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Just Write

So, you want to blog? And you’d like to build a following. Great. I’m here to help.

Here’s a quick reality check:

  • Success has nothing to do with a fancy blog design.
  • Success has nothing to do with learning the latest SEO tricks.
  • Success has nothing to do with finding advertisers to fund you.

So save your money. And don’t waste your brain cells.

Success as a blogger is so much simpler than that.

Just start writing. That’s 99% of the battle. Write, write, and write some more.

Success will find you when you are satisfied with who you are and how you write.

Start at the beginning

Chances are, as a reader of my blog, you’ve read something I’ve written and thought… “I could have said that, just better. I am smarter and a better writer than Adam McLane.” And you might be.

So what is the difference between you and I? Experience.

Go ahead and look at a tab on the right sidebar called, Archives. Then drop down all the way to the beginning. Go all the way back to May 2004 and read a few posts. I was horrible. But I was consistent, I was trying, and I was listening. And over time I wrote less about things that were interesting to only me and more about things that might be interesting to both me and you.

2004 was my beginning. Next, skip up to 2006, then 2008, then 2010. You’ll see a progression. I got better. I’d like to think that the progression continues.

If you are starting, just write. It doesn’t even matter what you write. Or if anyone reads it. Just write and write and write. You’ll figure it out.

You don’t have a reputation to protect

The biggest block to most people getting going (and later, to you growing) is a fear of embarrassment. Get over yourself. Stop it. You aren’t famous and you don’t have a reputation to protect. And if you can’t stop worrying about your reputation… write under a pen name and don’t tell anyone you are doing it. All that matters is that you start writing.

I wrote for two years on a blogger account not tied to my name directly. Then for the next two years I wrote on a Typepad blog… I didn’t move to until I’d been at it for a few years. I didn’t have a reputation to protect. But I probably thought I did.

Don’t make an announcement

I think letting people know that you are going to start blogging is the worst thing you can possibly do. Telling people seems to mount pressure. Pressure to perform steals the joy of expressing yourself. And once the joy is gone– you will convince yourself that you don’t have time or that it isn’t a priority.

Just write. Don’t promote. Forget about Twitter or Facebook or anything else. Just write. If it’s good, people will find it.

Measure the right things

I’m 7 years into this. I measure some pretty sophisticated things. If you are just starting out the only thing worth measuring is, “Did I write today?” Get a year into it… then add to that, “What kinds of posts draw comments?” Once you have enough confidence… then worry about things like, “What’s my niche`, who is my audience, and is my blog growing?

But for now… just write.

By Adam McLane

Kristen and Adam live in the San Diego neighborhood of Rolando with their three children.

26 replies on “Just Write”

This is all true, but I disagree that it doesn’t matter what you write about. I think what you write is important. Writing just for the sake of writing something doesn’t do anyone any good, but consistently writing about something you’re passionate about is the key. Sometimes that will eventually flow out of your consistent writing, but haphazard writing won’t go anywhere.

@tim- Not to be a swipe but you don’t write very much. I’ve followed your blog for several years. You write 1-2 things a week, maybe. You are way more into video than anyone else, for sure. But writing? Not so much.

I think I see where both Tim and Adam are coming from. I have had more scales removed from my eyes since I began writing and my posts have been all over the place. At this point, if my writing has been for my own growth than I get an A, if it has been for the growth of others….who knows? If my purpose for writing was only for others, I’m not sure I ever would have started.
questions for once you’ve been blogging a little while:

A) I was told that you can post too much. Isn’t 3 times a week good for most tent-making bloggers?

I personally want to leave space to interact with the comments because that is where I seem to grow the most. thoughts?

B) What the heck is an “SEO TRICK?” Showing my ignorance.

@nate- I’ve been around the block enough times to know that if you start writing for other people, you’ve sprung a leak and it’s just a matter of time until you’re sunk. Over the last 7 years I’ve seen hundreds come and go.

This post is trying to help you see that you write because its part of who you are, not what you get out of it.

Tentmaking bloggers? There aren’t very many people out there making a living off of this. Definitely not in the religious space. There aren’t a lot of Jon Acuff’s or Donald Millers out there. Plus, they are making their rent money on another hustle.

There aren’t any rules for what you should post or when or how often. It doesn’t matter how often you post as your audience will morph to match you. Consistency is key. If you are a 3 post a day guy, rock it. If you are a once per week guy, rock it. Just be consistent.

Don’t worry about SEO. It’s overrated.

Thanks for the info. I definitely need to be more consistent. A couple of questions though:
Do you think it has helped you being a more “public figure” with regards to your following on your blog?
I do notice that you let us Facebook friends know about your latest posts. Would you consider that “advertising” in some sense?

@chris- I’m 7 years in. I feel pretty established within myself. It’s different now. But the first 2 years or so I didn’t tell anyone I was doing it. It was probably 1200 posts in before I started getting

Oops, comment fail.

It was 1200 posts in before I started meeting people at church, my kids school, or at nywc who were active readers.

That does change things… But now I have 3500 days of writing under my belt. (not including 7-8 of hand written daily devos/journalling

Sorry- my phone is going batty.

You need to find yourself as a writer and get comfortable with yourself. Worrying about having a following before you are ready is not going to help.

It’s the same as getting your voice in ministry. The first few years are awkward as you try to figure it out. Then one day it just clicks… Then you are just you, the compliments and critiques are in context of who you are, etc.

Hope that helps.

I view you as perfectly set, that you have all of your self held together in a very grounded, reasonable and balanced way. Now you say you’re getting better and better … makes me wonder, what’s next? Who can I hold up as an absolute standard of excellence that is simultaneously a force to be reckoned with as well as an immovable object of objectivity in terms of Christianity? I don’t want to go back into those archives and research your personal growth. I like you the way you are now. Change is OK as long as it isn’t apparent to others. Going back seems awkward. I’ll just take your word for it … you’re the B-E-S-T Adam McLane of all time. There, now it’s been said.

This is great Adam. I think this goes for those who have been blogging for a while too. I know I sometimes take myself to seriously thinking I have a reputation to protect, which is a huge load.
Be yourself. Have fun. And like you say, Just write!

Adam- great words brother from anotha mothera.
I will admit blogging does allow for a lot of measurement method and tools which can get addicting and very time consuming. With blogging you can always be testing something….

It sure helps one start writing or blogging if you are frustrated, annoyed, angry, ticked off, or upset at something.

My point: if you are struggling to write something…..figure out what is disturbing you because it can lead you to action.
However anger only fuels your writing for a bit until your stuck again; and now you have a lot of haters. I made the anger mistake a lot!! I learned a lot from my readers who balanced me out in the logic because 99% of my posts were emotional. Not the best strategy but it allows you to really tap into what you are passionate about and why you believe what you believe.

I guess I am learning……just be interested in a lot of stuff and one of your posts will eventually be interesting??

Maybe I shoud start a blog. I’m sure you’ve noticed, but I seem to have a lot to say lately. I fear that my blog would be all gay marriage and legal abortion though 🙂

Seriously, I needed to read this.

I have a blog. It goes back pretty far. But when I just wrote to get stuff out and down on the screen, I wrote pretty often. And actually had comments that weren’t my mom. 

But in the past few years I did what you say not to do, and it’s start worrying about protecting a reputation or something. I don’t know if it was from moving from a small youth ministry position to an associate pastor role in a church or if I just wanted to try to make sure what I posted was really, really good instead of a quick mind dump. 

But I get locked up in over analyzing things instead of just writing things. Thanks for the reminder of “just do it” and quit over thinking things. 

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