Lots of you know Eric.
He writes a dad blog called All in a Dad’s Work. He’s a good dude and an Orioles fan. (It could be much worse.) He and I share tons of common friends. He writes a post called Go Ask Your Father, which looks a lot like Go Ask Daddy. He’s a good guy.
(My lawyer says I should ask for a taco for every Go Ask Your Father post he publishes. I like the idea of getting tacos mostly.)
Eric nominated me for a blogger recognition award long ago. When these things happen, I give thanks and disclose my plan to someday – someday – do the challenge, whether it’s posting pics or writing underwater, etc.
Recognition starts with R. That’s where we find ourselves in this A to Z Challenge.
I’m positive Eric will read this and see that as I’m going through the challenge – which involves posts daily for nearly all of April, and that we read five other blogs from writers partaking in the challenge – and will crank out one of his five reads right here.
I wanted to write
My blog started clumsily.
I’d been a sports writer for 10 years and found myself on a non-journalistic path of jobs in call centers and hotel concierge lounges. Still, I wanted to write. I needed to write. So I answered a LinkedIn post to write for a parenthood blog.
Good gravy was I clunky from the start.
I didn’t really know how to write about myself. I’d been trained to write and edit as an impartial observer. To prattle on about myself? Absurd. Who’d want to read the runaway poppycock from a former sportswriter and new dad?
Some people, turns out, like to read stuff like this.
I sloshed my way through initial posts, reading other bloggers’ work and growing accustomed to opening up in posts. I wrote for Modern Parent Online for about a year, before the site went defunct.
I had intell of the coming demise, so I copied and pasted all of my posts into Word docs and went rogue.
Advice for new bloggers
What an exciting time. I’d advise you to take your time at the start. Mull over a name, before you even take a peek at WordPress themes. Play on your given name. (I suggested the blog name Margins of Erin for a friend named – you guessed it – Erin.)
Choose a name, and a tagline – mine: ‘it’s all about fatherhood, futbol, and food.
You don’t have to include everything you’ll ever write about there. Don’t also set up categories in anything but pencil – you’ll find your regular features appear on their own. Your blog will take twists and turns you could never imagine now.
I started my blog with something to set the tone – a post titled “20 Things About Me” – and thought about how I could turn all 20 into posts.
Read. Holy God, read. Read as much as you write. More. Establish a routine, whether to read on the toilet, in car line, during breakfast. Leave comments. You can tell about the time you did something similar, but be sure to acknowledge the host’s work, too.
Write – write your ass off.
Start easy, once a month. Try once a week on for size. Doesn’t feel so intimidating? Good. Establish a schedule. Comment on others’ blogs. Copy and paste comments you leave on other blogs in a Google or Word doc. Use these as post ideas, too.
Blog as an extension of you
Join linkups, and look for free stock images.
Take your own pictures. Choose fonts and colors that represent you, not that fit a trend. Use your own sketches as images. This blog becomes an extension of you. Join a Facebook blogging group with like-minded writers. Contribute.
Try out a few tools, and bookmark the ones that feel best. In my arsenal:
750words.com | Write 750 words daily. Read an analysis of your writing.
Evernote.com | Save anything you can see on the Internet to help you later.
Hemingwayapp.com | This app will show you where you’re too flowery and verbose.
Photopin.com | Tons of free stock images. Or, just shoot your own.
Writing prompts | I found this one from Sheryl Strayed will get you moving.
Email me | Experiencing roadblocks, from ideation to publication? Email me.
Don’t worry about numbers.
Number watching nubs off the great parts of blogging. Blog for a community, for education. For connections and conversation. Find a social media calendar that works for you – and be sure to post as much on others’ blogs and ideas as you do your own.
It makes your feed look gracious and intelligent.
I could go on and on. I have so many specific ideas. I’d love to lead a course on this at a blog conference somewhere. If anyone has a spot for me, I’ll be over here … waiting on tacos from Eric.
My 10 nominees
Aunie, of Aunie Sauce
Beth, of i didn’t have my glasses on …
Beth, of The Beth Next Door
Christine, of I’m Sick and So Are You
Deborah, of Tenemos of the Blessing Light
Jaime, of Jaime Haney
Laura, of Skinny and Single
Laura, of The Real Adventures of Becoming (whatever this thing is that I am presuming is the authentic and genuine) Me
Steph, of When Crazy Meets Exhaustion
Vanessa, of Vanessence
The rest of the A to Z to this point:
A is for Addiction to Devices
B is for Burgers (3 Lessons I learned During a Month Without Them) Plus 3 Random Smartphone Pics
C is for Interview with a Cat
D is for Do What I Do and Eat What I Eat
E is for Eight Things I’ve Left Behind
F is for Foods That Bring Me Comfort
G is for #GirlsRock: An Interview Mental Health Care Advocate Kitt O’Malley
H is for Halfway There
I is for Ice Cream
J is for Justification for the Blog Life
K is for 7 Women I’d Sing Karaoke With
L is for Last 3 Blogs I Read (and Why You Should, Too)
M is for Men I Forgot to Be
N is for the New Plan
O is for One Day From Payday Spicy Chicken Skillet
P is for Too Many Projects, Not Enough Time (a Guest Post from Kathy of The Second Half of My Life)
Q is for Quote Challenge
Great advice. I get stuck on the numbers sometimes. Reading and commenting on other’s blogs definitely helps. I guess I owe you a few tacos. I’m glad I “borrowed” your idea… I’ve learned a lot.
Thanks for the nomination, brother. I’m a baseball guy, so it’s easy to get going on the stats.
The more we read and comment and have others read and comment on our work, the better writers we become.
It opens our minds and souls a little each time, the reach of our words and how others’ words reach us.
The idea of answering our kids’ questions has made us better men, Eric.
The best stat is the win/loss stat. My O’s and your Rocks are both on the winning side. May the odds be ever in our favor.
I’ve “stolen” all kinds of ideas for my blog. My Sunday Share come from another blogger, too (A Momma’s View). I suppose I owe her some Tacos, too.
I wish the playoffs would just start today. It’s a long summer, but I’d rather be where we are than where we could be in that division!
I’m always looking for ways to acquire tacos. Canadian tacos, though. What’s in those?
It’s not how you start the season, that’s important. It’s how you end it.
Lobster taco? Seafood is big here. I’m not big on seafood, though.
I’d settle for Canadian bacon. No poutine, though.
Mmmm bacon. Maple syrup flavored bacon is great, too I’m not a fan of poutine, either.
Saw a kid yesterday sporting a shirt that read, “Snackcident: What happens when I eat all of the bacon by accident.”
*on my Christmas wish list already.
…and you’re a blogging coach, too! Thank you for sharing your experiences and resources. I’m really enjoying all of your posts in the A to Z challenge. Eli! Nicely done!
I just play one on TV, Carrie! I hope a bit of it can help someone somehow. Thank you so much for riding along as I brutualize the alphabet publicly!
this would have been helpful when I started blogging, the bit about not worrying about numbers is something I should remember, maybe some bloggers are okay that no one visits them but sometimes you do care and that’s what drives you to blog, I guess
have a lovely day.
You have a blog worth a thousand visits, Lissa. Seriously, love your style.
Lots of great advice. I love reading your story, from newbie to happy blogger.
Thanks, Jacqui – glad you got something out of it! Starting a blog was one of my most favorite things I’ve done.
Hi Eli – I must say I started out thinking no-one will be interested and I’m always amazed at how appreciate fellow bloggers and authors are – also I did get stuck in and comment on other blogs – and thankfully fairly soon met Arlee et al … and so now the links are there. I was also lucky that I found my voice .. I expand out sometime soon – and need to meet and greet the bloggers you recommend (one or two I know) – cheers Hilary
When you get out and network with your fellow bloggers, great things happen, right Hilary. You bring up another awesome side effect of blogging: Finding (and fine-tuning) our writing voices.
Great tips, not only for starting out, but for new perspective for some who have been around.
Perspectives at Life & Faith in Caneyhead
I think we could all use some reminders, right Barbara?
Some excellent advice here, Eli. Congratulations on a well-deserved award!
Glad you thought so, John. I love these awards because they direct you someplace you wouldn’t have written to without them.
Great advice Eli, and I loved hearing your starting story. You absolutely exemplify kind graciousness, and you really are an inspiration. What a delightful surprise to see your nomination – thank you. I’ll happily play along once April’s challenge craziness abates. And in the meantime, happy continued A-to-Z-ing.
Thanks, Deborah – I had to learn from scratch after being a sportswriter. Thank you for the kind words, too.
I look forward to reading your story when you get out from under the A to Z a bit.
Thanks for the mention, will read again when home 🙂
Thanks, Laura – is your six-words thing still open?
Yes!! Jump on Instagram and tag me!!
Great tips! I also trained as a journalist, and I agree that writing about myself felt self-indulgent at first, but now I’m fine with it. I’ve never seen the tip to take a record of your comments before. That’s a great idea as often others’ posts can spark off all sorts of ideas of our own.
Thanks, Nick. I found that as I wrote about myself, I learned a little, too. I’d ventures to say most of my posts have come from comments on another blog, which served as inspiration.
great tips, especially coming from the voice of experience. and thanks so much for my nomination, your taco is in the mail )
I’ve been at this for a minute I guess, Beth. Taco of the week sounds like a wonderful startup venture.
Great tips!! Thanks for sharing your humble beginnings and how far you have come. You have helped quite a few people along the way and we appreciate that.. Gonna have to send you some tacos just for the encouragement you have given me!!
Thanks, Vicki! I can’t imagine not having a blog now. I appreciate friends like you I’ve made along the way. There can never be enough tacos. I think John Locke said that.
Nice post! Blogging advice that I could use. The extensions are going to be very useful for me.
Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Karnika! I hope you’ll get a lift from the links. They’ve helped me a ton.
Your style is so natural i would never have guessed you started out clunky. Guess that’s how it is with most things, you work hard at it for a long time and suddenly you are an overnight success.
Thanks, Mimi. I’ve been at it a long time and have had the benefit of reading others’ words, which helped me feel comfortable with mine.
OH my goodness, you nominated me! Thank you so much for the linky-love! 🙂
These are all excellent tips! One thing new bloggers get hung up on, I think, are the numbers. I totally agree with you. Blog what you love and the numbers will follow. And even if they don’t, blog what you love. And have fun! 🙂
I thought you’d do wondefully with this challenge, Vanessa. And we could all use a few tips, right?
It’s easy to view numbers as the end-all to blogging success. I love the thought that we could write a post that doesn’t get much play on the day of publication, but maybe someone will find it someday and it’ll speak to them. To me, that’s worth it.
Thank you for your kind encouragement!
Tips, heh! You would think blogging for a decade now would give me more tips! lol I do think it’s worth it though, like you said. To me, it’s a kind of time travel, and you hope your “message in a ‘bloggle'” will find the right person at the right time. 🙂
I love the idea of message in a bloggle – because they’re all out there, waiting to be found.
Indeed they are! 🙂
I love this!! You have so many great ideas and suggestions for new bloggers. I wish I had seen this post 12 years ago before I started blogging! I write mostly for myself rather than a huge audience, but having people read is very motivating. I wish I had more time to read other blogs, I will save this post to check out these other lovely bloggers! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks! They’re just things I’ve found along the way to make life easier. I wish I’d found them sooner, too.
I think the best way to have people read us is to take your approach – to write mostly for yourself. Sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true.
I wish for more blog-reading time, too. That’s one of my biggest challenges in all this.