Flashback to Spring 2009…
Apple has just released its new iPod Shuffle, Lady Gaga’s Poker Face is dominating the radio, The Twilight saga is breaking Box Office records, and my home is ringing with the sounds of The Night Garden…(Oopsy Daisy! Iggle Piggle! Maka Paka!)
And as a stay-at-home/work-from-home mum of two young boys, I find myself craving a creative outlet for my long-neglected love of writing.
Enter: The Wonderful World of Blogging.
I’d been thinking about blogging ever since I first heard about it, and after inventing and then discarding a number of Things To Blog About, I took the age-old writing advice to write about what I knew.
And at that time, my main focus was how to stay sane when you are an Undomestic Goddess with a houseful of boys to keep.
So, 10 years ago, I wrote the first post on my shiny new blog: Make Peace with Housework.
Complete with fancy logo!
(Being a graphic designer certainly helps when you want to start a blog…)
And I enjoyed the blogging experience so much, I vowed to blog every single day.
Which I did!
For about a week.
Family demands and work commitments put a bit of a dampener on my blogging schedule, but I was still excited about this new platform and opportunity.
I had found a new and intriguing creative outlet for my writing.
I was hooked.
• • •
Cut to ten years later…
And I still LOVE blogging.
Though it’s certainly been a bumpy journey, ten years of blogging has been a fun adventure that’s helped me write and publish a book that hit the bestseller lists, as well as stumble upon my Dream Career.
It’s also been a joy to be able to write whatever I like, whenever I like and to reach the people who find my musings helpful or interesting.
As a writer, I feel blessed and grateful to be alive in a time when it’s so easy and virtually free to share my words with the world and to connect directly with my readers.
But ten years of anything will teach you a lot, so I felt this bloggiversary was a good time to assess the lessons and learnings of my decade of blogging.
And so with gratitude to the inventors of the internet and the fellow bloggers that have inspired my journey, I offer you…
10 Lessons From 10 Years of Blogging
• • •
1. It takes a while to find your groove
It’s only in looking back over my early blog posts that I can see how my blogging style and voice developed, gradually, over time.
Those early posts certainly weren’t perfect specimens of blogging par excellence, but they were a start.
After ten years, I would hope that my writing and blogging skills have improved, but I wouldn’t have got to here if I hadn’t begun.
So even though it took a while to find my groove, it was worth the clumsiness and learning curve.
All blogging – all writing – is writing practice.
• • •
2. Keeping the faith is crucial
For a new blogger, starting from scratch, many blog posts will get few (if any readers), particularly in the early days.
All you can do is just keep swimming.
Keep posting, keep sharing, keep the faith.
Know that many of today’s millionaire bloggers were familiar with the sound of crickets in their early blogging days.
• • •
3. Keeping the faith is hard!
Keeping the faith may be crucial when you first start blogging – but it can also be one of the hardest aspects of blogging.
(See the gazillion abandoned blogs in the internet archives…)
This was one of the most powerful lessons I learned from my blogging (and entrepreneurial) adventures.
So much so that I looked for – and found – ways to make this essential part of the process easier.
And then, of course, I blogged about them.
I learned that with blogging, like any creative project or new venture, mindset plays a huge role in whether we keep going or give up.
I have my monthly audible subscription to thank for keeping my hopes and spirits up to the task. (I am a proud audible affiliate – see sidebar for details.)
• • •
4. Hitting Publish can be scary
I used to spend ages polishing and editing my early posts as a way of avoiding that scary moment when I had to hit Publish.
With blogging, there are no editors or publishers to assure you that your writing is brilliant.
It’s just you, bravely presenting your heart and soul to the mercy of an opinionated internet.
It can be quite a vulnerable moment, no matter how many times you’ve done it.
But like anything, it does get easier.
These days I don’t spend much time nervously hovering over the publish button – I’m usually eager to get my latest post out there.
But there are still times when a particularly heartfelt post will give me pause – as I remember that I’m releasing my formerly private musings into a globally public platform.
Lesson: Blogging takes courage.
• • •
5. Happy Readers make it all worthwhile
When you get a comment or an email from a reader, telling you how your blog post made their day or helped them during a difficult time – you forget all about the fears and perils of blogging.
If you write to entertain, help, uplift, educate or inspire others – receiving Happy Reader feedback is all the justification you need.
It’s a real and worthy measure of success in the Art and Science of Blogging.
Regardless of page views, ad revenue or follower counts – touching hearts and minds is the true metric of blogging well.
• • •
6. Blogging is (finally!) A Thing
Ten years ago, most people viewed blogging as a hobby – that’s if they knew what you were talking about in the first place.
(I remember having to explain more than once where this strange word came from…)
In 2019, not only is blogging HUGE, it’s also respected and valued, and for some businesses – it’s essential.
Bloggers can achieve celebrity status and ‘Blogger’ is a common response from children when asked what they want to be when they grow up.
Blogging is now a valid career choice and a viable (and potentially lucrative) business model.
This can help a lot when you’re deciding whether to invest precious time and energy and even money in your blog.
• • •
7. Automation is a blogger’s friend
The blogosphere is noisy.
If you want your voice to be heard, you need to show up regularly.
You need to share your posts and your work, over and over and over again to have even a chance of being seen in the rapids of internet searches and social media feed streams.
It can be exhausting and demoralising to do this task yourself.
Happily, many automation tools now exist to handle this broadcasting work for you on auto-pilot.
Leaving you free to write even more blog posts!
My favourite tools are Tailwind* (for Pinterest), Later* (for Instagram), meetedgar (for Twitter and Facebook) and Aweber* (for email marketing.) Tailwind, Later and Aweber links are affiliate/referral links – see sidebar for more details.
• • •
8. Aesthetics matter
I remember once spending days crafting a new blog post, editing and re-editing to make sure the ideas were clear and inspiring and the words flowed beautifully.
And the feedback?
“I don’t like the font you’ve used.”
Modern blog readers expect more than just good writing.
They want beautiful images, well-designed pages and an uplifting user experience.
The words matter – a poorly written blog won’t attract or keep readers, no matter how pretty – but image also matters.
(Plus, it’s fun to create beautiful posts that you feel proud of and just can’t stop looking at. 🙂 )
• • •
9. Order = productivity
Creative chaos may sound fun, but it’s not good for your blog.
I’m a prolific note-taker and over the years, the collection of ideas and half-written blog posts accumulating on my devices grew into a chaotic mix of hundreds of Evernotes, Mindmaps and Wunderlist lists.
Even though I was writing more than ever, my rate of Finished & Published Blog Posts actually decreased for a few years.
When I finally began to get organised and adopt tidier writing habits, my blog rate took off again.
I found a new productive flow and discovered that when your drafts and notes are orderly and accessible, you will find and write and publish them more easily and more often.
And the more you post, the more people find you. (See Lesson 10.)
• • •
10. Magic happens
There are many ways you can run and promote a blog.
Over the last ten years, I’ve studied and experimented with a vast range of tactics and strategies.
Some are still effective, some worked well for a time, and others… not so well – for me all least.
But one thing I have learned and now know for sure:
When you love what you’re writing about… When you respect and appreciate your readers… When you keep the faith and believe in your writing… When you share from your heart… When you keep calm and carry on…
To paraphrase the Field of Dreams quote, if you just keep blogging, they will come.
Readers will find you in surprising and often miraculous ways.
I’ve lost count of the chance comments, word of mouth recommendations or happy coincidences that have helped my most cherished readers find my blog.
I still take a lot of practical steps to find and reach my readers, but I also know that wonderful things happen when you leave room for the magic.
And it’s been a happy discovery to see just what an effective strategy that can be. 🙂
But that’s a whole other blog post… (Maybe even a book.)
• • •
So, I hope these lessons are helpful to you in your blogging adventures.
Looking back, it seems that 10 years of blogging have not only helped me find joy and fulfilment in my creative life, but they have also led to a new philosophy about how life actually works, what helps us to be more successful, and what doesn’t.
I’d say that was ten blogging years well spent.
I wonder what the next ten will bring…
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