The 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging
Letter to myself: July 16, 2008
Congratulations on starting your site tomorrow and best of luck! Great job snagging the name Writer Dad. Though you probably won’t believe it right now, I promise it’s way better than all the other domains you were considering. Not only is it good for branding (don’t worry, you’ll care about that eventually), buying that domain will soon put you in touch with this other daddy dude named David Wright. He’ll end up being the Lennon to your McCartney, no matter how much you will want to believe it’s the other way around.
Here’s the deal. Though I normally don’t care to mess with the space time continuum too much, I thought I would do you a solid and go back in time just long enough to toss you a few quick tips before you dive without thinking into the deep end of blogging. Right now you’re dead set against writing lists posts. And knowing me, nothing I say here will have any hope of changing that and you’ll still spend the next year or so beating your head against the wall.
But lists posts do work and at least this way I can say I told me so.
The 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging
1) Comments are pennies and you need dollars. There is a LOT to be said for driving your ego and constantly pushing yourself to be better, but you must do it wisely. In about a month, you’re going to start rocking around 50 comments per post. This is good, but it isn’t nearly as good as you will believe it to be. Use the comments to fuel your drive, not your ego. Time spent chasing comments just for comments’ sake is time spent chasing your tail instead of building the business that will buoy your best interests. Feedburner subscribers and comments are both excellent indicators of burgeoning social proof, but they will not convert to money in the bank without a reasonable plan behind them.
2) You don’t know everything. Just because you can debate a point into the ground, doesn’t mean your theories will hold water outside the lab. Those individuals who will insist you need a niche to make money, well many of them are actually making money while you, in fact, are not. I hope you will read this letter and believe yourself when I beg you to not take six long drawn months to accept the obvious. You must write with focus if you want to experience tangible results.
3) Stop being such a fancy pants. In the next month you will get a lot of compliments. In six weeks you are going to get a guest shot at Copyblogger. Though you have only recently started writing, even your sister has referred (shockingly, without sarcasm) to your writing as “fancy.” This is not a good thing. Please do not allow your innate talent to swallow your developing skill. This will be a massive mistake. Passion is more important than beauty and clarity more important than cleverness. Do us a big favor and focus on the story. Keep the special effects to a minimum.
4) Get over yourself. Get out there and market your content. You could be writing the follow up to the Da Vinci Code with Harry Potter as the main character and no one is going to know it if you don’t do your part in the promotion. I know you fervently believe that all you need to do is sit at the keyboard for as long as it takes each day to spill an endless stream of honest syllables from the deepest depths of your character and that will be enough to eventually bring the world to you. Sorry Gonzo, it doesn’t work that way. There are a million writers better than you whose words will never be read by more than two dozen eyes because they don’t know how to clear their throat and step to the podium. And there’s maybe twice that many who could never hope to touch your ink, smiling all the way to the bank because they know how to command the attention they deserve. There is a difference between boast and declaration. Just because you have the shy side of your grandfather inside you, doesn’t mean you can’t channel the undaunted strut of your son. Remember, your family is counting on you.
5) Everything will work out. Remember, stay the course and try not to throw yourself too many pity parties. Our buoyant outlook is one of the things that defines us. Maintaining momentum is non-negotiable. Your content will get scraped, your days will at times feel endless, without a single drop of appreciation to moisten our parched esteem, and your shoulders will sag from the impossible weight of responsibilities you do not yet know exist. But you must continue to learn. I promise, that is by far the most important thing you can do. Never pass by an opportunity to acquire new and valuable knowledge or to sharpen the edge of your sword. Close your eyes on each day by knowing something you didn’t know before and then wake, ready to apply new wisdom to a fresh day. At the far end of all the toil there is light. Soon enough you will be doing what you love and bringing your family along for the ride, precisely as you are setting out tomorrow to do.
The journey will be more difficult than you expect and more rewarding than you imagine. Be a constant learner and ready yourself to reap the constant reward.
All my best,
P.S. Stay away from the peanut M&M’s. You may think they’re harmless, but a handful turns into ten and you’re going to consume just enough calories between September and February to make you hate yourself in March. Remember, you’re spending lots of hours sitting on your ass. Your brain doesn’t burn calories at the same rate as your body. Eat accordingly.
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