An Open Letter To My Target Readers

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Hey girls!

What’s happening in your neck of the blogosphere today?  Did you get a post out?  Are you feeling overwhelmed?  I hear you loud and clear sister.

You probably had the best of intentions to get the thoughts and ideas you have, organized and into at least a draft form for your next post, but the kids are crazed, since school is back in session, and the everyday has become the monster that chases you around the house.  I totally get that.  It’s hard to find time to write, do laundry, come up with post new ideas, cook dinner, promote your posts on social media and drive the kids to piano lessons and soccer.  Oy!

And then there are all those Pinterest ideas you want to try.  Yeah right, like that’s gonna happen in this decade.

So here’s the deal.  I am completely in your corner when it comes to blogging.  It probably seemed like a good idea when you started and you thought your ideas would never dry up, there were so many and now you can’t seem to find any of them in the deep recesses of your mind.

Early Alzheimer’s?  No, just life.  Whether you have kids or not, life gets pretty complicated the more you live it.  Funny how that works, huh?

I’m here for you.  I love blogging.  You love it too, or at least you used to, and you want to keep doing it but you feel discouraged.  There are a number of reasons for this, time, readership, the comparison game, lack of knowledge and know-how.  Whatever it is for you, I want to help.

I’d love to take a look at some of these reasons you feel discouraged and give you some encouragement today.  So, here goes.

1.  You are having trouble organizing your time.

Oh, sister.  I am so right with you on this one.  I believe that Google Calendar needs to add about 25 more colors to their event color scheme don’t you?  So not enough.  But when it comes to blogging, have you sat down and mapped out a plan yet?  It’s one thing to put your post ideas in a cute notebook from Barnes & Noble but have you committed to actually writing them yet?

If not, I encourage you to get it together.  You probably have a calendar for your family.   If you have kids then their activities are probably all color coded and pretty much set in stone.  Am I right?

If you don’t have kids you’ve at least gotten them written down so your husband knows when the Taylor’s wedding is and can’t say, “I didn’t know we had a wedding to attend this weekend.  I was going to go fishing with Larry.”  (Not that this has ever happened to me. *cough*)

Let me tell you a truth I know.  Blog posts don’t write themselves.  WHAAAAT?  I know, right?  They just don’t.  They take time and effort and planning.  Oh, planning.  Right.

So it’s time to get organized.  Get a planner or a calendar and get on it.  Here are my recommendations:

  1. Kat Lee’s How They Blog Planning Kit  {The best $15 you’ll ever spend}
  2. Confessions of a Homeschooler’s FREE Blog Planner
  3. Jolanthe Erb’s FREE Blog Planner

{Disclosure: Please know that if you make a purchase using a link on this page, I may earn a commission and I am very grateful for your support of this site. Thank you.}

Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to set aside at least a day to go to your favorite coffee hangout and fill it all in with dates and goals and ideas.  You don’t have to have every idea, but you’ve got to get a jump start on organizing your time.  If you want to blog you have to plan for it.

2.  You lack readers

Surprisingly, #1 and #2 go hand in hand.  Your lack of readers is probably due to two things.  1) Lack of vision and goals 2) Lack of consistent writing.  Do these sound familiar?  I struggled with this for a very long time.  I floundered in the blogging abyss.  I didn’t know what I wanted to write about and so I didn’t write, often.

There is no guarantee for success in this medium.  But there are things you can do to give yourself the best advantage possible.  You need to set some goals about what you are doing, why you are doing it and how you want to do it.  This needs to happen on that day when you go do your planning.  {Here is where I highly recommend Kat Lee’s How They Blog Planning Kit.  It comes with these forms and an instructional video.  Hello?}

With your plan made you can begin to write more often.  I know there is a lot of talk out there about only blogging 4-6 times per month but I disagree with that notion.  Unless you have a contributor blog (where others are writing for you) your readers need to hear your voice on a consistent basis and get to know you through your writing.  If you only post once a month that’s fine, but don’t expect a huge readership.  The blogosphere moves quickly, as does social media, it’s important to keep your name out there in some form on a regular basis.

But here’s the caveat.  Don’t post just to post.  Nobody wants to read junky writing.  The saying is “Content is King.”  This is true, but remember, if you have a vision and goals for your site, then you should be writing quality content naturally.  Blogging takes effort.  Blogging well takes consistency.

So to recap: set some goals, state your vision and write often.

Target Reader - Graphic

3.  You are playing the comparison game

You probably got started blogging because you read a blog you really liked and thought, I can do this.  I know the feeling.  When I started blogging it was a baby medium.  People were just randomly putting their thoughts and pictures of their kids out there and the idea of the “big-time” blogger was in its infancy.  After a few years I got more serious and thought, I like the Pioneer Woman, I want to be like her.  Uh……..chirp, chirp go the crickets………….riiiiiiiiight.

There were a couple of problems with my goal.  One pretty big one was that I don’t particularly like cooking.  Second, although I tried to like photography and even took some classes, alas, I just don’t care that much.

So instead of finding my own voice I went in search of someone else to emulate.  All were dismal failures on my part.  Listen, I’ve written about this before, you have a unique voice.  So do I.  I mean really, who says “Dude!” anymore?  Uh, me.  You’d probably sound really funny saying that.  My point is, it’s  important to find your voice and use it, not like someone else, but as you, distinctly. Dude!

Darren Rowse at ProBlogger wrote a wonderful article about this recently.  Did you miss it?  I highly recommend that you read it.

Listen, no one else has your voice, so comparing yourself is futile.  Speak up and be proud of what you have to say!

4.  You lack know-how and technical knowledge

When the world wide web was just a child I was in grad school.  I studied Public Policy and learned stuff about the law and economics.  But I also had a prof who was adamant that we all learn HTML.  Seriously?  Yes, we all had to learn it and then build a web page from scratch.  Needless to say, I don’t use the info I learned in environmental economics very often, but I sure do use my knowledge of HTML.  A lot.

I was lucky.  I had to learn this stuff so I did and I actually liked it.  You many not have been so fortunate but that’s okay.  Now that the world wide web has grown up anyone can find out anything anytime.  There are so many resources out there today, you can find any answer to any blogging question you may have.  Unfortunately, that means that you can no longer use the excuse, “But I don’t know how.”  You may not, but there’s someone out there in the world who does and you can find them.

To get started, I recommend parking right here for a spell.  I offer a weekly series called Better Blogs.  It’s all about learning how to blog well.  I’m not going to teach you how to start a blog or how to write, but I am going to help you fine tune your space and your content.  I am here to encourage you, to cheer you on, while you are actually doing this thing we call blogging.

There are also other great sources of help

The list is endless, you just need to know who to ask and where to look.  I, of course, recommend my Better Blogs Facebook page for a community of people who are helping each other be better bloggers.

Lack of knowledge and know-how are no longer excuses for you not to get on this thing.  There are too many resources out there.  You just have to believe that you can do it, even if you aren’t “technical”.  There is a whole world out there, waiting to connect with you.  Don’t let the fear of what you don’t know keep you from sharing what you do.  

So, my friend, it’s time to “Git ‘er done.”  If you’ve decided that you like this blogging thing, don’t let fear weigh you down.  Get organized, write down your goals, write content, stop comparing yourself and go find what you need to know.

Listen, you’re reading this letter because you like blogging (or you’re my mom, in which case, “Hey mom!”).  If you want to keep blogging and you want to do it well then go for it.  I totally support you and I’m here to help in any way I can.  Just let me know.

You can do this!

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–> If you want to blog you have to plan for it. 

–> Blogging takes effort.  Blogging well takes consistency. 

–> Speak up and be proud of what you have to say!

–>  Don’t let the fear of what you don’t know keep you from sharing what you do.

 

 

Comments (14)

  1. Reply Helen Tisdale

    Debi! This post was so encouraging & informative. I had just ordered Kat Lee’s planning kit. All of you experienced bloggers share such a wealth of resources to help us. I so thankyou! You were like a shot in my arm this morning. I am so disappointed with myself & my inconsistencywith my blogging.

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Helen:
      I am so glad you were encouraged today. That’s my goal! Keep writing and posting, my friend. You can do this. Find your groove – what works best for you – and keep up the good work! Go Helen!!!!!

  2. Reply Barbie

    Although I do pretty well “keeping my blog live” by posting 4-5 days a week, I would love to organize myself to provide even better content. Should I order a calendar now, or wait for the new one for 2014? I’ve never even pre-written my posts. It’s all done on the fly. No wonder I am frazzled.

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Hey Barbie:

      Get the planner NOW! It’s actually a fill in set up so you can put the dates in yourself. I love it for planning out my posts. I write 1-2 weeks out and I plan 3-4 months out. Of course you can always change it up but it works really well to have it all mapped out so that I know where I’m going. No more frazzle!!!

      You ROCK girl. Have a great day.

  3. Reply Beth

    Okay. I’m on board! I need help! Yep…feeling frazzled like Barbie. I can’t imagine time to pre-plan my posts or pre-write them. I like to believe I don’t write just to write and don’t produce junky posts; however I hate when I find those missed spelling errors after I hit publish. I really want to be a better blogger/writer and wish I had many more hours in the day. I’m so guilty of the comparison…working on a post right now that speaks to that. Very helpful post! Thank you!!!

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Yay Beth! Gettin’ it together. Way to go girl. Yes, I’ve been right there where you are – wanting to do more, not feeling like I have the time. But getting organized helps so much. I schedule my writing time. I know what I’m going to write about. I see the big picture. It really makes a difference. Keep moving forward. The more you post, the better you become at it. ROCK on girl!!

  4. Reply Donna Ross O'Shaughnessy

    YESSSSSSSSSSSS! I needed to read this today. Just getting back into the swing of things here and the biggest TWO reasons I fell out of practice was:1. Focusing toooo much on how to make money along with my blogging and 2. NOT making a reasonable, attainable plan to follow. Okay….there are probably about 10 other reasons I can put there but these two take top billing. SO thankful for your wisdom and mad awesome encouragement. It is contagious!

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Thanks Donna. I really believe that there is a tried and true way to blog. I think that the other things can fall into place – but you have to get into a rhythm of writing first and building your audience. You go girl. So glad to see you back in the game. ROCK on!

      1. Reply Donna Ross O'Shaughnessy

        <3

  5. Reply Linda

    Thank you Debi. This was just the post I needed this weekend! Seeing these tips written out in black and white is so so helpful. I recently printed out the Blog Planner from Confessions of a Homeschooler and began scheduling my post ideas – what a great tool! and I’ve just learned how to schedule my posts in advance. Now I have to get on the ball and get them written well in advance. Your beginning blog series has been very helpful, thanks for investing in us!

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Oh Linda, welcome. I am so glad this information was helpful to you. I’m so happy you printed out a blog planner. it is so helpful. Keep up the good work girl. You can do it! Happy Blogging!

  6. Reply Olivia

    This is exactly what I need. Thank you, Debi!

    1. Reply Debi Stangeland

      Awesome! I’m so glad this is helpful. You can do this girl!!

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