Did you know that you can totally ruin 8 years of hard work and derail your blog in only 3 simple steps? How do I know this? Because I managed to do this to myself this year.
Step 1- Research Yourself Into Oblivion
As most of you know, I LOVE to learn. I am not the kind of person who is content to say that I don’t know how to do something. If it interests me, I will find a way to learn how to do it. I believe I am just as smart as the next person, I just might not have the information they have about a given subject. So I make it my business to find out. I’m a research-hound. If it was around when I was born, my parents would have made my middle name ‘Google’. (As it happens, it’s Magdalene…you know, like SAINT MARY MAGDALENE? Let’s not go there right now…) Anyway, I digress…
When I first started out blogging (all…those…years…ago…), I did it to share my family’s life with friends and family around the world. It seemed like the perfect way to keep everyone up-to-date with the new babies and what life was like for an American expat in England. I soon realised that I really loved it and started writing about lots of things that I was interested in. It was a great creative outlet. Back in those days, my first two blogs were on Blogspot.com blogs. As I progressed, I found that I wanted more control over how the blog looked and also wanted my own domain. TangerineTurtle.net was born and I moved over to a self-hosted WordPress blog. Since then, some of the things that I’ve learned through online tutorials include:
- How to use Photoshop to make my own logos, headers and graphics
- Basic html and CSS language
- How to install WordPress on a server
- How to set up a Facebook for business page with customised header
- How to make a custom Twitter background
- How to set up and broadcast a podcast
- The basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- How to effectively use Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube
This is just the tip of the iceberg and one of these days I’ll make a reverse bucket list of my online career. I have enjoyed learning so much about the blogging world from industry experts like Darren Rowse (problogger.net), Brian Clark (copyblogger.com), Brain Gardner (www.studiopress.com) and Pat Flynn (www.smartpassiveincome.com). These are great guys who have taught me more than I can even say. But, it can also work against a research-hound like me. You see, you can spend hours and HOURS reading and researching. It can be seriously addictive. I’m not kidding! Just ask my husband who regularly has had to tear me away from the computer at 1 and 2 am. This naturally takes precious time away from what a writer/blogger should be doing…which is….writing! And this IS what happened to me. There are only 24 hours in everyone’s day. There is a finite amount of time that can be devoted to any activity and when it is taken up by reading and researching, it obviously can NOT be used for writing.
Step 2- Design Instead of Write
I love art. It was one of my favourite subjects in school and I have always been interested in crafts. I have been blessed with the ability to be able to turn my hand to many creative arts. (Photography is one of my hobbies and there is a wealth of information out there to help hobbyists like me.) One of the best perks to blogging that I have found has been the graphic design side of it. As I said above, through numerous tutorials I have learned how to make online graphics using Photoshop. My blogs have been through several ‘wardrobe’ changes with new themes and I absolutely LOVE being able to design my own logos and graphics and colors for my blogs. The downside to this is that it can be time-consuming, taking away from…you guessed it…writing. I love visiting blogs and sites around the net and getting inspiration to try to recreate the graphics myself. I am my own worst enemy when it comes to the graphics on my blogs. I am a perfectionist and can’t help myself from tweaking all the little details to make it look just how I want it to. Sometimes I can’t decide between two or three graphics (or more) and spend hours redesigning until I am happy. I truly do enjoy graphic design and have even considered setting up my own business to help others. Maybe one of these days, I actually will. But in the mean time, I know I have to step back and stop tweaking, tweaking, tweaking! If this is you too, you might want to consider outsourcing some of your graphics work. It will save hours of time and toil.
Step 3- Lose Your Voice
This is probably the worst of the ways that I derailed my blog. With so much information and advice out there, you sometimes can’t see the wood for the trees. Because I was moving from hobby-blogger to professional-blogger, I tried to make Tangerine Turtle appeal to as many people as possible. I was asking myself questions like:
“Does the site look too feminine, will it alienate the guys? Maybe I should change the colours. If I write about the kids, then only the mummy-bloggers will read it, what about the readers without kids? Is this a self-help topic? Maybe I shouldn’t write about it if it isn’t. My tagline says ‘family, home and self’, if it doesn’t fit one of those neatly, should I write about it? This topic might be too controversial, I don’t want to offend anyone, so maybe I shouldn’t write about it…”
In the end, all the endless discussions in my head made me so overwhelmed that I stopped writing altogether. When I did write, it was for everyone and no one. My blog had lost all its soul…all of me… In fact, I stopped nearly all of my online pursuits. I didn’t read the usual blogs and sites that I love. It just made me feel inferior and frankly, a failure. I felt like all the years of work had led to nothing. I stopped.
Then, slowly, things started coming across my path. Emails…messages on Facebook…tweets. They all were pointing me back to writing and getting back to my blog. I started surfing around a little and exploring blogs that were successful that I hadn’t visited before. What I realised was that so many of them were successful in such a vast range of topics and niches. I had obviously been boxing myself in TOO much. Some of the most successful blogs on Forbes Top 100 were cheeky and full of controversy. I finally gave myself permission to be myself again and write about life… MY LIFE… as I see it and experience it.
So, this post is it. My new start, re-start, fresh beginning. I’m taking back my hostaged blog and writing! You will see a lot of new things around here. I hope you will love reading them as much as I will love writing them. Thanks for sticking by me!