It's been about a year since I began The Bamboo Project (the exact date is lost in the mists of time and a move from one Typepad account to another). It seems fitting, then, that a great post this morning from Darren Rowse reminds me of those first days and months of pouring my heart into the digital void and how often it felt like I was talking to myself. (Sometimes it still feels that way).
I've been emailing recently with Christine Martell and one of the things we've discussed is how many people don't start blogging out of a fear that they'll look foolish or that they'll make a mistake. I'm here to say that in the beginning, it doesn't really matter because nobody will be reading anyway. You'll write a post that feels like solid gold, you'll post it and . . . nothing. You'll write a post that is crap because you didn't have time to do research or you just didn't put the necessary effort into it and . . still nothing. Unless you're sending out your blog URL with your Christmas cards, it's unlikely that many people at all will see your blog, so you'll be making mistakes (and doing great stuff) in an empty room. Which for many people is the best place to screw up.
So why blog in the first place? Because eventually the readers do come, and, as Darren points out, when they do, you'll be ready for them. You'll have learned the rhythm of posting, tried out ideas and had a chance to poke around on other people's sites. Yes, you may have made mistakes, but if you're serious about blogging, you'll learn from them and move on. And sometimes it's the mistakes you make that create the best fodder for your posts.
The comments and conversation are part of what makes blogging so rewarding and interesting. But there's something to be said for those times at the beginning when you're preaching to the empty pews. They give you a chance to find your voice and to get comfortable with working in a more public forum. Slowly, surely, as you continue to work and write, readers will creep in to hear what you have to say. If you nurture them and listen and continue to get better at what you do, they'll stay and bring more people with them. You just have to have faith and stick with it to get over that initial hump. Eventually it builds to something really great and then it all feels worth it.