In January of 2007 I started a blog. I was young and naive and blissfully stupid about what was involved. OK, I was naive and stupid. Not so much young. I had heard of blogging at the librarian and technology conferences I had attended and understood that they were basically an online journal but I mentally dismissed them as being something only geeks and losers did. Who in the world would want to document everything they did for the entire world to read?
And then my daughter got pregnant, began doing research on the Internet and stumbled on two hilarious mommy bloggers. Amalah and Sundry. She started forwarding their posts to me and as I cackled aloud at the hilarious doings of these two young women, I admired their ability to write, to stay focused, to come up with so many good ideas. How could anyone possibly do that? And then my daughter started a blog. And I thought, "If she can do it, then so can I."
Like most bloggers, I had always written. Through high school and the school paper and the yearbook and college and the terrible poetry and even as a professional, I had written for magazines and newspapers. So, just how hard could this be?
Because I am extremely organized (when one has no memory, one is forced to be organized) and perhaps a tad anal, I decided I would write every single day. I didn’t restrict myself to any topics, just wrote about pretty much anything that occurred to me. Family, friends, TV, movies, books, travel – pretty much anything was grist for the blogging mill. And so it began. First, my loyal family members read and then close friends and then friends of friends and then complete strangers. I never had to look for my "voice", my blog always sounded just like me. Or so people told me. I began to get more organized and participate in giveaways and events to drive traffic to my blog. I started regular weekly features, like a Monday giveaway and a Friday list of links. I had always shared lots of web sites with my teachers, so this was no different. I was comfortable and enjoying myself and I had an appreciative, albeit small, audience.
I had been writing for about a year when an editor from the local newspaper called and asked if I would be interested in being a blogger for a new website for moms they were starting. Offering another blogging gig to a dedicated blogger is kind of like offering water in the dessert to a man who is dying of thirst. You take it, you gulp it down, you enjoy it. And you hope that it doesn’t make you puke.
I have been writing for both blogs for about five months now and I feel pretty comfortable that I am doing a good job with both. I get frequent compliments, my traffic has gone up considerably on my personal blog and the professional one also has a lot of readers. I haven’t had a stranger stop me on the street but I have had parents at school that I don’t know very well stop me in the hall to tell me how much they liked one of my posts. There is no high higher than telling a writer you like something they have written.
There is no one answer to the best way to manage more than one blog, but let me tell you how I do it and what I have learned and what I am still in the process of learning.
- You must love writing to be a blogger, whether you are writing for one blog or ten. If you don’t love it, you won’t stick with it. Eventually, it will become a chore instead of a giddy pleasure and you will write less and less until finally someone stumbles on your blog and the latest post is a year old. I can’t tell you how many times I have found blogs like that. So, write. Write all the time. Write about anything and everything. Every single word may not make it into a post but some of it will and some of it may inspire other ideas.
- Be organized. Melanie wrote a post recently about keeping an editorial calendar and I was extremely impressed with myself because I had been doing that for a while in a spreadsheet but I didn’t know it was an editorial calendar. Much more impressive title. I try to stay at least a week ahead and even more than that with the Monday giveaways and the Friday links. I probably have them done 3-4 weeks in advance. I don’t want to be up at midnight, stressing myself out because I have to write a post for the next morning.
- Be creative. I have much more flexibility with my professional blog because, well, it’s a professional blog. For a professional newspaper. When I ask for giveaways, people are much more impressed with the newspaper blog than with my personal blog. But the personal blog picks up traffic from the professional blog because I link them together. I used to review children’s books for a professional magazine so I decided this was something I could do again for this blog. I contacted dozens of publishers of children’s books and, using my new credentials as a professional blogger, asked for review copies. Within days, I had a pile of books to review and give away on the blog.
- Extend your blog beyond the computer. When I realized I was going to be reviewing books that people would want to buy, I went by the local bookstore and had a chat with the manager of the children’s department. She agreed to display the books I reviewed, with a printout of that post and my picture. More readers followed from that display to the blog.
- Think about how your everyday life could give you a great blog concept. I say concept and not idea, because I like things that have an arc, like a good story. Something that continues that makes people tune in and read. One thing I enjoy in the summer is eating on restaurant patios. A couple of months back, I thought "Huh. I should tell people about all these patios. I should review them. I should write about them." Hey. I should. And maybe I could give away some gift certificates, along with the reviews. I wonder if the restaurant managers would GIVE me gift certificates. I had professional business cards made, I introduced myself to the restaurant managers and, somewhat to my astonishment, they ALL gave me gift certificates. Hundreds of people are reading these reviews and making comments so they can enter the drawings.
- Be persistent. But professional. A couple of restaurants I went to had managers without the power to give me gift certificates. I had to talk to the owners. I had to call back, go to the restaurants, follow up. I did all that. And they all gave me gift certificates.
- Only do it if it’s fun. If you are not having fun, enjoying yourself and just getting a kick out of what you are doing, it becomes a chore. And who wants to read about that? The patio dinners with my friends are a blast. Writing about them is easy. It’s FUN. And so it should be.
- Keep track of your ideas. I have seen this advice numerous times, but you have got to get those ideas down while they are fresh. I have notebooks in my car, by my bed, and I have been known to ask my husband to pause a show for just a second while I go type an idea on the computer. I have to keep track of those ideas because they are going, going, gone. I can’t tell you the number of times I have written an entire wonderful, hilarious blog post in my head and then thought "Wait. What was I going to write about?"
- If you want to be a good writer, you have to read. Read books, magazines, the newspaper, other blogs, and pretty much whatever you can put your hands on that has words in it. It will give you ideas, it will inspire you, it will help your vocabulary, your spelling and its fun. If you love to write, you probably love to read. Feed that love.
- Do what you can handle. And don’t feel guilty you can’t do more. When the newspaper editor called me, I said I would write for them but only two days a week. I knew I couldn’t write two blogs and write them daily. It would be way too much. Two days a week is manageable.
- Have some long term goals. This is not a requirement, but I like the fact that I know I eventually want to make money from blogging. I want to do a lot more with the professional blog and I am building relationships now that will help with that goal.
I hope at least some of this advice will help one of my fellow bloggers. Stick with it. You are doing a great job. And I love your haircut.