Friday, July 13, 2012

5 THINGS WITH PAPER CROWNS

Hi! I'm Natasha and I blog over at Paper Crowns. I'm a Canadian, married to an American, who I met while living in South Korea. I love design, beautiful words, pretty clothes, pretty spaces, and pretty places. I'm a graphic designer and admirer of anyone who lives to create. After almost four years of living abroad and bouncing around, I now call Charlottesville, Virginia, home. I live in a tiny, but cozy, apartment with my husband Kyle and a few guitars. We love long drives, animals, rainy days, and each other. Blogging has been an incredible source of inspiration and motivation in my life. It's this incredibly creative, wonderful, nurturing community that I'm so happy to be a part of. I'm so excited to share some of the things that I have learned in navigating the blogging world. These five tips are the things that I most try to live by when blogging. Keeping these general rules in the back of my head has really helped me blog in a way that I'm proud of and enjoy what I'm doing every step of the way.

1. Quality over quantity really isn't a cliché. ---> One of the "blogging tips" that I came across most frequently when first starting out was, "try to post every day." Anyone can throw something up on their blog every day, but for many bloggers, posting quality content every day just isn't feasible. Feeling like you have to hit a post quota in order to gain and maintain readers makes blogging seem like more of a chore. It sucks the spontaneity out of writing about what you love, and often the quality of posts suffers.

A common theme among all the blogs that I truly love is that the content never comes across as forced or churned out. Some of these bloggers post every day. Some post twice a week. I love these blogs equally, and my love for them is based on their content, not on how often I get to read something new. I don't post every day. It's not a pace that I can keep up with. I aim to post about three times a week, but if I can't do it, I don't beat myself up over it. Three times per week is a good, manageable goal for me. It allows me to blog about my life and the things I love at a pace that feels natural and not forced. It allows me to spend time crafting posts that I'm proud of.

2. The way your blog looks is just as important as what it says. ---> Content is king, but it's nothing without design. I really, really believe that a blogger needs to give equal weight to both to have a truly good blog. I never sacrifice style for content. If I love a photo, but it just doesn't work aesthetically with my blog post, I don't use it. If I'm featuring images that I love but can't get something to work in the right dimensions, I scrap it. I set out to approach blogging in an artful way — to give equal weight to the aesthetics and content of each blog post. I love the idea that a blog post can be a mini work of art. I try not to just present images of beautiful things, but to present them in a simple, clean, compelling, and beautiful way, with constant attention to detail. Presenting content in an artful way can evoke a certain feeling that may otherwise be lost.

And in an even more immediate sense, having a well-designed blog makes all the difference in convincing a reader to actually stick around and look at your posts. If your writing is beautiful but the initial impression of your blog is lackluster, people may not even bother to read. In the blog world, first impressions go such a long way. The sheer number of blogs out there means that if your blog isn't aesthetically appealing, it may get overlooked.


3. The love you take is equal to the love you make. ---> As a blogger, being part of a community is important, because blogging is a community venture. How exciting are those very first comments that you get from people that you've never met before? The realization of, "Whoa! Someone who isn't my best friend or mom actually enjoys what I'm writing!" is exciting! It gave me energy as a brand-new blogger. It made me want to write more and share more and pour my heart into my blog, because people actually seemed to like it! Gaining readers is exciting.

But maintaining them is what really matters and is what really makes a blog successful. Maintaining readers means interacting with them. It means answering their questions and checking out their blogs and leaving genuine comments that you actually mean. It means responding to their emails and acknowledging them in your posts and listening to their feedback and really learning from it. For bloggers, it is completely up to others to determine our success. Being gracious is important. Make sure your readers know just how much you appreciate their being there.

For me, the blogging community is the absolute best part of blogging. I've met some truly wonderful people whom I never would have met if I hadn't taken a second to follow a link back to their blog from a comment they left on mine. Be thankful and be accessible. It goes such a long way.

4. Don't take yourself too seriously. ---> While it's important to be mindful of the way your blog and your content is perceived by others, I've learned that it's so important to approach blogging in a way that's light and fun and honest. For me, blogging is this really, really cool way of sharing my life and the things that I love. Part of what makes that experience enjoyable is learning to share in a way that's spontaneous and adaptable to change.

It's about not being locked into the idea that you have any sort of responsibility or obligation to present your life in a certain way in order to please your audience. Or the idea that your audience is only interested in reading a sanitized, over-edited version of your life. I know that as a blog reader, I don't find perfection interesting. Because what's interesting about a perfect life? It's the mistakes and flaws and quirks and ability to laugh at one's self that makes a blogger relatable and compelling. It's a refreshing thing to see.

Laugh at yourself. Challenge yourself to write in new and different ways without worrying about whether people will like it or not. Experiment. Follow your instincts. Blogging is something that should be fun, above all else.


5. You can't be everything. Just be yourself. ---> I heard this really, really great piece of advice once. I wish I could remember where I came across it, and who said it, but it's still one of the most astute observations I've ever heard and has stuck with me for years. The advice was related to performing, but is applicable to everyone and very much applicable to blogging. The observation was that we're all essentially three people: the person we really are, the person an audience thinks we are, and the person we're portraying. And the more we can get all three of those Venn diagram circles to overlap, the more successful we'll be.

In blogging, as in life, the easiest and fastest way to get those circles to come together is to be yourself. There are thousands of blogs devoted to thousands of different things. A blog doesn't have to be about every topic that seems to be popular in the blogging world in order to be good. You don't have to be a jack of all trades. We can't be everything. When we try to be everything, the stuff we're really good at gets watered down and lost. Our audience can't get a handle on who we really are and we come across as insincere because no one can be everything.

When you write about what you love and only what you love, your writing comes to life. People are able to feel that sincerity. Your writing is compelling, because it's honest. And that's what makes people want to read.


These rules are not hard and fast, they're just what I've found works for me. I hope they've helped inspire you a little bit too! Thanks so much to to the wonderful Savannah for having me here. Happy blogging!

Find Natasha Here:  Blog  |  Bloglovin'  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Pinterest

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Call for 5 Things contributors! -- If you have great advice to contribute about blogging, running a small business, staying inspired, setting goals, or staying organized, please contact me at Savannah@maiedae.com about being featured in a 5 Things post. :) 

Thank you, Natasha, for your wonderful advice!!


18 comments:

  1. As always, beautifully written. I love that last advice, it really makes sense! xx

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  2. Lovely post and such important points. Especially the quality over quantity, such an easy trap to fall into when you haven't posted anything in a few days!

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  3. Great advice! I've been soo busy working on our new house and haven't been able to post as frequently as I'd like and it's starting to weigh on me. I need to always remind myself that what I love about blogging is that it's my space to contribute to when I can and when I want to. Awesome post!

    Aisha
    www.themiddleofhere.com

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  4. That first one definitly makes me feel better, I can never find time to post everyday! Well said :)

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  5. Lovely advice from a lovely lady!!! I agree oh-so-much!

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  6. Hey, this is great! I also love the Beatles reference - they're my all time favorite :)
    Scout

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  7. Great advice. Thank You!

    http://sewmuchtosay.blogspot.com

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  8. Wonderful advice. Spoken by someone who seems to genuinely love what they're doing. Kudos.

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  9. thx savannah that was very inspiring, I am new to blogging and find it alittle intimidating but reading your suggestions, helps me realize I need to relax and have fun and be authentic

    http://mysweetlifemimma.blogspot.com/

    thank u again
    mimma

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  10. I love the blogging advice! I definitely want to put some of these in place in my own thinking, thanks for sharing!

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  11. Natasha, I loved this post. Especially the last part. thank you!!

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  12. Thank you for this post, it's 100% true!

    xx
    Beholder's Inn

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  13. Love all these observations. It's sad but the last one took me awhile to get.
    Catherine Denton

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  14. This is a really great post. Glad I found your blog this morning. In need of inspiration today. Thanks!

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  15. I really appreciate you writing this post. So glad I found it. This information can be applied not only to blogging , but life in general. Everything you said makes so much sense. Thanks.

    -Maycie

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  16. Thank you for your advice! :) I only opened my blog 2 days ago, these tips will surely help me.

    - Gia (http://www.lovelyserendipity.com/)

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  17. Great tips! I really like the last one: being yourself. Because at first I thought I had to write stuff like other people do, in their style if you know what I mean, so bloggers would like my page. But it was not how I wanted to write or who I am. I have changed that and it works for me. And I notice that I like it the most when people write in a different kind of way than other people. Really like your blog! It looks great.

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