"It's like taking a nap on that little rug when you were in kindergarten."

Obsessive Compulsive (OC) Blogging – Two Years Later

It’s been more than two years since I wrote my first real post about blogging. I was pretty naive at the time. Looking back, I find it pretty interesting to see how I was dead-on in some ways, and in others not so accurate.

Blogging, how to

I thought I’d take a peek at what I wrote, and then mash it up into something more coherent based on what I’ve learned.

The Obsessive Compulsive Guide to Blogging

If you’ve already started a blog, you’ve been through these steps in your mind, on paper, or on your screen. If you’re like me, you might be a little bit obsessive or compulsive, or both obsessive AND compulsive, on the mental health side of the life equation – or as I call it: two for the price of one.

Note: I have not been clinically diagnosed, contrary to what you, or members of my family, may think. Nor do I judge you, if you, my fellow bloggers and readers, are as loon-crazy as I am.

My Five steps to successful blogging:

1. The beginning
Everyone has to start at the very beginning, and for the OC this is a world of tremendous consternation (like we don’t have enough rattling around in our heads, right?). What should I be blogging about?  I thought about this for days, and then weeks. It consumed me at first. So many possibilities. I asked friends and family. I researched other blogs, but didn’t know enough to know what I could do differently, or better, or even as well as someone else.

What did I know? Did I know enough? Did I know ANYTHING? Should it be funny? Serious? Long pieces or short ones? Heck, back then I didn’t even really know what a post was!

What I learned: With blogging, you just have to jump in there. You can go from Miley Cyrus-Hannah Montana to Wrecking Ball-crazy, later, as you develop your voice, but at first, get your feet wet any way you can.

2. Naming the blog
I thought the name had to be perfect. It had to be. I remember wondering if the name of the blog would add or detract, be memorable, or be easily forgotten. And it was important to me to know if people would like the name.I didn’t want to get down the road in a couple of months – when I thought I’d have millions reading my blog – and have to change it.

What I learned: It truly didn’t matter. I had a blog name to begin with, but changed it – to my name - after a few months. Believe it or not, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be to make the switch.

3. Public or Private?
Did I want my family and friends to know I’m blogging and writing this stuff … possibly about them?? (See #2 above, which started the cycle of worrying about the name of the blog again). Maybe I should have made it available to my friends only … ?

And then I thought it should be more widespread! Otherwise, how will the masses – as though there would be “masses” – ever experience these fantastic, amazing compositions?? That made that decision fairly simple.

What I learned: Unless you’re really nervous about people close to you reading your writing, it makes more sense to simply keep it public. Otherwise, maybe journaling is the best bet.

4. Write first post
With the first three steps nailed down, I was off to my first post. It. Has. To. Be. GREAT – or so I thought. After three weeks of agonizing over every word, I thought it was pretty good.

Having spent every waking moment, when I wasn’t working, poring over every sentence … I was certain the words, so carefully chosen and crafted, flowed like honey. Just the right amount of spirited wit and seriousness. So creative and interesting. I was sure that post would set the blogosphere on fire, and possibly even go VIRAL!

What ACTUALLY happened: As I review my very first post, it was pretty basic. And also VERY short. Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why it took me so long to um, “craft” it.  LOL

5. Wait patiently for feedback
The last step – I thought – was opening up the post, and in a matter of a few short hours, I’d have several people out there commenting. Instead, after pulling up the post over and over for hours, and then days, I had … drumroll, please: ZERO comments flood in. My first indication that I might not make a fortune blogging.

Unfortunately, I also came to realize, it’s like that show “48 Hours”: If the feedback hasn’t come in during the first 48 hours, it isn’t coming in! *sound of big bubble bursting*

Feedback, Blogging, Oh no

What I learned: It takes time to build a community of friends when you blog. But if you comment on other blogs, and support other bloggers, you will start to see that same love in return. And that’s been the best part of the whole process.

*******

What steps did you follow then, or do you follow now, and what have you learned?

Comments

  1. Hi MJ,
    You pretty much nailed it.

  2. I can’t exactly relate to this post. I haven’t really ever wanted to blog or journal actually. Is that bad? I guess I got to step #1 and decided that I really didn’t have anything to offer “the masses” or even my closest family and friends so therefore, blogging is left to those that can. I’m glad that you and your wife have blogs so that I can read them and connect with you across the miles. Keep blogging!

    • Au contraire, Kricket. You have a lot to offer. Crochet blog, anyone??

      I’m so glad to have such a supportive friend, and it definitely makes you seem closer across this distance. Say hi to Steve and the kids. :)

  3. The hardest thing I’ve learned is that no matter how much I work, the internet gods keep pulling the rug out from under me. They change the rules all the time now. I used to get really upset, but now I just roll with it and focus on the people who matter.

    • I think they mean well with changes and updates – you know, rolling stone gathers no moss, and all – but not all are good for users. I go with the flow, too. Usually a day late, and a ….

  4. Yup. You nailed it, MJ. Why is it we worry so much when we start blogging? I remember being worried about being able to find topics to write about for a month…and I didn’t have a clue how I was supposed to do this indefinitely. LOL…one of my first posts was about my cursed septic tank (and I’ve done a few more about it since).

    I made a big mistake early on, and that was believing anyone who said they were an expert. I signed up for a workshop that sent me crashing and burning when I followed the ‘rules’ taught in that class. Less than three months later I said forget it. I need to write books, not spend ninety percent of my time blogging, tweeting, and Facebook’ing.

    One piece of advice was to focus my blog. I tried that with a couple of subjects…and they did go over fairly well. I may try it again, except I’m an expert at nothing. I know a little about enough things to make me dangerous, but that’s about it.

    So what I have I learned?

    It’s blogging, not life and death. I’m me, and I have more than one or two interests. If I want to blog about my septic tank on Monday, I’m gonna do it. If I want to blog about bad drivers on Wednesday, I’ll do that, too. If I’m bored and don’t want to do anything else, I’ll ramble about pretty much anything (but I do warn readers when that happens).

    I try to put out the best posts I possibly can, but I don’t sweat it anymore. I’ve learned that the most heartfelt ones I think will be a big hit are often the biggest flops. And posts I cringe at when I click on ‘publish’ can be hugely popular.

    There’s no way to tell what readers will like this week because it can be entirely different than what they liked last week, or will like three months down the road. I look at blogging as a way to connect with my readers. That’s it. A one-way conversation that will hopefully turn into a two-way one in the comments.

    I’d say that’s it in a nutshell, but it would take a dump truck full of nutshells to cover this tome. :D :D :D

    Oops. One more thing I’ve learned… Those posts no one read for the first few months? They come in handy when you’re really busy and don’t have time to write anything new. Just copy and past it in a new post, slap on a new title, and a note/link to let them know where the original post is…and there you go.

    • Well said, KK.

      First of all, we aren’t supposed to spend 90% of our time doing the fun stuff of social media?? I missed that memo, for sure.

      Secondly, why did we worry so much at the beginning? I guess it’s just lack of experience. We just don’t know any better.

      Third, I’m totally with you on not focusing. We’re either ADD, unfocused, or in my case, I think I’m just a dilettante – I love so many things, and know just a little bit to not know enough.

      And lastly, isn’t it the truth about what posts will go over well with readers and which ones won’t? If you figure that one out, you’d have a serious bestseller.

      Great feedback, Kristy!

  5. Blogging has been such a strange and convoluted journey for me, but I believe my first steps matched yours. ;)

    • It does seem to get less stressful as one goes on, doesn’t it? The only time I get stressed is when I lay more of myself out there and wonder how people will take it.

  6. This is a good summary of blogging, MJ, and the path we go through to get our message out. Sometimes, just for “fun,” I go back and read my early, early posts, and I wonder what I was thinking! To me, the writing sounds stilted, and the subjects are all over the board. Thankfully, the “critics” were kind — or they simply gave up and moved on, ha!

    • You are a brave one, Debbie – I’ve been scared to look back at too many of the early ones, but I probably should. They could use some rewrites. :)

      My subjects are still all over the place.

  7. I am also one to over think every single step, but I’ve found that as I’ve relaxed more into the blogging process– hitting publish when it’s the “best it can be” vs “100% completely perfect”– I’ve been able to enjoy blogging way more.

    The other thing I’ve learned is that it is futile to blog for anyone else. If you only have an external audience in mind, you will likely end up disappointed. (Plus, it might be more difficult to craft posts that aren’t reflective of your own interests and personality.) Without fail, every time I fall into the trap and think “my readers are going to LOVE this post”, it falls flat and barely gets a response… ;)

    Interesting to see your evolution, MJ.

    • Yes, I feel the same way now when I hit “publish.” I used to put my finger over the button and PANIC before I hit it. Not so much anymore.

      You do a great job being yourself, Dana. You have one of the most authentic blogs out there. If you haven’t been true to yourself, I haven’t read it. :)

  8. Testing, one – two – three. Testing. Just wanted to see if my comment would go through. Yes, I remember reading your OCD Blogging post. Your final point about building a community by being part of the community is key in my opinion.
    Oscar

    • Ha, you are funny, my friend. It looks like it went through. Thank goodness. I’m glad you all let me know about this problem. I had to try several unloading and then loading back of various plug ins. Glad it’s back to working.

      Community is my favorite part of blogging.

  9. Hello MJ, lovely to be back in touch again…you have ‘nailed’ it here my friend. Happy blogging…. :-)

  10. I changed my name a million times and only more recently to my name. In the beginning I pressed “publish” and shit my pants.

    • I’m surprised you changed it so many times. Your name is easy to remember, a good name in general, and short enough to make it easy to say. I sometimes wonder about mine and the challenges with the the “g” in it. Most people who say it, don’t realize it’s a silent “g” either.

  11. Congrats on two years of blogging, Michael. I began blogging nearly three years ago. I went from being overwhelmed and stressed with it, to being surprised at myself and proud of my work. There has been a real reward in the process for me. I gained confidence and courage… and I am comfortable with all of it now. And that community of friends that you talk about, who pour on the love and encouragement – those are the people who helped this shy and unsure girl to evolve into someone who now calls herself a WRITER!

    • Love the way you wrote that, Lori – such passion and enthusiasm. You should be very proud of your work. Not only the words, but the great photos that you take. And yes, you ARE a writer, that’s for sure. I hope there are many more years of blogging and writing in your future, my friend.

  12. I remember the first time I hit the “publish” button. I was so nervous. I’d get up and walk around then come back and refresh the screen. Nothing. Humbling to say the least…

    As you point out, it takes time to build a community, but before you know it, you have more blogs in your reader than you can possibly read. But I agree–that’s the best part!

    • I took an unexpectedly long break from blogging and heard those crickets again for a while. It’s good to be getting more consistent with posts, now. It’s always the camaraderie that I miss the most. And I’m always so glad to meet new people like you.

  13. #5 is the most critical. I want to thank you – again – for the early blogging love. It meant a lot when NO ONE – or next to no one – was commenting. At one point, I questioned whether I should continue. I decided to stay the course because I love to write. Thankfully, if you build it, they will come … but, maybe not in “masses.” ;-)

  14. Basically my experience as well. What was striking is how my blog expanded by word of mouth .Clean and wholesome had an appeal and featuring many guest posts built the network as well. Some buddies have really become friends of a sort as communication exists in emails outside of blog. It has been an enrichment being involved in the rough times and in the joyous times of other people’s lives. Sometimes I wish we could have a week long convention just to sit a chat the hours away.

    • I would love that, Carl. ;-)

    • I like the idea of having a meetup with blogging friends. I’ve met some great people during the past two years. And you’ve been much more regular at posting, I do agree with you about the appeal to clean and wholesome, as well as guest posting. I’ve wanted to do more with guest posting, but haven’t really gotten into the coordination aspect enough to do that.

  15. Great summary. I still feel the adrenaline when I press send!

  16. Time flies when we are having a great blogging time. Inspiring tips my friend. I agree, making meaningful generous positive comments leads to meaningful blogging friendship which in time equals a very supportive, wonderful blogging community. Wishing you all the best for 2014!

  17. Oh yes–it’s all true! Blogging is nerve wracking and yet so exhilarating at the same time. For me it has been the perfect outlet. I think I would go insane if I could’nt get some of this crazy stuff out of my head and into a blog, LOL!

  18. doing something new can bring about some anxiety but as you perfectly reflect here, if we continue, learning as we go and not let obstacles stop us, we can get to a pretty good space hanging out with cool blog friends. :)

  19. Yup, definitely went through some of these things at the start of my journey.

    It’s not easy to get started, but with time you will start receiving success!

    Keep up the good work here on your blog.

    - Sam

    • Sam, thanks for the comment. It means a lot coming from you. You have a slick and smartly done web site. I’ll be checking it out in more detail in the future. I’ve already spotted a few posts that would help me with my blog. Thanks for stopping by.

  20. So glad to see you hitting the keys again and blogging. I’m truly sorry for the loss you suffered, and completely understand the need to just process and take care of loved ones and the life happening around you. The beauty of a blog though, is that it will wait for you, OCD and all. Wishing you the best.

  21. You know what MJ, for a while I stopped blogging because I was going through some personal problems but it is so sad to see that a lot of people that I initially used to follow and who used to blog regularly, have disappeared from the net and some of the sites don’t even exist anymore :( time to build a new community!

    :)

  22. Yup, nailed it – especially the last part. I’m just figuring out the whole blogging thing, and really enjoy reading others’, though it took me a while to understand just how reciprocal and how much of a community it is. Great post!

  23. Hi MJ,

    When you resumed posting last year and mentioned your dad’s passing, I hedged, hemmed, hawed and dillydallied owing to a slightly more tight schedule at the time. But also because I did not know what to say; how to express what I felt at such a poignant write-up about your dad. Yup, rubber gob-ed me can get tongue tied at times.

    I’m even busier today than I was last year, but I do know what to say today.

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MJ!

    Very happy knowing that you will celebrate your special day with YLB, of course, but also with lotsa extended family around you.

    May your year be filled with good health in your family, plenty of time with one another and some time for your wholesome, good natured posts here. Oh, a lottery win would cap this off nicely. So go on and get yourself a ticket, MJ. (If you’re into that sort of thing, of course.)

    Best from across the oceans.
    Kate

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