How to Start a Blog (Without Wanting to Kill Yourself) [PART II]
February 13, 2017
Want to start a blog? Read Part I of this series first!
So this morning when I was sitting here looking like an absolute homeless person, I was doing what I do every morning: tiptoeing into my brain and and dragging memories out with a sledgehammer, AKA WRITING.
I do this every morning for no less than three hours, but very often five or six, because once I get going, it’s like prying a teenager away from a Playstation. (Seriously, being able to mind map out this book has been effing dangerous, because now I’m not only rabidly writing my life away, but I have a PLAN for rabidly writing my life away, which is either going to turn me into “an organized person” or a gigantic fucking lunatic.)
And when I was sitting there pondering LIFE—which often involves me getting up to go wash the dishes—I got to thinking about how blogging saved me in so many ways. Fortunately the Internet wasn’t so Instagrammey back then, requiring you to sell your soul for a like on your photo. (Actually emojis hadn’t even come out on the iPhone yet, and I still owned a sweet, sweet Blackberry.) Furthermore it wasn’t all “content marketey,” either, brimming with ulterior motives, but rather, a REAL AND ACTUAL WAY TO SAY SOMETHING THAT MATTERED TO YOU.
I think we lose sight of that now sometimes.
I think that when people first start a blog, they’re inundated by all of this pressure to do everything “right” and have all of these opt-ins and calls to action and keywords and headlines that the very act of blogging becomes this big hairy disgusting chore, where it’s TOTALLY grueling work and it’s TOTALLY a turn-off and you probably procrastinate it every single minute of every single day until you finally guilt yourself long enough to sit down and write something—in which you have no idea if anyone is reading, and you feel totally disconnected like you’re shouting into a long, creepy tunnel somewhere, and then you start to get paranoid that you’re wasting your time, and you don’t want to blog, and you hate all the things, and sooner or later, before you know it, you have totally given up and decided that blogging is not for you.
Which is basically like saying JAIL isn’t for you, because seriously—who would like it if it had to be like that?
This is a call to get back to writing for pleasure. To get back to blogging for the sake of having a forum to house your thoughts. To get online to start a fire—not because some asshat told you that you needed it for “authority.” (Even though you probably should have that to, ahem, and I DO THINK THAT’S SAGE ADVICE.)
But you know why I was actually successful as a blogger? Because every day I was getting online and telling the truth. That’s all I was doing. Telling the truth. Telling my truth. Talking about the profound sense of impoverishment I had felt, after I had spent so many years chasing success and then finally getting it. Talking about how bad you feel for thinking things like that. How you’re suppose to be “grateful.” How you’re suppose to “suck it up.” How you’re suppose to THINK OF THE STARVING CHILDREN. It was a way to talk about the things I was thinking, and ask other people if they felt the same way. In that way, I think The Middle Finger Project has been cathartic for people. I think it gives us all a place to feel a little less judged.
And you know what blogging gifted me in exchange? It helped me to take my own ideas seriously. It helped me to take myself seriously. The moment I gave my ideas a place to live, it was as if more and more came galloping out of me. Blogging was a sanctuary for my thoughts. And as it turns out, having that kind of sanctuary can be wildly beneficial—not only for you, but yes, for business, too.
Because here’s the thing about the whole “content marketing” movement: everyone’s doing it, yet few are actually successful with it. But that’s not because blogging doesn't work—it's because content marketing doesn't. At least, not with the approach that so many are using. You can't leap barefoot into somebody's living room and beg them to give you money, before jumping out the window and leaping into someone else’s. Just because you're using the medium, doesn't mean you're using it well. Because that’s not blogging OR content marketing—that’s tacky manipulation.
So here’s what I think. I think if you’ve had the inkling to blog but you've been scared shitless that you wouldn’t do it right, or that it would be too much work, or that no one would read it, I think you need to take three minutes and set up WordPress (I made you a tutorial here), and then, with a glass of wine, write your very first post tonight. (ESPECIALLY if you don't have a Valentine's Day date, because this is some love for yourself!) Not a strategic post. Not a content marketing post. Not a post that’s going to make you seem all shiny and perfect and AREN’T YOU JUST SO WONDERFUL, but a real people post. A real human post. A post where you can put your hair down and just act natural—as if you were having a conversation with a girlfriend.
Just act natural.
You know how people always say that, right? Or maybe that was just my mom who used to say that, but she used to tell me that people like you more when you just act natural—not poised or fake or awkward or stiff. There I was, peeing myself about going to the 7th grade semi-formal dance, and she would just tell me this over and over again.
Just act natural, kid. Just be natural.
So today, I’m passing it along to you. And thanks, mom, for the solid advice. SHE IS GIVING THIS TO US FROM THE GRAVE, YOU GUYS, SO WE SHOULD PROBABLY LISTEN. But seriously—I think she’s onto something.
And I think you are, too.
I think that whatever idea you have swirling around in your head, you need to give it fire.
But more than that, you need to give yourself fire.
Because the minute you start taking your own ideas seriously? The world will, too.
And remember: You don’t need to be serious to be taken seriously.
You just need to show up.