I attended my first ever blogging conference this weekend, GleekRetreat11 in Holland. My brain is still on overload. Not so much from all the information I took in, although there was a lot presented, more like all the possibilities I saw for the direction that I would like to go with this blogging thing.
If they can do it, why can't I?
I am really excited (and nervous) to begin my plans. First on my to do list is to upgrade to another Blogger template and change my tagline from Thoughts from a compulsive L-I-S-T-E-R, which I now know some people think was a misspelled, L-I-S-T-E-N-E-R. It wasn't.
I am a lister and right now my brain is listing everything I need to not only do for my blog, but for the week and weekend, too. Not to mention there's a letter we got letting us know that Mitch is failing school (great). And Alec has orientation for GVSU tomorrow, yes, he is officially staying home this Fall. And to top things off, our insurance was dropped by Spectrum Hospital. Nice, good thing my surgery is done already.
So what do I want to share about this weekend? I think I will settle on some tips for beginning bloggers. Because I believe there is a writer in all of us, just waiting to get out. Come clean, have you thought about it?
Write what you know. That is not a secret. However, sometimes hearing someone say it gives validity to what you do. If you are a mommy, write about being a mommy. If you are a foodie, write about food. If you are a health food nut, write about healthy living, exercise, being organized, whatever it is that is your passion.
Someone will read it. Someone will care.
I looked around at those in the room, who, because of the money they make, or the amount of followers they have, would be considered the most "successful" bloggers in the room, and thought... I'm older than almost of of them, and in my mind that makes for a lot of material, experience and advice to share.
So, why not me?
Decide what your purpose in blogging is.
Are you doing it because you like to write, need to write, want to make money, want to be famous, have to write to sell a product or service? What is the reason you want to blog? Your motivation may make a difference in how you approach things.
Be prepared for mental blocks. They happen, to all of us. And sometimes, they can come without warning. It can be emotion that gets in the way, or life, or heck, I am beginning to think that too many thoughts equals mental block.
Don't say anything you wouldn't want your grandma to read. Just like what you tell your kids about their facebook page. Be careful what you say. I don't mean, don't be YOU, but think about the best way to say something, without offending anyone and still getting your point across. I personally cannot read a blog where there is foul language--just because. That offends me. And no, I am not a goodie-two-shoes. Yipes there are several stories my kids could tell about my swearing in real life. But it is usually for a reason, and it won't be out there for the world to see forever. If I let something fly in real life, I guarantee there is a reason for it.
Be yourself. Someone, and I cannot even remember who, said that they began their blog writing the way they thought they should sound, and found it wasn't working. When they started writing as themselves, their traffic grew. I firmly believe that people can sense when you are being real and honest and not just pretending to be someone. Truth strikes a chord.
Believe in yourself. I think maybe this was the most important thing I learned at the conference. I can do this blogging thing. I want to do this. I believe in me.
It is after all, about the possibilities and daring to take a chance. There were wonderful women at the conference, great sponsors (okay, so I bought the entire Therapon Skin system after a short mini facial, because my face felt so darn good afterwards, and I bought two big bags of Goodlife Granola today). Yes, you did read that correctly, I bought granola...miss zit face/ french fry lover herself, bought skin care and granola. Who am I and what happened to Terri? Good question.
I think there was a shift in me. One from the little kid who felt as though she didn't fit in with all the "real bloggers" at the conference, to the oldest person in the room who realized, I too can do this. That alone made it all worth it! So, thanks Gleekretreat11, for opening my eyes to the possibilities in me.
Some little things I wanted to share that were passed along to me at the conference, or that I learned the hard way from my experiences in general:
- You can subscribe to any blog via the rss symbol. If you don't see it on the blog, or if the ways to follow someone are too confusing, there is always the orange rss symbol --(it looks like a square with sound waves in it) in the top right corner of everyone's blog. Click on it and it will ask if you want to subscribe via RSS feed. If you say yes, it will show up in the feeds tab of your internet browser. Right next to the favorites if you are using Internet explorer.
- Don't forget to back up all your posts. Just saving them to the draft folder does not work if Blogger or Wordpress goes down and loses information.
- It's okay not to post everyday. Post regularly, but don't hold yourself to a schedule, unless you are getting paid by someone, it just makes it stressful and not a fun stress-relieving endeavor.
- It's okay to get an "editor" for your blogposts, to check it for grammar, spelling mistakes, and general readability. Ask your mom, or a friend, or your husband to read it before you click publish.
I could probably continue on with other things that I have learned, but I will share those in another post.
If you are thinking of blogging and you have no idea where to start, I offer to help share what I know. Goodness knows I have a lot to learn and a lot of my own questions, but I have figured some things out. And I encourage you to begin writing your ideas down now, even if the dream of starting a blog seems a long way off. Take it from someone who forgets her sentences in mid-stream. You won't remember. Yes, I am getting old.
Happy Blogging. Got any tips you'd like to share?