So, here’s the deal. I have a new website – and it has a ‘blog’ link plastered on the home page.
With my face on it.
There is no escape. We are all keeping a safe distance these days but it seems that is no excuse for dodging one's blogging duties. The modern world, and the blogging tasks which come with it, have finally cornered me, and it is time to spill the beans.
Is blogging a waste of time? And can I swear in it?
Blogging is a ‘must do’ for the modern online business and I know I should have been doing it for ages but where does one start? What do you write about? Who is interested enough to read it? Where does one fit the task in? My inability to pick a starting point, coupled with being run ragged with a small business, has resulted in me avoiding the blogging task for the last 7 years of having a website.
If I’m honest I will also say that I never did know what to write about. It’s not that I can’t write – because I have written many things over the years (An anti-advertising Vagina poem which was shared 15,000 times across the world on Facebook – and an anonymous anxiety column for a London newspaper, to name a few).
But I assumed website blogging meant a yawn inducing commentary about your business, complete with a fabulous spin on it. I thought it might be a bit fake and pretentious. A bit social media-ish, with all the nice things displayed to the world, and all the horrors concealed. I also worried that it might be a bit boring – I mean, how much can you say about ethical soft furnishings? And then there’s my perfectionism/ control freakiness? The insistence on every word being absolutely grammatically correct and perfectly placed? It is not easy to stick to a blogging timescale when you pick over detail the way I do.
Also, I like to swear – and I’m not sure that there is a place for that in blogs – is there? I never swear at people – only at ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ and ‘situations’. I only swear when I’m angry, but I am angry a lot of the time. And when I am, I like to think profanities; shriek profanities and write profanities. I try to be a good person, but I often say bad things. It comes with the territory of running a small business and having to know EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING in order for it to survive.
That brings me to the term ‘busy fool’. The using up of much time, energy and emotion on something which serves absolutely no purpose at all. I equate this term with many events. Losing a spreadsheet that has taken a week to complete makes me a busy fool. Writing a presentation for an event which is cancelled makes me a busy fool. Being given the run around with incorrect information makes for another day’s pointless activity. There are many such days.
Is there a danger that blogging might make me a ‘busy fool’? If nobody reads it then why am I doing it? I shan’t over-think this too much because it’s early days yet but, tell me - is this sort of garbage talk starting to sound a bit more interesting than the warp and weft of weaving? If so, I have plenty of it.
OK - OK - I'll do it. But how?
I have skimmed through the theories of blogging and I am led to believe that a blog should be in the region of 1500 – 2000 words. It should take around 7 minutes to read and it should be pleasing to Google. By that I mean that it should be engaging and relevant. It should bloom with fresh, topical content and contain the sort of words that google likes (what words?). There should be images and a ‘call to action’ (what is that by the way…..?). I see mention of ‘hyper-links’ (is that not a type of sausage?); ‘conversion’ (from what to what?); ‘abandonment’ (hmmmm, I don’t cope so well with sad endings).
Apparently, if I am to write a decent blog, it shouldn’t be ‘all about me’ (hmph!). It should be about the useful stuff I can share. Stuff that readers might take from my experiences and knowledge. This poses an interesting question because now I need to ask myself ‘what is it that you would like to know?’.
Can I write about what you want to read about?
Perhaps a great starting point for this first blog might be for me to tell you what I know and what I intend to write about – and if I understand correctly, then the term ‘call to action’ might be invoked by you telling me what you would like to hear.
If that’s the way we’re going to play it then we need to get the introductions out of the way first.
My name is Karen. I am a middle-aged bag, and if that sounds most unappealing let me tell you that you do not get to this stage of life without ‘knowing about stuff’. And I mean that as opposed to ‘thinking you know about stuff’. I am clear about the difference, but you may disagree depending on what you read from me.
So, what is this ‘stuff’ that I ‘know about’. To set the scene I will give you the context which is that I am the founder and owner of an ethical homeware company called Second Nature Online. It started as a hobby but soon turned professional and has now been running for 12 years. It is primarily an online business selling on Amazon, EBay, Etsy, Faire and our NEW website!
We process around 1500 orders a month. I am aided by my lovely other half who is also a full-time fire-fighter and we have a further 4 members of staff. We work out of a large industrial unit with electronic roller doors that I still like pressing the button for. I also do some professional speaking (if I am invited – otherwise I keep my head down) and I work with Scottish Enterprise to deliver training to small businesses who are looking to sell online, particularly on Ebay and Amazon. Other training creations, such as ‘SAS – Is Your Business Tough Enough’ are in my armoury too.
In terms of ‘stuff’, well at a business level I can tell you about the pros and cons of starting and growing your own business; knowing when it’s time to leave your paid employment; getting your admin shit together; not getting your admin shit together; employing staff; doing everything your bloody self; finding a great contractor or freelancer; freaking out about having to register for VAT; registering for VAT; looking for premises; taking on premises; refusing to ‘get into importing’; getting into importing; paperwork; paperwork and more paperwork. Special topics include Selling on Ebay; Selling on Amazon; Selling on Etsy; the list goes on and on and I hope that my final topic may one day be ‘planning your escape’ and ‘getting into the garden’.
At a more personal level I can tell you stuff about the questionable nirvana of ‘being your own boss’. The guilt of running an ethical business whilst forgetting to recycle your bottles; visiting suppliers in India when you suffer from crippling travel anxiety. Trying to be a professional when you feel like an amateur. Knocking back a brandy at 11am when a revised VAT bill comes in.
I can also talk about the regular and sometimes crushing impact on your mental health. And I don’t mention ‘mental health’ just to please Google with a popular key word. I mention it because it is part and parcel of running your own business. To quote myself in my “SAS – Is Your Business Tough Enough” presentation – “there are no f****** sick lines when you are self-employed”. We are all familiar with the phrase “it’s OK to not be OK” – but when you have a business to run, there are consequences of not being OK. Hence, from a practical perspective, ‘it’s not OK to not be OK’. More on that when the time comes….
Hindsight - The Blog
So here’s me coming up for my 1500 words! I’ve hit the word target and I think I kinda get the theory of blogging, but it will take a while to implement. Let’s say I just do this my own way for now – until I get the hang of it. Let’s say I don’t aim for perfect grammar – but I do aim for honesty and humour (of which there is plenty!).
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See you next time!