The story I usually tell is that I stumbled into blogging accidentally. While working an early morning shift at my dorm desk job in undergrad, I got bored and decided I would start a blog. I had always been a writer, so it seemed like a natural fit to throw my thoughts onto a screen. Five years later, I am not quite as aimless in my blogging pursuit. In fact, I am now building my brand with intention, purpose and a whole lot of faith.
I’ve spent awhile considering my blogging commandments, those bits I’ve learned along the way through much trial and even more error. Here are a few of them.
Build Your Tribe
Recently a friend of mine said, “People need people.” It’s such a simple expression, so simple that it’s easy to miss the substance in it. If bloggers did not need people, we would just jot down our thoughts in a diary and keep it moving. But, we need people—good, strong, loyal and authentic people. And, those people are incredibly difficult to find. Sometimes the blogosphere brings them our way. Other times, they have already been in our lives and just reveal themselves later. But, as a blogger, your tribe is your everything. I don’t call people who read my work “readers”—they are my tribe. We are in this together. My success is their success because I would not have anything if it weren’t for them. Build your tribe. Know when to let go of some members in order to make room for new ones. Be selective. Understand some people are only supposed to be around for a season.
Understand That Brand Is Not A Dirty Word
Writers are conditioned to think and believe in certain ways. One of those modes of thinking is that we are artists and should approach our work as art. In certain corners of the writing world, it’s nearly sacrilegious to think about monetizing your work or branding yourself. Instead, you’re supposed to embrace the adage of, “Do what you love and the money will come.” However, I’ve found the writers I most admire are those who remain true to their art while also demonstrating the business savvy necessary to make a living off of that art. Those are the people who understand that brand is not a dirty word. Branding is about consistency. It’s about identity. It’s about providing a voice that’s unique and resonates with a broad base. Branding is paramount if your blog will rise above all of the other Internet noise.
Know When To Say “No”
I am still learning this lesson and trying to incorporate it into my work. I used to be the kind of writer who said yes to any opportunity. I believed the myth that anything would be good “exposure.” But, now, I see the value in not always saying “yes.” I see the value in being deliberate about your energy, your time, your mindshare. Those are all such limited resources, and I need them more and more each day. When it comes to opportunities, it’s best to adhere to the adage of quality over quantity.
Choose Authenticity; People Can Smell BS 100 Miles Away
Recently while writing a post, I had a different angle that I thought you would be more popular. But, it did not reflect how I truly felt, so I could barely get a paragraph out before I re-routed and wrote what was bubbling up inside of my heart. Surprisingly, despite what I thought would be an unpopular opinion, the post did well. A friend of mine later said, “I don’t come to your blog to read what everyone else is thinking.” I felt a renewed sense of confidence for staying true to how I felt and writing what was real.
These four pillars help anchor me, especially as of late when I feel myself getting lost. Or dissolving. Or being eaten alive. These four ideas keep my feet on solid blogging ground.