How To Be Good At Life + Good At Blogging

Many of the best blogging tips out there could also be life tips - or vice versa! If you're already a good friend, a reliable employee, or just a decent adult, you can be good at blogging. Click through to find out how >> yesandyes.org

Let’s begin this post by acknowledging that it’s weird that I just announced that I’m at blogging and good at life.

AWKWARD.

I would imagine that anyone who’s ever seen me eat Cheetos and an ice cream sandwich for lunch or publish a typo-riddled post would beg to differ.

But! With some frequency people ask for the secrets of my universe (aka how to get non-family members to read your blog and how to have a life you like). I certainly can’t claim to be a total expert on either blogging or living without flaw, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned from 37 years of life and 8 years of blogging.

Not surprisingly, most of these insights can be applied to both blogging and living as a human in the world! How convenient!

Work you strong suits

In Real Life

I’m not great at reading maps. I’m not an A+ driver. Or a technology guru.But I am good at creative thinking, writing things that engage readers and I can organize like you wouldn’t believe. I could probably herd cats. I know what my strong (and weak) suits are, so I don’t volunteer to fill in for the IT guy or to drive the rental car.

But I will very happily write for the company website or plan a friend’s wedding shower. Figure out what you’re good (and bad) at and style accordingly.

On The Internet

We can’t all be Pulitzer-worthy prose writers. We don’t all have an unerring eye for good design or a never-ending fount of ideas for amazing posts. But you’re probably pretty good at one of those things, most of the time. Make the most of your talents!

If you’re a good writer but a bad designer, find a good template and then leave it alone. If you’ve got a great eye for design but tremble at the sight of an empty page, maybe you’re meant for Tumblr rather than WordPress. If you’ve got heaps of great ideas but lack the words to convey them, take a writing class or have a writer friend look over your posts in exchange for a nice dinner.

Rest assured that very, very few bloggers have got the market cornered on every area of expertise. Don't sweat the details on an aspect of blogging that doesn't really interest you. Click To Tweet

Many of the best blogging tips out there could also be life tips - or vice versa! If you're already a good friend, a reliable employee, or just a decent adult, you can be good at blogging. Click through to find out how >> yesandyes.org

Be Reliable

In Real Life

You told your friend that you’d meet her at the party, but now it’s raining. You promised your co-workerst you’d bring donuts on Friday, but now it’s 9 pm on Thursday and you’re not sure you can be bothered. You RSVPed to your cousin’s bridal shower but now the weather’s gorgeous and the beach is calling your name.

Dude, doooo it. This is what being a grown up is about. You committed to doing something and now you need to do it. Your friends and family need to know that they can rely on you. Every time that you flake out or drop the ball, people become slightly less invested in you and slightly less likely to bring you donuts or to show up to your bridal shower.

On The Internet

I am not exaggerating when I say that many of my favorite blogs have a special place in my heart because I know which days I’ll find new content. It’s such a bummer to find a blog that you love, only stop by the ‘Music Monday’ or ‘Food Tuesday’ and just see posts from last week. That’s how blogs get removed from my RSS.

You don’t need to post seven days a week to develop a loyal readership, but if you say you’re going to post new content every Monday, Wednesday and Friday – well, for the love of Pete, do it. If you announce that you’re starting an awesome new series of interviews, keep doing it. And if your posting is going to be spotty for a while, tell us. People will take you (and your blog) seriously when YOU take it seriously. Click To Tweet

Be a considerate conversationalist

In Real Life

We all know people who have somehow made it to adulthood without mastering the art of conversation. Conversation needn’t be brain surgery (I ask you some questions, you answer them, and then you ask me some questions) but a surprising number of people think that you are asking them about their jobs/family/hobbies because you’re personally fascinated by them.

I like you, I want to know how your life is going but I don’t want a 20
minute treatise on how Gary-from-the-office-who-I’ve-never-met keeps drinking the last cup of coffee and forgetting to make a new pot! Shockingly enough, I am equally disinterested in your Atkins diet meal plans and a plot rehashing of that TV show you know I don’t watch.

Being a good conversationalist will open so, so many doors for you. You’ll make more friends, impress new people and maintain connections across time and distance. Being a considerate conversationalist is easy: ask people questions about themselves. Talk about topics that are of interest to both of you.

Limit negativity. Really, actually listen to what they’re telling you (instead of just waiting for them to finish so you can start your funny story about your cat and his vest). Remember things that they told you before and reference those things so they know that you were listening.

Related: here are 16 questions that will make small talk a lot better.

On The Internet

I know (really, I know) how much you want to write that post complaining about your coworker who took credit for your new marketing plan. I also know you want to write about how your sister ruined your iPod by taking it to the beach. And if you really, really want to – by all means post away!

But before you click the ‘publish’ button, consider what you’re hoping to accomplish by publishing a negative post, which is probably only of interest to a very, very small group of people who know those involved.

All good bloggers include personal content in their blogs and allow readers a glimpse behind the proverbial curtain. However, unless you are a hilarious and excellent writer, you will probably struggle to find a large readership if your blog consists solely of posts detailing who pisses you off, how you feel about Grey’s Anatomy and what you bought at Target today.

Write about a topic that interests you and then ask your readers how they feel about it. Respond to their comments. Write posts that are useful to them. If they email you asking for advice, write a post answering their questions. Engage your readers and show them that you value their input.

Related: How to add more personality to your posts – no matter what topic you’re writing about!

Many of the best blogging tips out there could also be life tips - or vice versa! If you're already a good friend, a reliable employee, or just a decent adult, you can be good at blogging. Click through to find out how >> yesandyes.org

Make friends and help them out

In Real Life

Life’s a lot more fun with friends, isn’t it? People who get you, who can joke you out of a sulk, who brag about your accomplishments when you’re too shy to do so yourself? Heaps of studies have shown that people with a supportive social networks are healthier both physically and mentally.

Make friends with awesome people who inspire you. (Here’s how) Help them out when they need it. Allow them to help you when you need it (this can be harder than it sounds)Lather, rinse, repeat.

On the Internet

Increasingly, the line between ‘real life’ and ‘internet’ friends is blurring and one of the greatest things about blogging is all of the wonderful, clever, talented people that you will meet.

It’s incredibly easy to make friends through your blog! Leave comments on blogs that you like and respond to your readers’ comments. Email bloggers directly and tell them that you like what they’re doing. Link to great blog posts and include friends in your blog roll. Do post exchanges. Nominate your blogging friends for awards. Let your readers know who your internet friends are – we all like to be in on the fun!

Related: How to befriend bloggers without being awkward or stalker-y

Be the Cutest Version of Yourself

In Real Life

I am not 5’11.” Nor do I have rock hard abs, Michelle Obama arms or a designer wardrobe. I have a jawline that is probably destined for wattle and I’m in a constant battle against Flat White Girl Ass.

However! That doesn’t mean that that I’m ready to throw in the towel and spend the rest of my days in yoga pants and a ponytail (I’ll only spend one third of the rest of my days like that).

It’s a fact of life that people judge us on our appearances and when we look good, we feel good, and people respond accordingly.

We don’t need to lose 40 pounds and drop a grand on a new wardrobe to get people to take us seriously. Wearing  cute, well-put together outfits will get us far – which could be as easy as trading in the ripped jeans for a new pair of darkwash and upgrading the flip flops for a new pair of Vans.  We can stop chewing our nails.

On the Internet

You don’t need to hire a graphic designer or an overpriced web guru to create a cute blog. You’d be amazed what you can find simply by googling “free blogger templates.” Keep your page clean and uncluttered and resist the urge to fill up all your white space with animated ads or buttons. Less really is more.

I might just be a total dork for design, but I will fall all over myself reaching for the back button when I happen upon a blog with tiny white text on a dark background, oddly sized photos and animated flower that keeps blowing kisses at me.

Think about blogs that you love and their visual design. Do they have a uniting color scheme? Are their pictures always the same width as the text column? Is the text fully justified? Take a few cues from the bloggers who seem to have it figured out!

Related: 9 ways to improve your blog with zero technological know-how

What IRL skills have you translated to your online life? Tell us in the comments so we can try it, too!

photo by priscilla westra // asaf r // veri ivanova // cc

42 Comments

artistaggie

If I have time, I try to get involved in online contests/projects. Illustration Friday, for instance — fun times and extra blog traffic for the win! 😀

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DaniellaBella

I think this is great! I think I began to rock my own life when I realized that this was my life. Right now! Not the plan that I have for it "someday". And by understanding that today is your life you start making choices to make today the best, most interesting, and most fun that it possibly can be. And last year I started this new motto "Just say yes (unless it's heroin)". I found myself saying no to things that I really would like to do but was tired, shy, afraid. By really trusting what I really want to do life has become a lot more fun! And I just want to learn from other people to see if I can say yes to more things (and then I found your blog and it all came together!). Is don't yet rock at blogging. And that's ok. For now it's just something that reminds me to do something slightly creative everyday and that we are all connected somehow.
Thanks for the great post!
Danielle

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Cowbark

Love this, thank you for sharing (and for organizing it so well – it's so simple and makes it all feel really doable)

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Chrissy (The New Me)

Great post and great advice! The only thing I'm really an expert on is myself, so that's what I mostly blog about. I like having a smaller blog readership – it makes me feel cozy, like I really know most of my readers and can speak to them directly. Which is kind of how I am in real life, too. 🙂

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Little Miss Plump

I was going to write a response but then realised DaniellaBella had written exactly what I was going to write!! It's so spooky, because that's exactly how I feel. I decided a few weeks back to start saying yes to everything, and then I found your blog, which is such an inspiring and fun read. Funny how it happens like that…

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Nicole

You do rock at life and blogging. This is a wonderful post. But a reminder that I'm going to miss such gems while you're away. Unless you'll still blog while abroad in which case YAY. If not, sad face.

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Sarah

sort of in an effort to pep up both my life and my blog i often remind myself to have a life worth blogging about. i want to do more than go to work and hang out at the bar because you're right, that is no fun to read about. so i go out an do interesting fun things as much as possible.

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Vixel

Really brilliant post (as always!) I've been overhauling my blog and I'll definitely be taking your advice into account, particularly where scheduled posts are concerned – I'm really motivated to blog right now, so it'd be good to have some posts queued up for when I'm in a creative slump!

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Merry May Handmade

I looove this- perfect timing.I have spent a lot of time working on my life and things seem to be working themselves out. Now on to my blog! I would really love to get more readers. I'm sure with your wonderful tips I will!

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Mandy

Such a great post! It's also incredibly timely, since I just started a blog yesterday. I'm now itching to actually write (yeah…I haven't actually written a post yet. First step to blogging is taking the 10 days to find a name for it, right?)

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mylifereinvented

Great post. All things that I can't hear enough. Rocking my life is something that I have been working hard at. I sort of given up listening to the negative and started doing my own thing. I've been working hard at braking out of my shell, rearranging my priorities and working on figuring out how to make my dreams a reality.
As for my blog, well it's in trial and error phase. I'm just trying to write posts that make me feel good and hopefully I'll find my niche. If not at least I had fun alone the way.

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Cath

This post is totally a moment of win for me. I'm getting ready to launch my own blog, and I inexplicably stumbled across yours just a few days ago, so I'm a rather new reader. Thanks for the great advice!

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Rachel

Sarah Von, have you ever considered making a message board or forum for your readers to interact with one another? The comments are sort of like that, but honestly, this is the only blog where I love to comment and read all the comments–and wish I could meet all the commentors!

I've searched so long to find an online community that is positive and creative and special, and I feel like that could really happen here with a forum/message board. Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I just really want online friends. But I think it would be great!

My email is unexpectedsunlight@gmail.com. I'm no expert on message boards or forums though. But I am an expert at good ideas!

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Sarah Von Bargen

Rachel!

I have thought about making a message board! It's on hold at the moment (I'm quickly reaching the "ohmygodidon'thaveenoughtimemeltdownapproaching" part of preparing for a trip) but once I get to New Zealand – where I'll be staying in Wellington for several months – I'm thinking of looking in to it!

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Diana

Great post, and great advice.

I'm still trying to rock my life by taking the necessary steps to go back to school (something in health care). Today I also just signed up to be a stem cell donor! (that's pretty rockin, no?)

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nicalyse

Charming and lovely – just like your blog and, I imagine, you!

In my life, I concentrate on being myself without alienating those around me. I'm a bit of an academic, bad grammar annoys me, and I'm politically liberal. Living in a place overrun by bad grammar and opposite political views and people who think that wearing a dress means I'm "dressed up." I just have to be me.

As for my blog, it's about consistency and being at peace with the fact that people aren't flocking to my brilliance. 😉 I have to write what I like, and whether anyone else reads it doesn't matter so much.

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Esti

I kind of want to send your advice about being reliable IRL to everyone I know. I'm unclear as to how most of my friends and acquaintances reached graduate school or hold down real jobs without learning this lesson, but–as someone who tries really hard to be reliable and thoughtful and generous with time and baked goods–I can tell you (although I'm sure you already know) that nothing makes a girl more depressed or antisocial than realizing that people won't return the favor or (often) even acknowledge its existence.

Thanks for broadcasting this message, and for always being awesome!

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Michelle

You're the best! More blogs need to put basic information like this in regular-people terms.

P.S. I haven't commented in a while, so HI SARAH VON! 🙂

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Lovers, Saints & Sailors

My gosh but you're amazing. I really, really love reading your posts. They are always so thoughtful and eerily relevant to what I have going on.
I would love a Yes and Yes forum!
Also, where abouts are you visiting in Australia? I sure would love to attend a blog lady gathering 🙂

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Anonymous

I needed this. Thanks Sarah. You always know what I need to read, when I need to read it.

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Lady Viviane Mae

So much Common Sense that alot of people seem to forget!!! I love the link to 'How to create a great circle of friends'; So great!!!
And i really really need to start scheduling my posts.

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Ann M.

Thank you for this post! Since I'm still trying to figure out where to go with my blog, I think I'll be referring back to this post frequently. And trying to figure out how to schedule my posts – if I may ask, do you use any particular programme to schedule your posts and if so, which one?

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Rosie

Leaving a lovely comment for you, Miss Internet Rock Star, to say thanks for your inspirational encouragement!

For tips and encouragement about writing poetry (because it's National Poetry Day in the UK today), you might like these equally inspiring videos by the lovely poets Joe Dunthorne, Simon Armitage, Daljit Nagra and Lavinia Greenlaw
http://www.culture24.org.uk/faberpoets

All the best, and have a joyful day!

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pensandfeathers

Thanks so much for this advice. I've been struggling with how to get non-RL friends to read my ice cream blog, and I think this weekend I'm going to reach out and try to make some blogging friends.

And if you ever feel up for making some ice cream, you can check out my recipes, stories, and photos here: http://churnbklyn.wordpress.com/

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Sarah Von Bargen

Lovers, Sailors and Saints – I'll definitely be in Sydeny, probably Brisbane and maybe Canberra

Ann M – I just use the program post option that comes with blogger. You can find it under the blue link 'Post Options' in the lower left hand corner of your post draft

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Melanie

Just saw your post over at ProBlogger and it's such great advice! Thanks for passing on your tips to newbies like myself. 🙂

I love discovering a great new blog and can't wait to read through yours – i'm especially loving the photos in the polka dot post!

you are going in my google reader, right away!

Melanie

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julie mack

Dude. You so rock. I love this post.

It's really very encouraging. I'm just coming out of a teeny existential crisis after moving across the country and so many of these things really echo with me. This all sounds like advice that rattles around inside my own brain but it incredibly comforting and totally amazing to hear it come out of someone else's mouth (figuratively!) who I respect and is a most excellent writer.

thank you.

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SaraOoo

Hi! I just found your blog today through a link from GalaDarling, and just wanted to say: Wow! You've got something really good going on here. I like my blog to be as good, and as good designed, as yours!
Keep up the great work!

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Thinkie

cool post, thanks!
being me and not being what other people want me to be has served me well for almost 29 years now, although it didn't always make me populair 😉
I have been blogging since 2007 and am always interested in suggestions for improvement, you've given me some food for thought!

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Matt

Admittedly I "stumbledupon" your blog about an hour ago and I haven't stopped reading posts since. I'm finally getting the courage to post my first comment on any blog because I'm eager to make new "internet friends." I'm just starting up a blog blog, even though I've had a personal one for a while. Thanks so much for these tips and advice!!!

-Matt
callbacks2campfires.blogspot.com

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