21 Tips for Timid Bloggers

Student blogger Shana being shy

Blogging isn’t for everybody. But if you’ve considered blogging but are too shy to press “Publish”, here are some translator-specific tips to help you over the hump. Remember, the more translators who blog, the larger the pool of expertise we have to draw on, and the more we all learn as a result. And y’all know I’m about the learning, right? 🙂

  1. Push your Invisible Translator cloak to one side while you blog. You’re allowed to be heard.
  2. Translators are allowed to have an opinion. In fact, a blog is a good vehicle through which to develop your opinions.
  3. You’re allowed to change your mind. It doesn’t make you look unprofessional. In fact, it makes for great blog-post fodder.
  4. You’re also allowed to *not* have an opinion. Sometimes all the posturing can get exhausting, and it’s much more refreshing when someone announces that they don’t know or they don’t care. (It might also explain why this is one of my most read blog posts ever.)
  5. Blogs are a good way to let off steam. But heaping scorn on all and sundry doesn’t do anybody any favours, least of all yourself, so maybe consider mixing things up a little. Nobody is saying you have to be Pollyanna, but there is a happy medium. And remember, passive aggression is funny here, but more than a little immature anywhere else.
  6. Ditto bemoaning the demise the human translator in the face of the encroaching translation machine… ::barely stifled yawn:: Yes, I know it’s hard and you’re frightened. But creating an echo-chamber of similarly frightened people isn’t going to make you feel any better. Maybe try to use your blog to actually explore and learn about aspects of this new world, instead.
  7. Don’t forget that blogging is not just about writing, it also includes disseminating that writing. So put some thought into if and / or how you want readers to find you. (This is also a very interesting area you can learn a lot about.)
  8. Keep reminding yourself of why you wanted to start blogging in the first place. (If you started blogging because you were afraid you’d be the only one not doing it, then ignore this tip. Or maybe make up a better reason and pretend that’s your reason instead.)
  9. Keep returning to your personal and professional objectives and goals. Is blogging helping you to meet these in some way? If not, why not? What can you change so that it is? How are other people using blogs and what can you learn form this?
  10. Make sure your blogging metrics (whatever they may be) are measuring the things that matter to you in a relevant way. This way, you have a tangible reminder of what you are achieving through blogging. You can use this information as a basis for deciding how much time to invest in blogging, whether it’s working for you, or whether you need to change your approach – or your objectives.
  11. You’re allowed to be mildly obsessed by the number of hits to your website for a while. Say, 2 – 3 weeks. Then return to metrics that really matter (cf. your objectives).
  12. Reading other blogs can inspire you. Keep a clippings or inspiration folder for those days/ weeks/ months when your muse has fled. Evernote is great for this.
  13. Reading other blogs can intimidate you. Know when it’s time to stop reading and start writing.
  14. Blogging is a bit like a workout. The process can be a bit of a pain, the product may not be perfect, but overall, you feel better for having done it. And you know it will stand to you in the future.
  15. There is no “right way” to blog. However, there are ways that are more likely to see you meet your objectives. Keep this in mind as you wade through the deluge of advice online. (Evaluate where that advice has come from, too.)
  16. Consider having a clear comment policy. You can refine this as you grow in confidence and get used to your “regulars”.
  17. Consider having a clear affiliate or promotions policy. Once you’ve built a platform, people will start to email you to tell you about the Next Big Thing they are poised to reveal to the world. It might be a company driving traffic to its website by running a competition, a brand new translation community that will finally tip the scales in favour of the little folk, or a service to help translators make millions in mere days. They are doing this because they want you to help them spread the(ir) word. There’s nothing wrong with that, but keep a clear head and don’t confuse them for your real community. (They may even be one of several people who have emailed you with the same idea. This is interesting in itself, because it affords you a birds-eye view of what might be coming up, who’s trying to break in break into the industry and how they are trying to do it.)
  18. This is the tough-love section: Get over it. It will seem like a big deal when you start blogging, but let’s face it, it’s unlikely anyone you know will even read it*. I’ve been blogging for four years now yet very few people who know me In Real Life read this blog. (Or maybe I just prefer to think that. And what I don’t know won’t hurt me.) (Hi Dad!)
  19. Just click publish already. Your perfectionist streak is only useful when you don’t let it cripple you with inaction.
  20. Imagine a Venn diagram. If all the internet trolls in the world were represented by Set A, and all the translators in the world were represented by Set B, you’d probably find that C, the intersection between the two, was larger that you might like to think. So take control of your online space. Would you offer someone a cup of tea if they were rude to you in your own home? Then don’t tolerate inappropriate behaviour online either. Your blogging platform has a spam button for a reason.
  21. You don’t even have to enable comments if you don’t want to. The guy who writes the most popular marketing blog in the world doesn’t, and if it’s good enough for him, I’m sure you can make it work for you. (Remember tip 15 above.)

There you go. Anyone else have any tips?

* Harsh but true. Even when you might want them to read it. (Hi Mom!)

This post was inspired by a request from Patricia Lane almost two years ago now. Thanks Patricia – better late than never, I hope!

Photo credit: Student Blogger Shana being Shy, Ohio Hi-Point Career Center’s photostream on Flickr.