What I Learned from a Thoroughly Demoralizing Blog Review

Writer with pen in hand at desk with coffee.

Photo by Green Chameleon, courtesy of Stocksnap.io.

I have a confession to make. I’ve been suffering from a chronic case of blog paralysis. When I first started blogging back around 2005, I was doing it as a way to keep friends and family up to date on what my son and I were up to while we were living in England. That was easy. I had my purpose and my audience so it was a just a matter of showing up and writing.

Then things got complicated.

I started writing for a living.

That’s when the waters began to get a bit muddy. My problem was, I wanted to still post about things I was up to for my friends and family but I also needed a “professional” web presence so potential clients could check me out and get a sense of my writing ability. As it was, directing clients to my blog at the time was a bit like having a meeting in my living room. Sure it was personable and comfy but professional? Hardly.

In my quest to craft a website I could be proud of as a freelance writer, I took a blogging boot camp from a respected industry professional. I followed her advice carefully and created a website that looked fairly professional – at least, more so than it did before. Since my personal life had pretty much shifted over to FaceBook, I shut down my old living room blog and published my shiny new “professional” site. And you know what happened?

* sound of crickets *

Not only did this new site not attract a single client, I was so bored with it myself I had a hard time getting motivated to post. So while my blog in that form was something I felt marginally more comfortable showing potential clients, it sat there gathering dust.

My next move was to take the WordPress blogging class. I had a lot of fun with it and my blog found new life. I changed the look and feel of my site, and I felt like it was getting closer to being both professional and fun. It was about that time the industry pro mentioned above offered a free blog review to members of her paid writing community, which I had joined several months prior. I decided to take the plunge and have my blog reviewed.

It did not go well.

She didn’t so much review my blog as run roughshod over it. I sat there on the live group call reeling and feeling like I’d been called an incompetent idiot in public. While she went on to her next victim, a few things swirled around in my brain.

First, I did volunteer for this. No one forced to me participate. I actively sought out this woman’s opinion. Fair enough. Second, thick skin is an absolute must for a writer. If you can’t take constructive criticism, get out now. Third, she was criticizing anything on a given blog that didn’t fit in with her notion of what an ideal freelance writer’s blog should be.

That’s when the light bulb went on:

I don’t want my blog to look like hers.

I want my blog to be a reflection of who I am – not only a writer but a mother, a woman, a person with multiple and varied interests and passions.

As far as that industry pro’s critique goes, I get it. I really do. Her formula works like gangbusters for her and presumably, everyone on that call was on it because they wanted to learn how to do what she does. But then truth bomb #2 hit me:

Everyone’s path to success is different.

Name any five successful writers, bloggers, you-name-it, and each one had their own unique path to their success. Of course advice from those who are successful is invaluable, but is that advice necessarily right for you or me? Maybe, maybe not.

So as I’ve spent the last several months hip deep in great blogging advice from a wide variety of people and sources, I’ve decided to take it all under advisement but try something scary and exciting: going my own way and doing my own thing.

Stay tuned.

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