It’s been five years since I started this blog. I really didn’t know what I was doing when I started it.
But, I was lucky to have started my blog when I did–the landscape of “the blogosphere” was different then.
“Way back” in 2009, the online world was hardly as saturated for content. Today, there are websites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy that purely exist to create “highly shareable” list posts and content. Even local news stations are in on easily clickable online content with sometimes deceptive headlines that bate your interest.
That leaves you and me–people who care about creating valuable content, sharing meaningful stories, and giving to others–struggling to get a lick of attention.
What is someone like you and me to do when you don’t know what you’re doing, except that you know that you care?
The high level of competition can seem intimidating at first, but it really just means that you have a bigger and more pressing responsibility to get deeper into understanding yourself before you shape your process for building something or creating a blog.
You can haphazardly slap a blog together and start sharing your message, but in a noisy online world, you risk hearing crickets for a long time.
Today, I want to help you get from Point A, starting from wherever you are, to Point B–your “next step,” a healthy iteration or evolution–with ease and lightness.
These tips below are reader-driven questions on starting a blog and getting things going, especially when you don’t really know “what you’re doing,” except for knowing that you do truly care about it. As well you ought to. :)
Question 1. “How did you start creating your blog?”
Easy answer? I sat down and started. I bought the domain and got going from there.
The longer story is that I started to think about creating a blog just a couple of weeks before I quit my job in May of 2009.
I was on the edge of quitting my job, and I knew it.
As this point, every sign–physical, mental, emotional–was telling me that I needed to jump fast to survive, or else my spirit and self-belief would continue to slowly die.
Once the idea set in that my job and my career path were misaligned from a core truth, my calling, my purpose, the virus overcame me and compelled me to quiet while I was still ahead.
I was still hesitant about what I was going to do and how I was going to figure out my way, but my plan was to take the leap of faith and to ride momentum the only way I knew how–figuring it out as I go, teaching myself what I needed to learn, and writing and helping people along the way–to build a platform for myself as a writer and aspiring author.
My only real goal was to write a single book–one that I had long dreamed of writing. I thought that it would help set me for life, but I learned differently.
Question 2. “What were the first steps you took?”
I bought my domain, DaveUrsillo.com, and set a deadline on the calendar as my goal to launch the site, set up WordPress as my go-to blogging platform, and set to work.
My strategy at the time was simple: figure it out as I go.
The times afforded me the chance to find my way as I went. I wrote a handful of blog posts, created the copy for my about page, and found a WordPress premium theme design that I wanted to use to represent me.
Today, I would recommend a different strategy.
You need to do some hard work to uncover the values you strive to live by daily–they’re certain to resonate, intentionally or unintenionally, in the work you aspire to do. Finding clarity in this area is hugely helpful, because it means you can get much deeper into your work and more targeted to find your perfect readers, customers and clients.
This is largely what I do with writers and creatives today.
Question 3. “Why did you go with your name as the domain name for your blog?”
I always tell people that I chose for my blog to be my name because my name will never change, except for the off chance that I become a felon and run from the law.
It’s a bad joke, I admit it, but it’s true. My name is not going to change. I am Dave Ursillo. And I want that to be how people meet me, even if they don’t meet me.
My URL is the simplest, most direct and honest handshake to the anonymous visitor. It is who I am.
And no matter what iterations and evolutions that I might go through with my writing, branding, business goals or otherwise, everything can always be housed under this one roof, DaveUrsillo.com.
My advice is pretty pointed in this arena, because I’ve so commonly seen newbies to the blogopshere–whether writers, creatives, aspiring authors, young entrepreneurs or anyone who is developing a brand/business for the first time–get sucked into thinking that they “need a thing” like a logo, or a slogan, or a catch-phrase to represent them, more than their own name, face and personal story.
Many up-and-comers in the self-starter arena default into this thinking. And it can take years to undo the thought process.
They think, “It shouldn’t be ‘all about me,’ it should be all about this one single amazing and truly world-shaking idea that I have that will change the history of Earth and everyone in it!” I used to think this way, at least.
If your business solely involves and requires you (as a creative, artist, writer, or solopreneur) your business is you.
See how a popular author and entrepeneur like my friend Danielle LaPorte decided not long ago to shift her business and brand away from WhiteHotTruth.com and to DanielleLaPorte.com. That’s who she is, and always will be.
People give far less a shit about brands and logos than you think. People care about people. Faces. Names. Personal stories. This is embed in our DNA. We want to see faces or we don’t know who’s talking to us. We want to see humanity, flaws and imperfections, or we don’t trust who this supposedly perfect creature is.
Your face is your logo, so show it; your story is your mission statement, so tell it; your life is your business, so live it.
I wrote a post about why this thinking misleads many first-timers and distracts them from getting to the heart of their message.
Question 4. “Where do you come up with ideas for your blog posts?”
I hear this question so often! You want to really know where my ideas come from? From living.
All of my writing ideas and entrepreneurial ideas are a product of my life, and how I practice living it.
They result from my experiences, from traveling abroad to falling in love with my yoga practice, to how I operate and learn from my business, to my many personal struggles, to my big dreams and goals. My ideas dawn from topics of discussion and themes and stories that come up in conversations with friends, peers, strangers and neighbors.
Isn’t that the dream? For your life to fuel your creativity and business, and vice versa?
It feels really honest and pure to use your life to facilitate what ideas and messages you feel called to share with others. Not only does it feel good, it means that you have a built-in system that encourages you to get off your ass, get out into the world and do some serious living. Live the story you want to tell. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve recently made the point to travel as I do.
I don’t ever sit down to generate ideas for the content I’m creating–blog posts or otherwise. I strive to live in ways that the ideas are endlessly finding me as a result of my experiences. I record every whiff of an idea and store them away in Evernote.
In my default Evernote notebook, I have more than 425 ideas that I’ve come up with over the last two years. Many will never see the light of day.
Question 5. “What do you feel are the most effective posts you write for your audience?”
How do you define effective? Do you mean what blog posts have the greatest effect in supporting them? Or, the greatest effect in what they share via social media? Or, the most resonance on a personal level?
I don’t try to write effective blog posts. Efficiency is not my intention. Depth and meaning are my intentions. Resonance and honesty are. Truth is my intention.
To that point, how can a guy like me hope to instill these qualities through what he writes? I hope that my writing helps reconnect the reader with a truer sense of oneself. I hope my blog posts have a grounding, centering effect. I hope that this feeling of being “connected to self” helps someone feel authentic inspiration, and the motivation to do what he or she feels called to do.
By that metric, my most effective pieces are the most honest ones.
I recently wrote a piece on “How to say something worth listening to,” which should be helpful in understanding this quality of truth-bearing from moment to moment.
Question 6. “What audience are you trying to reach?”
I’m actually not trying to reach an audience at all–I’m trying to reach one reader when I write.
That doesn’t mean that I have one individual reading my blog–I have thousands. But my point here is to distinguish what force is motivating you as the creator–what intentions you are carrying into the writing. I don’t write for an audience because I value, embody and often naturally speak to the quality of individuality and self-determination–that’s a value of my readers. So I must write to one person for his or her shared value of individuality to feel truly spoken to.
My “one” reader is somebody who highly values the idea of living a life that is, itself, a thing of artistry.
My ideal reader values the truth and honesty of creativity that is exemplified through effortlessness, ease and confidence–simply being one’s own self. My ideal reader understands that self-expression is a victory in itself, and that life is honored when we enjoy the nuance of it and relish in the depth of it.
My readers, like me, highly value seeing the beauty of life and truly experiencing who they are and what they desire to do with their lives. This quality embodies a sense of personal leadership: taking responsibility for self. Leading by example, just based upon how one carries oneself.
Imagine living your life in such a way that you inspire others. Imagine that. Imagine that the way you carry yourself, what you do and how you do it is so honest and pure that it is, in itself, one way how you give to people.
One of my best friends, who herself was first a reader and client before she was my friend, just quit her job. When she told this to her boss, a multi-millionaire entrepreneur, he asked her, “You’re so free now. I’m jealous of you. How can I get out of this, too?”
Quite literally, by taking this leap of faith, which resulted from her by being true to herself and honoring what she needed most and wanted most, she inspired her boss to get truly honest with himself, what he needs and what he wants.
He wanted to be free all along. He just needed someone like her to take the lead–to help him see it in himself.
So, starting a blog, quitting your job, creating a business, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing or how you’ll do it.
Start where you are.
You’re already leading from there–whether you realize it or not.