I launched my first blog on July 30, 2009. I have vivid memories of that time, and I do not recall all of them with fondness. A series of disruptive events changed the course of my life that year. It is often difficult during the disruption to see how it serves a purpose, but the more that I reflect on my journey, the more I believe that it does.
Amidst the Great Recession of 2009, I was fired. Odd but true, I was blindsided even though God was trying to prepare me for a change in occupation. Amidst the midsummer heat of Texas, I joined the band of the unemployed. I was humiliated, humbled, and learned some tough lessons. But I also knew that God had another plan.
It appeared that other changes were also due. I went through a breakup, my phone died, and was in a car accident. I think a root canal was also in the mix, but you get the point.
“Does God have your attention?” My Dad would ask me amidst times of disruption.
God had my absolute attention. I was a single, unemployed woman amidst a recession, with 100% responsibility for the bills.
And step by step, He led me through it. Significant challenges opened up great opportunities for God to move and work.
Before moving to Dallas, I had lived in Louisiana. Soon after I lost my job, I took a road trip to Louisiana to visit dear friends. While visiting my friend and former boss, she offered me some contract work. She also took me with her on a business trip to New Orleans. God’s hand was providing for me.
While visiting another friend in Lafayette, we prayed together. God laid it on my heart to invite her to come to live with me. A few weeks later, after prayer, she interviewed in Dallas and accepted a job 10-minutes from what became our condo! We lived together there until I met my husband and got married, and she was our Maid of Honor. She later met her husband in Dallas, and I was her Matron of Honor and my husband their groomsman.
The suffering that broke my heart urged me to begin to open it more to let Him speak to it. Freed from anything that could distract me, I started to work on myself again. I attended inner-healing sessions at my Church. I also began to discover how I could do things that I loved while developing new skills and pay my bills.
I may have been on unemployment, searching for a job amidst a terrible economic downturn, but God always provided.
I was at some networking event when I met a recruiter. When I shared my passion for writing, she recommended that I start a blog as a concrete way for me to begin pursuing my passion. Ten years later, even though it has required a lot of effort, I’m still glad that I followed her advice.
Here are the 10 things that I’ve learned about how to blog effectively over the past 10-years
- Millions of blogs are still published daily. In March 2019, it was reported by Worldometers that over 4.4 million blog posts are published every day! That’s a massive amount of web content, WOW!
- Be patient, grasshopper. Building a blog and gaining readership takes consistent effort realized over time. If you’re willing to put in that time and effort, your patience will be worth it.
- Blogging well and consistently takes incredible discipline. Planning solid content, taking/editing/finding photos, creating branded graphics, writing, editing, posting – i.e., all the back-end work takes time (energy). Reserving the energy needed for this and then expending it on something that could be anything from income-driven to passion project (aka non-paying) requires discipline.
- At times you may wonder if your blog makes an impact. Especially if you are not a social media influencer with 10,000+ followers or content writing for a well-known brand; however, if you love it and it gives you a purpose – then do it regardless of if it’s meant for the masses or one soul.
- Be wise. If everything becomes too much at some point, it’s OK to step back and blog less or even take a break from blogging. Writing is often my outlet, but circumstances sometimes required that I take a break – once for more than a year. In each season of life, re-evaluate where you put your time and focus. There were times when blogging was not my highest and best use given what our family needed at the time.
- Know your readers. Who are the people that visit your blog? What do they love and hate? As writers, we want to share our story, expertise, and opinions. Blogs are only words on a screen unless someone reads them and finds connection, useful information, or inspiration. While it’s important to share, it’s also essential to know your people. What do they value? Knowing who they are and what matters to them is how best to connect and support them. Checking which of your posts are the most popular is a simple and effective way to find out more about your audience.
- Be authentic. I’ve worked for people who wanted massive blog results yet weren’t fully transparent with me about the true purpose of their blogging. Whatever your goal is – whether it’s trying to build up your business or to share your journey through cancer – articulate it and then work the plan for your blog outwards from there. To be authentic requires vulnerability, which is uncomfortable – so some may hold back a little or a lot. Holding back may serve your comfort level but won’t create a lasting impact. We may think we need to blog “Pinterest perfect”, and while content needs to be well-crafted, people want something authentic. Real people that are flawed can relate to flawed bloggers.
- Share your passion. Can you tell the difference between bloggers sharing about things that they’re passionate about versus those writing ROI-focused content? I can. It feels like the difference between staying up to read a page-turner book and skimming an informative article. Write about the things in your wheelhouse that you’re passionate about – and that will attract others who are curious or excited about the same thing.
- Take some risks. “Be courageous and try to write in a way that scares you a little,” -Holly Gerth. Great writers are willing to push the envelope as needed. But writers are also artists. Sharing our art allows people to know us – our thoughts, feelings, and opinions. It also makes us vulnerable, as others may accept or reject our art. The world is a hyper-sensitive place amidst the voices of the offended boom through the media (social or news). In this climate, one off-handed remark can obliterate your career, so be wise in how you express your art. Risks are worthwhile to those who stay humble and continue to grow in wisdom.
- Cultivate your voice. Writers need to work on our craft to improve. Find resources and methods that help to cultivate your voice. I’ve found it helpful to read books about writing by successful writers and follow blogs – especially about writing or by writers. Writing is like other skills – you have to work at it to improve. Be willing to adapt. If what you’re passionate about doesn’t resonate well with others – then it’s time to reassess your approach which requires being receptive to feedback. If you want excellent output, seek the best input.
Blogging has been an important discipline over these past ten years, one that has shaped and prepared me for what God had next. It has ushered in the writing of my first book. It has blossomed into this Little With Great Love community, a space where disciples use our voices together. Sharing our stories, we each shine the light of Christ in the way we each have been called. And to have you read and engage with us here is both a great privilege and purpose.