Three Steps to Website Revision

I recently completed the three stops to website revision: Procrastination, New Headshot, Revised Content.

Procrastination

I’ve needed to revise the Writing Services section of my website for almost two years. During the previous iteration, I called myself a pen-for-hire. I do have reliable and lucrative clients who pay me to write for them, but the truth is more people hire me to teach and to talk, activities that build audience and allow me more time to write what I want. I kept planning to revise the content on these pages – as soon as I had a new headshot to go with.

New Headshot

Moose

Camera shy charismatic mega fauna photo by my friend Kathy Lena

Like most charismatic mega fauna, I don’t like to stand still for the camera, so I kept “forgetting” to ask my friend who’s a wildlife photographer to snap a new headshot. Then, I lost the names of the two professional photographers my hairdresser recommended. I put it off, cleverly combining this task with procrastination.

But on a leadership retreat in February, I met Kelly, someone I knew by sight and got to know better. I liked her a lot. It turns out, she’s a free-lance photographer. Even before I saw her spectacular portfolio, I hired her.

alternate headshot

I love this shot, too.

Working with a professional photographer was a revelation. It taught me new respect for both photographers and models. Posing is exhausting, but working with Kelly was a blast. She put me at ease; I trusted her; she encouraged me. We spent most of two hours and ended up with more than a dozen really good shots. She took so many good pictures of me, it was hard to choose which one to use.

In this case, procrastination paid off. Or maybe waiting for the right photographer wasn’t really procrastination. Maybe procrastination is really just another way of saying, Readiness is all.

REVISED CONTENT

Once the headshots were done, I doubled down on revising Writing Services, which now includes Manuscript Development, where I can help you tell your story, as well as Pen-for-Hire, where I can write your story for you. New sections on Teaching and Speaking are in the works.

The goal is to make it easy for  visitors to find out how to hire me to tutor, teach, or talk. It’s a work-in-progress. Ultimately, it will include some new headings in the navigation bar, and some changes in the sidebar, including notice of upcoming speaking events. Stay tuned!

My webmistress is Codewryter, who does the customized coding. She’s also teaching me how to navigate the back end of the site, which is surprisingly user friendly. Even though the site upgrades aren’t all finished, I’m pleased with how they’re taking shape. I hope you’ll visit and let me know what you think.

Deb wearing purple

Another great photo!

Deborah Lee Luskin posts an essay every Wednesday on a variety of subjects centered around Living in Place in rural Vermont. You can visit her at www.deborahleeluskin.com

A Cure for Marketing and Its Discontents

icons-419200_640It’s now a month since I launched my redesigned website, started blogging, re-branded my author page on Facebook, updated my LinkedIn profile and joined Twitter.

I wish I could say that the result has been an unequivocal success with hundreds of site visits, subscribers, friends, connections and followers.

Mostly, I feel as if I’m crawling up the steep and jagged learning curve on bloody hands and scraped knees. I keep looking ahead, at how much higher I have to go to reach – what? What, exactly, am I aiming for?

I had several clear goals in mind at the outset: update my website, start a blog, clarify my branding, build audience and increase my use of social media.

I’m doing all these. But I want more.

cakes-489849_640I’m like a glutton at a banquet, scanning the buffet for what to eat next while wolfing down what’s already heaped on my plate. Instead of counting my new followers, I’m looking to see how many more I need to reach 500. Instead of remembering that a month ago I didn’t have any subscribers to my blog – I didn’t even have a blog! – I’m disappointed to see how few people have signed up. I look at my numbers and want more subscribers, more followers, more, more, more!

I’ve caught a bad case of Marketing Disease, an ailment whose main symptoms are insatiability and discontent. And I’m working on a self-cure.

The first line of treatment is to look at the hard data of before and after.

  • Before, I had a website that was five years old, outdated with an average of 57 visitors a day;
    • now, I have a website that is current and attracting an average of 157 visitors a day, which is about 125 more people than I actually know.
  • Before I did not have a blog of my own;
    • now I’m posting weekly, on Wednesdays.
  • Before, I had no subscribers;
    • now, I have twenty-one, eleven of whom I don’t know. Of the other ten, only three are blood relatives and one’s my husband. (Full disclosure: I signed him up.)
  • Before, I had a Facebook Page for Into the Wilderness with 335 likes;
    • now I have a page for Deborah Lee Luskin, Author, with 410.
  • Before I wasn’t on Twitter;
    • now I am both a follower and followed.

There are other benefits, too.

  • While I blundering my way around  Twitter, I’m stumbling across a lot of good articles, blogs and news items I probably wouldn’t have otherwise seen. I’m learning a lot.
  • I’ve had three queries for paid work through my website, which means my marketing is working and my website’s effective. I’ve also had a modest bump in book sales.
  • Best of all, I’m writing more. In addition to this blog, my blog, and my Vermont Public Radio commentaries, I have a new, monthly column coming out in the Rutland Herald this week, about middle age.

Speaking my mind and reaching an audience sustains me as I embark on the arduous task of starting a new novel, tentatively titled Seasons of Grace.

When I measure how far I’ve come in a month, I can see my progress and feel good. When I only look ahead at how many followers other people have, I feel hopeless, like a failure.

I much prefer to feel good, so I’m tracking the hard data – and keeping my pen to the page.

photo by M. Shafer

photo by M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, educator, and public speaker. She lives in southern Vermont.

Volunteering and paying it forward are great for business

Next week I’ll be celebrating 9 years of being matched with a wonderful young woman through Big Brothers Big Sisters. We met 2 days after her 9th birthday, and she turns 18 on Oct 2. It’s amazing how the years have flown.

Although our ‘official’ relationship ends, our personal one certainly won’t. She’s now a senior in high school and has aspirations of college and working with young children – perhaps even opening a day care center someday.

As we talked about our 9-year journey yesterday, she pointed out things she’s doing today because I shared the experiences with her, lent an ear when she needed it, or encouraged her to try something new.

Volunteering can influence any part of life, including building our businesses. Here are four benefits I thought about:

  • Discovering new relationships. When we volunteer, we meet new people by default, and we uncover new friendships and relationships as we stay involved with an organization.
  • Expanding our experiences. We can learn from every new experience, right? Even if we do something we already know how to do, if we’re doing it with different people, the experience might show us a new way to do that thing, and even broaden our knowledge unexpectedly. It’s great to be open-minded.
  • Giving our reputations a positive nudge. For the self-employed, everything we do can impact our business reputation. Volunteering in the community is a great way (I think) to show folks we want to share ourselves and get to know them personally. Perhaps those relationships turn into business or referrals in the future, but we each need to have time outside of our businesses to enjoy life.
  • Sharing our knowledge and paying it forward. I’ve always been a firm believer in sharing what I know. Giving back is one way to position ourselves in a good light. When we spend time and effort to benefit others, people see our empathetic side. Readily sharing what we know is a positive action that tends to stick with people. We can become the ‘go to’ person when a question comes up, and that goes a long way in building relationships.

Donating money to a non-profit organization to get your name out there as a sponsor and supporter is also a way to go, but I think donating your time and knowledge is what will keep you in business for the long term.

What benefits do you see in respect to volunteering in your community?

I didn’t fully appreciate all the benefits to volunteering as a Big when I started — I hadn’t thought about what I would get back in the process — but I know I’m a better person for the experience and this young lady has taught me as much as I have taught her. It’s an incredible gift that keeps on giving.

Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys New England’s crisp fall mornings and warm sunny days. She loves writing about NH people, places, and activities. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom where she gets to network with writing professionals on a weekly basis. You can connect with her on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Biznik.

Building Audience

ITWplain           My first novel was published three years ago, my second novel is not yet published, and my third novel isn’t yet finished. So when I was invited to join a panel of Vermont Authors at this year’s Bookstock – a three-day literary extravaganza held in Woodstock, Vermont – I didn’t see the point.

I told my friend, author and marketing maven Beth Kanell, that Into the Wilderness was currently only available as an ebook. The hard copy has gone out of print, and frankly, I didn’t see the point in spending a summer Saturday working if I didn’t have any books to sell.

Beth said, “Go anyway! Talk about your next book! Keep your audience interested.”

Beth Kanell, author photo

Beth Kanell, author photo

I did a 180, and accepted the invitation with enthusiasm.

Beth’s right, of course. I have readers – some of whom regularly ask me, “When’s the next book coming out?”

I tell them, “I don’t know. Stay healthy – and stay tuned.”

So even though a part of me wants to do nothing but hole up with my imagination, another part of me knows that it’s good to practice my lame social skills. And it’s always a thrill to meet my audience. In fact, it’s good to be reminded that there is an audience, and I’m not just writing novels as a form of personal exorcism. And it’s also good to practice dressing up and speaking in public. Because I know once the next book does hit the shelves, I’ll have to dress up and travel to promote it.

Marketing my work and my self is not my favorite part of being a writer, but meeting my readers has been an unexpected pleasure. Nor is audience building the only reason to attend this literary festival. It’s also a chance to meet other writers.

Bookstock_Logo-3-125-e1364325761425            At Bookstock, I’ll be part of a panel of three writers of Vermont fiction. One of them is my neighbor Castle Freeman, Jr. whose Go With Me is one of those absolute gems of narrative fiction. He and I are carpooling, and I’m looking forward to talking shop on the drive. The other writer on our panel is Steve Delaney, a veteran journalist whose voice was familiar one on Vermont Public Radio for many years. We’ll be completely unscripted as we talk about writing in and about Vermont. Should be fun.

I’m looking forward to arriving early and staying late, so I can hear some of the other writers whose work I know and admire (like the poets Donald Hall and Galway Kinnell) and to hear the work of writers I don’t know (like Joan Wickersham, a National Book Award Finalist). There will be over twenty regional writers at this fifth annual literary event. And just as I’ve jumped on to the local food bandwagon for all its nutritive, socio-political, and environmental benefits, I’m a great believer in local stories – and local audiences. It’s great to have a home base, and I’m looking forward to becoming reacquainted with mine.

Bookstock runs for three days, starting on the morning of Friday, July 26, and ending late Sunday afternoon, July 28. My panel goes on at 1 o’clock on Saturday. If you come to the festival, please stop and say hi.

photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin’s novel Into the Wilderness has been called a “love story to Vermont” and recognized by the Vermont Library Association for its “sense of place.” Readers most frequently say, “I didn’t want it to end but I couldn’t put it down.” It has been hailed as “a fiercely intelligent love story” and “a perfectly gratifying read” and was awarded the Gold Medal for Regional Fiction by the Independent Publishers in 2011. The book is currently available in electronic format.

What type of writing do you do?

At networking events, I most often introduce myself as ‘a writer’ or ‘a business writer.’ Both lead to one of two  inevitable questions: ‘What do you write?’, or ‘What kind of writing do you do?’

Then I take a deep breath and try to explain myself in 30 seconds or less, (even typing this, I took a deep breath.) I’m interested and have experience in a lot of different types of writing. For my business, I can write marketing collateral – and that in itself can be an arm-long list of different things from success stories to business profiles to solution profiles and product briefs.

Then there’s ghost blogging for businesses, web content, press releases, content for newsletters, interviews, process guides, and more.

I’ve found that my business card is a great ice breaker, however. My business tagline is “Your Lisa Jackson business cardwords, only better.” And I constantly get a lot of compliments on that phrase. Business folks who are intimidated by writers, especially, smile at that and visibly relax. That’s when they’ll share a bit about their insecurities or concerns with their own writing.

I’m also realizing that if I can find out what type of business the person I’m meeting is involved with before I answer, I can give examples that he or she can relate to.

  • For instance, many businesses have websites that have existed for 5 years or more and never been updated – I can talk about my web copy experience.
  • Or if the person mentions sales letters that have resulted in zero inquiries, I can talk about how I can write marketing and sales pieces that catch attention.
  • Social media scares a lot of business owners – they don’t know how to even approach LinkedIn or Twitter for business. If I know this is what they’re thinking about the most, I can talk about how each has a different goal and therefore the writing has to also be different. I can mention that it isn’t rocket science, but it is a skill, and I’ve been writing professionally for more than 25 years.

Empathy goes a long way, and I love it when someone gets inquisitive about the art of writing. For me, asking questions about their business is natural – I need to know more in order to be able to write for them and keep their ‘voice.’

It’s probably not best to reply to ‘what do you write’ with ‘whatever you need,’ but in most cases, it’s true. I love working with words and helping others express what they need to in their own words, only better.

How do you answer the question, ‘what type of writing do you do?’

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

Getting the most out of a writer’s conference

If you’re a writer, attending conferences can benefit your efforts to be successful.

On this blog, we’ve talked about meeting other writers and the benefits of networking. Attending a writer’s conference brings these together – especially if you plan ahead.

Conferences generally offer a mix of professional development sessions in the forms of workshops and panels. Options generally range from the big-picture view of the writing business as a whole down to topic-specific. And offerings can be for newbie writers to multi-published professionals.

There are a wide variety of conferences available that cover all types of writing, so researching what fits you best is imperative. If you’re an animal writer, attending a travel writer’s conference probably won’t do you much good.

Once you know where you’re going and when, spend time preparing. You want to have questions ready for editors you’ll meet. Maybe you can even take advantage of pitch sessions, so work on a few pitches and take advantage of the opportunity.

Sometimes conferences will post names of attendees. You can start networking with people before you meet them by taking advantage of social media.  Connect with them, if you can, on Facebook or Twitter.

One important tip is to try not to plan to do too much. It can be enticing to want to pitch to every editor possible. But you’re only human. Focus in on 1 or 2, no more than 3 editors or agents you want to meet. And prepare. Know the person you will be talking to.

At the conference:

  • Ask intelligent questions. Show the person you are speaking with that you know what magazine or publisher she represents. Sincerity goes a long way to turning an initial contact into a long-lasting relationship.
  • Have your business card ready. Make a note on the back before you hand it over, noting the date and place of the meeting to help the person remember you after the conference.
  • Attend with an open mind. You make the best choices you when planning, but once at the conference,  you will (most likely) learn something new, find a contact that fits your goals better. Sometimes, the most successful meeting is the one you don’t anticipate.
  • Be real and know that you probably won’t land a contract or be asked for a full manuscript that day. It can and does happen, but know that patience is important, and developing relationships takes time.

After the conference (for me it takes a couple of days to come off the ‘high’ of being with other writers), there are a few things to do.

  • Go through your notes to (1) make sure you can read them and (2) address any items you starred or highlighted. If you made a note to e-mail someone, do it!
  • Connect with your new acquaintances, friends, editors, and agents through social media. You probably received a lot of contact information during the conference, use it!
  • Dig deeper into the publications, publishers, or agents that now have more of your interest. It’ll improve your queries and pitches.
  • Follow-up or connect with people in a professional, yet casual way. You want to build relationships that help you reach publication, so take care in how often you contact someone.

These are just a few pointers I can recommend. Writers conferences exist for everyone. I’ve always found Shaw Guides a great place to start my search.

What do you think? Is preparation a key to getting the most out of a conference? Do you have any other tips to recommend?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She’d be a writing conference junkie if her finances allowed it.  She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

 

An essential for freelance writers – the business card

Business cards are just one essential tool freelance writers should have in their marketing toolboxes.

Business cards can be a way to start branding yourself. The colors, fonts, and designs are just a few ways to start discovering yourself as a business.

Think of how you’d react to these examples – plain white cards, no images, standard horizontal placement:

Business Card A is entirely in blue script (cursive) font.

Business Card B is entirely black Arial font.

Without know anything about either cardowner – you already have an impression about each one, right? So when you design your card, play around and find what feels right for you.

As for what to include on your card, here are a few recommendations:

  • Your name
  • Your business name (if you have one for your freelance writing business) or a tagline that says “freelance writer”
  • A business telephone number (I use a Google Voice number so I don’t have to share my personal phone number)
  • A PO box address (instead of a home address) if a mailing address is required for your business
  • Your e-mail address

[You never know where your business card may end up, so keeping your home address and personal phone number private are ways to stay safe.]

I use Vistaprint (and am in no way compensated by anyone for saying that). Over the years, I’ve found them to be the most reliable, reasonably priced, and of consistent good quality. It also doesn’t hurt that even when I ask for ‘standard shipping’ (up to 2 weeks), I always receive my order much sooner.

Where do you hand out your business cards?

  • In-person networking events for business owners, chambers of commerce, industry-specific organizations, and so on
  • Bulletin boards in places where your target market visits
  • Speaking engagements
  • Conferences
  • Basically, wherever you meet people you want to work with or who may be able to connect you with someone you could work with

And, remember, just because you hand someone your business card, doesn’t mean you’re done marketing. People need to get to know you a bit before hiring you. So make sure to develop (and follow) a process for following up with people you meet – that is, if you truly want to build a career as a freelance writer.

What do you think about using business cards as a freelance writer?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She has several business cards to suit different needs. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter

Strength in Numbers

Writing is a solitary occupation. – Deborah Lee Luskin photo

Writing is a solitary occupation, but marketing doesn’t have to be. In fact, there are only benefits to joining others as part of a good marketing strategy. All it takes is someone with energy to start the ball rolling, someone like Beth Kanell, an author of adventure travel guides, poetry, local history, and young adult novels, who just launched The Vermont Book Shelf.

Beth Kanell, author photo

Since most of Kanell’s work is set in Vermont, and since she and her husband run Kingdom Books, a bookshop specializing in Vermont literature, Kanell started The Vermont Book Shelf to help promote the work of Vermont authors and fiction set in Vermont.

In a recent interview on Vermont Public Radio, Kanell explained that the idea behind The Vermont Book Shelf is a loose affiliation of Vermont-based literary artists seeking fellowship and sharing marketing strategy. There’s nothing formal about it: no president or secretary, or obligatory meetings. So far, there’s a blog to which Vermont writers are invited to join by contacting Kanell (bethpoet@gmail.com). The group grew from fifteen to over a hundred in a single week.

As Book Shelf member and author of Heron Island, R.A. “Robbie” Harold explains, “It’s like a farmer’s market for Vermont authors.” Readers interested in Vermont fiction can now find a bountiful harvest of fiction set in the Green Mountain State. Rather than foster competition between writers, the Vermont Book Shelf actually makes it easier for readers to find us all in one place.

It’s also a resource for writers. When a writer new to marketing is invited to speak at a school or a library, that newbie now has several dozen colleagues with experience to guide them through the process of asking for advice from what to wear, how long to speak, and how to ask for money. Since most writing is a solitary endeavor, most of us don’t realize that 1) we can’t show up in our pajamas; 2) public speaking is a one-shot chance; endless editing from the podium not allowed; and 3) our time is worth something.

The Vermont Book Shelf also makes it easier for outside organizations to find and to engage Vermont writers to speak at their events. In just a few weeks, Kanell, who seems to have endless energy and boundless generosity, has put out calls for various speaking gigs, serving as a kind of clearing house or speaker’s bureau. She’s also figured out how to have a bit

Vermont Home, Deborah Lee Luskin photo

of fun. She sends quirky questions members can take a moment to answer, similar to this blog’s Friday Fun. Last week, she asked us to name our favorite place in Vermont. While the majority of us answered “home,” “home” is a different place for each of us. This week, we’re invited to confess if we’ve ever based a character on a grandparent. Beth posts a few replies each day, so that the site is always refreshed with new content.

Vermont is home to many writers; it’s an environment that fosters creativity. It also represents an almost mythical place of rootedness, especially to people from away. These people translate into a potential audience for Vermont writers; The Vermont Book Shelf helps develop audience for us all. It’s a win-win way to market our books.

The Vermont Book Shelf is also a place where a writer can post information about a local reading or author event that might not otherwise be publicized in a mainstream news outlet. Once readers of Vermont writing catch on to the blog, they will learn to check it for the cameo appearances Vermont authors regularly make at parades, history fairs, and other community events.

Echo Lake, NH

Perhaps one of the reasons I’m so enthused about the collaborative and regional nature of The Vermont Book Shelf is due to my positive experience with the New Hampshire Writer’s Network, the parent of this blog. Live to Write – Write to Live is about the writing life in all it’s myriad forms and it has shown me the success of shared work and shared glory. No single one of us could produce the variety of essays we post each week, but each of us is able to produce an essay once every two. And while the group is nominally based in New Hampshire, it includes outliers in two neighboring states as well. In addition to learning from my comrades in ink, I also benefit from extending my reach to their audience base. As a result of joining this group, I’ve developed a wider audience. And when we talk about audience, we’re talking about readers. As a writer, my object in life is to be read.

What this blog and The Vermont Book Shelf have in common includes shared effort, common purpose, expanded audience, and regional identity. At a time when competitive capitalism has landed us in a recession, and national branding has created a bland culture of sameness, cooperating locally to promote homegrown stories makes great marketing sense.

How else could writers collaborate? What kind of collaborative group would you like to be part of? How would you go about getting it off the ground?

Deborah Lee Luskin is the author of Into the Wilderness, an award-winning love story set in Vermont in 1964. She keeps bees and chickens in southern Vermont.

5 ways to increase your exposure

You’re a writer who needs to get her name out in the world. You want magazines, businesses, and organizations to discover how talented you are and hire you to write for them. Here are five ways to get you started on a plan that will get yourself and your business better known.

Network, network, and network some more
You’re making writing your business, and like many businesses, it’s more about who you know than what you know, at least to get in the door. Networking, both in-person at events and online through social media, is a solid way to add new clients. Make sure to at least know who your target client is and what makes you the best writer for their needs. You can also think of who can introduce you to the person who can introduce you to the contact you really want to meet.

Ask for referrals
Sure you need to have clients to be in business, so you can’t ask for referrals until you have some satisfied customers, but referrals are a powerful way to build your credibility. When a client compliments you on a job well done, take that moment to ask them for a recommendation or referral. It’s nice to assume that that client will tell a friend who will tell a friend, but ask, and you’ll make sure it happens. Or it may be more comfortable for you to could offer a future discount to clients who refer new clients to you.

Publish content
You’re a writer, so, write something and publish it. It’s the best way to get exposure. You can publish online, through your blog or online article directories (as a way to start). Get your writing published in print newspapers or magazines. Starting with local and regional publications is fun (at least I’m enjoying myself immensely writing for community papers and a regional magazine). And then you can move up to  national and international publications. And a lot of print articles also end up online, so that multiplies your exposure.

Offer a freebie
Everyone loves giveaways, especially those that are relevant and helpful. Free reports can help you accomplish two goals at once. Report content can help establish you as a good writer and as a solid, credible source of information. Offering a useful freebie can entice prospective clients to your Web site and motivate them to hire you for your services.

Blog
Having a blog helps drive traffic to your business and your business site, and it builds your brand. Your writing ability will shine through in your blog’s content, but don’t make it all about you all the time. Make sure to include useful information for your visitors. Of course you want to share what you can do, but also offer helpful links to other sites, links to resources, ways for your reader to find events local to themselves, and other similar things.

What do you do to get your name out there and showcase your writing?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a solopreneur who works hard to take her own advice. She’s also a New England region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom

Starting a blog even though it seems scary

Today’s post is from guest blogger Diane MacKinnon.

For years, I wanted to start a blog.  I am a life coach and feel a strong need to connect with other people and try to communicate about how to live a happier life. I would write blog posts in my head, in my journal, and even in a folder on my computer marked “Posts for Future Blog.” So why didn’t I start a blog?  One word: fear.

Once, when I was eleven, I came home from school to find my mom and my older brother laughing over my journal.  While there was a part of me that was flattered they thought it was funny, I was horrified to think they were reading my private thoughts.

Although I kept journaling, I never wrote down anything that I wouldn’t want anyone else to read.  Pretty boring.  Eventually, as an adult, I consciously stopped censoring my thoughts and actually wrote down in my journal my true thoughts—even the really petty, stupid ones that make no sense at all unless you were there.

But to write things down and then put them out there into the world? Saying, “this is what I think and this is what I believe?”—that still seemed very risky to me.

So I snuck up on it.

I read other people’s blogs, I kept writing my own blog posts in my journal, and then in January of 2011 I took a Blogging 101 class with Dan Blank. I did all the class assignments, including getting a blog set up on Word Press.  I wrote out an editorial calendar and brainstormed more topics.  What fun!

And did I start my blog on February 1st, as my editorial calendar had scheduled? Nope.  But I kept thinking about it and doing little pieces.  I’m a big fan of turtle steps—taking such small steps forward in completing a task that they feel doable, even easy.  But if you want to start a blog, one day you actually have to publish a blog post.

I finally took the leap in June.  I just pasted a blog post into my Word Press blog site and clicked Publish. I didn’t tell anyone I did it, but it still felt really scary—and exhilarating.  About a week later, I mentioned to a close friend that I had started a blog.  Then I told a few more people.  And when I sent out my monthly life coaching newsletter, I mentioned it there.  Every time I mentioned it, it felt a little less scary.

My blog is not getting a ton of hits, I don’t have all my “tags” listed.  My RSS feed sign-up is not working exactly the way I want it to.  But I can fix all that.  The important thing is that I am being true to myself and I am putting it out there.

Have you started a blog? What was the scariest part for you? If you want to start a blog and haven’t, try turtle steps.

Diane MacKinnon is currently a full-time mother, part-time life coach.  She is passionate about her son, her writing and using her mind to create a wonderful present moment.  Find her blog at http://www.dianemackinnon.com/blog.