This isn’t poly related but a question about your blog actually. I was wondering how you got started and how you were able to get people submitting questions to you? I’ve been following you for a while now and I’ve been thinking of starting my own advice blog but I’m not sure how to get it started. I want to be able to help others with their problems but I’m not sure how to go about it?
An advice question about giving advice…so meta! I’ve been writing this blog for a few years now, and here’s what I can suggest:
Don’t make it a side blog. Having your advice blog as a main blog means you can follow people, which is a good way to quickly build awareness and an audience. When I first started out, I followed every blog I could find in the poly tag. You may have to make a new email account for this, but it’s not hard at all. I keep this tumblr logged in on an incognito window so I can do my personal tumbling and my poly blogging without having to log in and out. (Obviously this advice doesn’t make sense if you’re not planning to host it on tumblr.)
Use tags to promote. I use the first five tags on a post to draw attention to my blog rather than to internally organize my posts. This makes it easier for it to show up in searches on tumblr and on google. I have typed the tags “poly,” “poly advice,” “polyamory,” “polyamory advice,” “relationship advice,” etc. so many times that my fingers just do it automatically.
Post consistently. I haven’t always been good about this, but it’s good advice nonetheless: decide on a posting schedule and set up a queue to post on that schedule. Try to keep a buffer of 1-2 weeks in the queue (so if you post daily, that’s 7-14 posts; if you post twice a week, that’s 2-4, etc.) That also helps you vary your content and plan things out ahead of time.
Keep your voice consistent. Pick a “persona” and stick to it. If your thing is being gentle and upbeat, one snarky response can turn off readers. If you decide to post hate mail or criticism with well thought out responses, or with just a gif response, or to ignore and delete most negative messages, stick to that.
Pick your niche. What do you want to give advice about? What are you an expert on? There are advice columnists who focus on sex, dating, finances, workplace issues, manners, fashion, mental health, weddings, parenting, etc. Read lots of other advice blogs and columns and think about how to situate yourself as an advice expert on a particular topic.
Know your goals. Are you hoping to syndicate your blog someday by pitching it to an online magazine as a running column? Are you hoping to build a big enough readership that you could monetize with ads or a Patreon? Are you just looking to organize your knowledge online? Do you enjoy writing, but would prefer to have the ‘prompts’ of people’s questions? Would you rather have a smaller but tight-knit and engaged readership, or a larger readership that does not form a “commentariat”? Knowing what you’re trying to accomplish can help you work towards it and set expectations with your readers.
Have a thick skin. People send me ridiculous, sometimes hurtful messages all the time. I get critiqued for not posting often enough, I get yelled at for not answering someone’s message, I get blamed for mental health crises or relationship breakups because of advice I gave or didn’t give. I constantly have people messaging, commenting, or reblogging to criticize my word use or advice. I have been accused of almost every -phobia and -ism, from both sides of every issue. I get the same question asked constantly despite my FAQ. I often get challenging, difficult, or frustrating letters.
You have to be willing to let that go. If you feel the need to defend yourself against every critique or engage in every negative or judgmental situation, it will turn readers off and it won’t be any fun for you. Set your limits, decide what kind of tone and content you want for your blog, and stick to that. I have no problem ignoring or deleting something that I don’t think it’s wise to engage with. There are people out there who think “oh, that Poly Advice Writer is wrong and bigoted and bad at what she does,” and I have to be okay living my life knowing that some people out there in the world don’t like me or the things I create.
Best of luck! <3