Hello you splendidly pushed-up, forward-thrusting, eager-to-blog again bloggers you!
It's been gratifying to read how the series seems to be making sense to someone who isn't me! I would like to reply directly in the comments - but the blog template I use doesn't have that function. One day I might find time to tinker with it again and try to add replies but, until then ... thank you for finding various ways [comments / Facebook / over tea + cake /etc] of letting me know what's working for you.
It's very nice to hear.
... but you might not say the same thing about the 'ear-worm' which I'm about to inflict upon you in the form of today's blogging approach. Please welcome ...
|If you're saying 'Kenny who?' or 'hold and fold what?' you need to listen to the song here. But if it sticks in your head for the rest of the day ... don't come looking for me!|
But then ... I trailed the series on my Facebook page asking people to respond with things that are preventing them from blogging more often. And was surprised to find that the majority of the responses mentioned issues of confidence.
Time constraints, lack of inspiration, needing a structure ... all those I'd bargained for. But lack of confidence? I can't say it had crossed my mind as a specific topic in itself.
So now that you've had 8 chapters to absorb ... and you've scribbled down some new ideas to try ... I thought it might be an appropriate time to address some of the trickier aspects of blogging which you may come across once you start doing it more often.
The more you have of anything ... even cake... the more side-effects, flip-sides and down-sides you're likely to encounter.
[Yes Janet, even cake!].
One slice of amazing cake is ... well ... amazing. But after 4, 5 or more, slices ... well you might begin to feel just the tiniest twinge of regret [and indigestion].
The same can be said for the relationship you may develop with your blog ...
There may be times when you'll wonder what on earth you are doing spending time creating posts, trying to please an audience and getting little in return ... and you may think about disappearing from virtual life altogether. [Ask me how I know ...].
Or you may be the opposite: you may not have begun a blog because all these fears about what to do, whether you'll be good enough ... who'll read it etc have put you off before you dare start.
So ... before you go and do anything drastic let's pause, breathe ... and take some sage advice from The Gambler himself.
You gotta know when to hold 'em
I spent much of the start of this series building on the idea that blogging is all about you and I still believe that it is ... but if that's what's deterring you from blogging ... we've got a problem!
Or maybe not.
One of the most joyous, creative, magnificently freeing things about presenting yourself online is ... you're in control. You deal your own deck. Hold your own cards.
If you met me in real life you'd find that, at first, I'd be far less confident speaking to you out loud than I am explaining things to you in writing. So this space gives me the opportunity to branch out, try new things, communicate without the embarrassment of face to face floundering because ...
.. in BlogWorld no one can see you blush!!
So ... if you don't tell us, your readers, how:
- scared you are
- unconfident you feel
- unworthy, untalented, undeserving you consider your blog posts or yourself to be ...
To paraphrase Bugsy Malone ... you can be any-blogger you've wanted to be. You can leave all the doubts, self-criticism and fears on the other side of your draft post and pretend you're the most confident, calm, ideal version of yourself.
Sometimes blogging - like so much in life + in work - is all a case of having to 'fake it to make it'.
You get a chance to try out those parts of yourself you have an inkling are there ... but which you might not dare test out on a group of 'real' people. Such as:
- humour - it may be easier for you to be the life and soul of the party ... when you don't have to stand up in public and make people laugh. [Guilty as charged].
- teaching - it may be easier for to take on an experienced 'I-know-this-and-I'm-passing-it-on-to-you' voice online, where you're not afraid of seeing people's reactions.
- expertise - you may suddenly find you feel freer to speak about your specialty - which your friends and family might just consider one of your obsessions / fads / hobbies.
- art / creativity - at home, in your day to day life, where you have to clean the grout around the shower and dispose of dead cucumbers from the bottom of the fridge - you may not feel able to go around proclaiming yourself as an artist ... but in your own personal space, on your blog, you can express this side of yourself without anyone's permission but your own.
And it's not that it's cheating or fraudulent or delusional ... because once you've 'faked it', so to speak, ... you often end up 'making it'.
Think of it like developing a poker face. A front no one can see beyond. No one need know that behind it you're terrified, uncertain, doubting.
And, the more you do it, the more you might start liking who you feel like while your doing it... and you'll allow yourself to feel that 'hey, actually, this is who I am. I was just too scared to reveal it before now.'
Take me for example ...
- I've had the outline for this blog series in my notebook for around 2 years ... and now it's finally here. So, you could say it's something I really wanted to do.
- I know that I don't know all there is to know about improving your blog. But I wanted to share what I do know with others who might not have thought about it until now.
- ... if I'd come here saying "oh, erm, I hope you don't mind me telling you these things" or "I know I'm not an expert, no one trained me in media or marketing" or "you've probably heard this before, I don't really know if this is useful" etc etc ...
- ... would you have felt like reading it? Would you have trusted the series to deliver you anything interesting / useful? Would you have trusted me to stand by you while you figure this blogging thing out?
But I made a clear decision in my writing and promotion of the series to sound as confident about its worth as possible. And yes, I believed in it from the start, but I used the online arena to practice believing in it even more! The online-Julie banished all doubts that this might not work or that people might say 'who does she think she is' etc ... and now look ... I'm 9 chapters in, I feel great about it and am getting happy feedback!
Be kind to yourself, set yourself a manageable blogging task ...
- maybe joining in with a blogging feature one time ... and leaving a comment for two people you don't know;
- write out a few draft posts and ask a friend to cast an eye over them first;
- set up a blog ... but don't tell anyone the address and just get a feel for it in secret!
Now then ... despite me saying you should fake it to make it I'm not going back on the idea of it being about the real you and your 'voice' [like we discussed in Chapter 1]. To become a place your readers remember to, or care about, visiting occasionally, your blog does need to be recognisable, consistent.
But if you're concerned about sharing too much about your personal life on your blog then I completely understand [I mention this in Chapter 1 too].
And this is also a good time to thinking about putting that poker face to good use. Maybe even playing your cards close to your chest.
- So ... the more we blog the more likely we are at some point to think 'Oh I'll blog about XYZ' usually because it's happening at that moment in your life.
- But unless you really want to OR unless your blog is that kind of place [eg. a mental health / parenting blog etc where you share real-time problems etc] then there's really no need to think you have to share everything!
- Don't let this put you off sharing parts of your life.
I've happily shared personal stories here, ones where I didn't breach anyone else's trust, ones where I protected others around me, ones I felt had a purpose ... but there are plenty other personal events and feelings I don't reveal.
I'm 100% me when I'm talking to you here ... just not about 100% of the things that happen to me!
If you're of a nervous or vegetarian disposition ... or you haven't eaten yet ... you may want to skip this next analogy ...
Sharing yourself online is a little bit like being a black pudding ... [bear with me on this one!]
Good black pudding is completely lovely, authentic and splendid ...
... but to really enjoy it ...
... you're probably best off not knowing what it's actually made from!
And while you digest that one ... let's move on ...
... know when to fold 'em ...
If my experiences are anything to go by, even when you've cultivated a secure, positive, blogging attitude, there will still be times when you can't bear the thought of it. So it's probably worth mentioning now ... before you hit blogger's block at a later date!
But wanting to fold, to get away from blogging is normal. Surely?
I mean, no matter how much you love someone ... there are times when you'd prefer not to see their face!
Or, to pick up on our bra theme: more padding, more under wiring, more air-inflated enhancements are all well and good ... but not all day every day. Sometimes you and the girls just need to be un-pushed-up.
And the same goes for your blog.
You can get tired of blogging. In fact ... after writing 12 posts for this series, creating a post for a blog-hop, writing up a giveaway post and blogging for fun in between ... I think I'm due a crash any day now!
So, know this:
- Blogging burn out will happen.
- Do not panic!!
- Do not throw your cards in the air shouting about how you knew this would happen if you started a blog.
- Do not delete your blog!
I just quietly fold ... lay down my cards ... and go read a book. Or make something. Or sleep. Probably all 3.
Then ... in a week or a fortnight or so later, I find myself thinking 'oh I'll put that on my blog' ...
... and suddenly I'm playing with a fresh new deck!
So, we've covered when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em ... what's next?
... know when to walk away ...
Another issue you may run into once you begin blogging more, raising your head higher above the parapet and attracting more blog comments ... is making yourself visible to other people.
And with other people come other personalities and ways of doing things. Things you don't have control over.
Maybe I'm fortunate ... or maybe I'm just particularly laid back, a bit 'live + let live' ... but I've never had a comment which I've found to be harsh, unnecessary, mean or nasty. [If this does occur - you may want to begin moderating comments ... but you will still see them. I'm not sure about where the law stands on serious issues of online harassment - so you'd need to research that yourself].
However ... just because I've never had any truly mean messages ... that's not to say I haven't had ones that have initially stung or annoyed me!
But whenever this happens I've tried hard to stop, pause ... and consider ...
- that it's too easy to misinterpret a short, perhaps unconsidered, quick comment;
- that humour and tongue-in-cheek remarks can be hard to spot when you can't see someone's face when they say it!
- that some people are better at face-to-face communication ... and their message may not come across accurately in their comment;
- that some people are using English as a second language ... and that something's got lost in translation;
- that some people just like to feel superior ... but that I don't need to allow their words to make me feel inferior;
- that they may have misinterpreted what I was saying in my post ... and they thought they were helping. And so on ...
I just believe that life's too short to look for the worst in people or to leap to the conclusion that everyone hates me and my blog and so I'm going to go and hide. [Been there, done that, taken the anti-depressants. Came out the other side.]
And so ... with all this in mind ...
- I don't rush to reply with a snippy, sarcastic or cutting remark [although woweeee!!! do I want to sometimes!] [Next time we're alone ask me about the latest message that got me saying 'Really? You really stopped what you were doing to tell me that? Really?]
- I do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt [even that last one!]
- I sometimes thank people for what they thought was a useful point to raise [even if it didn't initially feel like it to me].
- And hey ... if all else fails I think: at least I got a reaction! At least I know someone's reading ... at least I stirred them into a comment!
But remember: this rarely happens!! So don't get put off!
It's just worth noting so you can have a plan of action in case it does. If you're going to stick at this blogging lark - you need to look out for yourself. And try not to get bogged-down in other people's words and opinions.
But finally ... there will be times when walking away just won't do ...
... know when to run!
Throughout the series I've tried to maintain a certain level of even handedness while doling out my advice but here I make an exception ...
- don't blog emotional [unless that's specifically what you want to convey]
- don't blog angry and ...
- don't blog drunk!!!
Trust me. I've done it many, many, many times! And the change of mind I've had the next day ... when I've deleted the post ... has left me with a lifelong gratitude for the draft facility!!
And the importance of the draft post is precisely what I'll be building on in the next chapter of Push-Up Bra Blogging!! So join me then.
Today's chapter was by no means a definitive guide to conquering your blogging demons ... nor am I trying to be your counsellor!!
I just believe that ... when we lift the lid on life's imperfections ... it creates a space for others to do the same.
- So if you'd like to share how you dealt / deal with blogging doubt or your inner critic or receiving difficult comments etc etc
- Then I'm hoping you'll leave a comment to add your thoughts which may help another blogger - or show you how far you've come!
**WAS TODAY'S CHAPTER USEFUL TO YOU? More so than any of the others so far?
If so please swing my Just Giving page and make a £1* donation to the 'SAVE THE CHILDREN' charity to help me reach my fundraising target. I'm hoping to transform my hours of work on this series into at least £500 worth of aid for children worldwide.
I'm currently at 64% of my target ... with only 3 posts left in the series. So anything you could do today nudge me over 70% would be so welcome!
In the UK? You can donate £1 by texting: PUBB88 £1 to 70070.
**Please don't feel uncertain about adding just £1 to the pot. £1 is plenty. You're one of the good guys for even thinking about it. Thank you. x