Today marks one year since my first ever blog post – I Have No Idea What I’m Doing (And I’m Alright With It) (which you can read here)
Since then, I feel my blogging output has seen many ups and downs, peaks and valleys, troughs and….you get the idea. It’s been good at times, and very frustrating and difficult at times.
Although one year is nothing in comparison to the more experienced bloggers out there – I still feel it’s appropriate to mark this event with everybody’s favourite kind of post – a good ol’ fashioned list.
Let’s dive right in.
Lesson 1 – F*ck How Many Followers you Have
The cardinal sin for any blogger is to fixate on how many followers they have. It’s an easy mistake to make, and one I was guilty of when I first started posting regularly. After all, more followers mean more success, and therefore, more income you can make from monetising your blog. It’s simple, right?
Well, not really. The amount of followers someone has is completely arbitrary – it doesn’t matter if you have 10 followers or 10k followers, your posts should always be authentic and reflect matters you are interested in. You should also aim to respond to every comment you can – positive or negative. Chasing after followers doesn’t actually help you in any way, shape or form. Focus on writing good content and let them come naturally. Don’t outsource your need for validation to the masses. Quality will suffer and you’ll lose confidence.
Followers should feel engaged with your blog and they can always detect an authentic post from an unauthentic one. It’s one thing for a reader to not agree with an author’s opinion – but for a reader to detect an air of ingenuity is a different matter entirely. Why should readers care about your posts if you, yourself, don’t?
Lesson 2 – Not Every Post Will be a Hit
Regardless of how well-written, informative or experimental you think a post is – its response is not in your control. Readers either resonate with a post or they don’t. In the advertising world, there’s a saying that no advert is good or bad, it either works or it doesn’t work. It’s the exact same for blog posts, some resonate and some don’t.
I’ve written a few posts in my time that I thought my readers would love – but, for whatever reason, haven’t quite landed they way I’d hoped. Conversely, I’ve written some posts that I thought were very average but seemed to resonate with people rather well.
I think authors can be a poor judge or their work sometimes, and sometimes it’s just best to churn out a post and let readers make their own minds up about it.
Which, conveniently leads me to my next point…
Lesson 3 – Just Write the Damn Post
Look, you should know that not every post will be a magnum opus and, at the end of the day, that doesn’t matter. As Eric B & Rakim once said – don’t sweat the technique. Sometimes you just have to sit down and punch those keys. Read others’ blogs for inspiration. Pay attention to the news. What’s being talked about? What’s not? Why do you think it’s important?
Sometimes it’s a real slog writing a post. My first few posts sucked, as have a few of my latest ones. It’s no big deal. Stop demanding perfection and start demanding consistency. You can’t live up to perfection, but you can get behind those keys and type something.
One you take the pressure off yourself, writing gets a lot easier. There isn’t a blogger alive who doesn’t cringe a little at some of their earlier posts, and if they say they don’t – they’re full of shit.
So, yeah, punch those damn keys – as Christian Mihai wisely says.
Lesson 4 – Don’t be Diplomatic all the Time
Blogging is your platform. It’s your voice and readers want to feel that. If you’re writing an opinion piece, it should be exactly that – opinion. Readers want passion, love, hate, outrage, or joy. They don’t want a boring, dry and watered-down voice that always remains on the fence. Be brave.
It can be daunting, I know. Not everyone will agree with you – but that’s the point. You need to be polarising sometimes – a ‘hell no’ is sometimes better than a ‘meh, ok’.
Obviously there are exceptions to this rule. Don’t be a dick and don’t engage in hate speech, of course. I cover a lot of true crime cases, so I have to remain unbiased in that context and just focus on the facts.
It depends on your niche – but, in most cases, don’t hold back and let your true voice come out. After all, why should someone read a dry, emotionless blog?
Take the leap and show your readers who you really are.
Lesson 5 – Care About Other Blogs
This is just basic politeness more than anything. No blogger wants to like feel nobody is reading their posts – and empty ‘likes’ on a post don’t mean shit if people aren’t actually reading and digesting them.
Comment, share, and engage with others as much as you can. This is a massive platform and it’s easy to get lost in the pack. A little bit of manners goes a long, long way on here. I love it when people comment on my posts – I’d rather take one comment on a post than 100 empty likes from people who didn’t read it at all.
Again, your interest in other blogs has to be genuine. Don’t just pretend to care about someone’s blog just so they follow yours. People can sense that – particuarly bloggers who are very popular. Trust me, they’ve seen it all before.
Here are just some of the blogs that I’ve grown to really like over the last year – check them out if you haven’t come across them before!
- Christian Mihai – https://artofblogging.net/ – a very popular blogger who you’ve probably heard of. No nonsense, genuine content with a voice that greatly inspired my own. Seems like a great guy, too.
- Dumbest Blog Ever – https://ifbaird1989.wordpress.com/author/dumbestblogger/ – Unique is the word I’d use to sum up this blog. You’ve never read anything like it before, and I appreciate his experimental nature. He’s also a great, engaging writer with a style not many could pull off. Always comments on my posts, and I appreciate him for that.
- Defining Yellow – https://definingyellow.com/my-posts/ – An example of the power of vulnerability. You can tell every post this young woman writes comes from the heart, and you can tell she believes every word she types. I need to read her blog more, admittedly, but her content is guaranteed to resonate with anyone. I often read her work, if I’m doing a self-development post, for inspiration.
- Dr. Eleanor Janega – https://going-medieval.com/ – A brilliant, vibrant blog on Medieval history. Janega is a fantastic writer who is able to bring a long-gone era back to life with ease. Her post Not Every Pandemic is the Black Death is without a doubt one of the best articles I have ever read on this platform. If you’re not following her already – what are you doing?!
So there you have it – the most important lessons I have learned in the last 12 months.
I wonder what lessons I’ll have learned on June 3, 2021?