This guest post is by Justin P Lambert of Words That Begin With You .
Quick question: are you having fun?
I mean, you’re sitting here reading Problogger, so you’re likely a blogger, or at least thinking about jumping in. And you’re likely interested in making some money from your efforts. There’s nothing wrong with that at all.
But are you having fun?
Maybe you’ve been at it for a while, or maybe, like me, you’re just a babe learning to crawl at this point. Either way, there’s a universal truth of blogging you’ve probably already figured out: it ain’t easy.
A tough gig
If you’ve done what you’re “supposed” to do blogging is tough. Editorial calendars, social media, building a list, seeking subscribers, tweaking the theme, ads or no ads… Wow.
Back in the ancient days of online journals, (you know, like 1996) most of the folks who “blogged” before “blogging” was even a word did it for fun. They had a particular interest, or just a desire to share their thoughts and activities with the world long before status updates and tweets were even on the horizon.
These folks probably didn’t think about making money from their online activities at all, or at least not seriously. Not long ago, Skelliewag wrote a really beautiful post about the transition that happened later on.
Darren also shared a quote from his wise-beyond-his-years son: “tell the world something important.”
Together, these two uber-experienced bloggers taught me a valuable lesson, grabbing my metaphorical wheel just before I hit the metaphorical guardrail, if that makes any sense.
You see, I started my blog just over six months ago, and I learned quickly that it was hard work. But good writing always is. The payoff, for most of us any way, is that we enjoy writing. Or, at least, we enjoy getting our thoughts out there for others to read/see/hear and interact with. This is something I lost track of, somewhere around post #13.
I started getting so wrapped up in my posting schedule and my analytics, actually writing the posts became an annoyance. “Man,” I’d think, “I wish I could get this over with so I can get back to Twitter!” It got to the point, only four months into my blogging, where I burnt out and suddenly went from posting daily to three posts in a month!
I spent most of that month kicking myself and desperately trying to figure out what happened. The answer blew me away when it finally arrived: I had sucked every ounce of enjoyment out of writing a blog because I had gotten too involved in “blogging”.
So, I ask you again: are you having fun?
How to have fun
Now I’m not going to sit here and try to preach to you about how to fix this issue. I’m still trying to figure it out myself. But since I realized how close I came to giving up, I’ve done a lot of thinking about why things changed. And I’ve come up with a few items that I know are going to help me.
I’d absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comments too, because most of you are far more experienced than I am in struggling with this issue, so I know you’re going to have more ideas to share.
You know what? While consistency is important and your readers deserve to receive what they’ve come to expect, no one’s going to lynch you if your post is a day late every now and then.
I had a tough time figuring this out, and when life got in the way and I missed a post or sent it out late, I felt the need to fire off apologies to my subscribers and wallow in self-pity.
Give me a break. Do your best. Then relax. It’s just a blog.
I quickly morphed from sharing interesting information that I thought would be of real value to my readers to slicing off chunks of pre-made content and stringing it out over weeks in order to ensure that a post on a particular subject would go out every Monday for the next four weeks.
This approach is kind of like inviting people over for a turkey dinner and then serving them Spam. I was short-changing my readers and my conscience was nagging me like mad, which is no fun. I lost the conversational aspect of my blog in favor of a series of mini-lectures that (not surprisingly) got little if any comments.
Make sure you give your readers what they deserve: your best every time. Even if that means you can’t post as often. Make sure it stays a conversation, not a choppy lecture. Who has fun at a lecture?
Focus … or not
I struggled for a long time with the question of niches and specializing, and felt like a failure from the start because I just couldn’t narrow myself down to a niche.
I created my blog as a means of sharing my expertise and engaging an audience in connection to my work as a freelance writer. But I don’t specialize on a particular writing format or project group, so how could I blog on just one niche? Yet the experts say I should. Oh woe is me!
It took me a long time to realize that my generalist scope is who I am. Anything less would be boring to me and that would automatically become boring to my readers. So if you’re like me, having a tough time finding a niche that satisfies you,
Get over it!
Think about what you want to write, then think hard about how to connect it all in an understandable frame that your readers can latch onto. It’s better for everyone involved. Like I said, I’m still learning. But I’m finally having fun with my blog, like I was back in June when I first started. I hope you’re doing the same. Because if you’re not, it shows. Believe me.
Please, share in the comments your suggestions for having fun with your blog, how you overcame issues that were keeping you from having fun, or how you plan to do so starting now!
Justin P Lambert is a freelance writer who has been blogging for seven months and has enjoyed it for two. He’s working on it. Drop by Words That Begin With You to see how it goes. You can also follow him on Twitter.