People often ask me why I don’t accept new bloggers as dreamers anymore here on 8 Women Dream to share their dream journey. Instead, we select seasoned bloggers or seasoned social media darlings.
It’s a good question, especially since I was once a new blogger myself … way back in the early blogging days of 2003 on AOL Journals.
I actually love introducing self-publishing to people who want to get back into writing, or people who aren’t sure they can effectively showcase their talents online (a blog can be just photographs too) and to those who are afraid to take a chance on themselves.
I am a firm believer that blogging can and will change your life–if you stick with it.
But … over the years the problem I have had with fledgling bloggers is that they have a hard time understanding what self-publishing online really means–that there is an actual process that you must stick with in order to be a success.
I’ve had new bloggers balk at the idea of a self-publishing process (as if writing and researching a book doesn’t have its own processes) incorrectly believing that the basic rules somehow restricts their creativity.
They further forget that 8 Women Dream is a team effort, as blogging is as a whole, and anything one person does on a team will impact the entire group. To be frank: some women don’t understand how to be team players with other women.
Women can view other female team members as direct competition, instead of seeing them as a cooperative group of women united in a singular purpose to help each other achieve success by giving their best effort.
The “it’s all about me” creative vibe has no place in self-publishing because publishing online is about community. The “me” directive in particular doesn’t work here on 8 Women Dream because we are only as good as any given co-dreamer on their worst day. Readers come to read 8 Women Dream as an entire site (although you probably have your favorite dreamer) thus they expect a certain congruence between each daily dream story.
When one dreamer falls short, the entire site suffers. New visitors, that could help a certain dreamer, never return because the site didn’t deliver to a particular expectation.
That’s how teamwork functions online.
But before I go down some ranting road that only I, as an Irish girl can do, let me offer you the most common blogging mistakes that new bloggers make so you will see where I am coming from on this.
8 Beginner Blogger Mistakes:
1. You lack publishing experience.
I know it seems counter-intuitive to say that new bloggers lack publishing experience as a “mistake” because the only way to get publishing experience is to publish content, and how are you going to gain experience if you aren’t publishing?
Setting up your own blog, going through the hassle of coming up with a name, a URL, buying the name, setting up hosting, and learning to publish on your own blog (beyond becoming familiar with writing and/or prepping images to place online is part of the publishing process) is something every blogger needs to understand in order to understand how much work is being done for them when someone else is doing this for their content.
Blogging is so much more than the content delivered.
Blogging is about learning the art of selling, understanding how to drive traffic to a website, and learning how to position yourself as an expert in your particular niche. It takes time to learn how to do this right and you need to make your own mistakes so that you can understand and apply good feedback when you get it.
This leads me to my next point…
2. You suck at receiving feedback.
Successful people live for feedback. They understand that extracting the important lessons from feedback enables them to turn failure into success. New self-publishers tend to hate feedback. They view their content like a new mother views her one-week-old child: it’s mine, don’t touch it, and only I know what’s best for my baby!
While this may be valuable as a new mom, it is most definitely not beneficial when you starting out in self-publishing.
It’s rather arrogant to think that you do know what’s best when you are a beginner … if you think about it.
Great athletes hire personal trainers and coaches specifically to tell them what they are doing wrong so that they can improve. My own son was told by past team coaches that he ran too slow for the position he dreamed of playing. Did he give up on his athletic dream?
He simply hired a personal trainer to look at the way he ran and to help him improve. He also found a weight-lifting coach to help him become stronger and changed his diet based on their recommendations –you know–FEEDBACK.
He dropped 35 pounds, gained more muscle, improved his running style, and shaved time off of his running distance. He’s improved so much, in fact, that he can now try for almost any position on his team. He went from being a kid who only wanted to play one certain position to a kid who now says, “I’ll gladly play wherever coach thinks I can be the most effective.”
It was a profound shift in attitude when my son went from insisting on doing things his way to accepting feedback, using the feedback to change and grow as an athlete, which opened up his mind to even greater possibilities, thus aligning his attitude and body for optimum success.
New bloggers need to go through the same type of process to fully understand what it means to be able to self-publish and become more than they believe possible. Because let’s face facts here: if you were already good enough for your big dream to come true–your big dream would have come true by now.
3. You don’t know your audience.
Building a following takes time. While it is relatively easy to get traffic to your published posts, traffic is not the same as a gaining a following, and new bloggers all too often mistake the former for the latter. What you need to create over time are crazed, fanatical fans, who will follow you to the ends of the earth.
You know, like all of those Elizabeth Gilbert fans who take her book, The Signature of All Things with them wherever they travel, send her photographs of her book in locations throughout the world, and share the photographs through social media.
This type of awesome fans take time to develop!
You have to grow to understand them like you ‘get’ your family. You have to make mistakes in order to see what your followers both absolutely love and passionately hate.
It used to be the Internet standard that if you self-published content for 36 months straight, and worked hard to deliver what your readers like, you could expect a large following and to become the media darling by the beginning of your fourth year.
But the Internet has grown so much since the early days of self-publishing online and with the creation of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr–just to name a few of the other online distractions for your audience–it now takes much longer to get noticed and you need a lot more social media effort on your part to get there.
Your audience is busy doing other things.
4. You don’t have thick skin.
Established journalists, best-selling authors and experienced free-lance professionals are tough. They ask tough questions, take big risks, and put any fear they might be experiencing on the table. It’s a no-hold no-holds-barred-let’s-go-for-it attitude. They understand that fear means they are on the right track.
There is no room for timid, ambivalent, apologetic behavior.
You’ve got to put it all out there with a “HERE DAMMIT!” attitude. You can’t be afraid of upsetting people, or hurting someone’s feelings, or worry what your family or friends will think. Publishing takes grit and you must grow some big girl moxie to be successful at it.
This goes doubly true for whining and complaining when things aren’t going your way.
You will win some and lose some. Readers will love what you do one week and then hate it the next. Opportunities may appear and then disappear before you’ve had a chance to say yes. People will forget to email you, companies will under-deliver on a promise, your website will crash, hackers will attempt to break into your site, trollers will circle your comment section looking to leave porn–or mercilessly make fun of you, and media will bump you for a better story.
You have to roll with it. It’s called being a professional.
5. You lack the excellence gene for your work.
Let’s face it, we all make grammar mistakes, miss a personal deadline because of an emergency, or blotch our work and attempt to repair it after it’s “out there” for public consumption. Shit happens. It’s what retail sale racks are for.
But what is important is that you give it your all when you create it.
Writers have to read and write every single day to become great writers. Daily, painters have to paint. Health coaches have to study new work-out techniques. Photographers have to study light and new equipment. Sometimes you even have to go back to school for a while. The point is that you need to be obsessed with making your work better every single day.
You should never be satisfied with “good enough.” Now, I am not talking perfectionism here, because perfectionism can be used as an excuse not to put your work out there. You have to be objective with your work and ask yourself HONESTLY if it can be better.
Anyone can publish crappy content on the Internet. I’m sure you’ve run into crap online too–you get how disappointing it can be and how it wastes your time. Don’t be mediocre.
And if you are told that you are mediocre … PRACTICE more!
6. You won’t promote your work.
Newbies to publishing online are terrible about promoting their own work. They think nothing about sharing a cute cat video with everyone they know, but ask them why they haven’t shared their own personal creations on their Facebook Page, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Jezabel, Pinterest, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Reddit, press releases, etc. and they say, “I’m too embarrassed to do that.”
Just shoot me now.
You have to self-promote your content. That is the way it works in the online world. You have to share it, own it and ask your social media followers to share it too. Sometimes they will do what you ask and sometimes they won’t. Don’t take it personally if they won’t–just keep sharing.
Which brings me to my next point …
7. You make everything personal.
One of the best pieces of advice bestselling author and marketing expert, Seth Godin, said about online content is, “It’s not about you!” New bloggers never understand this statement. They think it IS all about them because it’s their “blog,” their “art,” their “craft.”
Because if it’s not about them, then why are they doing it?
What I am taking about here is the difference between ego and arrogance. Your ego helps you get into the game. It gives you the confidence to start. Arrogance is the art of making every single thing personally about you.
Famous UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden once said,
“Everyone has a certain amount of ego, but you must keep that ego under control. Ego is feeling confident and important, knowing you can do the job. But if you get to feeling that you are too important, that you’re indispensable, or that you can do the job without real effort and hard work, without the correct preparation, that’s arrogance. Arrogance is weakness.”
Once, I knew a blogger who deleted her Facebook friends if they didn’t comment, or like her posts on a regular basis. If you know anything about your Facebook stream, then you know a lot of what people have the ability to see in their News Feed is based on Facebook’s algorithm, how many people/Pages a person follows, how much those people/Pages post during a day, and how much time the person spends on Facebook.
It’s completely random!
Her deleted followers may never have been on Facebook when she was posting something–thus never seeing it in their News Feed–ever! It’s like trying to spot a friend in a crowd of 250k. When I told her this, her only comment was: “I see them like other friend’s stuff!”
She made something random into something personal. That’s crazy-making to me. Who needs to go around life looking for reasons to be hurt? What a complete waste of time and energy!
It’s like the friend who gets mad when you don’t call them enough … until you point out to them that the phone works both ways.
8. You neglect your community.
Blogging means being a pert of a larger blogging community. Professional bloggers read other blogs and leave comments. Publishing online is a givers game.
You have to give before you can expect to receive. Painters enter painting contests, go on painting retreats and interact with other painters in their niche. Photographers go out shooting together and offer each other professional tips. Professional chefs hang out and cook together. Journalists share leads and drink with other journalists.
Professional bloggers get to know other bloggers.
They attend blogging conventions and support each other’s work. Publishing online is not solitary confinement or a place where you compare yourself to other bloggers in a little room in your home and become jealous of other’s successes.
It’s a community sport much like Rugby where Rugby is a brotherhood. Blogging is a familyhood. Be a part of the family. Hang out with your sisters.
I have more that I could add to this list because there is a great deal of information to be shared about publishing online for newbies.
It has been my experience that new bloggers, who I have invited to be on 8WD, end up not understanding what I am teaching (because there is so much to learn about self-publishing) to make them successful (because I do want them to be a huge success) that they end up thinking I am a bitch, or I’m clueless.
Their feelings get hurt because of the the 8 items listed above.
Securing over 3 million views to this website, being featured regularly in popular media, and gaining 8,000 viewers on Facebook didn’t happen to 8WD by accident.
I worked my ass off both financially and physically to create a place for women who want to dream big because we don’t have many mentors when it comes to making our dreams come true–online or otherwise–like men do. I wanted to share the journey. I’ve put in my time. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve been that new blogger.
And now, I get hired by companies because of what I know about publishing online.
Long ago, I left behind the feeling of having to justify myself to people who are trying self-publishing on for size for the first time. Too many quit in the first 3 months because they have no idea what they were in for when they made the decision to move forward with their online dream.
They give up because it’s too difficult. Well ladies, welcome to dream-life 101.
Teaching newbies is precious time spent away from those I love. My dad died when he was 49 and I was just 18. I get just how short life is. Time is a precious commodity to me, indeed.
If you want to learn blogging from me and write for 8 Women Dream I expect you to bring your A-game. I no longer feel guilty about that.
I can forgive you your new blogging mistakes, but I can’t forgive you for wasting my time.
We are looking for that 8th 8WD blogger, by the way…
Did I just scare you?
What will you do about it?
Give us your thoughts!
Catherine Hughes is the founder of 8 Women Dream. She is passionate about helping women step out of their own way and strike out into a world waiting for their special talents. She’s a published author and a former award-winning mom blogger. Catherine has helped companies both large and small create engaging web content, social media narratives, and unique blogging platforms. She claims to be a redhead but don’t hold that against her.