Five years ago I started my first blog called FortyX40 and it was a challenging experience that I wasn’t really prepared for. FortyX40 was a bucket list of sorts; 40 things to do before I turned 40 and I started at the age of 39. I didn’t really understand the amount of work that actually went into building and maintaining a blog at the time and it was definitely more than I bargained for. With the help of a good friend who actually built my entire first blog, I decided to just focus on accomplishing my ‘list of to do’s’ and the words that I wanted to say. When I started to get into my writing groove while ticking off things one by one off my list, I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy the process and how much the experience would change my life. Fast forward to 2019 and I’m happy to say that I build this blog all by myself with a lot of sweat, blood and tears. Literally. It’s been over a year in the making and I’m still learning a lot but, I’d like to pass on some of the best pieces of advice that I followed religiously so that I could get this baby off the ground.
- Just start. Let me shout this out again for those people who did’t hear me. JUST START! This blog that I’m currently writing took me over 1 year to get off the ground. Why? Because I procrastinated, I doubted myself, I wanted it to be perfect even though I didn’t even know what perfect meant, I complained I didn’t have the money, I complained that I didn’t have the time. The list goes on and on and on. The truth of the matter is you’ll never feel 100% ready, you make the time for things you really want, you don’t need (any) or very much money, it will forever be an evolving process so perfectionism is null and void and finally get out of your own damn way! Once I got over all of this, I was ready to roll.
- Be authentic. This may sound obvious to some but, when you’re starting out as a newbie blogger, you end up searching for ideas and inspiration until you’re blue in the face. When you end up finding a blog or blogger that you love, you can sometimes end up copying that person. This is not an intentional thing but, because there are so many blogs out there you simply find it hard to find your own groove! One of the best (and perhaps THE best) piece of advice that I was given was to be myself, to be authentic and to talk about what I’m passionate about. If you end up trying to copy someone else or be something you’re not, you’ll get burnt out and discouraged faster than you can say Uncomfortable Bliss.
- Fuck perfectionism. Yeah, I said it. Fuck trying to make your blog perfect. Blogging will be an ever evolving process so it will never be ‘perfect’. You’re always going to want to learn and improve on what you’ve done so it’s better just to let go and have fun with it . Fear can show up as a perfectionist and indeed it often does. Don’t worry about what other people will think of what you’re doing and focus on the reasons why you started it in the first place.
- Do what you can with what you have. Don’t have a fancy camera? You don’t need one. Don’t have the money to hire a photographer? Ask your partner or friend to take pictures of you. Don’t have the money to purchase a template or domain? Start with a free blog and save your coins for the next one. Don’t know how to build it yourself? Ask others plus Google and Youtube are your best friends. My point here is that practically every successful blogger started with nothing and had to learn from the ground up. I know I must sound like a broken record but, blogging is an ever evolving process where you’ll be continually learning and growing so just appreciate the journey and forget about the destination.
- Know who your audience is. Ok, so this is me putting on my communications professional hat on. When I work with organizations on developing their communications plan, one of my first questions is “who is your audience?” and/or “who do you want your audience to be?” It’s unreal how many people don’t know how to answer this question. You can’t possibly start a business, a blog or develop any sort of communications plan until you know who you are speaking to! Please, for the love of God, take your time and make sure you know who your audience is. Find a niche and make sure that everything you do is geared towards your audience. You can’t be everything to everybody so the more you define who you are and what you do, the better chances you have of being a successful at your craft.
So there you have it. From one newbie to another, this is my list of advice to think about before you even start. There are many other pieces of great learning points that I haven’t mentioned but, these are the 5 that I have engrained in my head to help me stay on track. If you mess something up or things don’t go as planned who cares! The world isn’t going to end. Just have fun with it all and enjoy the ride.