Few people understand that when you blog, you not only become a published author, but you also become a webmaster, Internet marketing expert, a search engine devote’, an artist, a photographer, and an editor rolled into one. If your blog becomes popular, then you take on the role of PR agent, graphic designer, publishing company magnet, and CEO of your small, growing empire.
When I first started blogging, all I knew was that I had to write down the words rolling around in my head. I could no longer ignore the voice calling me to write. Sometimes it would wake me up in the middle of the night with a belly ache and I’d get out my journal and scratch a few notes with my pencil.
A friend finally suggested that I create a “blog.” At the time I though it was one of the strangest words I’d ever heard.
What ended up being a small blog on AOL Journals, grew into a blog on Blogger (which was BlogSpot), then my own website on GoDaddy, then to a server on to Media Temple where dreamer, Heather taught me the ins and outs of creating respectable web design and not making myself look like I was in second grade.
Don’t ask me about my hot pick comic sans font days on AOL.
No wonder no one was reading me.
When I look back on that blog of mine on AOL years ago (with its’ hot-pink font) I see how naive and green I was in understanding what it takes to be considered a good writer, let alone a great blogger. I made many mistakes beyond the hot-pink font.
The first mistake I made (OK, the second if we are talking about that font) was the name of my first blog URL, which is still aweekinthelifeofaredhead.com — could anything be longer, or more difficult to type? The small thing that saved me is that “a week in the life” is a popular search term.
I think people found it because Google listed the blog under the keyword “redheads” — probably in the adult section, so I got a lot of, let’s say, “male” traffic.
The next mistake I made was writing stories where I was always the subject instead of something people might actually like to read. This is very different from being a good (or bad) writer. If you don’t want anyone to read (or don’t care if anyone reads) what you publish online, then writing for an audience doesn’t matter.
Write whatever you want.
But if you want to be read, then you have to take risks and write stories people are interested in reading, and are searching for online. The most popular blog stories on the Internet start with the word “how” — not “I.” The reason is that most people want information, or to be entertained.
Stories filled with “me” don’t attract a readership.
My single mom life was rather boring (as are many of the blog posts about one’s personal life), and after a while I could see that readers enjoyed the funny mom rants I’d write about life raising a boy — which were about my son and kids in general.
Funny stories about raising children were what people wanted to see and so I changed my writing style, or blogging style.
I morphed into a (sort-of) modern-day Erma Bombeck. I gained quite a following. Imagine that.
Which brought me to my next “mistake” — deciding on a blog “niche” that grew into a teenager who wanted, and deserves privacy. There I was with this popular “A Week in the Life of a Redhead” blog with no subject. I’d lost my niche. He moved on to pimples, video games, football and food.
While on this roll, why not make another mistake? I stopped blogging on A Week in the Life while trying to figure out what to do.
Hear me now: NEVER STOP BLOGGING ON YOUR BLOG.
It is an even bigger mistake to get rid of URLs you own that have been active for over five years … so what was I going to do? 8 Women Dream pulled my writing in another direction and I couldn’t seem to make myself sit down and type stories for A Week In the Life.
One day it hit me that I wasn’t following my own blogging advice.Â I should use A Week in the Life to write about a subject that I am passionate for –beyond funny kid stories. If you ask anyone, I am quite passionate about finding the reason (and a cure) behind Hashimotos disease.
It’s a disease that runs in my family — both my mother and grandmother have it. I started writing because of it. Journaling on AOL was a way to relax.
Talk about ignoring the elephant sitting in the room.
The one thing about dreaming is that it is never too late to dust off an old dream and resurrect it with a re-birth.
Last week I re-launched A Week in the Life of a Redhead and began discussing Hashimotos disease, which is the part of me that has taken a back seat to 8 Women Dream.
I used to be afraid to talk about hypothyroidism because I thought companies wouldn’t want to work with me. Then Oprah announced that she had the same disease and the world could see that people with a thyroid “problem” can still do many amazing things with their careers.
In fact, I think we are workaholics. My 83-year old mother doesn’t know the meaning of retirement.
I’ve learned that in order for your dreams to come true you have to jump all the way in. You have to leap and go for it. You have to be willing to change, admit you’ve been wrong, look at your work with a critical eye, and be willing to take big risks — even when you are scared out of your mind.
Even if that risk means starting your dream over.
“Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, for those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.” ~ Katherine Mansfield
And now you know my blogging truth.
Will you tell yours when you work your dream?
Catherine Hughes is the founder, content director and editor-at-large of 8WomenDream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead, but don’t hold that against her.
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