How many of you, I wonder, have felt the itch to change your blog’s title within the first month of its creation?
I’m not talking about titles for blog posts. I’m talking about the first words a visitor sees when he lands on your blog’s homepage. It’s the sign hanging on the door.
Maybe you started your blog with a title in mind–only to decide a few weeks later that the title just doesn’t capture the essence of your blog. It served well as a sort of launch pad, but now it just looks like a ladder to nowhere in particular.
Or maybe you thought it sounded clever when you first typed it into the title field, and now, you think it sounds pretentious or just lame.
Maybe you’re a writer, and you look at your title and think, “No one who saw my blog title in a Google search would have any idea that I’m a writer (for hire!). How do I fix that without making it sound like just another writer’s blog?”
That’s my boat. So, I’ve been making a list of possible titles to replace, “What I want to know . . .” Because while my first title–“What I really want to know is . . .”–makes for a nice segue to my blog post headlines, it doesn’t say everything I want it to say.
Does that mean I’m going to shut down the blog until I find the perfect title?
No. Because I’m pretty sure that even if I find a title that makes me giddy with new-crush enthusiasm, I may have to change it later, anyway. Because if a title doesn’t grow with you, it has to go.
Choosing a blog title isn’t like marriage. You don’t commit to it until death separates you. For one thing, words last a lot longer than people do (at least longer than their physical bodies do).
Also, if you’re still in the process of defining your niche, it should come as no surprise that your blog will reflect that, if you’re working at it steadily as you grow.
If you’re still discerning what on earth God has called you to do with the life He gave you, anything you’re in the process of creating will reflect that.
But do you stop what you’re doing until you have your calling or your purpose all figured out?
No. Because you don’t figure those things out by sitting still and holding back. You find them out by making things and doing things.
And you find them out by helping others. After all, how are you going to find that thing you’re good at doing and that you enjoy doing if you’re not doing anything?
How do you find out the things you “freely received” and should “freely give”–things you can do for others that makes their lives better–if you’re doing nothing for them at all?
Are you waiting to be invited to do something? Do you think anyone will ask you to provide a service they need when they’ve never seen you do that for anyone else?
That’s what I’m learning as a beginner freelance writer, blogger and proofreader. This blog, in fact, is one of the platforms I’m using to communicate to others what I’m willing and able to do for them. As I build this blog and put more of myself into it, I’m learning that a bare outline of “what I can do for you” isn’t enough to win the trust of someone out there who might benefit from the things I can do.
As I work to mold my platform into a pleasing shape for those I hope to help in some way, I have sometimes caught myself thinking, “What were you thinking putting this blog up as it is now? You should have waited until it looked as professional and polished as possible before making it public. All you’re doing now is letting the world know what an amateur you really are!”
And, there it is. My blog, even now, probably screams, “I’m new at this!”
But, here’s the thing. If I waited until I thought the blog was polished enough to risk the opinions of other professionals out there (many with more experience), either I’d never make it public (out of recurring fears that “it just isn’t ready”), or I’d make it public and it still wouldn’t be good enough. I’d be pulling my hair out, racing to fix this and that, hoping no one will stop by until it’s perfect, and feeding my inner worrywart every hour my blog remains public–naked and exposed to the criticism of those who know better.
Have you ever published a post only to cringe an hour or so later when one of your phrases (one you thought particularly clever while typing it) comes to mind? And you can just see a professional writer / blogger or a corporate talent scout rolling his eyes and thinking, “Oh, brother,” and moving on.
Fortunately for us, we can go back to our published blog posts and edit them. And I’ve done that. So many times.
But I probably wouldn’t have bothered to edit, if I’d never published the post in the first place.
Because getting your blog and your writing out there–exposing it to criticism from others–makes you work harder to hone your craft. If your only audience is you, you’re not going to work as hard to grow as a writer.
And there’s something else. Publishing your work also helps you learn more about yourself–what’s really important to you, how you want to live, what you want to accomplish during this life. Facing up to criticism from people who don’t think as you do forces you to evaluate what’s really important to you. It puts you to the test. What kind of person are you? What kind of person do you want to be? And what do you have to do to get there?
And how do you help others to do the same?
I’m going to wrap up by encouraging anyone who’s still scrounging around for the best blog title. I suspect you can think of a blog title that will at least capture something of your personality–enough to get started. It doesn’t have to be perfect. You’ll probably change it at some point, anyway. Just as you may try out different themes until you find the look you want your blog to have, you may try out a few (or several) blog titles before you settle with one that best expresses what you want to accomplish with your blog.
It doesn’t have to look or sound like someone else’s either.
Nor does it have to be 100% original, because, let’s face it, original is overrated.
Ever heard the phrase “Nothing is new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes)? That was written thousands of years ago by someone who’s at least as observant as you are. And he was right, then.
And he’s still right.
When was the last time you heard something that really resonated with you? Did it resonate because it was something that had never, ever occurred to you? Or did it resonate with you–create “sympathetic vibrations” in your soul–because it struck you as both familiar and true?
I’m betting it’s the latter. Because resonance trumps originality. Every time.