Putting the You in Blogging: What I’ve Learned So Far

first year blogging coleen patrick_opt

 Putting the YOU in blogging.

A year ago this week I started blogging.

Before that, the idea of me blogging seemed practically other worldly, like getting stuck in an elevator with Ian Somerhalder.

Just another dreamy idea.  Sigh.

But the more hours I set aside for writing, the more the business/public side of this job of writing became apparent.  I’d read an author’s blog, and somewhere in the cramped corner of my mind I’d think:  I might have to do this someday.

Still it seemed like something other people did.  Not me.

But then the idea planted itself and then grew until it poked at my gray matter.  It was time to do something, time to take another step.

writer evolution typewriters are heavy_opt

Time to EVOLVE.

 

So after stumbling across Kristen Lamb’s WANA blog, and then reading her books, I decided it was time to experiment with this blogging thing.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I followed her advice (note: all mistakes are my own) and started learning how to BUILD A PLATFORM.

And very quickly learned –and this is going to sound ridiculous coming from someone who writes a blog–that I don’t really like talking about myself.

Okay I will wait while you laugh.

🙂

So if that’s the case, then how do you decide what to blog about, especially when the blog’s brand is YOU?

 

PUTTING THE YOU IN BLOGGING . . . BLUGGING?

 

“You’ve got to recognize, there will never be another you. It has nothing to do with ego; it happens to be the truth. There will never be another person the same. There’ll never be another you.”

~ Mickey Rooney

So be you.

Okay, but what about boundaries?  The internet knows none.  But not me.  Filter is like my middle name, and TMI is a VERY distant cousin.  This means I’m naturally less inclined to tell you what color underwear I am wearing. Doesn’t mean I don’t like underwear, or don’t wear underwear or don’t read blogs about underwear.  Underwear can by a VERY funny thing to blog about (don’t believe me? Check out the very lovely Jenny Hansen at More Cowbell).  Now maybe one morning I will wake up to hear the Today Show revealing a study that says:

UNDERWEAR NOW PROVEN TO BE A MAJOR SOURCE OF INSPIRATION AND MOTIVATION AND THE SECRET TO LIFE’S HAPPINESS.

Well then I’m going to have to reconsider the whole underwear thing, because I love me some inspiration.

Yup, I learned I DO like to sprinkle in some inspiration when I blog, but still I started somewhere WAY SAFER.  I started with bonnets.

baby Coleen Patrick bonnet_opt

This is like the opposite of underwear.

 

There’s no place like the prairie.  That was my first post.  I blogged about my favorite books from when I was a kid–the Little House on the Prairie series.  It kind of summed up a big part of me as a kid, as a reader.

And that’s okay.  You have to start somewhere.

BLOGGING ISN’T EASY.

And unfortunately I’ve learned that I’m a PANTSER when it comes to blogging.  No, I’m not talking about underwear again, being a pantser just means that I spend most Sunday afternoons with my face scrunched up in front of my computer writing Monday’s post.

Because I don’t plot or plan my blog posts.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the idea of outlines and planning ahead–and let me say I’ve planned and executed some amazing and detailed family road trips, but setting up a blogging calendar?

Um, so far hasn’t worked.  At all.

I’ve got my idea stash, but every week the only idea that sticks is something current, something with at least a tiny emotional connection, so yea, forget planning ahead.

It’s one reason why I do a lot of quoting around here.

But from other people.  Sure I’m a source of wisdom here at my house.  I’m handing out life lessons on a daily basis.  Why just this morning I got to impart this little gem:

Diarrhea will never be convenient.

With jewels like that, you see why I like to stick with Maya Angelou or Albert Einstein.

Besides that sort of quote might not translate my brand all that well on a Google search–which brings me to:

WHAT IS SEO?

Search Engine Optimization.  If you blog, then you will know at least a little something about this.

Me? I’m still struggling to understand this—The Real Housewives franchise (and even the LOST finale) make more sense to me than this, but I’ve managed to think of SEO like this:

 

search engine building author platform

 

The more posts I write, the more information I have floating out there in search land–and eventually the repetition of me AS A BRAND should add up in the center.

Okay this is rudimentary and quite possibly wrong (and did I just call myself repetitious?), but I can pull up the searches that have directed people to my site and get:

Teenager washing dishes (a parent can dream)

Teen stockade (ditto)

These are searches that would be in the outer circles, because while I write stories about teens, it’s not quite right.  Like these searches:

Cooking with Pooh and liking it

Patrick written in poop

Toilet cake ideas

Again, not exactly at the core of what my blog is about, but I kind of like it because these searches also hint that somewhere in this blog is something funny.

Funny is important to me.

 

“Comedy is defiance. It’s a snort of contempt in the face of fear and anxiety. And it’s the laughter that allows hope to creep back on the inhale.” ~Will Durst

Funny is like a balm to me.  Sometimes life just sucks a big lemon.  People that I love are dealing with divorce, recovering from disease, suffering with pain, or money problems.  The world is filled with insane people.  And of course I’ve got my own obstacles to figure out—from the unexpected (my health) to the expected (but not easy) evolution of parenting (learning to add more “let go” to the love equation).  But it doesn’t even have to be BIG issues, it can be lots of tiny ones that kick up into a terrifying dust bunny of the mind.

 

too much on my mind

 

So yea, funny is good.  And sometimes you read a blog because you just want to know that someone else feels the same.  When I see searches like these collecting in my virtual Venn diagram:

How to find the courage to try something new

Yay

Embrace your story

I feel happy.  Because it’s positive and what I hope is a big part of the core of this blog.

Which brings me to another lesson I’ve learned:

BLOGGING IS A COMMUNITY EFFORT

Yes, there are weeks when I think—maybe I don’t want to do this anymore, maybe I don’t have something to say.  Especially when all the hard things about life come to wrap themselves around me, poking at my heart, making me want to fold up instead of sharing.

Except I belong to an AMAZING community of writers and bloggers.  Friends who randomly tweet things like this:

 

awesome blogging friends

 

 

And then I’m reminded that what we do, what we say or even what we blog about MATTERS.  Maybe we will never know the impact of our words in any given moment, but if it matters to you, it probably matters to someone else.  Maybe it’s someone at home or all the way across the world in Australia.

I have been lucky to come across amazing writers and bloggers first through Rachael Harrie’s writer’s platform building campaign, and then Kristen Lamb’s WANA (we are not alone) community (click on her site link above or see #mywana on Twitter or click on the beautiful peacock graphic in my sidebar).  It’s like your key to a writer’s Narnia.

I told myself I was going to do this for a year, an experiment of sorts, to not only see what I could do, but what could happen and also give myself the footing to be able to make the best decision for me when it comes to publishing.

I am learning as I go.  I am remaining open and curious.

Which leads me to my favorite part:  Question time!

I love when you take the time to read–and I love every comment and email.  So if you are a blogger, it would be super cool if you share with us in the comments how you put YOU in your blog.

If you don’t blog, then tell us why you read blogs, or Facebook posts or tweets or watch YouTube videos.  Do you do it for inspiration, motivation, laughter?  I’d love to know.

Thank you!!

 

HAVE A GREAT WEEK.