Writing has always been natural for me. My words are not perfectly polished, but strong enough to get me through university degrees and work needs. I never wrote for the sake of writing…until this past January. Ironically, the first writing “for myself” was immediately posted online for all to see. And by “all,” I mean the twenty family and friends who read it due to a social media post. Yup. I decided to become a new blogger on a whim.
Why Should You Write A Blog?
This is primarily a rhetorical question, as the answers are endless. Some bloggers want to help people, others are subject area specialists, still more are searching for a way to make money on the side or to leave an unpleasant employment situation.
Whatever the reason, writing about something you care about online is a wonderful way to share your unique perspective on the world. Towards the end of this post, there is a list of some great blogs I have encountered. They are simply the proverbial tip of the iceberg. A bloggers icebreaker, if you will!
Let’s Talk About The Word “Blog”
The word “blog” does not conjure images of literary masterpieces. Can you imagine Ernest Hemingway or Jane Austen hovering behind a laptop computer in their skivvies trying to master Pinterest? Or picture Maya Angelou, Gabriel García Márquez, or Pablo Neruda hanging out at the local Starbucks waxing poetic about “The Top Ten Tips For Great Poetry.”
But wait. Is it possible that those seemingly silly scenarios might have happened if those authors began their careers today? Márquez (aka “Gabo”) started as a journalist. He went on to win the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature. In addition to his masterwork, 100 Years of Solitude, Gabo authored essays for such publications as Harper’s Magazine as early as 1973 and before.
Many people do not realize that Presidential Medal of Freedom-winning poet and author Maya Angelou also wrote for film and television, including four documentaries for PBS. She even penned two cookbooks. Is it that much of a stretch to believe that these towering figures in literature might publish a post or two on the Internet if they were alive today?
We will never know. However, let’s agree that although all bloggers would not consider themselves “authors” per se, there are bloggers who not only write extremely well, but are also burgeoning novelists and journalists. Many attended top-notch writing programs or boast numerous published works. I do not fit into those categories at all, unless you consider my recording reviews for the International Trumpet Guild Journal to be literary masterpieces.
Write What You Want To Write
My biggest takeaway as a new blogger is that blog posts provide freedom. You truly can write about whatever subject you feel passionate about on any given day. People tend to find a niche, but that does not limit them. One of the funniest posts I stumbled across was from someone who generally writes serious pieces about the nature of relationships. Similarly, some of the best travel bloggers write about important events in their personal life that have nothing to do with “The Best Waterfalls In Brazil” or the like. It is writing with passion that humanizes you to your readers!
As a new blogger, you will undoubtedly question whether all of the effort is worth it. From my perspective, connection is always the answer to that question. Anyone who reads my posts has seen that no matter what the topic, I try to focus on human connection. It is a need that cannot be denied, nor should it be avoided. Put yourself out there. Take a chance and be vulnerable. My inaugural blog post included lifelong struggles with anxiety, exposing this part of myself to those who would not have otherwise known. It was worth taking a risk and it was real. Read my first post here.
Along with the connection that is made from writing posts, being a new blogger will open you up to a great community on social media. Some more forward-thinking writers build a social media presence before publishing a new blog. That was simply not my style. Others, also more savvy than me, research blogging heavily before beginning. My research consisted of a three-word Google search—“free blogging websites.” I found what was easiest for me and wrote that first post on the actual site. No drafts on Microsoft Word for this guy. That would have been too logical.
Technology and Social Media
Now for the title track—“the ups and downs of a new blogger.” I am six months in to blogging, and it has been a lot of fun. Honestly, it has been almost all “ups.” Great people have encouraged me and provided feedback and the writing itself is highly rewarding. The only “downs” have been related to technology, as well as certain social media platforms (I’m looking at you, Instagram.)
There are literally millions of posts about how to navigate the technology needed as a new blogger. Similarly, social media strategies are endless. Experts abound and some are great writers. My experience is that the best blogs do not center around experts‘ suggestions, but about what they, the authors, have in their hearts. Great bloggers still use SEO strategies (search engine optimization) and social media services to promote their writings. They do, after all, want their posts read!
In my opinion, the truly good bloggers do not let marketing limit them. Actually, quite the opposite. The best bloggers use all of the strategies at hand, but still keep that human connection mentioned above. Bloggers with tens of thousands or more Twitter followers are often the first to lend guidance or provide an encouraging word. I wrote a post called Connection Is Our Common Language. It is a personal story about a random human interaction I encountered in France. Neither of us was able to speak in the other’s native tongue, but we still got along. The blogging world is bit like that. I have yet to meet any of my “blogging friends” in person, but we are there supporting each other in meaningful ways.
A VERY Abridged List of My Favorite Blogs
Speaking of “blogging friends”—I promised you a list. It is a tricky task, providing a tally like this. Travel blogs are overrepresented. I frankly don’t have a life situation that allows as much travel as desired, but it certainly is fun to read about. My descriptions are very brief.
Check out these great blogs to truly get the idea!
(In alphabetical order):
- A Blonde in the Crowd: Positive thoughts on life which encourage people to be real and vulnerable.
- Being and Niceness: Philosophical views and explorations with a quest to make the world a better place.
- Ell Duclos: Blogging tips from a super-positive person, with a particular emphasis on empowering women entrepreneurs.
- Green Mochila: Great, detailed posts about a couple’s adventurous travels.
- Laura Elizabeth: Book reviews, personal thoughts, and more.
- Mind and Love: Posts about the nature of mental health, relationships, and more.
- Passport Explored: Great, engaging travel writing from a passionate traveler and writer.
- Passport and Pixels: TV producer, writer, and photographer who blogs about her travels in a fun way with amazing photographs.
- Peacoat Travels: Written by a wonderful duo of writers who really make you feel as if you are there.
- The Swirling Dervish: A great wine blog from someone who doesn’t just write about wine, but includes it in great stories.
- The Uncorked Librarian: I’ll use her words!—“The Uncorked Librarian, LLC (TUL) is where books, booze, and travel come together. Find an intoxicating blog popping the cork on bookish and tipsy travel and travel-inspiring books.”
Research, Read, Write, and Enjoy!
This is not a how-to, a what-not-to-do, a top ten list, or anything of the sort. It is a challenge. If you are a new blogger or want to be one, go for it! Research the best platforms, but don’t wait for “the perfect fit.” Read other people’s blogs, but don’t copy them. Write about something important to you, but don’t make it all about you. Whatever you do, enjoy!
There will be some days when you are convinced that nobody will ever appreciate your blog. Then, when it is unexpected, someone will notice you and appreciate your writing. It is a big world and you are NOT the only one who is interested in what you have to say.
Become a new blogger—it’s fun!
In My Unexpected Life, I share stories, thoughts, and simple ideas to entertain and possibly inspire others to become more connected with each other in conversation, food, travel, and more…no matter how big or small those experiences may be.
I love this post (not just because you’ve included a link to my blog in it!!) I especially like the point you make about historic poets and novellists choosing to blog if that had been available to them.
I think it’s easy to write blogging off as not being serious writing, but to me it’s just another way to communicate ideas and make connections. I take it just as seriously as I take my work on my current book, and I’ve read some really beautiful and thought-provoking pieces on other’s blogs as well (yours included!).
Thank you for the kind words, Laura! It has been a fun six months doing this. I hope your book is going well!
Aw, thank you SO much for the shoutout. That’s so nice of you, and I really appreciate being named with some of these other fabulous bloggers. I definitely try to give travel a more unique twist as a bookish blogger (I agree–it’s been done so time for a change from me; I use those listicle posts to plan my travel, but I need to stand out on my own as a blogger now). I am 200% with you too: while blogging is about those social media strategies and SEO, it’s all about heart and remembering that your audience and community are human and people. The more you care, provide value, and just be you (and a good person), the more people will come. I’m all about that. I do nothing strategic for my Twitter at all. Truly (and maybe it shows lol). However, it just seems to grow when you share, care, and provide value. People like discussion and interesting things. They enjoy like-minded company and encouragement. Thanks for being my blogging friend!
Thank you for such nice words, Christine! You are correct about the humanity on Twitter and in writing. Yours definitely comes across in all of your interactions, email updates, and posts. Cheers!
Well I have certainly taken the write ‘whatever’ I want to write part seriously haha!
That’s for sure, but why not?! LOL!
I agree with so much of this, a great read. I think the best thing about ‘social media’, including blogging, is as you say the social aspect of it and the connection to other users or bloggers.
Absolutely! It makes things more human. As much as it is nice to automize posts and the like, it is really the interaction that makes blogging more enjoyable and worthwhile.
Thanks for sharing!!
Thank you for reading!
I definitely relate to this one, Kevin. Coincidentally, we started our blogs around the same time. Mine was on January 3rd, the day before I had a minor surgery. I thought… hmm… maybe I’ll start to write some things down and post them online for the world to see. Little did I know that I would enjoy it so much. Also, since I don’t do this for a living, I do feel and appreciate the freedom to write whatever I want; which, taken in the grand context of time, really blows my mind.
So well put. My first post was January 4th, so we are a day apart in this whole thing and similarly don’t rely on our blogs to make a living. It’s much better than I expected it to be.
I am a newbie blogger and love your post. I wonder if anyone reads my posts other than family and friends. Thanks for encouraging new bloggers.
Definitely! I’m glad you could relate. Ironically, family and friends sometimes stop reading and the social media “friends” become the biggest cheerleaders and supporters! 🙂
Thank you for the inspirational insights! I believe that writing is an artistic outlet and passion is always a winner. Thank you for confirming that! In a world where many prefer videos and pictures I thought I was one of the few READERS left😎
Such a great point! When photos are used as only PART of the story, it is much more satisfying to me to read and visualize. That being said, I like a good photo essay as well from time to time!
I enjoyed reading your post, Kevin. Through the ups and downs of blogging I have received the benefit of having an outlet to share my experiences in travel and life. Even though I did research blogging sites, I did end up moving platforms once. That was not fun! I hope your next 6 months are as exciting as your first 6 months.
Thank you so much for the nice words! It means a lot to me when people can relate.
Love this post! I agree that blogging is definitely more fun when you write what YOU want to write, rather than what others want to read x
Thank you for reading my post and I am glad you enjoyed it! Have a wonderful weekend.
Ah the trials and tribulations of a blogger. As a fellow blogger/travel writer (by accident and not on a whim), I can say that blogging is a fascinating process of rediscovering our inner self. Thanks for sharing and let’s all crack our heads until the next big and wonderful idea comes along 😉
Mine is also on a whim! The process is definitely fascinating and a great outlet for ideas. I do have to say I don’t envy people who do it for a living. It is nice to be able to write when, where, and what hits the spot at the time without the pressure. Thanks for reading!