September 7, 2014

Blogging: 8 Ugly Truths

Whether you are blogging as a hobby or do it full time as work, I’m certain you are all too familiar with the responsibilities that go along with it.  And while the benefits may outweigh the disadvantages, there are still some ugly truths to blogging.  Why write a post on it though?  Well, because I was never big on denial.  And as a veteran in the blog-o-sphere, I felt responsible to let all the newbies out there know the truth, or should I say “truths”! Yeah, they may be ugly, but you’ll find them helpful as well.  And that’s what this post is really about: educating and helping you!

So, what do you say we get right down to business?

BLOGGING: 8 UGLY TRUTHS

Blogging - 8 Ugly Truths via Cropped Stories

1. CONTENT DOESN’T ALWAYS COME EASY

Realistically, fresh and unique content appeals to readers most so you may feel pressured when you’re unable to deliver.  Let’s face it, for those of us blogging on a daily basis interesting topics can be difficult to come by.  I think it’s common for dedicated bloggers to stay up many of nights racking their brains to come up with something, anything to write about.  There have been numerous times I was desperate for content. 

I would not, however, recommend posting for the sake of posting.  Remember, quality is far more important than quantity.  No content is always better than uninteresting content.  Keep in mind your readers frequent your site for a reason.  It’s because they like your content and count on you to continue publishing material that will keep them coming back for more!

2. THE STOLEN IDEA
Although I haven’t had it happen often, only once in the past 3 years, doesn’t mean it can’t happen more frequently.  I’d like to think I didn’t luck out in having it happen the one time, and that people are genuinely honest and capable of coming up with their own ideas but, unfortunately, it’s not always the case. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all ideas are necessarily stolen.  For example, you publish a post on 10 Fall Fashion Finds and 2 days later you see a similar post published on another website.  Before you start pointing fingers, remember there is a little thing called coincidence.  Remember the blog-o-sphere is GIGANTIC so having similar content published in the same week, even on the same day, across different blog sites is not uncommon. 

3. UNPLEASANT COMMENTRY
You can expect to receive a disparaging comment at least once in your blogging career.  When I received my first displeasing comment, in addition to being shocked, hurt, appalled, etc., I was more concerned with how to address it.  My first instinct was to reply immediately.  With my head about to explode from anger, I felt it was in my best interest (and in the best interest of my blog) to sit on it for a day and allow myself to cool off.  Revisiting it when you are more likely to be thinking clearly, is the best advice I can give you.  Trust me, you may feel differently about it the next day.  That’s the idea.

When possible, try to avoid being an emotional responder.  Although it’s difficult, leaving your emotions out of it will allow you to address it appropriately and professionally.  Try taking the high road and respond with a simple thank you for commenting and I hope you’re having a great day.  Recommending you to ignore it may be a controversial suggestion, but, depending on how inappropriate the comment, may be the best thing you could do.  Remember, there’s no reasoning with someone that is obviously “off their rocker” so to speak.  It’s sort of like adding fuel to the fire.  As a professional blogger, you have more important things to be spending your valuable time on, so fight the urge to respond and do your best to move on.

4. STALKERS DO EXIST
I’ve heard more horror stories than I care to admit about stalkers.  If they are persistent, which most stalkers are, leaving frequent, unrelated, and inappropriate comments on posts are all typical behaviors.  And if they are stalking your website, it’s quite common for them to stalk you in other places as well.  Places such as your social networks, personal email, or via other forms you may have set up as a means for people to contact you.

And don’t think it stops there.  Trust me, it rarely does.  As horrific as it sounds, people have stolen personal images off websites to pass them off as their own.  Personal photos of your children, family, friends, and/or of YOU!  And as horrible as it sounds, this is not the worst thing they could be doing with your pictures.  If I have to spell it out, here it goes: S E X  O F F E N D E R S and P R E D A T O R S.  I hate to make you think about it as I shudder to think about it myself, but it doesn’t do anyone good to ignore the facts.  I hope, from now on, it will be in the forefront of your mind.

Although there are ways to make it difficult for people to steal your images, it is not preventable.  Even with disabling the option to download or the ability to right click and copy images, there are still ways around these measures.  The screen shot is an excellent example.  Anyone and everyone can take a screen shot.  Additional ways to steal images would be to take a picture of your computer screen.  Yep, it’s that easy.

Protect yourself and your loved ones by choosing images you publish on your website wisely.  And if there’s ever a question as to whether you should publish a certain photo, go with your gut, and don’t do it!  Remember, there’s a reason why you’re questioning it even if you’re not sure why.

5. NETWORKING ISN’T ALWAYS FUN
Don’t get me wrong, I love to meet new people especially with similar interests, but having to network on a daily basis can start to become tedious and time consuming.  The biggest challenge a blogger may face is finding new ways to meet people which is essential if you want to continue to establish friendships and increase your following.  Once you’ve exhausted the common ways to meet new people like blog hops, link parties, social media, commenting, communities, etc.; what’s a blogger to do?

6. BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF PHOTOGRAPHY & GRAPHIC DESIGN IS REQUIRED
I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, blogging is a shallow business.  A fair amount is based on looks!  If your website design is cluttered, sloppy, full of distractions, etc., I can guarantee a first time visitor will be just that.  Even if they can get past the design of your blog, and they find your content interesting, your poor image quality and unappealing graphics could possibly be the deal breaker for them.  Say your goodbyes now.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but they’re not coming back.

Need some help?  No problem.  First, you do not need to hire a professional website designer.  Feel free to check out 9 things your blog site should contain and how to make your website visually appealing for ideas to incorporate yourself!  Not a professional photographer?  No worries; a lot of us aren’t.  While your images don’t have to be pieces of art, they should always be properly exposed, proportioned, and sharp.  No experience with graphic design?  You don’t need any.  Some people hear the word graphic and think illustration.  My graphics never include illustrations mainly because I’m not that great with drawing digitally.  Programs like PicMonkey allow you to enhance your images with text and imagery with a simple click of your mouse.  You can also use Photobucket to find images and graphics that fit the theme of your post and avoid taking photographs altogether.

7. THE REPLY IS ESSENTIAL
I’m going to be honest with you; responding to comments and general inquiries (like email) are necessary if you want to establish an online reputation for yourself.  This may not sound so bad seeing as most bloggers are usually social anyway.  But let’s imagine that instead of a handful of comments and emails you would normally receive (like in the first few months when you were just starting out) turned into hundreds?  Now what?  The answer is really simple.  Nothing.  Nothing should change.  Instead of it taking 15 minutes to respond, expect it to take a few hours now.  Prepare for this by setting aside an adequate amount of time every day or over the course of a few days for responding and nothing else.  Yes it’s that important, especially for building new relationships and maintaining old ones.

8. FOLLOWING BACK; IT’S THE POLITE THING TO DO
So, your following is increasing consistently and you can barely contain your excitement?  While this truly IS amazing and a reason for any blogger to celebrate, with it also comes the added responsibility of the follow back.  Similar to The Reply, the follow back is equally important!  Not only is it the polite thing to do, but it’s a great way to establish credibility.  People will be more apt to follow you via other methods if they know they can trust you to follow back.  In case you were unsure, it’s a “scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours” type of business so, I recommend returning the favor, filing your nails, and scratching back! 

And even with all this said, here I am blogging away as if these ugly truths weren’t true at all.  Or maybe there just not that ugly.  Either way, I hope I will always find the time in my life to blog and I hope you do too!  Because regardless of the disadvantages, blogging has far more rewards!  It is one of the  greatest tools to express yourself, be heard, educate, inspire, learn, and, most importantly, establish some wonderful, and in some cases, lifelong friendships! And isn’t that what’s it all about?

I’d love to hear some of the challenges you’re currently facing as a blogger.  Maybe you have an ugly truth to add to my list?  Feel free to drop me a comment or email me at:

croppedstories[at]gmail[dot]com

If you missed some of my previous posts, feel free to check out some of my favorites including:

How to create a photo storyboard in Photoshop (a video tutorial)

Free travel packing list printable

Skinny people have feelings too!

8 hidden blogging mistakes

Working long hours could cost you your health

Tips for coping with depression while exploring treatment options

Establishing a writing style for your blog

Classic Pizzelles (a recipe you’re sure to love)!

Inspiring blog headers (a collection of my favorites)!

3 comments :

  1. Wonderful advice and just so happy to so you posting back here today and have totally missed you. Hope you are doing well though and wishing you a great week ahead now ;)

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  2. These are all true. Blogging is a privilege, but it can also have its challenges (like anything else I guess.) I think the one about stealing content is interesting. In addition to coincidence, sometimes you read something that gets your mind going, and you come up with your own spin on a topic. The good news is that the successful blogger has a unique "voice" and that is what draws readership, so there can be multiple takes on the same subject that are all valid and interesting:)

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  3. These are all very true! some of which deter me from blogging as a business.

    ReplyDelete

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