When I heard about the blog carnival being hosted by Joella at Blogs With Wings, I knew I had to participate. In the carnival guidelines, Joella asks bloggers to remember their first days of blogging and consider what they’d do differently if they knew then what they know now.
The truth is there are about 1000 things I’d do differently.
As I was pondering how I was going to shoehorn the 1000+ lessons I’ve learned in my seven months of blogging into a single post, I realized that the most important lessons could be summed up in three short words: Relax. Focus. Enjoy.
Most newbie bloggers try to perform the blogging equivalent of running a marathon in 20 minutes. We want to learn, do, and have everything as quickly as possible. Because of our impatience, we find ourselves feeling tense, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Plus, we have a tendency to take ourselves and our blogs way too seriously.
If I had it to do over again, I’d relax by:
- Embracing imperfection. I’m all for giving things my personal best, but I drove myself straight into ‘analysis paralysis’ more than once by over-thinking things. I was so intent on making things perfect that when I finally did take action, I wasted huge amounts of time checking and rechecking things that were just fine. I’ve since learned that the world does not stop spinning if there’s a typo in a post.
- Hitting the ‘easy button.’ I created a lot of needless tension in my early days of blogging because I thought I needed to do everything myself. The truth is, there are lots of blogging ‘easy buttons’ we can push so we can keep working in a relaxed manner. Some ‘easy buttons’ come in the form of hiring others to perform tasks we’re not good at or don’t enjoy, saying ‘yes’ to hosting quality guest posts on our blog, or deciding to cut back on our posting frequency or the length of our posts. If I had it to do over again, I’d be on the lookout for the ‘easy buttons’ straight off and push every single one that would help me be more relaxed and effective.
- Running my own race. I listened to a few too many gurus in my early blogging days and got sidetracked into running a race that was all wrong for me. I’ve since realized that my blogging journey isn’t a race at all. Instead, it’s more of a leisurely walk down a beautiful path where I create, connect, and provide fuel for others on the same journey.
When I first started blogging, my attention was scattered. I’d sit down to write, but instead of immersing myself in the flow of the process, I’d think about what a piece of rubbish a post was going to be and how poorly it would be received. Then, feeling lower than a worm’s belly, I’d crawl over to Facebook. I couldn’t keep my attention on that either though because I’d feel guilty about procrastinating on my writing and the umpteen other things on my blogging to-do list.
If I had it to do over again, I’d improve my blogging focus by:
- Identifying and doing the essential things. Because I thought I had to do so many things, I often felt overwhelmed and ended up doing nothing. Now I know that my blogging essentials are writing–posts, guest posts, products, etc.–and promoting that writing. There are many other important activities, but these two things are my top priorities and get my attention and focus before anything else in a day.
- Take one step at a time. I was blown away by how much there was to learn about blogging. My problem was that I tried to take in everything at once, which was both ineffective and overwhelming. These days, I only study information that applies to my current level of blogging, and I make sure to apply at least some of what I learn before moving on to the next stage.
- Eliminating distractions. If there was a 12-step program for distraction addiction, I’d join it. I learned the hard way that I simply cannot be trusted to work in an environment with distractions. For me, distractions come in the form of keeping a Twitter window open, checking email, or being around friends or family when I’m writing. These distractions can easily become diversions that keep me from getting anything done. To keep myself in check, I do most of my blogging in my office that’s set off from the rest of the house and I don’t check email or interact with others online until I’ve done my essential blogging items for the day.
There’s so much beauty and cause for celebration on the blogging path. Maybe a fresh post gets published. Perhaps a subscriber emails us to tell us they enjoy our blog or we learn a new blogging skill. It’s easy to get caught up in striving for more–more subscribers, more traffic, more sales–and miss the magnificence of our current circumstances.
If I had it do over again, I’d enjoy blogging more by:
- Making friends right away. I wasn’t aware there were blogging forums or places like the A-List Blogger Club where I could get to know other bloggers. Plus, I’d never read articles like Tess Marshall’s 14 Tips to Turn Bloggers Into Friends. I’ve since found that blogging friends are a true treasure, and it’s never too early to start looking for these gems.
- Keeping my balance. When the number of visitors, comments, emails, and out-of-the-blue requests for writing and coaching shot up on this blog, I was totally unprepared. I said ‘yes’ to nearly every blogging related project or activity that came my way, tried to keep up with my previous level of blog visiting and commenting, and nearly drove myself to a breakdown as a result. The upside of this is that I learned how important it is to learn the art and craft of saying no and to take regular digital sabbaticals. I’ve also learned that anyone who gets cranky at me because I insist on having a full and rich life while I grow my blog isn’t anyone I care to have in my blogging life anyway.
- Participating in more collaborations. I love the sense of community and the energy that comes from working on collaborations like The Daily Brainstorm and with the We Blog Better Team. And it’s a joy to write posts for collaborations like Abubakar Jamil’s Life Lessons Series, Cori Padgett’s, ‘Entrepreneurial Wisdom’ masterpiece, or blog carnivals like Joella’s. If I were starting over again, I wouldn’t wait for someone else to invite me to participate in a collaboration. No, I’d have the good sense to create my own.
Although my early blogging days would have been easier if I’d lived by my three magic blogging words, I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned along the way. It’s been good for me to see that I can make mistakes, take wrong turns, and even fall flat now and again and everything still works out okay.
Which is yet another reason to simply relax, focus, and enjoy this incredible blogging journey.
Your turn: Do you have any magic words that guide you in your blogging?