One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the last eighteen months is that there are so many different types of writer. It’s fine to say to people, “I’m a writer,” but it’s such a blanket term that covers many different styles. It’s difficult to give people an accurate idea of what it is I do just with that statement. That’s one of the reasons why I looked into taking a course in blogging for business, even though I’ve been writing a blog for twelve years.
So, to clarify, I am a creative writer by trade. That’s my job. If you want to niche down even further, I write mystery novellas about cat detectives. I earn money doing this and I use that money to pay bills and buy food, so I am definitely a writer. That’s why I thought I would have no problems writing essays or blogs. So, why wasn’t I getting top marks in my university course or engaging readers online? I already knew I could do journalistic writing because that’s where I started back in the early noughties, but academic writing was a completely different ball game. I had to learn a new style and adhere to rules – something I don’t have to do as a creative writer (much). A chat with my tutor about the differences in styles led to my light bulb moment.
Blogging is not creative writing.
After a few months thinking this over, I started working with Sami, the editor of OxGadgets, and he has been like a mentor over the last few months. I learned more about blogging from him in the first few weeks of freelancing for the site than I had in the whole eleven years when I had been self-taught. I knew then that I had to go back to basics and learn how to blog.
I sought help from my local Business Gateway, who pointed me in the direction of some of their courses. There are so many to choose from and because they’re free, there really is no reason not to sign up for one – although, the hermit in me was ready to stay home and write about cats this morning. It would have been so easy to do that but I’ve decided to commit to at least half a day of training per month in 2018 and it’s not too early to start that habit.
The course was run by Thea Newcomb of Thea’s Things and So You’ve Been Dumped. She managed to cover a lot of information over the morning. It was highly interactive and really relaxed. Although there was no pressure to contribute our thoughts, she did encourage us to all participate and get chatting and by doing so, all those who attended were able to get an idea of each other’s business and goals. I even saw a couple of ladies swapping cards at the end of the course and I think they’re planning to collaborate.
It started with a short video clip explaining some of the basics of blog layouts and as the morning progressed, it covered ascertaining your blogging goals, brainstorming post ideas and how to use tools like Yoast and Google Trends. Thea discussed some of the reasons why certain posts are popular and how to target our demographic.
As with any course, there were parts that were relevant to me and parts that weren’t but I was able to walk away feeling positive and pensive. As a habitual planner and list-maker, there are plenty of ways I can put my compulsive organisational skills to use in my blogging. And having listened to some of the discussions at the course this morning, it certainly confirmed to me that it’s not enough to be a creative, imaginative writer when you embark on a blogging career. You also have to anticipate what others want and monitor trends so you can stay relevant. That’s why I’m going to continue learning about blogging and attending these courses. If you’re like me and have sold plenty of books but struggled to make a splash in the blogosphere, perhaps it’s something you should try too!
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about blogging?