5 Things I've Learned From Blogging for a Year
I've been blogging consistently for a year. With over 50 articles published and over 25 newsletters sent. I've learned quite a few things. I made a similar post 6 months ago about what I learned. This will be less about writing and about the experience of blogging.
This is inspired by a blog post written by Nick Maggiulli, 7 Things I Learned from One Year of Blogging.
What I've Learned
Focus on consistency, don't let great be the enemy of good;
When you're struggling with content ideas, consume more;
If you don't have a specific niche, that's okay, experiment and see what sticks;
To generate views go on social media, then direct them to your blog; and
When you're feeling overwhelmed, take breaks
I've always had the dream of being a blogger. Or being one of those people that can quite their job to become a full time writer/podcaster/blogger/Youtuber. I would look at all of these other writers with their talent/skill and want to be just like them. I wanted my first blog to be perfect, to be so amazing that I would get a flock of readers. That isn't reality. I've never seen myself as a particularly good writer. But I wanted to improve. In order to improve I needed to practice writing, hence this blog. But I also needed to accept that my writing, at least in the beginning, would suck. That's the reality of improving a skill, first you suck at it but after enough practice, you don't.
The way to practice is to write consistently, that's the key to getting better. Focus less on perfect, and more on consistently good. Being consistent is also the best way to generate an audience. People tend to follow creators who post regularly. See my previous posts about the importance of consistency: 5 Lessons I Learned About Life from Fitness and Want to Improve Specific Skills? Produce Consistently.
There's a piece of advice that circulates for new writers: if you want to be a better writer you need to write more. It's true you need to practice your craft, there's nothing better than it. There's also another important method when producing content. You need to consume content. For writing blog posts, books, and podcasts are the best. Reading works by others is the best way to inspire your own. If you're interested in advice for writing see my article with tips from Stephen King on becoming a better writer.
Another tip: read widely. Read from all kinds of authors and genres. If you're a fan of historical novels try reading a science novel. You get a different perspective on life. Things you would have never thought of. As said by Maggiulli it helps with "making connections, finding patterns, and discovering new insights".
Everyone always talks about finding the perfect niche. If you think it's specific, then it's not specific enough. A few content creators talk about this: Justin Welsh in his article, How to Choose a Profitable Niche or Ali Abdaal's Youtube video, My Most Important Weekly Habit. But as I've explained in my article finding my niche, I've never been one to specialize. If you look back at my early articles there's not particular theme to it. No niche or super specific topic I have a deep knowledge on. I wrote about whatever interested me.
If you're starting out, don't be afraid to experiment with all kinds of topics, formats and platforms. See what works for you. Try using Twitter (which I did briefly but I wasn't any good at) or Youtube. Whatever it is it can take time to find a niche. You're not committed to the platform or topic. Especially in the beginning.
Most blogs, even ones who have been publishing content for a while. Don't have a lot of views. Not because their content is bad. But because it's difficult to get organic traffic to a website now. Earlier (in the 2000s) it was easier to get traffic on blogs because there wasn't that many blogs out there. To get views you're going to need to adopt the idea of a public to private bridge. It's where you create on public platforms give you reach. It's the fastest way to grow your audience, people are already on these sites. Then once you've gotten an audience you can direct them to more private channels like a newsletter or a blog. I use LinkedIn as my platform of choice and it's how I've gotten my newsletter subscribers and blog post views.
Another benefit is the power of an immediate feedback loop. You can make a quick post on social media and instantly see how well it resonates with your audience. Based on that you can experiment and adjust your content to reach more people.
I know in the first point I wrote about the importance of consistently creating content. That's the best way to get views and practice your craft. It's also the way to get the most views on other social media platforms. The algorithm favors those who produce content consistently. With that said it's important to take breaks when necessary. Especially if you're producing content by yourself. It's necessary to have breaks, if you do most likely your audience won't even notice. Otherwise you will get overwhelmed, like I did in the beginning of this year (see article on that here). Unless they are the most dedicated or the idea of 1000 true fans. You can either schedule regular breaks like once every quarter, once a month.
Another method is to create a schedule that you can stick to. If posting every week is too daunting try every other week. Either way make sure to schedule frequent breaks and take a break way from technology. For me I take breaks when I feel it's needed.
If you like this post sign up for my newsletter here.