I Found My Voice By Blogging to an Audience of Two

Maybe being invisible isn’t such a bad thing after all.

In high school, I started a blog — as many before me already had. I’m not sure what finally made me decide to do it or what I expected to gain from it (if anything). But one thing I do know is, I had an absolute blast writing about my life.

It’s not that I loved talking about myself. Cringe — I still hate it.

What I loved was finally having a place to put all the thoughts, observations, and ideas I couldn’t fit into the margins of my algebra notes.

My blog became a place where I could start experimenting with words. I’m sure some of my friends knew about what I was posting — those two or three original readers had to come from somewhere. But to me, my blog was a medium for telling the world how I felt about, well, everything.

I’m not completely certain — I don’t have the means of looking further into my data at the moment — but from what I can remember, it took until about my fourth or fifth year of blogging to hit 25 followers.

For the first year, at least, I’m pretty sure I had exactly two.

I spent all that time writing to no more than two or three people. And I just kept writing.

Why did I do that, if people weren’t really reading or following me?

Because I recognized that something was happening.

The more I blogged, the more comfortable I became writing in my own voice.

This is probably one of the most important concepts I do my best to get across to my readers today: in the early stages of writing, your willingness to stay consistent and improve is essential. It’s more important than gaining hundreds of readers. It’s more important than getting thousands of comments.

It’s more important than getting noticed at all.

You will always be writing for an audience. When I didn’t have one, I wrote to who I ideally imagined would read a blog like mine (maybe other teenage introverts who liked to write — I really don’t recall). But I didn’t care that my audience was small. I cared that I was writing in a tone and style that reflected who I was — and the voice I wanted to carry as a writer.

If it weren’t for those early years of blogging, I’m not sure how the rest of my writing “career” would have turned out. Only when I gave myself a place to “go nuts” without a fear of being judged did I begin to find that voice every writer always fears they’ll never find.

If I ever get around to starting another blog, I want to write a dozen or so posts and leave them sitting there until I’m ready to launch. I want to find the exact tone and style and manner of communicating with my audience before I meet them. Because that’s how I ended up starting my first blog, in a way. I was invisible. The reality is, even if I started another blog today, it wouldn’t take long for someone to find it. That’s just what happens when you spend years developing a personal brand. You’re no longer invisible.

This is no longer my personal blog. I’m proud of what Novelty Revisions has become, and I don’t regret changing my blogging approach. But every once in awhile, a post will go up on my Tumblr page or Medium profile — some serious, some absolutely ridiculous. Something I feel I need to publish that doesn’t fit into Novelty’s brand.

I don’t do this because I expect people to read these posts. In fact, most don’t. I do it because sometimes, I still need to practice writing well while keeping things casual. I think everyone needs to refine this skill — even if you’ve already found and continue to strengthen your voice. Sometimes, I write for fun. I expect no payoff, financially or otherwise. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this — and neither should you.

Embrace your invisibility. This is your time to figure out who you are, what you want to say, how you want to say it. Stop worrying so much about how many people are or aren’t watching you. Work your way up to creating an amazing stream of written content so that when people do find you, they’ll be glad they did.

You may only be writing to two people. But that’s how you’ll find your voice. And you’ll have zero regrets.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

Tips for Creating a Blog People Want to Follow

Starting a blog is hard. Getting people to read and follow your blog consistently? Pretty much impossible, right?

blog tips

This January will be my eighth blogging anniversary. I’m not technically considered a professional blogger, because – for good reasons – Novelty Revisions is a blog that aims to help people, and it wouldn’t feel right to me to advertise in any capacity for a blog I host because I truly want to make your lives better. In short: I don’t get paid. I DON’T WANT YOUR MONEY! I want to make your writing life more rewarding. That includes new aspiring bloggers like my 16-year-old self.

Starting a blog is hard. Getting people to read and follow your blog consistently? Pretty much impossible, right? No. Not impossible. Not if you’re really willing to work at it.

Here’s my advice for creating a blog people want to follow. I could have made this post 2,000 words long, but we’ll start with the most important elements for now.

Have an obvious purpose for posting

I think what’s hardest for new bloggers is figuring out why they want to post on a blog. Pretty much everyone who wants to write for one purpose or another has one. Even I started blogging in 2009 because Meg Cabot was doing it, and I wanted to be like Meg Cabot (we already had the same first name, why not?). You can’t just blog because you want to have a blog, though. For one thing, people won’t know what your blog is about or why they should visit again if you don’t make it clear enough. For another, if you don’t know why you want to keep writing, it’s likely you won’t continue.

It took me probably too long to figure out what this blog was supposed to be. Once I figured out my purpose for posting regularly – to help writers be more awesome, basically – things got so much easier. Readers come here because they know what they’re going to find. It’s not me posting about writing a novel one day and a random rant about school or my personal life the next. I write about writing, and anything that doesn’t fit into that editorial guideline, doesn’t belong here. People need to know why they’re on your blog, and if they come back, they should feel comforted seeing something familiar – because what they expect to find the second time around should be right where they expect it to be.

Don’t talk about yourself too much

I mean this as nicely as it can be interpreted: your readers really don’t care about you that much. Especially not in the beginning of your blogging experience. They don’t know you, and they aren’t really looking for a reason to get to know you. What they want is a good read – something that talks about them. Something that helps them live better, or speaks to them as personally as possible. People care about themselves more than anyone else; that’s just how all of us are. Use that to your advantage. Give people a reason to come back, and know that reason probably isn’t you, but rather, what you have to offer.

This doesn’t mean you can’t address the audience as yourself or bring in your real-world experiences to support a point you’re making; I do it all the time. But I only use that kind of reference to back up what I’m saying, to give my posts a little credibility. I’ve stopped addressing irrelivant personal experience for a reason. As soon as you shift the focus away from yourself, you learn how to tailor each post to the audience who may or may not come to read it. And that’s how you convince people it’s worth sticking around.

Seek to assist as well as inform/entertain

People are busy and stressed. If they’re going to take the time to visit your blog, it’s either because they need your help or they need to know something. In some cases, you might write to entertain – but even then, that’s a way of helping people wind down, maybe laugh a little. There’s still a purpose there. Steam of consciousness rants with no true start or finish just don’t work anymore unless you already have an audience who will read anything you post (and if that’s you, well, I’m surprised you’re here reading this – hi!). People want tips, and advice. Or they want to be told something new, and how they should respond to it. Many people read blogs because they like to think and be presented with new ideas. Offer something unique, even if it’s your perspective on a current event that people care about.

And if it’s not the kind of subject where giving actionable tips makes sense, at least include a call to action at the end of your posts. Give your readers something to think about, something to go away and do or something to respond with. Something that challenges their beliefs and behaviors, as good writing should. People aren’t going to remember a blog post that talks at them and then ends. They’re going to click away from your site and, honestly, they probably won’t ever feel the need to come back.

Writing a blog you want people to subscribe to is like selling a product. You can’t just put it out there and expect people to flock to it with interest and excitement. And it still goes beyond promoting it and sharing it with friends.

Make your purpose clear. Put yourself in the background – as the writer, not as the person the blog focuses on (in most cases). If you’re going to hand out information, offer something valuable along with it. Give people a reason to come back again. And as always, remember what I’ve said in the past about growth. It’s slow. Painfully slow. But once you create something worth following, that slow growth’s worth becomes as clear as it needs to be.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.