I receive many query emails from readers asking me how to start a blog. Depending on my mood, I either delete them without replying, or I reply with what I realize seems like a brief, somewhat curt message. I tell people to type “How to start a blog,” into whatever search engine they use and go from there. The message isn’t meant to be dismissive.
A would-be blogger could just as easily search “how do I start a blog” on the Internet as they can type it into a query email to me, so why don’t they? I believe that the reason for asking ME how to start a blog is either one of two things. The first is laziness - they want me to do the work. The second is shiftiness – they want to ask me something specific about my blog or how to improve their blog, and they are just trying to start a conversation that will eventually get them an answer. I hate that tap-dance around the issue bullshit. Just say what you fucking mean! It's not like I don't already sort of know.
People want to be read, heard, validated – right fucking NOW. If I reply and a conversation begins, the person inevitably confesses that they are struggling with the doing part of blogging, whether it's starting one or maintaining one. Blogging is all doing, you know.
If a would-be blogger can’t do something as simple as type a few words into a search engine, gather information, come up with a plan, follow directions, problem solve, and do the work, they aren’t cut out to be a blogger.
Blogging is work. If you can’t do the work to create a blog, you won’t be able to write a blog. I’m not saying you won’t be able to write at all, but writing a blog is a long-term commitment to engaging in conversation, and doing the work. And THAT is my next point. Doing the work.
More doing. Once you have a blog, you need to “do” blogging. This means you need to write, learn, listen, read, write, share and be a part of the collaborative community that you created. You must be patient and accepting of the process as it is. A collaboration is a partnership, a relationship, and a cooperative effort.
You write, and hopefully people read. If they read something that encourages and engages them, they reply to your words, and then… you have that conversation – you do your part to build the community that you are a part of. I repeat – you are a part of the community. You may have built it, but without people to be part of it, your blog is more like a column or an online journal. Successful bloggers are collaborators, and the essence of collaboration is a give and take.
What are you giving? What are you doing?
If you aren’t a blogger, it’s because you aren’t acting on your urge. Do something if you want to change this.
If you already are a blogger, keep doing the work. Part of that work, is understanding that you have no control over what others do or don’t do, but you do have control over the effort you make to initiate, include, engage, and accept. A community is about people, not one person being done for by other people. Stop taking so much.
Starting a blog is doing. Writing a blog is doing. Lots of giving involved in both things as well.
You can buy a book about blogging and read it. You can pay attention to what blog communities do well, and I’m not talking about what they write and trying to be like them, but how they DO community. You can also get on a computer, search “how to start a blog,” follow the directions to set it up, and start writing.
Why did I write this?
Well, because I’m not just a blogger. I’m a member of a community that I give to and that gives back to me. If you have emailed me, you are a part of the MWDAS community and I value you, your contributions, your support for others, and your opinion – even when we disagree.
You have given to me by being a part of something that means a great deal to me. Thank you. Here’s what I can give you. I continue to write, to encourage you, to engage in conversation with you, to listen to you, to do things for you when I can, and to expect that you will do your part. I have kept up my end of this bargain for five years now.
It’s your turn. Do your part. DO. Do the work. If you are reading this, I’m telling you what to do because you asked. I’m not telling you how to do it. I’m telling you to do something, just as I did.
There is nothing I can tell you about how to start a blog that you can’t learn somewhere else. So do it. What I can tell you about doing a blog is what I show you by doing my blog. What I do with my blog is both unique and common. All blogs are the same in the sense that they are something people do. All blogs are different in the sense that different people do them in their own distinctive way.
I wrote blog post because this is really all I can DO for you, the would-be blogger. I can reply to your email with a link to this post and know that I have done enough. I’ve given you the answer to your question - and then some! I’m also sharing a picture of my wiener doing absolutely fucking nothing because I am a total fucking giver.
Now it’s up to you.
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