Blogging is like an on-the-job apprenticeship, don’t you think? An apprenticeship in which you are your own boss, your own teacher, and your own student. Only once you try explaining to someone new to the blogosphere just how much is involved, do you realise the extent of it yourself! And how much you didn’t know when you started out… and how much you still don’t know…
Blogger = writer + editor + PR + techie person + web designer + sometimes photographer and the list goes on. That’s a lot of jobs to learn! Explaining the ins and outs to a newbie would just be too much – there’s a lot of figuring out your own way that you’ve gotta do yourself. Where do you start? I think only bloggers themselves understand quite how many layers there are to navigate and how involved you can be. ‘Finding your voice’ sounds cheesy as hell but I think it’s really important to suss out your own writing style. I sometimes think of mine as ‘pointless writing’ haha: I’m not informing anybody of anything in particular, rather just sharing my thoughts on whatever I fancy that day.
I’d say the main revelation comes with the fact that your blog, no matter how fantastic it may be, isn’t gonna be discovered by magic. Actually getting your blog out there for people to read is half the job, unless you’re going for an online personal journal kind of thing. I started blogging to have another platform to ‘share’, so interactions with others has always been a big part of it for me. Maybe some people blog just for themselves and their nearest and dearest, but I really feel like most of the learning curve comes with the social side. Which networks to find people on, where to find other blogs, how to make new friends – there are innumerable different social ‘things’ to do! Let’s be honest, most of us would like our follower count and pageviews to increase though, so joining those networks and showing your face really is important.
I know that when I started out, it took me way longer than it should to realise just how good Twitter is for chatting to bloggers. I hadn’t really been into tweeting before and thought ‘nahh, it’s not my thing, Insta is my place!’. Boy was I wrong! Come to think of it, there are actually loads of applications and networks that once I’ve started using, I’ve wondered what I ever did without. Like Tweetdeck for example: I kinda shunned the whole idea of scheduling tweets and having all my twitter ‘decks’ open at once, until I saw loads of bloggers saying in a chat that it was a godsend. Of course, I now never close my tweetdeck tab.
Oh and another learning curve that can be difficult to explain is just how random and inconsistent blogging can be! The posts you think will spark most interaction perhaps don’t, yet the posts you maybe don’t consider your finest work seem to go down really well. Don’t even try to predict your stats!
Just over a year in and I still feel like a beginner, even though I feel like I’ve come on leaps and bounds (for want of a less-cringey phrase) since I started. I am still a beginner. But if you’d told me about things like SEO, HTML, outreach programs, all that jazz when I first started, it would’ve seemed way too much to take in for something that was meant to be a hobby. All the general organisation involved would’ve seemed overwhelming too! Which is where the apprenticeship comparison comes in: you can’t learn how to be a blogger from any textbook. Or website because y’know, 21st century kids. Learning through doing really is the best way! It’s also kinda weird how what starts as a writing hobby, turns into feeling like you’re running your own online mini business, even when it isn’t a ‘business’ for some of us at all. It’s still a hobby, and it still feels like a hobby, but a hobby that has evolved loads from how it started out. A much more involved hobby, if you will.
If a ‘blogging apprenticeship’ did exist and you were the boss, what would be the first point you’d teach?