Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve interviewed several of my favorite bloggers on their blogging history, practice, and philosophy. You can read the interviews with Cynthia Leitich Smith, Melissa Walker, and Jennifer Hubbard. I also spoke with Joyce Valenza over the phone. There were a few common themes to all of their responses.
1. It can take a while to find your voice. Both Melissa Walker and Joyce Valenza admitted to floundering for a while. For me this was extremely reassuring, and I hope others were reassured as well.
2. You can’t know who your audience is until you have an audience. The best way to build an audience?
3. Be yourself. Write about what interests you in a way that you find natural. There is no one way to blog. Everyone I spoke with said this in one way or another.
4. You don’t need to share your whole self. Being open, honest, and friendly does not mean you need to share the details of your home life, your work, or your political views.
5. Be a part of the community. This was the aspect that Joyce Valenza most stressed with me, saying that in her long career as a librarian, she’s never felt more connected than she does at this moment. Yet being part of the community, in its various online forms, can be overwhelming. Dr. Valenza wrote about this in a recent VOYA piece. For me, I find I use Facebook mostly for family and, frankly, rarely update my author page. Twitter seems to be the province of people with much more free internet time than I have. With Google+, though, I feel like I’m finding my way a little bit better. I think the circles really help me to focus my attention.
6. Structure can help. Whether it’s a goal of writing a certain number of times per week, regular features, or deadlines, a little structure goes a long way in keeping the blog posts flowing.
Talking with these fabulous women has of course made me think, and I have some new ideas for this blog that I hope to roll out soon. My goal is to write at least once a week from now until the end of the year. We’ll see how it goes.