I’m often asked how I grew my blog to where it is today and, while I can throw out some tips and ideas and things I *think* contributed to the growth, I haven’t been able to come up with one concise answer. Well, I was inspired last night and now I have that answer.
We have a weekly movie night with our boys. My husband and I pick a movie they haven’t seen and we snuggle on the couch, eating popcorn. The movie last night was Kung Fu Panda. The premise of the movie is that an overweight, clumsy panda named Po is selected as the chosen one to fight and be victorious over the antagonist. He must reach the highest level of kung fu in order to be worthy to receive the dragon scroll that holds the secret to victory. (Spoiler alert!) Everyone’s guessing it will give the recipient magical powers or make him invincible. When Po earns the scroll, he opens it up to see only a reflective piece of paper. Disappointed, he goes back to his father to work in a noodle restaurant again. He’s going to leave the fighting to the “real” kung fu experts. His father is pleased he returned and finally reveals the secret ingredient to the family’s noodle recipe. It’s nothing. There isn’t a secret ingredient. The noodles are special because of the person who makes them. That revelation leads Po to understand the dragon scroll. The dragon scroll doesn’t give any secret weapon. It reveals that the secret weapon is you. The recipient. Then he goes and kicks butt and saves the entire town.
OK, are you still with me? What’s the secret ingredient to a great blog? Yes, things like SEO and link exchanges and all of that stuff can help with your numbers, but ultimately the success or failure of your blog depends on YOU. You’re the secret ingredient. Can you image The Lettered Cottage without Layla & Kevin, Centsational Girl without Kate or Thrifty Decor Chic without Sarah? Absolutely not. They are the driving force behind each of those amazing blogs. They are the secret ingredient.
So, what does that mean practically?
YOU are the only YOU –
Take advantage of your uniqueness. Being different will set you apart and people will visit often for your ideas, writing, humor, projects, etc. that aren’t like every other blog out there.
Your readers are your friends –
I get so many sweet e-mails from ladies who say they feel like they’re my friend. Well, I feel that way too. When I sit down to write, it’s like having a little chat with a girlfriend, which I really need most days. It doesn’t mean you have to be super personal. Just be honest and real and let them into your world.
You are special –
If you come to your blog with the mindset that you’re a loser and you’ll never be able to stand out from the crowd of other DIY bloggers, that’s going to show in your writing. I don’t even have to know you to know you’re special and have a lot to offer. You don’t have to be a grammarian, spelling champ or term paper whiz to write a blog post. Just write the way you speak and let go of the insecurities about it. My mom proofs my blog posts and she almost always finds something that needs to be corrected. I’m over it. You don’t have to be the best at what you do, just be you. That’s enough. Know that YOU ARE THE SECRET INGREDIENT and own it.
You can grow –
A wonderful thing about being human is that we can learn and grow. If your photography is terrible, work on improving it. If you struggle with using social media, (ugh, amen) then work on it little by little until you’re proficient. We all have room to grow, so don’t be discouraged if you feel like it’s a slow process. Just work at your own pace.
You don’t have to be anyone else –
We’ve established that you’re you and that’s enough. So, you don’t have to compete with anyone else. You don’t have to top anyone else. You don’t have to measure yourself against the success of others. I think women do that especially. We walk in a room and see who’s skinnier than we are or who has a better outfit. We judge ourselves harshly and take it personally. Maybe we need a little “I’m me and I’m awesome” affirmation club or something. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s true. Let go of the notion that life is a big competition and you’re losing.
Your blog can be what YOU want it to be –
It’s so much easier when I’m writing for my blog and not for one of my editors. It can be whatever I want it to be. The format doesn’t matter, the subject is what’s on my mind or heart and I don’t have to go back and redo anything, because I’m the only one deciding if it’s suitable for publication. Your blog can be whatever you want it to be and look like whatever you want it to and the content can be what you want. It can be a hobby, a diary, a way to connect, a business or an outlet. It’s all yours and you don’t have to fit in a box.
Don’t you feel good knowing all of those things? Isn’t it freeing?
Now that you know the secret, go out there and kick some butt.