DEAR HARRIETTE: After being told to start a blog by multiple friends and family members, I took the plunge. Although I felt like I had a lot of support, nobody is reading or commenting on my posts. I thought I could've turned myself into a brand, and now I'm flopping. Should I continue striving for this dream or cut the cord five months in? -- Blogging Is Hard, Milwaukee
DEAR BLOGGING IS HARD: It is time for you to regroup and think about what you really want. If you feel that the content of your blog is important to you and might be interesting to others, devote more time to developing it.
There are two elements needed to make your blog successful: consistently compelling content and expansive marketing. Your blog will never be successful simply because of support from your friends and family. You have to reach out to other communities of people online and push it to them. Learn about how to market to others, how to use key words effectively and how to develop an overall strategy for success. Don't give up yet, though. You have only just begun.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend "Michael" plays in a band on the weekends. He plays mainly at small bars around town, and it seems to make him happy. I love that he has kept his skills and passion for music; however, he has put me in an awkward situation more than once at my home. He will bring over his guitar unannounced and insist on playing something new for everyone.
I understand that this is nice around a campfire, or once in a while (when planned), but Michael needs to start leaving his guitar at home. How do I tell Michael that he is always welcome, but his instrument is not? -- DON'T Play That Funky Music, Seattle
DEAR DON'T PLAY THAT FUNKY MUSIC: You have to set ground rules with your friend. Invite him to come to your home, and sit down to talk with him. Tell him how proud you are that he has kept up his interest in music. Then, tell him that you need him to understand that it is not OK for him to bring his guitar every time he pops by, or to start an impromptu concert without your blessing.
Be direct with him. Let him know that when he comes over unplanned and starts playing, it sometimes disrupts the flow of whatever was previously occurring in your home. Make it clear that he has to stop hijacking your living room.
Know that this may hurt his feelings. You can address that pre-emptively. Tell him your intention is not to hurt him or to shut him out. Point out that he can play for you sometimes -- when planned -- but that it has to happen on your terms, not his.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)