wanting more. Like an orgasm that wasn't quite finished. They'll be back.
3. Do not expect a huge amazing loyal gathering of followers in one year. Maybe two, if you're good. GET GOOD. You want to be real and authentic? Then work through your issues. Get to know yourself. Own who you are. Don't be fake.
If you really want to, you can build up a big blog. Do you want to? Why? So much emphasis is placed on numbers and followers. Please know that if you write a post that resonates and touches just one person? THAT IS ENOUGH. You've made somebody feel something! A certain exchange of energies has occurred. That's a bit of magic. Somebody has connected with you. That's huge.
2. I have been used and burnt by people so much, in this blogging caper. Now I know better but man, so many people out there just using people as stepping stones! Bypass the stepping stones. Carve your own path. You don't blog for a week? Don't apologise, just write a post and get back into it. A constant blogging mantra for me has been "Never complain, never explain." You owe people nothing. But you do owe yourself some integrity and decency. Don't be afraid to disagree. Don't be afraid to state your truth. The fact that you have access to a computer means that you're doing pretty damn well in context with the rest of the worlds population. And if you get criticised or "hated" on, maybe it's good to nod your head every once in a while and think, "Oh hey yeah I can be a bit of a dick." Just because you're a blogger does not make you more special than anybody else. And if you end up having a "big" blog, it actually means you have more of a responsibility. Don't use your blog to get blatant revenge on people. It's silly and immature. Keep your focus on you. (I accidentally grew this big beast and the people who hate me in real life are all WHY that bitch get that not knowing I'm just as confused as them.)
Know this: when people say you need to be thick-skinned, to drink concrete to "make it" in this game? No. Just be you, as beautifully thin-skinned as you always were, because that's what makes you you. Feel stuff. World needs more thin skin. There was a defining moment for me as a blogger a few years ago when I was poised, I could taste it ... I could make myself the next big media "thing." But I pulled back, consciously deciding to ungrow my blog. Just because you can do something, doesn't necessarily mean you should. Did I make the right decision? Hell yes.
And lastly, the biggest blogging tip I can give anybody:
1. To be a better blogger, be a better person. The rest will fall into place like a beautiful pulled-pork sandwich with lettuce and mayo. Meant to be.
I am talking on a panel called "The Power of We"at the Problogger Event at the QT Hotel on the Gold Coast this Saturday at 12pm. Darren Rowse is Mr Problogger himself, and he is the real deal. ABC Brisbane radio interviewed Darren and I about blogging yesterday, you can listen HERE
Emma Stirling from The Scoop on Nutrition who wrote a post about it HERE. Fellow panellists are Stephen Elliot from World Vision Australia and Carly Findlay. We'll be talking to bloggers of all niches and genres who would like to make a bit of a difference with their blogs, highlight a bit of social good. I'm really into that stuff, are you into that stuff, can we be friends?
(Basically I'm headed to a huge blogging conference for the first time in a few years and I don't know how I'll cope with that. Guess I'll just wing it like I always do, please come say hi! I won't mind at all if you mention my brother. I see a lot of room service in my immediate future. Also watching some mindless TV in the middle of the day underneath my hotel blankets because blogging conferences are so much more overwhelming than school drop-offs.)