Dear brand new blogger,
I see you there, on the other side of the computer screen. Your blog to do list is a mile long. You’re overwhelmed at all the things you are supposed to do to make your blog the best it can be before you release it to the waiting world. You are frustrated by all you don’t know when it comes to the technical stuff. And none of the graphics you attempt to make look anything like the ones you see going viral on Pinterest.
I have good news for you. You don’t have to do all the things. You don’t have to choose the right child theme the first time. You don’t even have to make the perfect Pinterest image.
All you have to do is sit down and write one blog post to help one person. That will be enough for now.
I want to let you in on a secret. You will spend the rest of your blogging career customizing your theme, optimizing your sidebars, and upping the visual appeal of your graphics. You will write and re write a post multiple times and still end up trashing that post in five years when you write another better one on the same topic.
Blogging is never done. There is always something to try. There are always ways you could improve.
But more isn’t always better. Flashy graphics don’t always indicate quality content. More bells and whistles don’t necessarily mean more connection with your readers.
Blogging is a process. You begin the process by writing a post, not by getting the whole site perfect before you ever press publish.
The goal of blogging is not to have a perfect website; the goal of blogging is to talk to people.
You’ll paralyze your progress by setting your eyes on perfection. When you focus your gaze solely on the person you are writing for, you’ll make the greatest impact with your blog.
“Nobody finds companionship in perfection. Nobody finds comfort in somebody else’s shiny, polished, perfect life.”
(Michele Cushatt on Grit ‘n’ Grace Girls, Episode 28)
Your most important job as a blogger is to write to that one person who needs to hear your words today.
Think of one prospective reader. Listen to what she says about what is on her heart right now. Write a post for her.
Just publish that one post. Put a picture in it, if you’d like. But don’t worry about the perfect pinnable. Don’t stress about SEO. Just hit publish.
Send the link to that one person you wrote the post for. Explain that you’re new to blogging and ask for her feedback. Ask how she thinks you could improve. Ask what other questions she still has after reading that post. And ask if she’d mind sharing that post with a friend.
Then write your next post in answer to one of her other questions. Chances are, she’s not the only one who has that question. Soon, she won’t be the only one sharing your posts with her friends. Soon, you’ll have a tribe of loyal readers who love how you listen to them and write for them.
They won’t care whether you’re using a free or professional WordPress theme. They won’t know whether your post is optimized for Google. They didn’t even notice your Pinterest image.
They are there because you care. That is what they care about.
And the longer you blog, the more you will realize that your readers are all you really need to care about.
Your first priority as a blogger should always be getting to know your readers. Spend more time listening to your readers than listening to the “experts”.
Don’t let your aspirations for a large readership distract your focus from the individual people who are reading your posts right now.
You can have more impact focusing on one person at a time than by creating a post that will appeal to ten, to one hundred, or to a thousand people at one time.
Writing a post for one person is the way to touch many others. Write for one specific person and you will have an impact on many more.
“You don’t need to be epic, you need to be kind.”
(Hayley Novak on Kindred Grace)
When it comes to blogging, only practice makes perfect.
Listen to your readers. Learn from how they react and interact with your posts. But don’t get hung up on creating the perfect graphic. Don’t get paralyzed by SEO. Don’t let the technical side of blogging keep you from speaking directly to your reader’s needs.
Just listen, write, and publish. With time and practice, everything else will fall into place.
P.S. If you’re looking for a few more practical steps for new bloggers, check out this post. You might be surprised at which elements are the most vital for your new blog (spoiler alert: the way your posts look is not the most important thing).
P.P.S. If you’ve been blogging a while and were just listening in above, would you consider commenting? What advice would you give to a new blogger? (You might also enjoy this letter to a weary blogger.)