Last month, my blog turned 4 years old. If it were a kid, it would be in preschool now. A lot has changed with me and my blog. I’m no longer an undergrad, I’m now married (2 years in July), and I’ve travelled to a bunch of places with a lot more adventures to come. As for the blog, I’ve learnt a lot about what I like in a blog post and how I like to organise the information, changed the look, and jazzed up the blog to look more fun, colourful, and inviting. I hope you have gotten the impression that this blog has improved a lot over the years.
I did a reader survey last year, and I’m doing one again. It would be a big help if you fill this out and share your feedback. It only takes a few minutes and it’s anonymous. Click here to fill out the survey. I want this blog to be the best repository of classic rock knowledge and history that I can make it. Thank you!
Like any creative, I have a hard time looking at my old work without cringing and wanting to push it away. So that’s a sign of growth and learning.
To celebrate these four years, I want to share with you four things I’ve learnt. One thing for each year.
I often ask musicians this question: “What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?” Now, it’s my turn to answer this question. What advice do I have for aspiring bloggers?
1. Just keep writing.
Dory likes to chant “just keep swimming”. I admire her positivity and determination and Finding Nemo was one of those movies that got me through difficult times in life. It’s simple advice, a lot like Hakuna Matata from The Lion King. “It means no worries for the rest of your days. It’s a problem free philosophy. Hakuna Matata!”
Recently, a friend gave me a pep talk and said if you want your blog to go anywhere, you gotta take that rock and roll approach. Keep making and sharing content and stop caring about views – the last part is the real rock and roll part. A lot of rock and roll legends weren’t appreciated at the time – didn’t get much commercial success, but decades later they got the appreciation they deserved.
Writing is about having fun. Eventually one of those things that you write is going to go somewhere. Just work hard and never rest on your laurels.
That’s what happened with my post on LGBT classic rockers. I never imagined that it would get tens of thousands of views. Not everyone who reads it goes on to be a big fan of the blog, but surely, I’ve gained some readers from it because it’s a topic that piques people’s interest and that blog post is what The Diversity of Classic Rock is really all about. Sharing information about classic rock in a simple, easy to understand, non intimidating, non pretentious way.
Just keep writing is kind of vague and simple advice, but it works. All of the content creators who make it big put a lot of work into their content, you just don’t see all of it, the bulk of it being behind the scenes stuff. Writing this blog made me appreciate all this (largely) unpaid work that video bloggers, writers, artists do to brighten our days. Never underestimate how much work goes into creating content. Also, promote your work! You can never do too much promotion.
2. Take chances. Get out of your shell.
It’s weird. I have social anxiety, yet I studied journalism and communications. A very weird combo. Oh why didn’t I study something science related? That might have fit in better with my personality. Wait! I need to snap out of that “what could have been thinking”.
I remember what Victor Moreno of Medusa said when I interviewed him. In summary: There’s no point in thinking of what could have been or should have been done differently – why make yourself sad by dwelling on that? What happened happened and I have to make the most of my life. I’ve met and spoken to such great people through studying what I studied and writing this blog and getting into the classic rock blogging scene. Those nice things mightn’t have happened if I took another path.
Life is full of choices and chances and you get one shot at it. Take chances, take advantage of any opportunities you get. There’s a networking event going on and you are hesitant about going because you’re shy? Go! You’re only going to regret not going and giving it a chance. You might meet someone cool. Keep an open mind. Take that class. Go to that gig and write a review of it. Ask that person if they want to be interviewed for your blog. Go and approach someone and ask if they want to collaborate and write a guest post. Ask about getting sponsors and PR.
I’ve taken chances with content. Sometimes it’s a success and sometimes it’s not. I’ve found that readers like seeing blog posts about other things besides music. I get to expand my horizons and try new things with my writing. Writing facts about your favourite musicians can get a bit stale and formulaic and I want to break out of that routine and give you something fresh. Commentary about music news, stories from my travels, reviews of stuff, interviews with musicians.
3. Rejected? Dust yourself off and get up again.
Everyone faces rejection. When you take chances, you’ll experience rejection at some point. It gets to you after a while.
What’s especially relevant in that last tip as far as taking chances with my blog and how it relates to rejection is getting out of my shell and interviewing people. It’s not easy, especially with my anxiety. Generally I do a “three strikes you’re out rule” when approaching bands/musicians for interviews. Sometimes messages slip through the cracks. People are busy. Be persistent, but also be patient. Don’t give up too easily, but if you’ve tried three times already, move on.
I’ve had a high enough success rate at getting interviews with musicians. I can only think of a few times it didn’t pan out. It sucks, but there are other musicians out there who would be happy to talk, and I’d rather interview someone who’s enthusiastic than someone who’s reluctant. Makes for a better read and it’s more enriching.
Generally, musicians like publicity and talking about their work, but musicians are people with varying personalities. Some just don’t like to talk and that’s it. Accept that some people are private. If your blog is good, it’s their loss if they don’t do an interview. Remember that musicians pay and beg for publicity. Always be professional, polite, and cordial. Don’t be nasty, no matter how slighted you feel.
People might turn you down, but that doesn’t mean that they will never accept you down the line. The best form of revenge is to be so good that they can’t ignore you anymore.
“Tubthumping” says it well:
“I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down.”
4. Be organised and have a vision.
If you don’t have a plan for your blog, how are you going to make this vision come true? Break it down into steps. It makes it a lot less intimidating and it’s good for keeping organised. Have mini goals. Write your ideas down: notebook, on the computer, whatever works for you.
Keep your writing organised and clear. People don’t want to read what looks like drunken scribbles on a notepad.
Have ideas about how you’re going to promote your writing. Don’t forget about social media! It’s good for outreach and interactivity.
A lot of things have been done before. Have a vision for your blog and think about what makes it special and go make that vision come true.
Have fun with it!
Shout out to my good friend and Topaz level Patron, Patrick.
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