Blogging = Writing? Oh, Crud, What Now?

Today I’m honored to present you with a guest post by Holly Jahangiri, a professional writer. So, please, enjoy these 1790 words of writing wisdom…

This is where the rubber hits the road. You’ve started a blog. You’ve got this marketing things down pat. You’ve got accounts on sixteen social media sites. Twitter thinks you’re a rock star; rock stars follow you on Facebook. But now, staring at that “Add New Post” screen, the ugly truth hits. You have to write something. Wait

Blogging = Writing?

Nothing will give a person “writer’s block” faster than the sudden realization that they are actually expected to write something. Even if you have a topic – I mean, you do have a topic, right? Even if you have a topic, the whole notion of stringing words together to form sentences and paragraphs, blog posts and stories, books and reports and things becomes absolutely daunting when you stare at a blank page and tell yourself you have to do this.

And that’s if you like writing, which I suspect many bloggers don’t.

So what do you do about it? First, stop thinking about the blank page – even though you tell yourself you’re not killing trees, that blank page looks impossibly perfect just the way it is, and it can stare right back at you until feelings of inadequacy set in. Next, tell yourself you’re just going to throw some ideas out there, like spaghetti, and see what sticks. You’ll think about sauce and side dishes later, but instead of thinking of your writing as something you post up there for others to read, think of it as creating a tasty little dish to nurture them. It may not turn out perfect, but if it’s served up warm, tasty, and nourishing, with love and plenty of conversation to make them feel welcome, they’ll be back.

Know Your Audience

Many bloggers – many writers of all sorts – assume that their readers are extensions of themselves – that they share the same interests, needs, tastes, and reasons for being, if not the same knowledge, experience, culture, and upbringing. Often, that’s true – because only the like-minded feel welcome at the writer’s table. Some bloggers wax eloquent about and judgmental towards others, making unfavorable comparisons to cultures they don’t begin to understand. To disagree or share other experiences is perceived by readers as risky, even terrifying. And when communication becomes one-sided like that, there can be no meaningful exchange of ideas.

I have many friends, through blogging, from all over the world. We have more in common than many would believe – our basic needs and desires, such as shelter, food, water, clothing, and sex. We generally love our families, worry about money, value education, want to do more and see more of the world, enjoy good food, and have a few hobbies (blogging, of course, being one) in common. These things establish some common interests, but it’s the differences that make for interesting conversations around the dinner table – or in blog comments. It’s the differences that make people want to read, because really, if we all shared the exact same experiences and opinions, wouldn’t it just be boring to rehash them endlessly in blogs?

So who are your readers? What do they need or want from you? Have you ever thought to ask them? Next, ask yourself if it’s something you are willing and able to give them. Let’s explore this a bit more in the next few sections.

Write (From) What You Know

I can tell you, as a writer, that if we took the advice to “write what you know” literally, the world would be full of boring books. Maybe that’s why it is full of boring books, and why there are 185 million blogs that will mostly fade into obscurity unmourned. Maybe it would be full of really interesting, but poorly written books – written only by doers, not thinkers. But writers are often the intermediaries between the adventurous and the world; we are empathic imaginers of the human spirit; we are curious children, always asking, “What if…?” and “Then what?” and “But what about…?”

Would it make sense for the mother of ten to write a blog about remaining childless as a lifestyle choice? It’s not as far-fetched as it appears, on the surface – not if that mother is open-minded and sympathetic to women making their own choices. It could be a judgmental disaster; or, she could knowledgeably write from the perspective of a woman who was once childless and that of a woman who later became the mother of ten. On the other hand, a woman who is an only child, who never babysat, who never had kids of her own, may actually have a narrower view and less relevant experience to draw from. In either case, they might write more credibly if they stuck to their own reasons, choices, and experiences and invited contributors and commenters to share other perspectives.

First-hand experience or research is critical if you want to set yourself up as an “expert” on something. And no, most other blogs don’t count as “research.” I suspect many bloggers are unfamiliar with the notion of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. It’s important if you want to write credibly –

  • primary source – straight from the horse’s mouth (letters, photos, first-hand accounts of things by those who have direct experience)
  • secondary source – scholarly works written from primary sources
  • tertiary source – hearsay, mostly – stuff compiled from secondary sources, such as textbooks or encyclopedias

For scholarly work, you’d want to stick to primary sources if at all possible. Your work would then be a secondary source. If you’re in elementary or secondary school, it may be hard to gain access to primary sources, and you will have to make do with textbooks, encyclopedias, and other scholarly work. For the most part, there’s a reason teachers won’t accept tertiary sources in a bibliography and why they cringe at students using the Internet for serious research – they’re unreliable and not authoritative, and it takes experience to recognize a credible source on the Internet.

But you are an expert on your own personal experiences and opinions, aren’t you? Your blog can either be a tertiary source, cobbling together the second-hand hearsay and opinions of others, or it can be a primary source of your own first-hand knowledge of a subject. Think about which you’d prefer it to be, and write accordingly.

Solve Your Readers Problems

It generally helps if you’ve solved your own, first. Have you ever figured out how to do something, then noticed a lot of people asking the same questions? Odds are, that’s a great post in the making, for you. Share your solution and give step by step instructions that will help others solve the same problem in half the time you spent beating your head against the wall figuring it out. They’ll love you for that.

Shoot – admit you have problems and ask your readers to help you solve them. That helps to make the communication flow both ways, and they’ll love you for making them look and feel smart, and useful. Maybe someone will save you from beating your head against that wall!

How Do I…Figure Out What Problems My Readers Have?

Here are just a few ways to figure out what problems your readers have that you can solve:

  1. Ask them.
  2. Go to Google AdWords Keyword Tool and do a search for the phrase “How do I” and sort by the number of searches. If you want to narrow it to a topic in which you have some special knowledge or expertise, add more keywords. If you want Google to suggest something based on your existing blog or website, enter that – though for some reason, Google thinks I ought to write a how to article on getting your own credit card. So use some common sense and pick the ideas that resonate with you – not just ideas based on the most popular searches. I have no idea why Klout thinks I’m influential in PayPal or Google has decided I’m the credit card queen.
  3. Read similar advice on other blogs and do a round-up post with your opinion on which are the best and worst ideas for solving common problems.

Captivate Your Reader

Notice the subtle difference between the words “capture” and “captivate.” To capture requires a certain degree of skill, cunning, or brute force – something the astute reader will recognize as a trap and avoid. To captivate requires the ability to attract and to hold – by charm, beauty, or excellence. The difference here is not subtle; a prisoner or a wild animal is captured, but a friend is captivated. A reader who is captured will eventually escape; a reader who is captivated will want to return, again and again. To capture is to take away freedom and choice; to captivate is to be chosen by the free.

How do you do that? Be a good story-teller. Fiction or non-fiction – it doesn’t matter. Both require story-telling skills. Form the vision in your reader’s mind, so that it’s a shared image of how things are or ought to be. Don’t wield your pen – or PC – like it’s a cudgel filled with facts or opinion you’re going to use to beat the poor reader into submission.

But…

If you honestly don’t feel that you have any special knowledge, skill, talent, expertise, or point of view to share – or you aren’t feeling charming, charismatic, full of quirky personality, or at least mildly interesting to your own cat – or you don’t feel you have it in you to write something fairly coherent, let alone excellent, then ask yourself, “Why did I feel a need to start a blog?” or “Why did I think I wanted to be a writer?” It’s not as glamorous as it’s cracked up to be, nor is writing – or blogging – a particularly lucrative field for most who think they want to claim it as a profession. It’s work, it’s art, it’s frustration – and ultimately, if it’s the one thing you know you do really well, the thing that makes your blood flow a little faster, then it’s probably the thing you’re going to end up doing and enjoying and calling a “vocation.” But remember – if you’re just in it for the money and the whole exercise feels painful, that’s probably a sign that you’re really meant to do something else. And that’s okay, really! We’re not all cut out to be underwater welders, either – but it’s a valuable and necessary profession that probably pays ten times better than being a writer.

61 Comments

  • Sylviane Nuccio says:

    Hi Holly,

    Well, this is a great topic and totally fitting my blog theme. The writer’s block is something very real and I hear about it on a weekly basis.

    Thank you for your useful reminders and precious tips. It is my hope that lots of readers and bloggers out there will be taking advantage of this great post of yours 🙂

    • Holly says:

      I don’t really believe in “writer’s block” per se – I think it translates to something like: “I don’t feel like writing,” or “I feel like writing, but I have nothing to say, really,” or “I have something to say, but words aren’t how I feel like saying it,” and this latter is where I’ll grab the camera or some paper and pens and Mod Podge and photos and do something more visual. Creative expression comes in all forms, and sometimes, different thoughts need different outlets. Sitting there at the PC, imagining you can just dream up a post on sheer willpower alone, is likely just to add stress that leads to more of that “blocked” feeling. What’s needed is a sense of purpose, so asking yourself what your readers want and need, and doing a little research outside of your own head, is likely to lead to something that sparks enough interest – even if that interest is just in helping someone else – to write a post about.

  • Natalie says:

    I really appreciate all the reminders and the tips in here..Thanks for sharing this to us..Its useful those who always doing blog,,

  • Hajra says:

    Hey Holly,

    After the discussion we had; this has been going around in my mind for so long now! And I am so glad you finally gave out you secrets! 😉

    I think people are confusing between the distinction or maybe the area where overlapping occurs (between writing and blogging). For me, a story always works. There are so many interesting things happening around you, observe them, work on them and see where that takes you. The niche though makes it tougher in the blogging world and pertaining to it makes it tougher for the author. Also, many begin feeling that they “know-it-all” and after a certain while they feel stuck.

    I like the part about captivating your readers! You seem to be best at that! 😉

    • Holly says:

      Oh, Hajra, coming from Ms. Captivating, herself, that’s high praise! 🙂

      I would challenge all “blogging tips” bloggers – right here, right now – to spend a day observing the world. Forget blogging. Take a break. Spend the day people-watching. Take a class. DO something – anything BUT sitting in front of the PC.

      Next, jot down some of those observations while they’re fresh in your mind. It’s okay to take a notebook with you all day, but focus on the DAY, not on the blog post to come. What did you notice? What did you notice about people? What colors are big, this season? If you suddenly noticed a new shopping mall within two miles of your house that you’d never seen before, you clearly need to get out more often, if nothing else.

      Did anything inspire THOUGHT? You know, your blog won’t break if you go off topic from time to time – but I’ll bet, if you start writing about your day, you’ll find a way to relate it to blogging. Writing, organizing, timing, optimizing, accessorizing (plug-ins, graphics, etc.), customer service, human interaction, psychology…

      And yeah, banish that “know it all” mentality. You don’t. You can’t. But neither can your “gurus” and “rock stars.” They just know a lot – and they know what’s worked for them. They know how to package it and present it and charge hundreds, even thousands of dollars to do so. Study that, and ask yourself: “Why NOT me?”

      If you don’t know enough, learn.
      If you don’t care enough, do something else.

      • Holly says:

        P.S. My son’s out digging holes and mixing concrete to put guideposts in a local park. I went to the garden store with my husband and have played with dirt and planted an herb garden and started some HOT pepper seeds. I’m practicing what I preach. 😉

      • Hajra says:

        Maybe we both should have a mutual fan club … eh? 😉

        There is just so so much to talk about and write about and discuss and debate; why sit and give away tips all the time… how does that work? 😉

        I wonder why we get stuck in a particular niche and then we say we just ran out of ideas. As for defending myself, I have a huge amount of drafts and no post. I think I fall short in the area where I end up judging my posts too harshly. I do that and they see light after a long long time! 🙁

        I love that challenge… maybe you should run a contest on your blog about that…. ka ching! 🙂

        • Holly says:

          That’s why I refuse to be pigeonholed. I’d quickly run out of things to say on one topic (well, obviously – I exhaust a topic in one post or comment!)

          • Sylviane Nuccio says:

            I totally love it  an ongoing discussion on my own blog by two other people than me in response to a blog post that I didn’t even have to write. That is why I love guest posts!

            I agree with you Holly. How many times can on write about one subject? As a freelance writer after I have written some 30 articles about that one tiny niche, I am sorry, but no matter how much research I can do I am going to run dry of ideas. This is the case when someone ask you to write 30 articles on a specific natural “herb medicine” or “diet”, etc.. you see what I mean?

            You’re restraint by specific keywords and a specific nice, and after a while if you can’t move around and beyond such restrictive boundaries you are going to run out of ideas. I know I do.

          • Holly Jahangiri says:

            Isn’t that fun, Sylviane? Sit back, rest your fingers for a bit, and we’ll keep the party going, won’t we, Hajra? 🙂

            (You know I had to do it, finally – poor kid’s off with no Internet access and no signs of ever getting it fixed.)

            Sylviane, Hajra and I have been carrying our conversations from one blog to another for nearly a year now – it’s a never-ending party worthy of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. After you check out the CommentLuv link here on MY post (it’s my friend Abhi’s contest entry) to see some more tips for being a good blogger with a good blog – go check out Hajra’s (like you could MISS those breadcrumbs – bright read and repeated often!) and see how she likes to throw a party on the blog!

          • Sylviane Nuccio says:

            Glad to know that Hajra and you have known each other a while. I didn’t know that. I met her recently and I’ve read quite a bit of the few dozen 🙂 guest blogs she’s got out there. What a blogger gal!

          • Holly Jahangiri says:

            I thought you found Hajra through MY blog! LOL

            Small world, eh? I just discovered that a cousin I haven’t seen since I was 15 is mutual facebook friends with two of my coworkers – in Germany. 😉

          • Sylviane Nuccio says:

            No, actually met Hajra on Jane Sheeba’s blog and then I saw her at your place, indeed!

          • Holly says:

            I think we can always tell who the most “sociable” bloggers are by the fact that they eventually end up at the same online parties. 😉

          • Hajra says:

            I stumbled across your blog through Adrienne’s blog! Actually I landed on Barry’s blog and he directed me to the guest post on his blog and then on Sonia’s blog! Kind of like a guest posting web! 🙂

          • Holly Jahangiri says:

            Oh, what a tangled web we weave,
            As blog post ideas we do conceive…

          • Hajra says:

            And here we have the poet amongst us! 🙂

          • Sylviane Nuccio says:

            Yes, great poetry indeed!

          • Hajra says:

            Hey Sylviane,

            I am in the guest posting phase now! I had promised so many guest posts that just within the past month I think I published around six! Gulp! Yes, too much of me in the blogosphere lately; people are getting tired 😉

            And I promised you one and one for Holly too; I will stick to my promise!

          • Hajra says:

            Oh, that’s why I love guest posts; someone else does all the work for you! 😉

            And yes, like Holly says, I just love talking and it probably reflects in the comments I drop by. Though Holly is the queen of conversations here! I am surprised she isn’t a shrink; she would have the client coming out with their deepest secrets withing minutes!

            Maybe, Holly should do a post on “writing” comments! She definitely knows how to!

          • Holly says:

            Yes, and when, dear Hajra, are you writing one for ME?

            Because, you know, I want to be prepared. With my bunny slippers and my bonbons, while you host for a while and let me enjoy the food and drinks. 😉

            I’d make a lousy shrink – can’t shut up for 5 minutes. Although, personally, I prefer a shrink who’s actively involved in the conversation – I mean, I don’t need to pay someone to ask me what *I* think!! I KNOW what I think! I want to know what they think of what I think and how I thought it.

          • Hajra says:

            And that is why we have generic blogs! So, that we can talk about just anything and not worry having to stick to a niche! 🙂

          • Holly says:

            “Generic”? Hmmph.

            I’m out to dominate the “no-niche niche,” and you’re calling my blog “generic”? That’s… damn. Needs more salt, I can see.

  • AdrienneTwitter: adriennesmith40 says:

    Hi Holly,

    Welcome to Sylviane’s place, so nice to meet you.

    Wonderful topic, what can I say. I actually love blogging but it didn’t start off that way. I began this journey in affiliate marketing and was taught in the beginning to just write about that. I did that for the first year and a half with no luck whatsoever.

    Then I started sharing what I have learned and from my point of view. Being the lady who is a bit older than most people here online and so very technologically challenged in the beginning I wanted to share the simple ways to learn things. I always said that if I can learn this, anyone can and that’s really the truth.

    That started appealing to my audience much more and then I started implementing some real life situations. OMG, I had no idea people actually enjoyed hearing that from me. In my opinion, I’m not a very interesting person at all. I may have had more experiences then most but they weren’t anything to write home about at least to me.

    I think that when you put a little bit of you in each post then your readers will start to connect with you more and that’s how relationships are built.

    Since that time, I now ask lots of questions and write to help my readers as well. So far it’s been working out beautifully.

    Thanks for this Holly and hope you enjoy your week.

    ~Adrienne
    Adrienne invites you to read..10 Ways to Drive Your Content to the Next Level of Blogging ExcellenceMy Profile

    • Holly says:

      Hi, Adrienne!

      You know, I think a lot of writers don’t realize this, but most readers want to read about people (or even fictional characters) that they can relate to and see something of themselves in – NOT perfect, omnipotent, ultra-successful, know-it-alls.

      Look at Tony Robbins. He’s wildly successful and wealthy and just sort of unimaginably attainable – and yet… watch him, some time. About the only infomercial that’s ever held my attention for more than 10 seconds (not counting the Ginsu Knives thing, but I only watch because I keep wondering when the chef’s going to chop a finger off and it’ll turn into a serious drama). Seriously, Tony’s got charm – he comes across as approachable and real. And you find yourself kind of wondering, figuring he CAN’T be that rich, famous, AND approachable, but dangit, he sure SEEMS human enough! And when someone seems like “us” we start to think maybe we could be like “them.” And there – like you said – you had your audience. You solved your own problems, then shared that and solved theirs. You made it possible and accessible.

      • Sylviane Nuccio says:

        Yeah! I think I just linked Holly and Adrienne! I don’t think you guys knew each other and that is the beauty of online connections 🙂

        • Holly Jahangiri says:

          Sylviane, what’s even funnier is that we’re practically neighbors!

          Adrienne and I have many mutual friends and have commented on a lot of the same posts, but I think this may be the first time we’ve stopped to chat WITH each other. 😉 We should have coffee or lunch, one of these days, Adrienne. You on the north side or the south side? I’m NW, near Tomball.

          There – now we’ll get to know each other better! LOL

          • Sylviane Nuccio says:

            That’s right, I know that are both from Houston, TX. Just don’t you gals forget that I was the vehicle for you two to meet 🙂

  • Dave M says:

    “It’s all a matter of perspective.” The title on your blog pretty sums it up for me Holly:)

    You nailed it in this article. I’m able to look up facts and constants easily on the net and at the library when needed. Who needs to read blog, really? The blog sites I return to are not necessarily authoritative and the writers may not be experts on a subject but they apply an empirical perspective that’s often different than my imagination or expectations; I enjoy their effort and point of view.

    I actually wanted to be an underwater welder in high school after reading about it in books–until I took a pungent summertime bus downtown St. Paul and talked to some underwater welders that complained how hard it was to hold an air regulator in their mouth because of their dentures and explained, from their perspective, how nasty it was repairing the bottoms of barges on the muddy Mississippi river. Took me all day to burst my career bubble and cost me .90 cents for the bus and $1.90 for a burger and fries at Mickey’s Diner. A good blogger could have saved me time and money by presenting a perspective…if we’d had bloggers back then:)

    Dave

    • Holly says:

      Oh, Dave – I’m sure my dad briefly regretted ever telling me about underwater welders. Only I had plans to work on oil rigs. Hey, I’m a good swimmer and welding looked cool. I could learn SCUBA diving. Yep, perfect career for a Pisces chick who liked fire… Yeah huh. Then he mentioned how dangerous it was, and how you only had one shot to get it right, and I flashed back to him taking me to see The Hellfighters when I was six, and — Dave, because of that man I still can’t pass a “Flammable” truck on the highway without holding my breath and getting sweaty palms. Did I want to do that stuff UNDERWATER? I don’t think so.

      Of course, it took me a long time to trust him on his advice to go into a career involving computers. He’ll never let me live down calling them boring, dull, and “his thing, not mine.”

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Dave,

      That’s exactly right. Having messing around online since 2006 I can also tell you that there are 2 different classes of bloggers. There are the bloggers who blog ONLY about subject they have research, but NEVER experience. Those are the blogs that are meant to sell you a product or products. I know, I’ve done that…

      ,,, And then they are the bloggers who blog from EXPERIENCE. Meaning they blogs are based on what they have learned from experience. That is what I do know.

      So, obviously, one type of blogging is more trustworthy and valuable than the other.

      Thanks for giving us your feedbacks 🙂

  • Janet Callaway says:

    Holly, aloha. So nice to meet you here. After reading your post, I am delighted you accepted Sylviane’s invitation to guest post. What a wealth of knowledge you shared with us.

    Holly, I believe that many of us started blogging because we were “told” by “experts” that we needed to have a blog to brand ourselves. Thus, we tackled writing a blog as one more item to check off on our “to do” list rather than because we loved or even enjoyed writing.

    What’s interesting to me is that I thought I knew my target audience when I started writing. Thus, I wrote articles for that audience. In a relatively short period of time I found out that the articles that I thought they should have liked, did not attract them. Instead articles of an entirely different type drew the audience I wanted.

    While I am not the born storyteller that some folks are, I have learned to put myself into my posts. In fact recently I received a wonderful compliment from another blogger. We had been commenting on each other’s posts for some time and I quite liked her style. When she mentioned she would be in Hawaii, I suggested that we meet.

    Holly, not only did we meet, we enjoyed a fabulous two hour lunch together. There was no hesitation when we met; we jumped right into conversation. She later posted that I am in person exactly as I am on my blog. Of course, depending on whether or not a person likes my blog that could be a good or a bad thing.

    Seriously, thanks so much for sharing your insights with us. Sylviane, thank you for extending the invitation to this talented lady.

    Wishing you both a fabulous week ahead. Until next time, aloha. Janet

    • Holly Jahangiri says:

      Oh, Janet – I’m glad you finally found your own way with your blog! I don’t even know when blogs became the must-have marketing tool – when they went from being notes on a server’s status to personal diaries to online magazines to marketing vehicles to storefronts. Boggles the mind.

      I’ve met (in person) many people that I met, first, online. Some of my dearest friends are people I’ve known online for 16+ years – and still haven’t MET face-to-face. My oldest friend on facebook is my pen pal from Sweden from when I was nine or so. In another 20-30 years, none of this will seem the least bit strange. But I remember, 20 years ago, it seemed odd to some – this notion of talking to strangers and friends one knew only online. Some of the people who just “discovered” the Internet in the last 5-10 years, used to say to me, “Oh, you’re talking about people in the computer? I thought you were talking about REAL PEOPLE.” What did that make me – unreal?

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Janet,

      Isn’t it interesting that you know Holly 🙂 I am glad I met her this past summer. You know, I think that meeting people online is exactly the same thing as meeting them in person.

      I do a lot of blog browsing, it usually starts with that little icon on the comment area of my or other people’s blogs. That’s how I met you. Some people I visit are very warm and nice and return my visit almost instantly, like you did, and some couldn’t care less if I came or not, or at least they don’t show it.

      Somehow, I think that people are for the most part just as they are on their blog. When you are saying that this lady you met told you that you are exactly as you are on your blog, I can see that 🙂 very easily, even thought I’ve never met you in person. The same goes for Adrienne Smith, for example.

      Thank you so much for coming here Janet to check on Holly’s post. I’m glad we all met online. Maybe one day we will meet in person 🙂 who knows 🙂

  • Manish says:

    Hi Holly,

    Superb topic, you have shared. Well when I started blogging 3 months ago, the first question was in mind at that time, how I can write effective content, during those days I wasted so much of time on just thinking only and doing nothing. At that time, I was lacking the self confidence and I was not even trying to write content because I was having the negative feeling that if I write a content, readers going to read it or not and whether they going to like it or not.

    But one day I made my mind and decided that I will going to make the post for my blog and when I started writing, I just involved in it and completed the post for the first time. I showed that post to my friends and they were quiet happy with the post and it has given me some motivation to carry on my writing. After that, my interest begins to develop more and more in writing and I began to write content from heart and it became my passion. At early stages, I looked writing as a burden and it was my mistake at that time, but now I am completely changed and I love to write a content and without it I can’t imagine myself :D.

    So if any blogger thinks that writing is a burden then definitely they will not get the new ideas for their posts. And therefore many bloggers are not able to make the quality posts for their readers. After all writing needs cool and positive mindset and it is only possible if someone is writing content with passion. Every blogger who is doing blogging has the capability to write a content in an awesome way, just it is necessary to avoid negative beliefs and it is essential to keep mind more fresh and peaceful.

    By the way, thanks once again for sharing such a good information and it will going to help me a lot in my blogging ;).

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Manish,

      I’m glad you enjoyed Holly’s post. Writing improves with practice, and yes, you need to have confidence in yourself that you can do it – it’s a must.

      Thanks for being a faithful reader here. It’s always nice to have you 🙂 Have a great rest of the week.

    • Holly says:

      See, this is the funny thing about writing – nothing can make or break your confidence like it, Manish. I’m glad you were encouraged and realized it doesn’t have to be a “burden” – even after 30+ years as a writer, most of that spent earning a living at it, I still learn and find room for improvement. In other words, it’s not likely ever to BE “perfect.” Some people freeze up the first time they realize there’s also some work and study involved. Others just see that as a fun challenge.

      I think I see a kindred spirit here – people often tease me for writing comments that are as long as most people’s posts, but I don’t think you’re going to be one of those people, are you? 🙂

  • Cat Alexandra says:

    Hi Sylviane,

    Great choice of Guest Blogger! My first time reading from Holly, but I have enjoyed the wisdom she shared here!

    Hi Holly,

    I think you definitely brought the value here in this article!

    I am a relatively newish blogger and have experienced that “Oh crud” feeling before. lol

    I am just getting to know my audience a bit nowadays, but I’ve had the luxury of a bit of time this past year to get a handle on this…it’s one of those things you seem to grasp experientially, as you go.

    I love your tip about solving your readers’ problems. I have seen this one alive and “at work” at my friend, Adrienne Smith’s blog. She’s pretty much a shining example of how well this works to foster connection and community with the readerbase.

    Awesome tips! Hope to read more from you!

    Cat Alexandra

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hey Cat,

      Glad to see you back here 🙂 and glad you liked Holly’s post.

      Getting to know your audience is really important, because, basically it’s what’s going to make your blog alive. If you are off target, you can only imagine what that would do for your blog. No visitors, no comment, no list building and ultimately, no sale!

      Thanks for your feedbacks and have a great week end!

      • Cat Alexandra says:

        Dear Sylviane,

        Thanks for the warm welcome – I’m definitely glad to be here and enjoying the conversation! 🙂

        Hope you enjoy your weekend too! I’m about to hop on out of town for a few days to enjoy some snow activities!

        Cat

    • Holly says:

      Hi, Cat! I love this point you brought up: “I am just getting to know my audience a bit nowadays, but I’ve had the luxury of a bit of time this past year to get a handle on this…it’s one of those things you seem to grasp experientially, as you go.”

      I think we all have that “luxury of time” (bloggers, even if you approach this as a “business,” it’s like any other startup – if you need FAST cash to pay the bills, you need a second job, because it’s going to take time to build up your business). The key is to listen, pay attention, and learn from experience, as you pointed out, Cat. As you go. Because a lot of your assumptions won’t be correct, and you’ll ALWAYS be adjusting them over time.

      Imagine if a parent assumes “I know teens, I WAS one!”? Happens all the time, right? And we parents are always partly right and partly wrong, because the WORLD that influences our teens changes, so they are not QUITE what we expect – even if we do have a pretty good starting frame of reference. Look at the difference between the characters on The Big Bang Theory. They have a lot in common, but they are all very different people with different social skills and interests. That’s true of your audience, too.

      I agree – Adrienne’s awesome!

      • Cat Alexandra says:

        Hi Holly,

        Nice to hear back from you so quickly! 🙂

        I have been learning some of the things you just broached here, like the fact that none of this happens overnight. I think this is a key that many people would do well to acknowledge prior to getting started in the online world filled with unrealistic expectations.

        There’s a ton of stuff out there promising to drive people to fame overnight, even without skill. As we both know, this is just clever marketing and predatory at that (in many cases).

        Aligning to a realistic expectation has been key for me to be in the headspace where I have been able to really observe and analyze what is happening in my blog and with my readers. As you said, we will constantly be making adjustments as things change. Life ebbs and flows and we should also do the same!

        I can’t say I watch much TV, so I’m not clear on the reference to make to The Big Bang Theory, but I do understand your point about “knowing teens.” It seems to me that the minute we trick ourselves into thinking we “know something” thoroughly, life has a way of bringing to light ways that disprove our theories. lol It’s a fun thing to be witness to it all without too many attachments. I find I learn much better when I don’t try to impose myself as a “know it all.”

        So glad to have met you here. Looking forward to checking out your own home on the web, Holly.

        Enjoy your weekend!!

        Cat Alexandra

        • Holly says:

          Cat, for some reason, all your comments are going into moderation. I’m not sure if or how you can fix that; I know there’s one WordPress anti-spam plug-in (not any of the BIG ones, like Akismet or G.A.S.P.) that hates me with a purple passion. One day, I may actually care enough to find out. 🙂

          I’ve said it often – I have a spam filter set up for the numbers $27, $47, $87, and $97. Too many people promise way too much – I wonder how many legitimate and good “offers” I’ve passed up, simply because they used these “successful” tactics?

          Big Bang Theory is a sit-com featuring several incredibly geeky physicists and their blond neighbor, who is a reasonably intelligent, but NORMALLY intelligent woman. But aside from their shared interests in Star Trek, physics, electronics, science, and math, the guys are all very different in terms of personality, social skills, and motivation. One thing I see too many bloggers doing is that they assume anyone with an interest in their niche must be just like them. That niche may be exactly as far as any similarity really goes, depending on how broadly or narrowly defined it is. They’d keep more readers if they stuck to the topic, or at least didn’t make sweeping assumptions clear in their posts.

          Do drop by my blog(s), Cat – you’re welcome there, any time. Have a fun weekend!

  • Jeremy says:

    Hi Holly, this is definitely a great article as always. I am a bit captured by the “Blogging=Writing?” heading. This is exactly what I felt when it was my first time to write my blog. At first I thought that blogging was all about writing but then through visiting different blogs, I realized that you don’t have to be a prolific writer to be a blogger. Although writing is already given, an effective content is not just composed of good sentences but also the right elements like photos, graphics and videos.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Jeremy,

      Yes, you’re right, blogging is not ONLY about the writing part even though it’s a very important part. I compare the content of the blog to our heart. It’s not the ONLY vital organ, but without it we can’t live.

      Thanks for passing by. Hope you’ll come back.

    • Holly says:

      Oh, yes, Jeremy – and I’m very weak on the graphical design elements of most of my posts. That’s partly because I’m also very wary of using others’ graphics and photos – I tend to just avoid all potential problems by following the “if I didn’t create it, I don’t know where it came from, and I’m not going to use it” rule. I love Flickr’s search feature, though, that lets me look specifically for free photos and art that have been uploaded under a CC license – it’s actually inspired me to want to create some stock photos for that community in return for a few really perfect images others have graciously allowed people to use.

  • Abhi Balani says:

    I hope I’m not late to comment, Holly (you know about my internet problem).

    haha… sixteen social site? How did you count that? huh?

    This blogger likes writing and love to improve. I never fear of blank pages this is because I never open a blank page until I have something to write on it.”…not killing trees..”, loved this point.

    Great tips (as always), Holly!

    Thank you for sharing this with me.

    • Sylviane Nuccio says:

      Hi Abhi,

      No, you’re not too late! Never on my blog anyway 🙂 I check for every single comment and answer to them as well. Wish every blogger was like me 🙂

      Thanks for passing by, and you’re right, never open a blank page unless you already know what you are going to write.

      • Abhi Balani says:

        haha… Sylviane, you know, when you commented on my contest entry over Jane’s blog, your first line was – “I hope I’m not too late and that you will see my comment.”

        First, how could you think that I’ll miss YOUR comment? Honestly, that was such an honor. So, first I’d like to thank you from bottom of my heart for visiting there and giving me your appreciating comments.

        I’m like you. I never miss any comment to reply. Especially, when the comment is made by someone like YOU. 😀

      • Hajra says:

        And that is exactly why I have a little notebook which has some key ideas given and then I open blank pages to work around those ideas. Not only does it give me a framework to work with; but also makes the working easier! But yes, sometimes I do have blank page and just write! It helps actually, kind of therapeutic!

    • Holly says:

      I think I counted my xeeme profile. 😉

      I’m sure there are more than sixteen – but at some point, you cannot be everywhere all the time, and it’s ineffective. My problem is, I want to at least TRY everything. Some sites just don’t captivate. 😉 Others have potential, so I make an account and check back now and then. Others – well, for all its detractors, Facebook is a rather large NATION unto itself, so it’s active and vibrant because of the community that has built up there.

      I still like my little blog “home.” It’s where I kick off my shoes, let my hair down, and invite people in – you know?

  • Sonia says:

    Excellent post! Wow, I felt like you were talking to me. I can’t count how many times I felt like when I started blogging and sometimes still do. Whether its my work schedule or what to write next it hasn’t always been so easy. Looking at it from this perspective makes thinking outside the box a little easier.

    You gave me some awesome ideas on how to tackle the case of the “writing-blues” and the best approach to make my next post easier to write about. I think allot of bloggers would benefit reading this post as so many other bloggers out there struggle to keep their blog fresh with content and writing from experience. Thank you!

    • Holly Jahangiri says:

      Thanks, Sonia! Please – share the post with anyone you think will benefit. And check out the link I’m leaving in this post, for something fun and different to try – the idea, here, is all about silliness and thinking outside the box. Grab your fingerpaints and let’s play! (You, too, Sylviane – and whoever else is reading this!)

  • Nicholle says:

    Hi Holly, this is definitely great article and I am happy to know this. Yeah, I agree with you that it is important to know your audience and not ignoring them. Anyway, thanks a lot for taking time to post here in Sylvianne’s blog.

    • Holly Jahangiri says:

      Thank you, Nicholle. And it is I who must give thanks to Sylviane for inviting me to post on her blog!

  • Holly Jahangiri says:

    Yes, crucially and vitally important – one cannot stress strongly enough the importance of writing to creating good content.

  • Sarah Reece says:

    This is such a great post Holly. Awesome tips for a beginner like me. I understand its best to write from your own personal experience, that makes it much less taxing than having to do all the research on your chosen subject. I really appreciate how you differentiated between having to capture and captivate your audience. If only one is able to bring something valuable and magical to visitors experience, one can ensure that they keep coming back.

    Thanks for sharing these great ideas with us. Cheers 🙂

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