02/11/2013 05:36 EST | Updated 04/13/2013 05:12 EDT

What I've Learned in My Blogging Career


When I started blogging over seven years ago, I was doing it purely because I liked to write. It was often good therapy for me, especially when I'd had a bad day, week, month and so I didn't really care if anyone read what I wrote, let alone followed me.

Obviously my attitude changed. One of the first inklings I had that I was on the wrong path with this blog business was when I hired a social media intern. She was reviewing all that we did, and was quick to point out that my blog looked "shitty." Her words, not mine.

I needed to add photos and taglines, otherwise how would anyone ever find me, she asked. Well, I guess. So I started to pretty it up, added photos which I might add can be extremely time-consuming when you are hunting for free digital shots that accurately convey the message you want to send out to the universe.

Well I did start to get a following and it would often surprise me when I would meet someone and they'd make some comment on something personal happening in my life. How did she know? Then of course, I remembered. I wrote about the situation in my blog. That is maybe one of the downfalls of putting yourself out there -- people know your stuff.

Note to self: only write about topics and share stories that you are willing to discuss later. I am often asked if I ever run out of ideas. And the simple answer is "yes," and that is when I walk away from the computer and get on with something else.

I set aside time every weekend to write, but if it isn't flowing and the topic isn't coming naturally, then I take a break, knowing something will, and when it does, I will have the blog done in minutes.

As for topics, nothing is sacred. I have one friend who every time I am with her, she seems to provide me with fodder for my blog. She's just started a business and her angst reminds me of the struggles other newbie entrepreneurs face, and so she will just say something or tell me a story, and she triggers an idea, and I slot away the conversation for a later blog.

Like everyone else, I am navigating my way through life and sometimes I take a wrong turn. It is those lessons that, while often painful, I feel compelled to share so others can benefit, feel less alone, and in some cases, not feel so stupid.

Many bloggers suggest having an editorial calendar, and that is probably a good idea as it keeps you on track and gives you some focus for your writing. I have to admit I don't. I prefer to be "fresh" with my blogs so frequently it is something that has just happened; a lesson I learned the previous week or some observation that struck me worthy of sharing. When I keep it real and current, the words flow.

And sometimes the "venting" blog written in anger and frustration, never see the light of day. Once down on paper, the situation is somewhat diffused, I feel better and on reflection decide that perhaps there is nothing to be gained from exposing both myself and the perpetrator. The rant resolves it for me.

I think the trick is to find your voice. Determine what you like to write about and read. Learn more about your area. Become an expert and then you can write authentically about the topics.

Last year I actually turned a collection of my blogs into a book -- Day by Day: Tales of Business, Life and Everything in Between. When I pulled them all together, I was surprised at how much I'd written. Who knew?

But first you have to get started. And another pointer, they don't have to be long. Look at the success of Seth Godin. His blogs are often short and pithy and just as effective.

As Meg Cabot said, "Write the kind of story you would like to read. People will give you all sorts of advice about writing, but if you are not writing something you like, no one else will like it either."