Recently on Pinterest there’s been a flurry of pins aimed at first-time or beginning bloggers. They all follow a theme: “You don’t know what you’re doing, so you’d better listen to me unless you want to be a failure.”
I get it. There are a lot of things I wish I knew when I first sat down to set pen to paper. (Well, actually, pixels to screen, but whatever.) But those things all had to do with the mechanics of creating a blog: finding the right host, picking a theme, figuring out the editor, and so on.
But far too many of the pins I mentioned have nothing to do with the logistics of running your blog and everything to do with your content.
And, of course, they all offer to sell you their book that promises instant fame, a successful blog, and to cure cancer all in one nifty little package. Just give us your money.
When I first looked into e-book publishing, I found a number of people selling books that promised to make you a successful self-published writer. But upon deeper examination, they all turned out to be a kit containing one e-book covering how to become a self-published writer. All you had to do was insert your own name as the author, and turn around and resell the kit to other people.
It said nothing about the process of writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing, and finally submitting your work to either an agent or a publisher.
And that’s exactly what the Pinterest pins seem to be doing: telling you how to spend your money on a kit, then reselling it under your own name.
Advice vs. Advertising
Please don’t misunderstand me: advice is often warranted. I look for it myself when I’m stumped by a particular problem. But useful advice is different than advertising. You have to have an actual product before you start selling it.
In a way, it reminds me of the early days of micro-computing and the concept of vaporware; software that was advertised heavily in computer magazines and advance orders taken. If the ads generated enough interest to make the product viable, then—and only then—was work begun on actually creating the software. If not, any advance orders were refunded with a technobabble line of bull-crap meant to explain the failure of the program.
A Guaranteed Formula For Success
The best formula for guaranteeing your success as a blogger is realizing that there isn’t any guaranteed formula for success as a blogger.
As was once famously said of Shoeless Joe Jackson,
If you build it, he will come.
So start your blog. Check out the tools available to help you. Find the best platform for your specific needs. For example, I chose WordPress. And then write. Write every day. Write even when you have nothing to say. Even if you don’t publish it, you should still write every day until it becomes a habit. Write for a specific audience, if that’s what you want to do.
Or be like me: I just write about whatever comes to mind when I sit down at my laptop. (Well, okay—it’s usually my mobile phone.) Once I’m done, that’s when I decide my target audience and publish it to the appropriate blog. Yes, I have several blogs, depending on my mood and my intended audience.
Writing For Medium
Medium is different. There, I have only one audience I aim for: other writers. People who are serious about their own writing. Or at least serious enough to share it with a critical audience. (In this context, I define “critical” as:
Expressing or involving an analysis of the merits and faults of a work of literature, music, or art.
“she never won the critical acclaim she sought”
synonyms: evaluative, analytical, interpretative, expository, explanatory
“a critical essay”
(of a published literary or musical text) incorporating a detailed and scholarly analysis and commentary.
“a critical edition of a Bach sonata”
involving the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgement.
“professors often find it difficult to encourage critical thinking in their students”
When I publish on Medium, I know I’m opening myself up to criticism. But that’s what I’m looking for, what I’m hoping for. What do other writers—many of them professionals, and many of them far better writers than I am—think of what I have to say” of how I say it? How can I improve?
Because ultimately, that’s what it comes to in the end for me: I want to improve. I want to get better. Not for any possible fame or fortune, but simply to become the very best me I can become.