When I become a Highly Successful Blogger with 1,000 followers — oh why be so modest, 10,000 followers — please, please don’t ask me how I did it.
Here’s the hazard: I would be flattered. And I might actually agree to deliver my gems of wisdom, my 10 or 10,000 tips on how to blog stupendously well. And that would be deeply embarrassing.
You see there are already 265 million pages of “blogging tips”, and if you Google “how to blog” you will discover 6,670 million answers. What more is there to say?
A taxonomy of bloggers
Let me crudely categorise the bloggers I follow into types. Each type has completely different needs.
Type A. Professional bloggers. They work hard at every aspect of their blogging day after day after day. Classic example is Darren Rowse of Problogger.com, who is not only blindingly successful but also knowledgeable, balanced, helpful and authentic. If you want your blog to make money, or to advance your business or professional career, go there for advice.
Type B. Personal bloggers. People like me, who started with a vague idea that blogging might be useful professionally but quickly forgot about that angle and now regard their blog rather as an exercise in self-entertainment and exploration.
Both these types are happy in their work. Blimey, what a sweeping generalisation! Maybe I should say they kind of know what they’re doing, or what they are aiming at. Professional bloggers have a vested interest in improving what they do, but personal bloggers don’t. Not really. And they don’t care because they’re having fun.
And within these “types” — who are not really types at all — are infinite variations because we are all utterly different. We have every reason not to follow the herd, because authenticity is the gold standard of blogging. All the bloggers I follow have chosen to walk their own path. Their blogs are all very, very different— in length and tone and topic and attitude and style. I enjoy tiny frivolous posts, deep long demanding reads, photos, fiction, poems, about politics, philosophy, fitness, feminism, aging, everyday life and so much more. I want posts to take me by surprise, not to trot out the same old recipe for “success”.
Type C. Anxious bloggers. They may be fixated on statistics of Likes and Followers and feel inadequate. They may suspect there’s one magic trick that will make them an instant “success.” Or they may just suffer from generalized anxiety. So they seek advice. Not by Googling, or taking a course, or following a trusted adviser on blogging, but by asking their favourite bloggers. Who then respond with another 10 Tips for Blogging…
OK Personal Blogger, here come my 4 tips (I just can’t help myself)
It’s only one tip, actually. Why would you try to change yourself with the hope that strangers might find you, like you and follow you? That would destroy you. Don’t do it.
Of course, read tips, do a course, get the hang of this blogging thing. I recommend The Daily Post Blogging University, for instance. And then get going. Don’t be scared, just start.
Stop worrying about what hypothetical readers might hypothetically want. Figure out what you want. If it’s instant easy “success” with 10,000 followers by Tuesday, forget it: this is not going to happen, luckily. Blog the way you feel like blogging on the day. Keep on blogging your way, in your time, when you feel like it. Be yourself and let the followers come or not. (They will. And they’re lovely.)
And lighten up! What’s the worst that could happen? You learn with experience? I rest my case.