Why Do You Blog – Part II

Last week’s Thoughty Thursday post asked the question:

Why do you blog?

In my humble opinion, if you really don’t KNOW why you blog, you shouldn’t do it. Most people hate engaging in activities that make no sense to them. I know I do.

I’m not saying that if you’re scared or conflicted about your blog that you should give it up. Quite the opposite…

I think you should dig down to define WHAT you’re feeling.
Delve into the reasons WHY you’re feeling defeated or apathetic.
And make a plan for HOW you’ll fix the issue.

Better yet, take any class offered by Kristen Lamb. She won’t allow you to stay huddled in your cranky “Blogging SUCKS” corner for long. She has a way of lighting a fire under any author’s insecure keister until they get blasted out like Wile E. Coyote in the Looney Toons cartoons.

Kristen is the  Branding Roadrunner and she forces you to innovate.

I’m sure that last paragraph made a few of you cross Kristen Lamb off your instructor list, but hang on a minute before you do that. Look at this blog (More Cowbell), which did not exist before last March. I “went live” on April 1, 2011.

I spent most of last March in Kristen’s class feeling like I had a big “L” for uncreative LOSER stamped on my forehead. Other classmates were getting dazzling loglines, like Amy Shojai’s Bling, Bitches & Blood, that fit them perfectly.

I couldn’t think of a logline or a snappy anything  that reflected ME.

I threw all kinds of crappy titles and kitschy stuff at the wall of my poor classmates, hoping something would stick. Every single one of them missed the entire point I wanted to make. I wanted a blog where we could talk about MORE. Whether it was writing, technology or babies, I wanted a blog where people could have fun and build a community.

The class was nearing it’s advertised end, yet I was coming up empty and growing more and more frustrated.

I sent an email to the class loop saying, “I could really use a little More Cowbell over here.” We had all kinds of fun with this and the result was a fantastic blog from Kristen at the end of March called More Blogging Cowbell.

Then Kristen says, “If I was to go back and do it all again, I’d totally call my blog More Cowbell. You should take it. That would work well for your voice.”

My first thought was, “SQUEEE!! Kristen Lamb thinks I have a “More Cowbell Voice.” Moments later, my head started spinning and I worried I was going to pass out. I had a major physical reaction (that I realize now was naked fear).

How would I ever live up to “More Cowbell???”

[Note: If you are totally confused right now, here’s a post explaining the Cowbell thang.]

A million negative, freaked out thoughts swarmed me:

  • How would I get people to come to a blog with a weird title like More Cowbell?
  • How could I possibly come up with posts to reflect that title?
  • Maybe I should play it safe instead and do a niche blog; I know plenty about software…

Obviously, I got over all these things, with the help of #myWANA team, and I learned a lot about blogging AND writing along the way.

The biggest lesson?

Aim high and know that everyone flails around with their blog for a while before they find their groove. It took me FIVE months to find mine. What else  did I learn?

  1. I learned very quickly that I liked making people laugh. I’d never consciously tried to write funny before, believe it or not, and I LOVED it.
  2. I became firmly convinced that blogging is all about the readers, or it should be.
  3. Like raising children or puppies, blog success is tied directly to consistency. You must post at least once a week. (Whatever  your schedule is, stick to it!)
  4. I discovered a whole posse of new friends to treasure.
  5. When I finally relaxed, I found my writing voice.

I couldn’t have learned these 5 lessons without all of you…seriously. In fact, here’s a big virtual hug, from me to you. Thanks for keeping it fun over here!

p.s. Tomorrow we’re doing a little pimp and promote, so start thinking about what you want to share.🙂

What has blogging taught you? Has it changed your writing voice? Are you still in the “flailing around” stage  or have you started feeling more comfortable? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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62 Responses to Why Do You Blog – Part II

  1. Callene Rapp says:

    Great post, Jenny. I have to admit I’ve watched More Cowbell with a little tinge of envy because I feel like I’m still flailing myself, for almost a year now. Fear is at the root of it of course, but knowing it doesn’t make it any easier to deal with! I’m still searching for my identity with a flashlight and a rusty compass, but I keep trying. Thanks again for a great post.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      One thing to think about, Callene: had you ever blogged before? I was part of a few group blogs for a few years before I started More Cowbell, so I think I found my groove a little faster. Just my $0.02.

      And fear is at the root of everything…it sucks, doesn’t it?

      Like

      • Callene Rapp says:

        Yes it does!

        Thanks for the $0.02. I have a bad habit of comparing myself unfavorably to everyone else, and I do mean everyone, lol! I am happy about the fact that I keep swinging, and eventually, I’ll get it figured out. Helps to have some good role models with the WANA group!

        Like

  2. Wee! Go Jenny! 😀 I remember the class last year! Man, that was fun. And look at you now, eh? Seriously, “More Cowbell” is perfect, right? It’s one of those things that after you name it and look at it, you feel like it had its name long before you found it (like my cat – Little Bastard).😀
    Blogging had taught me that people either want to learn or be entertained. If I don’t grab someone in the first seven seconds, they are off to the next blog (kinda like flea market tables – but less stuffed clowns).
    Good stuff here, Jenny. As always!

    Like

  3. ACK, Jenny!

    I am in month two with Kristen’s class on Blogging-to-Build-Brand. AWESOME class!

    Why the ack?

    B/C Kristen sent a message to us sometime toward mid-January telling us not to think (fret) about our theme right now.

    My brain processed all but the last two words. LOVE More Cowbell (blog and name), but I struggle with non-writer-focused, informative topics with the natural snark of my voice. And, I doubt SNARK ATTACK would hit Kristen’s Top Ten on the charts.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Gloria, Kristen extended the format of the class because she saw what so many of the early classes were going through. I think it’s awesome that you guys wait a while to focus on theme – I was seriously stressed out about it.

      p.s. I would totally visit a blog with Snark in the title. I could see you at a blog called:

      SNARK PARK — Pull up a bench and chat…
      or the last part could read “Come in and take a walk” or something active for your peeps. Kristen would be able to help you. But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Snark in the title.

      What do you think?

      Like

      • I kind of love Snark Attack, too. You could go so many directions with it! I’d totally read a blog with snark in the title. You know right off what you’re getting.

        Like

      • EEEE! SNARK PARK! LOVE IT! A year from now, when I have over 200 posts, I can do an article as say “I commented on Jenny Hansen’s MORE COWBELL, and…”

        Calling dibs to any future readers of this comment.

        Oh, the things that could happen in my park.

        Shhhh. Our secret. Don’t let this get out on –you know–the Internet yet.

        Like

  4. K.B. Owen says:

    Jenny – I love your blog, and “More Cowbell” is definitely you! I feel as if I’m still finding my way as far as blogging goes. I wish I were as funny as you! I have my moments, but I don’t seem to have the sort of writing voice to make folks flock to my blog. It’s a unique gift, I guess!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      See, Kathy, I think you’re VERY funny. Your Watercooler Wed posts (and now your Tuesday Terrific) are engaging and funny and informative. Is it possible, you haven’t relaxed into it yet?

      Like

  5. Hmm, totally flailing here, Jenny. I realized with a shock how long it had been since I had posted anything but Round of Words check-ins, gulp!

    Even worse, I have so many life changes (love that euphemism), um, crap, but good crap to get through this next month, I feel pretty helpless about making time for a course like Kristin’s.

    Enough whining from me! Sheesh! Great post, and great hints on how to think through this question, Jenny!

    Like

  6. tomwisk says:

    Jenny you’ve hit the nail on the head. I thought that a blog had to be informational but after following a few blogs have turned out to be a way to hone the skills needed to write. Staring at a cursor is scary. Will I post doodoo? What if it makes no sense? Don’t sweat it. Once you get the rhythm it becomes automatic. The meat of the blog is there. The blogger has to present it.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Tom. Let me tell you, a blog doesn’t HAVE to be informational. The Bloggess has a HUGE blog and it’s all about entertaining. My Undie Chronicles are in the top 10 of all my posts and they’re about us all cracking up over funny pictures.

      I agree with you, it’s about having fun…people are attracted to joy.

      Like

  7. Julie Glover says:

    I absolutely flailed around a bit at first. I took Kristen’s class after I started my blog, and then it took me forever to come up with Threading the Labyrinth. I love it because it describes me so well. I look at life like a labyrinth, and I enjoy exploring and leaving a thread where I’ve been so others can get something out of it. Early on, I knew that language would be a focus for me because I find etymology, idioms, word games, and pretty much anything language interesting. I do think it takes a while to find your groove.

    What is also great about blogging is that you can change direction. If you decide next week to blog three times instead of two, or change your blog schedule, or choose a different topic direction, you can do it. It’s not a WIP where 60,000 words in, changing your path is a big stinkin’ deal. Great post, Jenny! Excuse my long response, please.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Threading the Labyrinth is so YOU, Julie. I’m glad you persevered too. I love your blog and I agree that the flexibility of it is what has kept me hooked.

      p.s. Your answer isn’t remotely too long.🙂

      Like

  8. I love when Christopher Walken hosts SNL – I giggle just thinking about it! Plus, I love how you can see him laughing in the background of that video when he thinks he is completely off camera. I admire how he can take things that might not be funny if someone else did them and then make them hilarious. (Have you seen the skit where the census bureau drops by his apartment?)

    I wound up calling my blog Mental Mosaic because I didn’t want to be too limited in the scope of what I could write about. When I started getting travel writing jobs, I added the “Even Home is a Travel Destination” tagline, but I still have a major streak of silly…

    Love your blog, btw!🙂

    ~Tui (a ROW80 newbie!)

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Tui, I haven’t seen that census bureau skit, but I agree that Christopher Walken can make just about anything funny. I think Mental Mosaic is a great catch-all, and it actually fits in great with blogs on travel.

      Have you seen Nicole Basaraba’s blog? She’s living in Brussels and blogs about the most wonderful destinations…you might like it. I’m delighted you’re enjoying More Cowbell!

      Like

  9. Blogging has taught and given me far more than I anticipated. I hadn’t realized how important connecting with other writers on a routine basis was… or that it’s all about giving and growing, and not blogging simply because we “should.” I’m with you—if we don’t know why we’re doing it, writing or blogging, best we don’t.

    It’s refreshing to know that you floundered around a bit in the beginning—inspiring to newish-bies like me.😉

    Like

  10. MonaKarel says:

    I’m going to have to look into Kristen’s classes! I started my blog to fulfill a requirement with my publisher, Black Opal Books. I’d been doing a monthly blog for OCC, and continued some of this on Mona Karel. Then life took me on one of those abrupt turns, and I was more involved in my husband’s health than in writing. The blog became a way to communicate his progress with our many friends around the world. Some time recently I acquired the most perfect piece of advice about blogging: If you want to build a base, blog about anything but writing.
    How simple, and how profound! And how much easier it is to find ideas to blog about. I’m now planning a weekly “brunch” to introduce other writers, and the day before I can share recipes for what I’ll be “cooking” for the brunch. My own book progress will be only a part of my blogs, so I don’t feel like I’m constantly pimping.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Holy cowbell! The publishers are “requiring” that you blog??! That seems a bit wrong to me. And yepper, Mona, I see you on the OCC blogs (great blog everyone – accessed easily through http://www.occrwa.org).

      Kristen also gives that advice to blog about other things that have nothing to do with writing, since writing is only a piece of your life.🙂

      Like

  11. Jenny, I just love it over here. I can’t believe how far you’ve come. Well, wait. Yes I can. Your amazing! Thank you for sharing a little piece of you with us everday. It helps to know that we’re not the only ones who think we’re flailing. LOL!

    And that there is hope for us too!🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Karen, I swear you are like portable Prozac. You comment and I get that injection of, “YES, that’s what I’m talking about!!!”

      People like you are what make More Cowbell so fun for me.🙂

      Like

  12. Mandy Allen says:

    I think it’s one of those days where the universe sends me exactly the message I was looking for. This is the second blog I’ve read today dealing with the big WHY DO I BLOG question. It’s a hard one for me because I am seriously a newbie in every sense of the word. I think Kristen’s class is something I’m going to need to make happen to clarify my path going forward.

    So glad I found your blog!!!! Thank you!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m happy you found me too, Mandy. And if you come back and read this comment, will you give me a link to the other “Why do I blog?” post? I love to see what happens when a message goes out across the universe.🙂

      Like

  13. Ann says:

    I began blogging to share funny work experiences with my friends and to have a place to record these things as they happened – I have a terrible memory! So I guess I wasn’t really thinking about my wider reading audience; it was all about me to start.
    Still is, I guess. But now I find the blogging is also a great way of “lecturing” the world, rather than my clients. It’s a way of venting, without screwing up a job.
    Finding time to blog is a huge issue, because I don’t prioritise it. My posts are very sporadic – three in a row, then none for a few weeks. I’m aware that until I really commit to it, it’s going to remain small and personal and mostly read by folk who already know me. I’m fine with that.

    Like

  14. Love love love More Cowbell and have garnered so much inspiration from you. Some day I want to have a blog like Jenny…ahhhh…LOL! It’s fabulous here and I think you do a great job writing fun, witty posts that are interesting and informative!
    Blogging has been a wonderful find for me. I feel like it took me about a year and Kristen’s course to really find my voice and rhythm. It wasn’t easy or natural and took a lot of hard work, perseverance and determination. All valuable lessons that I now apply to my new fiction writing. I feel like I am flailing around there, unsure, unequipped, and voiceless but I know if I stick with it like I did my blog and read and study (like I did with my blog) it too will come.
    Blogging has opened up a entire new world of friends and family for me. I am ever so grateful that I stuck with it because I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s like a party every day…LOL!!! And we all know how I like a good party!! Woot woot!!!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Nat, you are just the SWEETEST. It’s funny, my blog wants to be like a combo of Kristen Lamb, Piper Bayard and The Bloggess when it grows up. It’s nice to see other blogs you love. I make it a point to always stop in and see YOURS as a matter of fact. (Where else can I discuss the fine art of Larting??)

      Blogging has opened my world tremendously and brought the most wonderful people into it. It’s definitely a party every day and makes life a lot more fun.🙂

      Like

  15. amyshojai says:

    I remember that COWBELL moment and the ripple-‘o-recognition that went through the group. What an awesome class!
    . . . and SQUEEEEE! for the kind mention of my blog handle. *s* I really do need to post a picture again of the bitch pin. “Uh yeah, sure…the word refers to doggies, yep, you betcha, that’s all it refers to, uh-hun. . . ” *eg*

    I feel so fortunate to have connected with the WANA twibe. *s*

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      I’m totally with you, Amy! I feel like blessings have been heaped upon me in the last year. Many, many great things came from that class – including the longer course format, and you and your fabulous blog.🙂

      Like

  16. It’s so encouraging to discover that you flailed about, too, Jenny.🙂 ah, the little things that make us feel like the rest of the human race.

    You have an amazing gift for blogging. I’m determined not to give up b/c I see beauty ing finding an online community. I’m still struggling to find a longline but one day, the right one will make itself known.

    Thanks for giving me hope!

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Sheila…and if you’re still flailing, start picking random topics that interest you and see where they go. The heart of your blog (i.e. You and YOUR writer’s voice) will make itself known to you if you keep chipping away at it.

      Like

  17. You flailed? You? Naw, come on, you’re joking, right? I find it so hard to believe because your blog is awesomesauce covered in chocolate. I totally flailed at first. I was sick the first week of our blogging class, which left me feeling behind in everything. Then I was at Comic-Con with no internet the weekend Kristen popped the whole log line thing on us, so when I got back home, I had about three thousand forty-seven emails in my inbox. It was overwhelming and totally scary. It took me a good five months or so to find my groove, but now I can’t imagine not blogging. I set up a calendar to keep up with blog posts and I’m already scheduled out to March. Who knew I had something to say!

    To those who are feeling overwhelmed and like you won’t be able to come up with blog posts, listen to what’s around you. There is a blog post in almost every situation. Just don’t ask your husband if you can blog about his girlish giggle. Apparently something need to be left unsaid.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Tameri, I SO flailed. I was terrified to start a solo blog. But I write better short and recognized that there were little snippets inside me that had no other way to get out right now. This year has kind of been my Boot Camp.

      Many things have come out of my Boot Camp that will make their way into my books. Plus, I’ve met SUCH amazing people. To me, that’s the biggest win.🙂

      And p.s…. Why can’t you blog about your dude’s giggle? Just leave out the word “girly.”

      Like

  18. I’m happy with my blog’s progress, and like that it has plenty of room to grow as I can devote even more energy to it. Unlike you, however, I haven’t been able to schedule my blog posts ahead of time. My brainstormed list of ideas I made during Kristen Lamb’s online class is just about exhausted. I’ll have to start thinking about “post potential” more, huh.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Jolyse, the only time I’m ahead on my blog more than a few days is when NaNoWriMo time rolls around. If you don’t know how to schedule it, that’s another story, but as far as being “ahead”? I don’t think it’s a huge requirement.

      And you have a lovely blog – I’m happy you’re thinking about branching out. Like Tameri said, there’s blogs lurking EVERYWHERE.🙂

      Like

  19. This is an excellent post, and I’ve loved your blog for awhile. I didn’t realize you felt so lost when you started out. I’ve been blogging for a year and a half at Girls With Pens with Lisa, but the posts were always very practical and writing-focused. As much as I loved it, and still do, I was getting bored of writing about writing all the time. I only started my own blog in November after taking Kristen’s class. My biggest fear was, with so many great blogs already out there, what did I really have to offer? Kristen made the point that what we have to offer is us. Even if someone else is covering the same topic, they won’t cover it the same way or with the same voice. I still struggle with wanting to add value, but I’m starting to get more comfortable and learning to trust my instincts. I have to admit, though, I’m still scared and get mini-panic attacks about making it work.

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Thanks, Marcy! And I’m glad you branched out to be a solo blogger – you and Lisa have both made me laugh and made me think.🙂 You have a wonderful blog! Just remember that next time you fret.

      Like

  20. Catie Rhodes says:

    Blogging has taught me to stick to deadlines. Some weeks I do better than others. Guilty confessions: some weeks all I get done is write two blogs and interact with my blog readers. When I started, I was just like you. I thought who the heck would want to read what I write about topics that have been done to death. However, like you, I sort of found my audience, and I appreciate them. Thanks for sharing your journey. I enjoyed reading about it.

    Like

  21. You know I love More Cowbell, Jenny! Like Natalie said, I follow along and go “look Barbara’s blog, look what you can be when you grow up.” 🙂 From you, I’ve learned blogging consistency and variety. Your posts can range from more serious/educational to technical tips to raving over undies. It is a well-rounded representation of you and that authentic voice is what allows us to peek in and get to know you.

    I’ve flailed around with my blog. I started it in 2010 after being directed at a writing conference that all writers had to have a website. I figured writers write, so off I go to blog. No clue, no direction. It started off with some random rantings and some posts peeking into my life, but I wasn’t consistent and no one knew I was blogging. Yep, I was in a hidden corner writing posts and telling no one (didn’t even have my full name or pic attached to it). I also don’t think I knew why I was blogging.

    I took Kristen’s class last year, met some fab folks through MyWANA (shout out to WANA711) and slowly evolved my blog. I got that blogging is fun and not the chore I’d made it to be. I got that to be successful, all I had to do was let people see me. I still feel flaily at times (all mental fear crapola), but have now pushed myself to branch out this year and write guest posts and to be myself while flashing some vulnerabilities (like talking about fears) and quirks (that performance reality show addition thing).

    For anyone else struggling, dig into the blogging community. Look at what others are doing and learn. Read some early blog posts of sites you love and see that they didn’t start off as “rock stars.” Your blog might take off like firecrackers or be a slow simmering pot. Just be you and it will come. Whew…okay…no more long commenting. 🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Barbara, you know I love it when you let loose, whether it’s in the comments section or on the dance floor.🙂

      I think your advice to dig into the blogging community is the best. While it’s important to look around and learn, what’s most important is to garner the support of blogging friends. That’s for taking time to share, and for always keeping it real!

      Like

  22. Blogging has taught me that I love to show people the way to their inner selves. That they need to listen to their own inner voices rather than the voices of the outside world. That they’re better than they realized and that they should give their inner themselves a chance to shine. I’m no longer flailing since I seem to have found my true rhythm.

    Like

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  24. Arlee Bird says:

    Since I started my blog two years my motivation has changed, but my dedication to attempt to turn out acceptable writing product has not. From the beginning I have been a firm believer in a regular schedule. During the first year I produced daily content, then brought it down to three days a week which gave each post more exposure, hence more comments. The main thing I’ve learned is to have friends you have to be a friend. I can’t ignore my readers and I should be willing to give back as much as I am capable of giving, but I should never stop being open to discovering new blogs and other resources. There is a big world out there and I want more of it, but I also have to give more.

    Lee
    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out
    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  25. Thanks for the encouragement to keep going. It is good to know that I am not the only one that occasionally wants to pitch the whole mess and just write books.

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  27. Great post, Jenny. Important reminders that consistency not only helps people find you, it helps me find me as well. Thnx!

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  28. Kelly Byrne says:

    Well, you’ve got a new fan, Jenny (thank Kristen for pointing me in your direction later). I’ve been flailing, yes. Struggling, I mean Strugg. Ling. with finding my “cowbell” – what the eff do i blog about? I write fiction for crikey’s sake – gah! So I really like that you made it about MORE, not necessarily a niche. It’s nice to see that works too. I shall take my leave now and go find my cowbell. I’ll report back. Thanks for letting us know it’s okay.🙂

    Like

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Hi, Kelly! Welcome to More Cowbell.🙂

      Everyone struggles, I promise. Keep at it, and keep building your community. Maybe even take one of Kristen’s classes. Things will smooth out… Plus, now you know you can blog on chocolate. LOL.

      Like

  29. Kelly Byrne says:

    Thanks, Jenny. Sallying forth. Tallyho!🙂

    Like

  30. Amanda Hsiao says:

    Thanks for the great post, Jenny~ I have to admit, I’m in the totally-lost-in-the-woods-where-was-I-going-again? stage of blog writing. I’m a bit shy and it is so hard to say what I’m thinking in a blog and feel that it could be of any interest to anyone at all. But it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way. ^_^ Maybe I will take one of Kristen’s classes. I follow her blog (which is how I found yours!) and she always has tons of great advice and ideas.

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