Others tell me that they don’t really understand the concept, that it seems too complicated or that they would feel fake or sales-y if they had a blog.
Other concerns run the gamut from not trusting their own voice and writing style to worrying that they don’t have anything useful to say.
When I first encountered the idea of blogging I was intrigued, but I couldn’t figure out the “rules.” (I’m a form-filling-out, rules type of a gal, I guess.) I wanted to know for sure what the POINT was of having a blog. Was it just a diary that I wrote on the world wide web? Would I be expected to share my deep thoughts and random musings with the world (or no one, depending on who showed up).
Since the summer of 2004, when I posted my first entry on my very first blog, I’ve learned three secrets to the medium of blogging. Here they are:
The first secret I’m going to share with you about blogging is this — there are no rules. Or rather, the only rules that matter are those that you create and endorse. So before you go too far down the blogging rabbithole, I encourage you to think things through. This shouldn’t be rocket-science, or a newsflash, but you’ve got to have a plan — a rough outline before you begin. Sure, it’s your blog, it’s your business and it’s your life. You’re definitely going to change as time goes on so it’s fine to let your blog reflect your growth and development.
The second secret is that your blog is going to change. Just make sure you’re on the front end of the curve as you watch your organic growth. This isn’t a stagnant sales page or flyer you’ve got, no, it’s a daily (or weekly) look into your world and your business. You’ll get clearer on your target and your niche and you’ll respond to reader inquries, requests and feedback. All that is going to help you take your blog down the next logical road. The point here, is be aware of the need to be organic, without switching your tone, your look and your message too randomly. You’ll want to be clear about your message and your goals for your blog from the beginning — why not share them with your readers? Let them help you get where you’re going. Remember, you’re a holistic entrepreneur — you treat the whole of a situation – letting the client guide you to where they most need you. Your blog will do the same thing, if you’re willing to listen.
My favorite secret is this: it’s supposed to be fun. I started blogging because I wanted to have fun. I also wanted exposure for my businesses and to fine tune my writing. By creating a publication schedule and holding myself accountable, I managed to create a regular practice of writing. But I let myself have fun while I’m writing. The deadlines help me to not take myself so seriously. Sometimes there are typos, sometimes I fret over the post I just published, but in the end, consistently showing up and creating a forum to share and connect through writing has been more fun than I expected. It’s gotten so the whole family is involved — my partner and his kids often remind me to take the camera on our outings because “you may want to put pictures on the blog!” What’s more fun than including those I love in what I do for a living?
Yesterday was Blog Action Day ’08 and the topic was Poverty. I was so very inspired by Sonia Simone’s post, “How to Get Delightfully Rich (and still keep your Soul)” on the Remarkable-Communication Blog that I’ve spent the last 24 hours thinking about the concept of poverty and the various beliefs that surround it. Additionally, I wanted to find a way to craft a decent post that adds to the conversation and the ability to initiate positive change, rather than simply pontificate.
Knowing this is a brand new blog and the goal of the blog is to help holistic folks create their own blogs, I want to demonstrate how you can initiate change with your posts. Just take a look at any of the amazing posts on Blog Action Day to see what I mean.
August 2005. Until then I really had no interest in the everyday lives of my Southern neighbors. Then on my parents’ wedding anniversary Katrina struck land and everything changed. It’s one thing to watch the news coverage and the mayhem that can happen after a natural disaster but for whatever reason, this time I was compelled to try to do something to help.
Friends that I knew through the local Habitat for Humanityaffiliate were making their way to Mississippi to help. Within a week of the devastation, they were driving as a convoy of helpers into the destruction. They didn’t know where they were going, who they would find or even what they would do when they arrived, but they went. When they reached out to share the story of what they encountered and the difference they were able to make, even in a small way, I decided to hop a plane and head down to East Biloxi myself.
When I arrived, 6 months after the storm I was amazed. I’d even been chastising myself for waiting so long to go – “after all, just about all the work will be done,” I thought naively. East Biloxi looked like a war-ravaged town in a third world country. Parts of the Coastal highway were still missing and convoys of super-sized dump trucks were along the beach night and day collecting debris. The cementary was upended and there were only three restaurants in full operation. Hotels were still trying to regroup. I stayed, along with close to 300 others in the pews of Bethel Lutheran Church. I arrived without luggage and pawed through the church’s lost and found to locate clothes to wear for my first day on the job.
Driving through E. Biloxi was horrifying. Homes were vacant, missing walls or roofs and families were living in trailers provided by the government. The mansions were destroyed but their owners were insured, able to wait out the hassles of the rebuilding process from other locations.
The lower middle class, the poor and those who were barely making ends meet before the storm were now living in destitute situations. Many were immigrants, several had just begun businesses of their own when the storm hit and had lost their source of income as well as their home. These families had kids, their neighbors were elderly or ill and at best they’d been “getting by” before Katrina.
All in all, the friends I made in East Biloxi, were just like me. Not to be trite, but for the first time I spent time way outside of my comfort zone, living full time in messy and uncertain conditions. Sharing sleeping space and vying for my 10 minute shower time with hundreds of people who had been strangers. All the while I felt safe and love and compassion.
After all, I was going to hop a plane and have hot showers, dinner at Ruth’s Chris and be able to pick up whatever I needed at a well-stocked grocery store whenever I wanted.
What I learned about poverty is that it’s really much closer than you expect. But that the people who are living there didn’t ask for it. It’s not about their attitude, or belief system (or lack of a belief system), Sonia Simone said it much better — but there’s more to poverty than meets the eye. I had to get out of my own way to see how ingrained it is in our society and to realize that my ignorance of that fact was my lesson to learn.
My friends are still in East Biloxi – three years later and they are still rebuilding. Yes, there have been more disasters in the time that they’ve been there, but they’ve made a commitment to stick it out, and strengthen the ties to the community they befriended so long ago. Their beliefs are to lend a hand up not a hand out and I support them however I can. While I always contribute 10% of my hard earned self-employment income to those who need it – I’m taking an idea that I saw this morning and going to donate $1.00 for every comment on this post to Rebuilding Biloxi. Help me to help them. And I challenge you to do something every day to eradicate a bit of poverty in the world.