Nixdminx
The life and times of a happy go lucky blogger in London
Happy 4th Birthday to my blog – and here’s what I’ve learned over the last few years….
Categories: blogging

Today I went for a run and unusually, lots of people smiled at me.  After a while the penny dropped and I remembered I was wearing a t-shirt with the word GEEK across my chest.

I suppose the joke is literally ‘on me’ as that’s exactly what I’ve become over the last four years – a webby, bloggy, geek.

 

 

Frankly, I put it all down to the fact that when I started this blog four years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into.  I’ve been reflecting on all the things I’ve learned and done since that first post and put it all neatly into 10 key points, many of which will be familiar to other bloggers in it for the long haul…

 

1. The shock of the new

Posting my first story was like entering a freezing cold lake, inch by inch, for a swim on a dark day in the middle of winter only to find the water warm and the sun breaking through a cloud.  That’s not to say I didn’t run and hide under the duvet after I’d published a few things; afraid that people would laugh at my writing (and for all the wrong reason) or even worse, work out it was me writing under the name of Nixdminx (‘Who does she think she is?!).  It’s no different to being the new girl in class, but in a very different landscape.

2. Taking flight

There is an adjustment period for the newby blogger.  It’s a different experience to writing on a corporate blog or being a journalist because you’re not writing under the auspices of any one thing other than that you’ve created for yourself.   And then comes the taking flight part.  I love writing, and while putting your thoughts into the public domain can be nerve wracking at first, that part is thankfully pretty short lived.   I soon found the discipline of writing nearly every day was very fulfilling creatively and I could also combine my love of photography with my words.

3. Getting to grips with the world of blogging

No man or blog is an island.  Just because you write online doesn’t mean your offline life is no longer valid, it’s quite the opposite in fact.  Once you start connecting with other people across the wilds of the internet, amazing things happen and it often becomes an obsession, my version of which means I’ve written hundreds, if not thousands of blog posts, experimented with various social platforms, spent crazed hours on twitter, attended meet ups, tweat ups (sic), hacks, camps, conferences, unconferences, cook-a-longs – you get the picture I’m sure.  It’s really hard work but it pays great dividends and makes life very interesting.  Like many other bloggers, I’ve done product reviews, been a brand ambassador and charity campaigner, attended blogger trips, film premiers, lots of media work and spoken at more events than I care to remember, I’ve even written a book and a comedy script (both of which I’ve shelved indefinitely).

There are some truly amazing people out there who are doing the same as you but differently which makes for great connections and friendships but you shouldn’t let your blog run your life, you need to get out and about, and fill your days with inspirational and mundane things alike.

4. Learning by doing

Blogging opens up new worlds for sure but you also get to grips with technologies which are really useful for career development and can open up new avenues you never would have thought possible but you do have to put in the hours and learn the ropes, you also need to be really inventive and resourceful too.

5. Liberation in the face of cynics

Everyone says ‘oh, you can set up a blog in seconds, anyone can do it’ – that’s completely true and where the real journey begins.  From creating your banner or your headline to learning to tag and categorise copy and setting up a domain, it’s pretty challenging stuff to get to grips with in the early days, especially if you’ve relied heavily on an IT team at work.  It’s also incredibly liberating to do this kind of stuff and owning your own space online with which you can do what you want.  It is a really good thing, and have new skills is great for confidence levels too.

6. Blog envy or crush?

It’s really daunting when you look at other blogs with their assembled badges of greatness, blog rolls that go on for miles, flashy advertising and busy comment sections.  Well to steal a bit of advice from Seth Godin, turn this anxiety into anticipation; all these bloggers have worked hard to create their own brand of blog and you can do exactly the same.  It takes time but doesn’t everything?   So start by getting involved in blog hops, carnivals, weekly prompts and linkies and drop by other blogs and leave comments.  Join blogging communities and ask for help; you’ll be amazed at how welcoming people are. Use your twitter account to build readership as well and don’t limit yourself.

7. Bloggers, bloggers, bloggers and…’Dear blogger’

You can learn a lot from other bloggers; whether it’s parenting, fashion, foodieness or travel – real stories from real people are truly engaging, so make the effort to go to blogger meet ups and get to know other people.  When I started out people were so friendly and supportive it felt like it was the beginning so something new, exciting and authentic.  Many bloggers are ambivalent and vocal about the relationship they have with the ‘other other side’ – the peole who want to negotatiate a mention, a review or a post on your blog.  You will get bombarded by PRs, SEO agencies and digital outfits asking to promote their competitions or report on a survey, just get used to it and make sure you work with people you like and tell them what you want so you don’t waste anyone’s time.  If people just want links, ignore them.

8. Getting Writers Block

It happens to all of us, a busy social life and full work days mean that sometimes weeks can go by without a blog post.  I’ve even thought of closing down this blog a few times but always come back to it.  I think it’s healthy and natural to take a break and return with renewed vigour after a hiatus.  I’ve seen it happen a lot and sometimes it is purely because of personal reasons, some bloggers feel they’ve given everything they can and others just wanted to try out blogging.  If I’m in knots about things, I usually can’t write and effectively feel like I’ve lost my ‘voice’.  It’s an unpleasant feeling rather than a true writers block but it’s useful to know that an empty blog is a good indicator that I have matters to deal with.  There’s nothing better than finding your flow after a dry period of not writing very much. Not finding enough time to blog can also be frustrating so having the ability to blog on the run can also work well to untangle and unblock the barriers to writing.

9. The Herd

Every so often there’s a brand new toy in town.  These social media ‘trinkets’ consume time and energy like black holes.  That said, don’t give up at the first try as all this new stuff is really worth having a good play around with.  I remember distinctly having conversations with people about how to get the hang of twitter and discovering the lovely and retro hipstamatic and instagram.  Last year everyone started pinning on Pinterest, now it’s Google+ and next year it will be something else.  While it’s always good to try out new things, they all seem to work better as widgets on my blog than a platform I really want to migrate to.  Story telling is part of the human condition.  Blogs will last forever.

10. Boundaries

Oversharing is par for the course when it comes to blogging and some people go to great lengths to share.  I’m a bit of a wimp when it comes to revealing too much about my personal relationships and dramas and over the years, I’ve divulged less and less about my life as my blog has become more deeply infused with professional life.  While it’s been evolutionary, I’m keen to keep it a bit more real and not get too stuffy.  When I started my blog, I used to write up some pretty funny stories, and many included my daughter; I don’t feel so comfortable about doing that any longer as she’s on the verge of teenagerhood – ’nuff said!

After four years of blogging, I still love the thrill of writing and connecting.  It really has changed my life for the better and  I will be launching a new blog or two soon, which will be the home of my business work so I can keep this space for myself.  Who knows, I could even be finding my career nirvana and realising my blog tagline!

And that, for the time being my friend, is just the tip of the iceberg about blogging, but I’m sure you’ve got the gist of what it’s about.

thanks for reading

 

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3 Comments to “Happy 4th Birthday to my blog – and here’s what I’ve learned over the last few years….”

  1. Potty Mummy says:

    Great post NM – particularly like your point about story telling being part of the human condition. Here’s to another 4 years! PM x
    Potty Mummy recently posted..Silent Sunday

    • admin says:

      Thanks for reading; it only feels like yesterday I started writing, it does go really quickly doesn’t it? x

  2. I want to get hired to write for magazines etc, but I don’t want to censore my raw and honest voice just to get hired. It’s a tricky navigation and I’m hoping my bold way of expression will get me hired because then that would be a win/win.
    The Dame Intl recently posted..My Word For 2013

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