This week, Kat's writing prompt number five (which random.org "assigned" me) instructed us to write about this: If you were to go back to the moment you decided to start a blog, what ten blogging tips would you share with yourself? I don't necessarily have ten tips, but there are several things I would do differently.
What Should I Call This Thing?
I just went back and read my first post, which I posted on May 18, 2008. I had forgotten that I was inspired to blog by the audiobook Julie and Julia. When I sat down that day and hastily created a blog, I had to think up a name quickly. I chose "Momforlife" because, clearly, I will be a mom for the rest of my life. As my blog grew and changed, however, I did not like the fact that the name "Momforlife" made it sound like I was solely a "mommy blogger," especially when I wrote business-oriented blogs. That is why I eventually changed the name to "Perspicacity." (The story behind the name is in this video (with my apologies for the horrible cinematography!)) I would have thought through my blog name when I established the blog.
What Platform Should I Use to Blog?
I started blogging on Blogger because .... it just seemed the easiest option at the time. How could something called "Blogger" not be sufficient? As my quantity of blogs on Blogger approaches 300 and my number of followers approaches 200, I am concerned that a switch to a different platform may be disruptive and no one will be able to find me (and that I won't be able to figure out how to transition my history to the new platform). But I know what a pain it is for me as a reader to make comments on Blogger blogs, and I love comments, so I'd like commenting to be less problematic. I'm also still miffed at Blogger for those days it stole from me in May 2011 and the fact that the heartfelt post I had written about my childhood best friend reverted back to the half-finished version. I would have gotten some reliable advice on which blogging platform to use.
Is Anyone Reading This?
When I wrote those first posts back in 2008, and as I kept blogging into 2009, I think I had some expectation that the blogosphere would just "become aware of me." Not because my blog was that amazing, but I just thought if I would write stuff, someone would read it. I know now that it does not work that way. Being a blogger who wants to be read requires some self-promotional capabilities, and that you do your share of interacting with other bloggers. I was fortunate to get some great advice from a friend about using Twitter to promote a blog. Between Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, link-ups, and getting to know other bloggers through patiently commenting and engaging, I got to the point where I could anticipate a few comments with almost every blog. I have also discovered more recently that I had underestimated the role YouTube can play in expanding your social media presence. I would have developed a more systematic strategy for promoting my blog.
I am bored with the design of my blog. I like it better than the template I originally used, but I want pictures of green felt-tip pens! I want pictures of me! I want people to see my blog and know immediately that they are in Big Green Pen territory. I did some barter work with an individual who was helping me with design in exchange for my editing assistance on some of his work, but I never felt completely "in sync" with him and I did not devote the time necessary to tweak his proposed design. Which gets me back to Square One. I would have secured a design resource I trusted and/or taken a full day to patiently work through the process of incorporating my felt tip pens into my blog presence.
When I first committed to blogging weekly, every week's topic was going to be a report on how close I was to reaching my running goal of breaking thirty minutes for a 5K run. Then I started expanding on other things, posting Wordless Wednesdays, and writing to Mama Kat prompts. I wrote rather candidly about my teenager and my work. Now that the teenager is sneaking peeks, I find myself backing off of writing about her. Now that my supervisor has counseled me that my blogging about work may be undermining my credibility, I find myself censoring the work-related comments a bit. I am my family's only breadwinner and the carrier of our health insurance - as much as I like to write about work, as cathartic as it is, and although I stand behind every word I have written and every visual I have used, I can't jeopardize my family any worse that it already is by writing or videotaping something that would be perceived adversely. It's not that I would have done anything differently about which topics I chose, but this "topics to avoid" issue keeps rearing its ugly spectre and I am grappling with it weekly.
Step Away from the Keyboard and Talk to Them
When I committed to blogging weekly, after a complimentary "rent Scott's brain" session with Scott Ginsberg, my main priority was to "flex my writing muscle." Then I discovered other benefits of blogging: it was therapeutic (and cheaper than therapy!); I am a different, more uninhibited person behind the keyboard than in a face-to-face conversation; I could make peace with things and people that I had not gotten closure with. But the problem with baring your soul to an individual through a blog is that for the blog to do any good they have to read it and you can't make someone read your blog. As was the case with the people who I used to supervise, writing about them a year later, giving them a copy of the blog in a gift bag along with a memento, was no substitute for the 30 minutes I should have taken along with some a few pizzas. Sometimes you just have to look people in the eyes for what you have to say to matter.