A few weeks ago, I downloaded Rachel Meeks’ ebook Simple Blogging. It seemed that most of my favorite bloggers were proudly displaying it on their sidebars, so I figured it must be good. Besides, I’ve been a fan of Rachel’s blog Small Notebook for a couple of years.
I printed the ebook out, headed to Starbucks and was blown away.
One of the things I admire about Rachel is her insistence on being herself, even if it’s different.
For instance, you won’t find her on Facebook or Twitter. Her blog doesn’t seem to be suffering for it.
This book literally changed my habits overnight. I’ll explain more later.
I asked Rachel some questions about her book, and her philosophies on blogging. Here are her answers.
1) I thoroughly enjoyed your ebook and believe it fills a real niche in the market. There are a lot of books that tell you how to launch your blog, market your blog, etc… but I love how yours encourages the writer to find a purpose and define their own success. How did you come to this conclusion?
Anytime you start something new, you don’t fully understand the extent of it or where it will go. Most of us when we tentatively start a blog for the very first time don’t have a clue about what could happen or the impact it might have on other people. That’s why I think it’s so important that as you progress and your blog grows, you know your purpose for that blog.
It can change–what might have started as something to do during your free time can become something more significant, or what you might have thought would reach a few people might suddenly reach a huge audience.
You have to define your purpose for blogging so that you can shape your efforts, your time management, and your goals around that purpose.
It looks different for everyone, so the book starts by helping you define your blogging purpose.
2) One of the tips I immediately implemented into my routine from your book was this: “Don’t read blogs before you write.” Simple but profound. Have you personally struggled with comparing your blog to other’s? How else did you overcome this?
I don’t really compare my blog to other people’s; I feel like mine is a bit different.
In the beginning I struggled to find a writing style that was uniquely mine because I was trying to learn from so many excellent bloggers, and now I can see the influence in my early posts.
Finally I learned that trying to write like someone else is so very boring for you and your readers, and I settled into a writing style.
But the main reason that I don’t read blogs before I write is that it distracts me.
If I have a creative idea for a blog post, I don’t want to get sidetracked by formulating a response to what someone else has already written. Let me write first while my own thoughts are the most clear, and then when I’m done, in my free time I’ll enjoy what creative things other people have written.
3) Another thing that’s changing my life is Evernote! Thanks so much for the recommendation. How do you use Evernote?
I still use Evernote every single day. I save notes, information, and clips from the internet. It’s basically my idea and inspiration folder. I use it for:
- blogging to write drafts and save post ideas
- trip planning
- house hunting to keep track of the homes we toured
- decor ideas for the home renovation
- book planning and research
- favorite quotes and inspiration
I put each category into its own notebook, and I love that it’s free and so simple to use. I’m glad you like it too!
4) In your ebook you recommend that bloggers not endlessly edit before publishing. This seems to run counter to standard writing advice. Why do you think there is a difference?
Yes, definitely edit. For sure. Just don’t edit to the point that your writing gets stale. There’s a difference between editing for typos and changing your word choice a hundred times.
You want it to be conversational, so don’t edit the freshness or life out of it.
5) When I look at posts I wrote years ago, I shudder a little. Thankfully my writing has improved in the game. What are your best tips for improving as a writer?
I always cringe too, so I don’t go back to read earlier posts much either. I remember how long they took me to write, and I just think, “Really? All that time and that’s it?” I have a few old favorite posts though, and I’ve noticed that the posts that still make me smile were the most fun to write. If you dread doing it, if it’s a chore, just don’t.
I know I’m about to go contrary to the advice that you’re supposed to write every day, but I mostly wait for inspiration and then ride that wave. I want to write every day, but I don’t sit there and plunk something out at the keyboard just to come up with a certain number of words. I guess if I were trying to do this as a job I would feel more pressure to produce, but I usually just wait until I have something that I care about sharing. That’s when I feel the most joy in writing.
If your inspiration is high, take advantage of it and keep the momentum going. If it’s a bit dry, wait it out, do something else, and it will come back to you.
As I see it, this ebook is very different from the many others on blogging, especially the”How to make money blogging” genre. The point of Simple Blogging is to help you be more efficient, so you can spend less time on the computer, but actually get more quality writing done, while enjoying your family. A great goal indeed!
Even though I’ve been blogging for nearly 10 years, I learned a lot of practical wisdom that I could immediately implement into my schedule.
For instance, I now do my writing early as part of my morning routine, instead of waiting for baby’s nap in the afternoon. It’s made a huge difference in my productivity! I’m getting far more words written without taking any time away from my family, which is my real motivation.
I also made some tough decisions. I untethered from Facebook (permanently – both my personal and my business page, and it was a great decision), started saying “No” more to irrelevant product pitch offers and other demands on my time (without guilt!), got my email inbox to ZERO and am (mostly) keeping it that way.
If you’re a blogger of any sort, I highly recommend this book. It will help you clarify your purpose and crystallize your goals. You can get your copy here: *Simple Blogging. Enjoy!