The world of online friendships is not one I ever thought I would enter. I’m kind of of that old school mindset that thinks meeting people online is slightly dodgy. More and more though I am coming round to it. For me, its all in how you go about it.
Through the last few years of blogging I have made several friends. I’ve met up wth some of them and have plans to meet others when the opportunity arises. I’m involved in a few little online communities and really enjoy the virtual meetups in the form of joining linkies or Twitter chats.
Making friends through blogging is not something I set out to do or felt the need to pursue. It is certainly not a must. You can be happy blogging away without any onlone friends.
But as in real life, friends can happen upon you. You exchange a few words, something clicks and you end up as friends without much effort or plan. That, I find, is the key to blogger friendships. You have to let it happen as it happens.
Here are my dos and don’ts of making blogger friends.
- Engage on social media and with comments on blog posts to get to know people
- Share posts, retweet and support others online, just as you do with your real life friends
- Be consistent. If you are regularly in contact with someone, don’t just abandon them. If you can’t make it to their linky or join in a chat, let them know what you are away.
- Drop a line to say hi. Like I said above, just like you do with other friends
- Tag a friend in a #widn (what I’m doing now) Instgram
- Be sincere in all you do
- Hound people. No one likes clingyness. If you have been in touch with another blogger, give them a chance to reply to you in their own time.
- Flatter people for flattery’s sake.
- Name drop
- Put up a false front. Be yourself, maybe a tad more confident, but yourself nonetheless
That is really all it takes.
What you’ll hear from most bloggers is that they love blogging. Many would like to or already have become professional bloggers, going at it full time with gusto. For a lot of us, that’s not going to happen, but that’s not a reason to give up.
Blogging can be a great hobby. It is an outlet for thoughts, opinions and ideas. It allows us to be as creative as we like. It is a great way to collaborate with companies and bloggers to achieve things we might only have dreamed of before.
But how do we best balance it with work? Finding the time and the inspiration to blog can be tricky, especially when you are tied up with a day job and possibly family commitments too. Here are a few tips to help you find the balance that is right for your lifestyle, your job and your blog.
- Forget the blogger guilt. You are allowed to do as wish with your free time. Don’t forget that. Your employer does not own your mind. If you are sitting at a computer outside of office hours, make sure it is your own one and that you are doing something for yourself.
- Blogging as a hobby. Ask around at work and within your circle of friends. You’ll find that outside of work people have all sorts of time comsuming hobbies they throw themselves into in any free time they have. From rock climbing to motorbiking, tennis to running to walking the dog, other people have no problem taking time to enjoy their hobby, so you shouldn’t either. If you have trouble finding the time for your hobby, ask your colleagues how they manage their time.
- Mobile blogging. Try out blogging on your phone or sending yourself an e-mail with a draft post when you have an idea. It only takes few moments and can be done on your commute (as long as you are not driving!), in your tea break or at lunch.
- Social Media. Let’s be realistic. Most people will check their social media accounts on their phone while officially at work. When you are grabbing a coffee or waiting for a meeting to begin, why not check in with your favourite sites and bloggers, send out a bit of blogger love and maybe even link up a post of your own, be it old or new.
- Avoid getting overwhelmed. An important one, this. See numer 1 & 2 – blogger guilt & blogging as a hobby. Don’t put pressure on yourself to get a certain number of posts out or link up to more linkies than you can handle. You are entitled to not work AND not blog. There are other things in life, even if we bloggers don’t like to admit to it. If you are at a loss as to what to do with your time but can’t face more screen time, check out this list of ideas.
I read a lot of blogs and for the most part I enjoy them. There are a couple of things that put me off though, top of the list being bad grammar and spelling. It doesn’t just put me off the blog. It kind of puts me off any sponsors they work with too, unfortunately.
I’m lucky that I had a brilliant teacher when I was nine. She made sure that the whole class knew our grammar inside out and backways. Her technique was the old-fashioned learn by heart method, but she did her best to make sure we understood what we were learning, and it has stuck with me ever since. I’m not claiming to be an expert by any means but I do have a reasonable grasp of what is right and what is wrong.
A lot of people weren’t as lucky as I was and never got a good grounding in grammr. So for those, here are a few basic tips that should help you.
- I or me? This is an easy one to sort out. We all know which to use if we are just talking about outselves but if we add in another person, is it I or me we should use? “Me and Emma went to the shop” or “Emma and I went to the shop” The answer is simple. Leave out the other person for a moment and ask yourself which sounds right. Then you’ll come to the correct conclusion. It is “I went to the shop”, not “Me went to the shop”, therefore it also “Emma and I went to the shop”. Equally, it is “She walked away from me” not “from I”, so it is also “She walked away from Emma and me”.
- Your or you’re? If you use an apostrophe (‘), it is to show that something is missing. In this case, it is the A in “are” because “you’re” means “you are”. “Your” means belonging to you. If in doubt as to which to use, ask yourself which suits the context better “you are” [you’re] or “belonging to you” [your].
- “Their” or “there”. Again, this is easily solved. “Their” means “belonging to them” and “there” means at a certain place. If you have trouble remembering which spelling is correct, try remembering “Where? There!”.
- When to use an apostrophe s (‘s). The thing to think about here is whether you are referring to the plural of something (one blog, two blogs – no apostrophe), an action (he blogs, she blogs – no apostrophe) or belonging to someone /something (the blog’s name – use an apostrophe). For example:
- One mother, two mothers – plural – no apostrophe
- She mothers him – action – no apostrophe
- My mother‘s handbag – belonging to – apostrophe
- Spelling in general – if you are unsure of how to spell something, check it. It only takes a moment but make a big different to how your readers react to your writing. One example would be pore over / pour over. Which do you use to say that you spent ages going through the Sunday papers and which do you use to describe what you did with your custard and apple tart? If you are unsure, type the phrase nto Google and you’ll soon find which is which.
I hope these tips help a little. If you have any particular grammar problems, leave me a comment and I’ll try to help you.
It sounds harmless at first. A blog break. No biggie. But then you start to think of it in terms of a realtionship break. The beginning of the end. And you think no, I’ll power through. I’m not quitting. I’m not giving in.
That point right there is where you need to stop over-analysing. Breaks are there for a reason. At school. At work. At seminars. Breaks are there to refresh you. To give you a chance to process the things that have been going on. To give your mind and body a chance to catch up on everything that has been going on around you.
There are signs that you could do with a break. Here are five of them.
- You increasingly suffer from writer’s block or blogger’s block as it is often called. You feel you have to write but nothing will come. Or you can’t put your thoughts into words. What used to come freely refuses to.
- You have lost your blogging mojo and wonder what the point in carrying on is. Thoughts like “Why bother?”, “Isn’t it all a load of ranting and mutual ego-boosting anyway?” or “There are millions of blogs out there. Who cares about mine?” surface and hinder your progress.
- You miss your family, friends and hobbies because you have devoted all your time to your blog.
- You have trouble getting to sleep because your mind is buzzing with blog-related to do lists, post ideas and must-do-better thoughts.
- You can’t concentrate, constantly distracted by notifications on your phone, tweets, linkies and lists.
If some or any of these symptoms apply to you, then literally give yourself a break. Even if you’ve read the signs and feel they don’t apply to you, take a break now and again anyway. Be it a day or a week, switch off and recharge.
There’s one good reason to.
It will make you better.
Sharing on #TheList
If you look through a lot of blogging tips online, you could easily be put off the idea of blogging altogether. Stats, pins, SEO, apps that tweet for you, plugins, rankings, DSLR cameras, self-hosting…it can all be a tad mind-boggling.
So how do you make sense of it all? Here’s my three point plan to approaching it.
- Take a pen and paper.
- Sit down and write a couple of points about
- why you want to blog,
- what you want to achieve, and
- how much time you are prepared to spend on it.
- Review your list and make your decision.
If your list reveals that you want to record memories, recipes, thoughts, etc. for yourself, your family and friends and whoever else may stumble upon your blog, then the answer is simple. You’ll fit your blog into your lifestyle, taking time when you have it or when the mood is on you to write. Social media won’t necessarily be part of your plan. You needn’t worry about SEOs or statistics and the quality of your photos is up to you.
If, however, your list concludes that you want to make blogging part of your life and possibly part of your income source, then prepare for a lot of work. Blogging for many is a pure joy and doesn’t feel like work at lot of the time. But there is no denying that if you are in it to get places and be noticed, then will need to invest time and money in your blog. To what extent you do that is up to you.
There is no magic equation that says a certain amount of effort and expense will generate a certain amount of income. Nor is there any set time frame between starting a blog and getting work. The blogging world can be fickle and harsh at times. You’ve got to be savvy and on the ball to get places. Or just get lucky. That can happen. But mostly it is hard work and keeping an out for opportunities that has gotten big bloggers where they are today.
So, before you get disheartened with your blog or go off the idea of even starting one, sit down with a pen and paper.