A year ago, I sat at my computer and started what I considered at the time to be a lame hobby that I would probably quit within a month. I started a blog. I didn’t tell my wife I had started a blog until a month later, when I actually had 5 readers to show for it.
I’ve had a great time subjecting all of you to my opinions over the last year. I’m sure you are so much richer for the experience. I have also had a great time being subjected to your opinions of me in your many comments. You’ll notice among the changes around this site is a new ‘Top Commentors’ list to the left. All you have to do to get a prominent link to your blog on my site is try to topple one of my commenting champions!
To celebrate a year of blogging, I’m doing two things. First I’m having a Really Big Giveaway. I’ll be giving away T-shirts and other stuff from my store, as well as gift cards to your favorite restaurants and book stores!
How many prizes are there to win? Why, that all depends on you, dear reader! For every 5 new Subscribers, Facebook friends, Twitter-ers, or Blogger followers that join up in the next week, I’ll give out another prize to a random person! (Make sure I can contact you on Monday November 2, if you want to be eligible.) So you can help everyone win more prizes by telling more people about the contest all week long!
The second thing I want to do is share with you some things I’ve learned over the last year about how to be awesome at blogging (i.e. write a blog and have fun at it.) Lots of you are bloggers, some just starting out, some old hands at it. I’m trying to give back to you, my blog-friends, who have subjected yourselves to my opinions for a year with something that may actually be useful to you.
Lots of people try blogging. Literally, at least 1 new blog is born every second. Lots of people soon decide it’s not for them – maybe they actually make more money by working a job or something. In the last year, I’ve seen some great blogs, blogs that I looked up to, go dormant, much to my dismay.
So I’m trying to answer the question: how do you get what you want out of blogging? I don’t call it “successful” blogging, because that’s stupid. If you don’t know why that’s stupid, you don’t know what blogging is for, because you work for Sony or Pepsi or some other corporation that thinks it needs a blog because blogs are “cool.”
Here’s what I think is at the heart of blogging. I tried to have this mindset when I started blogging. Jon Acuff, Carlos Whittaker and Anne Jackson very eloquently stated the same idea at their Catalyst lab.
The heart of blogging is telling your story.
That’s so basic, but gets lost on many people. I started blogging because I read blogs I liked, and wanted to do that too. I’ve wanted to be like a lot of people. But I can’t be like someone I look up to. I can’t preach like a pastor I look up to. I can’t write someone else’s blog. I can’t be as funny as Jon Acuff or as nice as Carlos Whittaker or as sensitive as Anne Jackson. (My words, not theirs…that I know of.) I can only tell my own story.
A lot of us started blogging because we wanted to be heard. As our world gets bigger, people want to be heard more. We don’t want to die with no one knowing who we were. So don’t try to tell someone else’s story. Tell us who you are!
Bloggers are pretty keen at sniffing out phonies and ripoffs. That’s why I say tell your story. People will know if you’re telling someone else’s, and they won’t read your blog.
So the rest of the advice I can give you this week is all about how to tell your story. Because, blogging is great for telling stories. But believe it or not, it also does a lot of things to stifle your storytelling. That’s why I think blogs go dormant. And I want to hear those stories!
What do you think is the heart of blogging? What did you set out to do when you first sat down at your computer and published your first blog post? Don’t forget to tell some friends to sign up here! How many prizes will you win?