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6 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

bloggerStarting my blog, I thought was the hard part. That first post–putting myself on the line, ignoring that I had no hits, wanting to approve comments from spammers because that would look like someone loved me. The second post was easier and so it went.

But somewhere around the twentieth post, I figured out that I had to do blogging right. I couldn’t simply show up, spout off and slink away. There was a lot more to ‘blogging’. I could have quit–it was getting to be a lot like work–but I enjoyed the blogging. I liked the like-minded souls I sought out as I tried to market my blog. I learned a lot about writing by doing it often (writing novels takes years. Blogging lets me publish weekly. What a difference). So I started honing my skill.

Now, years later, there are a few items I wished I’d known early rather than late. Let me share them with you:

  • only reblog 10% of someone else’s post. If you’re on WordPress and push the ‘reblog’ button, they take care of that for you. But if you copy someone’s post and give them attribution, you blew it. You have to get permission if you are reposting more than 10% of someone else’s work. Where was I supposed to learn that?

  • hot links are bad. What’s a ‘hot link’ you say? That’s when you use a picture on your blog that’s posted on some other server. I don’t do that–I don’t even know how to do it. Let me posit a scenario. You find an image (in the public domain) that you like. You drag it to your blog post and drop it. It looks great. What a wonderful shortcut to save-insert-find media you usually have to do. But–it’s a no-no. You know you’ve hotlinked if you bring up that beautiful picture (that’s in the public domain) and there’s no link for where it’s hosted. This, like ‘reblog 10%’, I learned the hard way (thank you, Jack Reacher, for that term).
  • how long it takes to make a post. Most bloggers start out journaling–chatting about their life. When they get few readers, less comments, and realize they’re talking to an empty room, they give up blogging as another failed experiment on the pathway to success. Blogging is no longer journaling. Now, blogs focus on a theme, their popularity closely tied to the author’s voice and/or  resources provided. Readers don’t want to see typos, grammar errors, or a waste of their time. In fact, you have to write-edit-rewrite-submit to get your blog posts ready for the public. Pretty much what your English teacher told you to do in high school. When your brain starts throbbing like a hand slammed in a car door–that’s when you realize blogging is a lot like work.
  • be myself. Let my voice take over. Like with any author you love, it’s not so much the plot they choose (there really are only so many plots) as how the author delivers it. That’s voice and that’s why readers will keep coming back to your blog. They want to know how you connect the dots. Humor? Empathy? Pithy? Whatever it is, make it yours and stick to it.
  • it’s easier than it sounds. So many of my fellow writers think blogging takes hours a day. It does, but only when you first start, as you’re getting settled. Then, you get into a rhythm:
    • Jot an idea down as a ‘draft post’ using whatever digital device you like (mobile, iPad, laptop, computer. Me, I’m always at my PC so that’s what I use)
    • flesh it out when the muse hits. That’s the problem, you say. You don’t have time to let ‘the muse hit’. I’m going to respectfully disagree, even though I don’t know you that well. You are a writer. The muse always lurks in your subconscious, ready with her opinions, attitudes, annoyances. You have trained yourself to ignore her, but now it’s time for a new habit. Write when you want–whatever comes out. In this case, flesh out the blog post.
    • review and schedule the post. I do a week at a time.
  •  it’s harder than it sounds. You have to pay attention to proper writing skills, be careful to not plagiarize content or media, be a friend to your ebuddies, be constantly and brilliantly inspired, and be a tech genius who can fix all those geeky things that make social media work. Yikes!

That’s my list. What’s on yours?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a weekly columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer. Contact Jacqui at her writing office or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.

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49 thoughts on “6 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

  1. Agree with every single point. I agonise over pushing the “publish” button. Though it can also work against you in some cases, one good thing is that there is no deadline pressure. If I am not ready, I just defer.

  2. Thank you for posting this, Jacqui. Just what I need. I love the part about using your own voice. That’s especially good advice because it’s our voice that makes us distinct.
    As for the technical genius stuff -oy!

  3. Keep up a regular schedule. I regard blogging as something I do when I have time, meaning when not many people are paying to write things for them, and regular posts (at least one a week) is the difference between 10-20 views on each post right away. . . and 100-200.

    Or in your case Jacqui maybe add a zero to each, but the basic trend remains.

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  5. Hi Jacqui, great article. I post daily (today was #328, so I’m almost a year into it) and what you wrote definitely underscores what I’ve experienced. I schedule my posts about two weeks in advance, so that keeps me from missing a day when things get even more hectic than usual. Plus, scheduling in advance gives me a bit of distance from what I write. I always do a last-minute reread/edit the day before a post publishes, and I catch a lot of little changes that way. I always use one of my own photographs with each post, so sometimes that’s the biggest challenge; matching the photo to the daily quote and theme. Thanks for a very helpful message.

    • You work very hard at this, Julia! I prepare a few weeks in advance, but I rarely have time to do a find read-through. I’m impressed you do. Now, I must go over and see what you’ve written 328 times!

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  7. Great advice. I just started blogging on this site about four months ago. I’ve blogged before with BlogSpot.com and Blogger.com, but gave up because I did not know it took time to build a readership. It is a lot of work, but this time I’m seeing the benefits to it.

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  10. I’ve been blogging for five weeks so this was just what I needed I look forward to reading more of your wisdom. Thanks for helping me avoid a few mistakes : )

  11. What a wonderful blog! I look forward to perusing it more. I’ve been blogging for nine months now. I’m currently working on a book that’s been in my head for fifteen years (it needs to come out!) I like to think of blogging as using your non-dominant hand – it sharpens all facets of my writing brain. And yes, it is hard work, but anything worthwhile is. Be well. ~Karen~

    • Once that book is birthed and you’re looking for marketing opportunities, you’ll find they’re already begun in your blog. I look forward to hearing about your writing journey.

  12. I’m so glad this post came round again because this time I have something to contribute other than admiration for your insight, Jacqui – which I still have aplenty, BTW.
    I wish I’d set up an email address just for my blog. My readers don’t know what it is, but my inbox is now flooded with mail from the blogging community, and my personal (family and friends) email often gets lost. I could probably do it now, but I bet it’s harder to untangle those threads.

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    • It is. I just completed a wonderful workshop with Richard Bausch, a prolific renowned writer. His attitude is to leave all that marketing stuff to others. We as students just laughed–not the world anymore. Unless you’re famous. Maybe then.

      Truth, I often have published authors drop by when I review their material. Ben Coes, Mai Jia–well known people. They are doing their own marketing and social media.

  15. These are great tips towards helping to demystify the world of blogging. My list also includes consistency. Without consistency you lose the momentum that you have built and in turn often your following. Do not let your audience forget about you.

    • That is critical. I’ve seen so many bloggers (and writers) give up after what they think is the good effort. It takes consistency, persistence, as well as a computer and a thesaurus.

      Thanks for visiting! How fun the blog hop works!

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