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Questions to ask yourself before you start a blog

You should totally start a blog.

How many times has someone said this to you in the past month? Past few years?

Every time you go off on a rant, someone tells you, “You need a blog.”  

People start blogs for all kinds of reasons—an online journal of sorts, somewhere to share information that they think will be helpful to people, to make money, or maybe to position themselves as an expert.

A blog is a time commitment. It’s also a lot of fun. I learned so much about myself through my blog. One of the coolest parts is always when someone emails me to tell me that something I wrote gave them an A-HA moment, or inspired them to do something they’d been putting off or gave them the courage they needed to take a leap.

Did you know that this blog started out as a plant-based (vegan) food blog that dabbled in minimal living? If you’ve been around for that long—thanks for sticking with me while I went through all of these identity changes! I used to blog under the name Barefoot Essence. This brand was about living simply, through organic, plant-based, and sustainable food.

When I stopped being plant-based, having a vegan food blog didn’t make much sense. What blogging helped me to see though, was that it was the writing I enjoyed the most—it was less about the bean burgers.

 

“I feel I change my mind all the time. And I sort of feel that's your responsibility as a person, as a human being – to constantly be updating your positions on as many things as possible. And if you don't contradict yourself on a regular basis, then you're not thinking.” - Malcolm Gladwell

 

My blog is a walking contradiction. And I’m okay with this. We’re constantly changing and evolving. I just happen to be doing it publicly. I’m going to change my mind on things. Just like I changed my mind on eating bacon.

If you ask me if you should start a blog, I’ll always say yes. I think writing is the best free therapy on the planet, and someone might need to hear just the words that poured out of you. There are of course other wonderful reasons to blog—share your expertise and show off your smarts are my favorite reasons. I didn’t start my blog to make money. I tried ads for a week and I felt dirty.

I started blogging as an experiment without a hypothesis. I started to just see where it went.

If you’re thinking of starting a blog—great! Here are some questions to consider as you get started. These aren’t intended to make you second guess yourself, but instead, get clear on your big fat why.

  1. Why do you want to blog?

  2. Who is your reader? Can you describe one person? What do they do for a living? What do they struggle with? What keeps them up at night?

  3. How often do you want to blog?

  4. Will you share your blog with your email subscribers? Social media? How will you tell people about new blog posts?

  5. Can you repurpose anything you’ve already written for your blog?

  6. What are people constantly asking for your advice on?

  7. What makes you mad about your industry?

  8. What do you believe in?

  9. Did you have an A-HA moment that led you to today, or wanting to start a blog?

  10. Are you okay with rejection?

  11. Do you like writing?

  12. Do you journal?

  13. Are you an expert on something or do you know more than the average person about a certain topic?

  14. Do you have some valuable experiences to talk about?

  15. Is your perspective unique? Why?

  16. What are your blogging goals?

  17. Where will you write your blog?

  18. How will you come up with blog ideas?

  19. Are you patient?

  20. Do you have time to write and edit?

  21. Are you okay with being ignored?

  22. Do you want to have comments on your blog?

Should you have comments on your blog?

Should I have comments on my blog?

Good question. This is something I get asked a lot as people set up their blogs and start writing.

My simple answer is no.

 

Here’s why I don’t have comments on my blog, even though I used to:

1) Crickets.
It can be great fun to kick off an active discussion on your blog, but most of the time, especially in the early days, be prepared for crickets. Also, even if your blog has oodles of readers, some people just don’t like to comment. They read and move on. They enjoy what you wrote, but generally don’t engage online.

2) Spam.
If you allow blog comments many could end up being spam. If you set up your blog to moderate comments, you could end up spending more time than you want deleting spam and approving valid comments. There was so much spam! Not only spam but people would comment on my blog with totally random and useless comments, usually, I presume just to get people to click back to their website.

3) Validating my existence.
I used to allow blog comments. Initially, it was fun. I’d publish a new blog post, then within an hour, I’d have a new comment. Yay! Someone is reading! Someone cares! Because I had comment moderation turned on, I’d have to review each comment one at a time.

4) Bullies & Big Meanies.
Online bullying is real. In one blog I shared how we had downsized a few times, and were focusing on acquiring less crap. Someone commented, “I’d love to see a picture of her place to see just how much of a minimalist she really is.” and “Wow, I feel so bad for you hardly keeping any Christmas decorations around, how sad for the children.” People are dicks. It’s easier to be a dick online because people can hide. I wouldn’t even address these comments, I’d just delete them, but I still had to read them. I get to choose what makes it’s way into my online world. I see less hate this way. Less hate makes me happy. My blog, my rules.

5) Time & Mental Drain.
Every time I’d get a new comment, I’d race to login right away so I could review and reply. Talk about interrupting the flow. I love having conversations just as much as I love starting them. After a while, I realized I was spending more time and mental energy than I wanted reviewing and making sure I replied thoughtfully to every comment. I turned them off a few years ago when I got a lot of spam and became sick of managing them.

6) Guilt.
People leaving genuine comments might have theirs waiting for your moderation for hours or worse - days, leaving them feeling like you’re not paying attention to your blog. For a people-pleaser like me, this was torture!

7) Focus.
I chose to focus my time and energy on writing instead of spending my time facilitating discussion on my blog.

8) Leave comments for social media.
When I share a piece I’ve written on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, people engage there. It feels more natural. Also, if you’re a bully here, your comment gets deleted here too.

9) Engage personally. 
This has become my preference. When I permanently turned comments off on my blog, it doesn't mean I never want to talk to you. I love connecting over email. Engaging personally is my favorite way to engage, and it's my blog, so I get to do whatever I want. Your blog, your rules.

 

This is the place where I'd invite you to leave a comment with what you think, but I don't do things that way. If you'd like to chat more about this or ask me a question, email me at hi@jacquelinefisch.com.
 

Don't hire a copywriter until you read this

Hiring a writer is exciting! It’s also a little scary the first time you start working with a writer, or anyone new for that matter.

Will they judge you?

Will they laugh at your writing?

Will they throw out every word you’ve ever written and start over? 

Working with a writer can, and should be a fun experience.

Especially if you want to work with me, but I'm biased, I think I'm a riot.

Before we work together, you need to do your part.

If you don’t do this work in advance you won’t get the results you want. Then you’re going to want to throw pickles at me.

Listen up, this is important.

Before you hire a copywriter, you need to have one big fat skillYou need to know how to talk to your potential customers.

What a copywriter can’t do:

  • Read your mind
  • Know who your customer is
  • Understand the biggest problems that your potential customers have
  • Save your failing business
  • Tell you the words that your customers use

Before you hire a copywriter, be able to answer these questions:

1) Who are your customers?
Who are they? What do they want? What’s their biggest problem? What are the actual words they use to describe their problems? What would be a dream come true for them?

2) Who are you?
What do you stand for? What do you believe?

3) Why are you fucking awesome?
You should be able to tell my why you are the perfect person to work with your potential clients. Why should they give a shit about you?

4) What’s your story?
Did you have a low point or coconut fall on your head A-HA moment that led you to where you are today? What are you all about? What do you believe?

 

Knowing the answers to these questions is a great start. Next, you need to know how to talk to your people. 

The best way to know how to talk to your potential clients?

Put yourself in their shoes. What’s it like to be them? What are the words they use to describe their problems to you?

As you chat with clients and potential clients, note the exact words they use.

  • What they’re wishing for
  • What are their big scary goals
  • What do they give a shit about
  • What keeps them up at night
  • What problems are keeping them stuck

 

As much as I wish I could be a mind reader (ESP Copywriting would be an insanely profitable business!) alas, I am not. Think through all these things.

When we first get on the phone, I’m going to ask you these things too. I’m going to be a hard ass about it because knowing this stuff is non-negotiable.

And if I started writing for you without understanding this, I wouldn't be doing my job and would be doing you a disservice. That's the shit that keeps me up at night.

 

When you’re ready for a copywriter

When you have a good understanding of the language your people use and you’ve become a rock star at talking to them. Then, a copywriter can help you add strength and power to your words. They can also add some sass if that’s what you’re looking for too.

Or, if you just don’t know how to get to the point, a professional copywriter can help you with that too.

 

So, you’ve hired a copywriter

Even after a copywriter does some writing or editing for you, don’t plan on just throwing those words on your website or in your book or in your program.

Read the words your copywriter wrote for you (I recommend reading aloud). If it sounds like you and you’d feel comfortable using those words - then you have my permission to use those words. You’ve got to check them with your gut first.

Have you done all these things?

Well, gold star for you! 

Have you done all these things and want to see if we can work together?

Grab a glass of wine and click here. 

If you're having trouble focusing, make sure it's not this

You’ve been plugging away for a few hours and have checked the top three items off of your to-do list for the day.

Feeling super productive, you figure you deserve a break so you open a new browser and check Facebook.

After 15 minutes have gone by you kick yourself, “What the heck am I doing? I’ve got work to do!”

You get up, take a walk around, grab a snack, and settle back in so you can whoop the rest of the day in the butt.

Three minutes go by.

You’re staring out the window.  

You look back to your computer.

Back to staring out the window again.

Nope.

Not happening.

This could be a symptom of many things, including burnout—maybe you’re working too much?

Or it could be something simpler.

 

It's time to change your scenery.

 

When I was working in an office, I learned I could only be truly productive for so long before I needed a change. Finding a variety of places to get your work done might be a challenge in typical office buildings, but office buildings and companies are catching on.

Maybe people aren’t wanting to work from home, they just need some workplace variety. If you work in an office, you could try sitting in another spot if you have an open office, work from your cafeteria, grab an office, or take your laptop downstairs to the lobby if you have one, or down the street to a cafe.

This is also one of the reasons coworking spaces are popping up all over, they are all about variety! That and the buzz of unlimited organic coffee and people getting their fill of work variety. 

After making the move to work from home full time, it was an adjustment. I love working in my home office. It doubles as the playroom and art room so huge canvases and all the kids’ art line the walls. Sometimes this means there's play doh on the floor.

I sit in front of a bunch of windows where I can watch our chickens and ducks run around and every now and again I catch cardinals, deer, hummingbirds, butterflies, and a giant wasp. Yes, I spend a lot of time gazing out the window.

After a few hours though, I need a change. If it’s nice outside I’ll head to the front porch and plant myself on a rocker, and if it’s cold out, I’ll set up shop on the couch or in bed.

A few times a week I like to work somewhere that’s not at home. This is usually Starbucks—especially since they started serving almond milk (if you’re going to get it in a latte, make sure you get it with no foam, almond milk is fussy like that). Sometimes my office is the library or the hockey arena, the gymnastics stands or sitting in the car waiting for school to get out or an unseasonably cold baseball practice to end.


Next time you notice yourself feeling stale, uninspired, bored, or even agitated, it might not be you—it’s where you’re planting your butt.

Psst... You're good enough already

"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."
-- Stuart Smalley, SNL

You have ninety billion (approximation) unfinished projects.

You've even finished a few.

But you're afraid to talk about them.

You're proud of writing the article, winning the award, finishing the degree, graduating the class.

"Oh, it's no big deal." You say. You don't want the extra attention.

Besides, your colleague did it faster than you. Oh, and she did it while wearing a flawless face, making it to yoga class 12 times in one week, and serving up home-cooked, organic, locally-raised, harvested under the perfect moon conditions... every single mother-loving day.

Well, shit. No wonder it's so hard to actually finish something when we're neck deep in the comparison game.

You're already enough. 

I know, it's so easy to read. And when you read those three words, for a split second, you believe it. You exhale, "I AM enough damn it."

You turn away from these three little words and are ready to tackle your next project. Maybe you'll even pick up a paint brush, or a pencil, or a hammer, or a chainsaw.

Maybe you can drop the armor, and send out that email that you've been slaving over for two weeks. 

Maybe you'll sign up for the race, even though you didn't set a personal record last time. 

Maybe you'll be able to hear your gut talking (not the kind it does after burritos you guys) and take the leap, sign the check, start the business, close the business. 

Why now?

What's changed?

Because you've finally fully accepted that you are enough. 

I'm going to leave you with a quote, in hopes that you see that you're already enough. No more unhealthy striving, no more obsessive thoughts and unattainable goals.

As my friend Amanda says in her upcoming book, Becoming Enough (I read the manuscript, and if you struggle with the fuss of being perfect, get on the list to find out when it drops).

"The enough-ness in me honors the enough-ness in you."

 

Now get your ass out there and go be enough. The world needs more of your enough-ness and less of your thoughts of inadequacy.