You laughed! I know you did! :)
Yesterday, as I was driving to Via Roma which is my usual Friday night hangout with friends, I was just thinking about the different aspects of blogging, and it really hit me that it's actually a lot like Karaoke. Of course in most cases, this is without the music and a mic, unless you are podcasting or vodcasting.
There's a lot that you have to overcome in karaoke, just as you do in blogging. You have to be able to take the criticism with the applause. You need to realize and know what works and what doesn't (honestly, I really just can't do rap!), and there's likely a few other thousand minute things that can compare blogging with karaoke. So maybe I'm just a little odd, but hey - I like to have fun and I figured it could be fun comparing my two passions - if anything this could give you a little weekend humor.
It Takes Practice... American Idol Doesn't Come To You
It's rare that even with the words on the screen, do you get a song right the first time you sing it. You could hit a certain part of the song off key, hold a note too long or mess up the words. Overnight sensations in Karaoke really don't happen (regardless if Kenny Chesney sings about it or not). American Idol doesn't sit in karaoke bars, so it's ok to be "off" on somethings, until you get it right. The same is with blogging.
It's rare that you have a overnight success in blogging, or that a post hits digg within the first few minutes of posting. Both karaoke and blogging take practice. With karaoke, when you finally know a song well because you've practiced a few times, your confidence builds and your voice can just shine through. The same goes for blogging, when you start getting comments, when people start submitting your posts to stumble upon or reddit or sphinn, you know your practice has helped. It's true you know, practice makes perfect!
Cheer Others On!
There's one rule with my friends Terri & Glen, who run the karaoke where I go, have and that's you cheer others on. Now, that may sound a little forced, but honestly it's not. It also helps a heck of a lot to build up some confidence. There are those who are first time singers, or maybe they are veterans who've just had a bad day and those few rounds of applause can ease the nervousness or pick up their day.
The same is true in blogging. Sending a link to a blogger who you thought had a great post. Leaving a comment because their post touched you in some way. Subscribing to their feed. Sending and email or a tweet and saying "hey what you wrote, really rocked!" are all tiny ways of cheering others on.
These are simple things that can go a long way to encourage others or pick up their day. It can boost the confidence of a new blogger or it can re-ignite the passion of someone who's wondering "why the heck am I doing this?". Cheer someone on, it can also put a smile on your own face.
Have Thick Skin...and Let It Roll
In karaoke, just as in blogging there are always detractors and primadonnas. In karaoke they'll comment on your choice of song, or how fast you sang something or comment that "maybe you should sing that in a lower key". In blogging, usually they comment on anything in a demeaning way, or they become "troll like".
You need to grow a thick skin. If you know the person is a primadonna or a troll, take what they say with a grain of salt. Maybe, though, they are - at their heart or own gruff way -trying to give you some advice. Peel away the layers of that onion (the nasty comment) and take away the personal attack and see if there's any truth to the matter. Maybe that song I sang would sound better if I did take a key lower, and maybe I just don't need "that" widget on my blog.
Get Over It! Fear That Is...
People couldn't understand why I was mortified to sing karaoke. "You speak in a room full of hundreds of people, how can karaoke be any different?" Ah, but for me it was - singing to me, is very personal and these were my friends! But, it was a fear that held me back, and for most people who don't sing karaoke it's about fear. Once you face that fear, it is amazing to hear the beautiful voices that come out.
Blogging is the same way. There's a bit of fear involved. "What if..." "I can't say..." "Oh no, the industry wouldn't approve..."
You know what - get over it! The fear you feel, 99% of the time is your own self holding you back. You'll never know your own potential if you let fear hold you back. Let people hear your voice, share your thoughts, and if you feel strongly about something - don't be afraid to push that envelope.
Try New Things... It Won't Hurt
We all like comfort. The familiar is comfortable, but after a while it can be monotonous and boring. It's both the same with karaoke and blogging. Singing the same song over and over again, night after night just because its familiar, after a while can just bore your friends and the audience. In karaoke its about not being afraid (see there's that fear I just talked about) to try a new song. I got comfortable with "Suds in a Bucket" and "Come to My Window" and everyone expects me to sing those now, they are comfortable I was comfortable, I like comfortable, but I crave change more. Each week and each time I sing I try a new song, and it really helps me.
The same is true in blogging. Are you always creating top ten lists? Are you always writing about the same things? Are you always beating the same drum? Do you always quote the same sources? Read the same blogs? Why not change things up, try something new? Never read a comic blog, try one for a different perspective. Wouldn't dream of reading a scrapbooker's blog? You are really missing out on come really passionate people. Its amazing what a little change and trying something new can do for you and your blog.
We Are Always Hardest On Ourselves ... So Stop It!
We are our own worst critic. We hear things that others don't even hear. We look more critically upon ourselves than anyone else. In karaoke, I feel awful if I flubbed the words, or I didn't hit the right note, or didn't hold a tune. I tend to think I really messed up a song. Then, someone comes up to me and says "Hey Li, you really sang that song great!"
Its the same with blogging. We are our work isn't perfect so it's not going to get anywhere. We think something is awful, and in reality, it's pretty darn good. I learned this, this past week in Sage Lewis' session at Unleashed. I've been doing online marketing tips videos (to help me get over some fears!), and I have been very hard on myself. Sage pointed things out to me, and I realized how critical I am of myself. I have no doubt every blogger is this way.
The thing is, it's like those detractors and trolls.... "Just get over it!"
Listen To Your Audience .... They Have Something To Say
In karaoke, you listen to your audiences' applause. You also have people coming up and saying "wow, you really did good" and even sometimes they ask you if you can sing a certain song. You may think its out of your league to sing it, but I've learned to listen to what the audience says. If someone says "you should try singing...XXXX" I try it, and 9 times out of 10 they are right.
Its the same with blogging. Listen to your audience. If your audience likes your recipes for cooking up desserts, give them a few more of those. If they like your photographs of your dog doing silly things, include more of them. If your audience responds to your comments on what local politicians are doing - go out and interview a local politician or two. When you touch your audience, when you show them you notice by giving them more of what they like, they respond in kind. Maybe its by telling another friend to come and read your blog, maybe its by leaving comments or maybe its even giving you a link. Blogging isn't just about writing, just like Karaoke isn't all about singing, it's about listening, too.
Passion ... You Gotta Have It
You can always tell when a person has been forced up to the mic on a karaoke night. You can tell when a person is drunk and doing it on a dare. But man or man, can you tell when a person has the passion to sing. The love for what they are doing shows in the emotion on their face and the notes that come out of their moths. When someone is truly passionate about not just singing, but about even just a song it can touch an audience - make them smile, pick them up when their blue, even quite possibly bring them to tears by invoking a memory.
Blogging is the same way. If a person is passionate about the topic
they are blogging about, that passion comes through and just draws
people in. They come back for more, they tell their friends and word
of mouth spreads.
If you are blogging because your boss "says I have to" or this is a
"demand from the CEO" or a new "initiative from our PR company" and you
have no clue why.... that's what is going to come through. Blogging
can't be something forced,and it's also not about regurgitating and
repackaging everyone else's words.
If you are straining to push out every word, if you are having a tough time coming up with content, if you can't understand why on earth anyone would be interested ... then its time to just stop blogging. Likely by that point, your readers have already noticed and have moved on as well. Forced blogging can hurt you more than help you, so unless you've got the passion, just step away from the keyboard.
So in summary maybe I am a bit quirky in my comparison, but I think a lot of things cross over with blogging and karaoke. Both to me are fun and a passion. The day either becomes a burden, a chore or just something "I do", is the day I stop and look if I should really be doing them.
So what's your passion, can you see similarities in it to what you do in your job? Maybe, you can learn a bit from it too. :)
*Check out the Fine Art of Todd Williams, the painting used in the "passion" section is his copyrighted work, and I thought it fit so perfectly! Also check out the photography work of Methanie Dempsay Binder, her copyrighted photo is in the "We're Our Own Critics". And no, they don't know me from "Adam", I just stumbled across their work and decided to share. :)