The past two months have been the most exciting, intense, exhilarating, and exhausting I’ve had in my life. On Monday, July 26th, 2010, I published my very first blog post. And it’s been non-stop ever since.
I didn’t come into blogging a total novice. For two months while building my website, I read as much as I could about running a blog, social media, and writing a blog. I had twenty blog posts in my back pocket that were ready to go when I needed them. I set up a Twitter account, made sure my LinkedIn and Facebook profiles were completely up to date, and spent as much time as I could bookmarking posts that resonated with me. My Google reader is full of blogs that I admire and hope to emulate. But all the research in the world wouldn’t have taught me the lessons that actually being in the blogosphere and participating in the community have. While there are probably hundreds of lessons I’ve picked up without even realizing it, here are the top five that have truly stuck with me.
1.) Blogging Is a True Community
What surprised me the most was that people on Twitter and other bloggers who found my blog and read my content truly wanted me to succeed. When I announced my first post I was re-tweeted, sent messages of good luck, and a few lovely people wrote comments on my posts. I was touched and thrilled. So I commented back, I tweeted thanks, and I joined the community. It’s only been two months, I haven’t made any friends who I hope will stand up in my wedding and hold my un-born children in the hospital, but it’s nice to know that this “blogging community” I read about truly does exist and welcomes new members with open arms.
2.) Revisions and Editing Are As Important As Writing
As I said above, I went into this with twenty posts ready to go. They sat for weeks waiting patiently to be sent into the world and read by 20-30 people. Every night before posting the next day’s article, I would re-read it, and half the time, re-write it. It wasn’t just me being nitpicky either, as I learned more, I could add more value to what I was writing. And as I posted more, I wanted to make sure the voice of the posts was consistent. I now have a 24/48 hour rule (which I am sometimes unable to follow, but I really try to). I do not post anything unless it has been revised once after 24 hours and another time after 48 hours. I don’t spend hours on the revisions, but this way I know I’m putting out my best work possible.
3.) Patience Is Key
As of this very moment, I have 165 Twitter followers and about 60 hits on my blog a day (although I suspect at least a quarter are family and friends). For being only two moths old, I’m very happy. For someone who wants to grow and be of value, I want more readers, more followers, and I want them now. But I know to be patient because they will not come unless I give them reason to. So instead of focusing my efforts on obsessively checking my following, I focus those efforts on putting out great content.
4.) Nobody Is Quite as Excited About Your Posts as You Are
This is a sad lesson learned, but truthfully it shouldn’t have been a lesson at all. I should have known this because I read so many blogs. I guarantee I have never once been as excited about a blog post as the person who wrote it. To me their posts are information, for them, it’s slightly personal. I could say that I now understand this and try not to get excited about the response to my posts, but I’m way too new for that. I still get excited, and I still love to write about what excites me, so this lesson is a work in progress. And I’m glad. I don’t want that excitement to go away.
5.) Everyone Is an Expert
When I announced my blog to family and friends, I was surprised by how many people seemed to think they had the perfect piece of advice for me on how to market myself, what niches to try to break into, and what content to produce. It took a few tries, but now I nod and smile and then do what I know is right for me and my blog. Not what others want me to do. Because it turns out, not everyone is an expert after all.
Those are the major lessons I’ve learned in the past two months. What were the most helpful or surprising lessons you learned when you first started out?