Blogging is one of the most challenging and rewarding hobbies a person can have.
It requires us to conquer an entirely new domain with variables, learn new skills, acquire knowledge we wouldn’t have come across otherwise, and actively work on growing. But it rewards us with the blogging community and important lessons on the way.
I’ve been blogging for over 6 years now and it feels like I’m learning or relearning something all the time. Looking back on everything that I’ve learnt, some blogging lessons stand out. They are the backbone of my blogging mindset. I’m going to talk about them today, and I hope it helps you as well.
1. content is key
- 1 1. content is key
- 2 2. good content takes time
- 3 3. well-written content and good SEO go together
- 4 4. write for existing readers and new ones will come
- 5 5. consistency is very important
- 6 6. consistent blogging is an ongoing struggle
- 7 7. stats will always go up and down
- 8 8. take time to celebrate wins before raising the bar
- 9 9. you might never be completely satisfied with your content
- 10 10. the learning never stops
- 11 11. you shouldn’t follow all blogging advice
- 12 12. stop learning and start doing
- 13 13. everyone’s pace is different
- 14 14. not everyone will support your blog
- 15 15. you can grow out of your content and niche
- 16 16. readers will love the original you
- 17 17. passion is attractive
- 18 18. share personal facts/stories
- 19 19. reach out as much as you can
- 20 20. you’re allowed to figure things out as you go
You might have already heard of this phrase or the similar one, “content is king”. Even if not, you might already have this sentiment in your mind. But trust me, the meaning of this phrase is much deeper.
We know that blogs revolve around content. A blog’s content is what builds it up and keeps it going. It is important to realize that content influences and controls everything which is why it is called “key” or “king”.
Your blog brand is controlled by your content. If your content is more about books, you are considered a book blogger no matter what you call yourself. Every single post enforces or reinforces a certain idea. The more I post helpful content, you will consider me helpful. If I post more recommendations, you will associate my blog with that. If you want to have a clear blog brand, you need to consider how every post fits into that brand.
At this point, evaluating whether a blog post idea fits into my blog brand is almost subconscious for me. When I went self-hosted, it used to be a careful and conscious consideration, but it is a part of me now. The ideas that I consider for more than a second in my mind are those that fit the rest of my content. And I believe that my blog brand is seen clearly because of this.
It took me a long time to learn this enough to be able to put it into words and actions. It is a blogging lesson that I learned through observation. And once I started noticing it, I could see how it works for or against every blog that I come across.
2. good content takes time
All those posts that teach about writing great blog posts in 30 minutes or an hour? They’re not useful. Sure, they have some tips but good content always takes more time.
In the initial days of my blogging journey, I used to publish posts once a day. As my content started becoming better, the amount of time for each increased as well. Now, I spend at least 4 hours on every blog post spread over multiple days.
The posts that took me longer to write are the best content that I’ve published. I’m proud of myself when I see those posts. Sometimes, I delay posts because they would take longer. My post on single parent romance books was meant to be out a couple of weeks earlier but I pushed it until I had enough time to work on it. And it was worth it.
It is much more rewarding to spend more time on each post and make it good instead of rushing and posting more often. You will love your content more and so will your readers.
3. well-written content and good SEO go together
Search Engine Optimization is a process of making blog posts better using some strategies so that your posts are more likely to rank on search engines.
SEO has always been made to seem like an activity separated from content creation. Even the term “SEO writing” makes it sound as if optimized content is different from the regular content, but that is the furthest from the truth.
All of the “SEO strategies” are things that make our posts easier for users to find, read, and love. It is not something impersonal or targeted towards google bots.
If your content is well-written, you are probably already using some basic SEO strategies. If you include SEO in your process, your content will become better.
Here are some ways SEO has made my writing better:
- I have learnt to title my posts better such that you understand exactly what you’re going to find in the post.
- My words are concise and targeted. I’ve gotten compliments that I don’t go into tangents or rambles and make my content worth reading.
- I started outlining my content before writing and it has made my post structures better.
- My linking is much better now. I consciously put in internal and external links that are valuable to readers in a way that doesn’t look intrusive.
Well-written, readable content is automatically doing better in SEO. We need to break the myth that SEO is a different magical thing when it is much simpler.
Marie has a great post on SEO for beginners to get you started.
4. write for existing readers and new ones will come
I had to learn this blogging lesson specifically because I became fascinated by SEO and started concentrating on acquiring new readers. It caused me to lose my way and purpose for a while.
Write for your existing readers first. They are your best champions Take note of what they say about your content—what they love and what they’d like to see more. Ask questions and feedback.
And mainly, never forget that YOU are your first reader. If you’re blogging as a hobby, you’re doing it for yourself. Continue to blog for yourself first. Write content that you’d love to read and others will love it too.
5. consistency is very important
Before starting a blog, I was never specifically consistent with anything. I used to read almost every day but that was motivation out of entertainment and escape. Blogging has taught me that putting in conscious consistent effort always pays off.
Consistency doesn’t dictate a specific frequency either. Whether you post thrice a week or once a week or once a month, it is a consistent effort that is worth it.
Most recently, I’m seeing how it is paying off on Pinterest. I could never get the hang of Pinterest with the amount of work it requires but I’ve been trying in small amounts and the consistency is giving results.
Hence, I’ve started to view everything in the same vein. Even if I’m able to do something for only a few minutes a day, as long as I do it consistently, it will help.
6. consistent blogging is an ongoing struggle
Our lives are ever-changing. Because of that, devoting the exact amount of time and effort to blogging every week is hard. There will always be new things changing our plans and routines.
It is hard to be perfectly consistent for a long time. Keeping up the same routine can also lead to blogging slumps because life demands changes. We have to regularly reevaluate whether our current definitions of “consistent” hold good or if it requires change.
Sometimes, you just can’t be consistent with blogging and that’s okay too. We are not perfect and hence we can’t be perfectly consistent.
7. stats will always go up and down
I have given up on breaking my habit of frequently checking blog stats. I generally check stats once or twice a day, and recently it’s been more because my numbers are doing pretty down. It is hard to stop doing that and letting it affect me.
So now, I’ve changed my mantra to this. You can’t predict traffic and keep it growing all the time. Especially when much of the traffic is coming from search engines and social platforms. It can happen even with followers.
People can be busy or have changing interests. Something that trended last month may not trend now and that can affect our traffic. The only thing you can do is keep writing for yourself and try not to think too much about graphs.
Right now, I’m writing some of my best content while my stats are going down and I’m happy because of the former. Stats are not the only markers of good content. We should look at everything and it can turn out that we are growing.
8. take time to celebrate wins before raising the bar
This is one of my biggest flaws. I tend to acknowledge when I do well or grow but I don’t specifically celebrate the growth. My notes from a year back show that I was striving for 100 blog views a day. Today, I’m getting much more than that. However, I never celebrated it before deciding that I want to hit 1k views a day. Only when I read my old notes for another reason did I realize that I never celebrated growing past my initial goal.
It’s a problem in blogging because we mark goals as very specific numbers and don’t look at the growth as much. Why do I strive for 1k after hitting 100? What happened to 200 and 300? They’re milestones too!
If you’re like me and forget to celebrate, take this as a sign to celebrate. Don’t even consider if you’ve earned it. You have.
9. you might never be completely satisfied with your content
The way we automatically adjust our goals higher as we grow, we also raise our standards in everything we do. I am constantly in competition with myself to do better and be perfect. It can lead to a ton of dissatisfaction.
There have been times when I rewrite my words almost every sentence while writing a blog post. I want my words to be perfect and hence constantly evaluate my content. It gets me stuck and I have to make myself stop and come back later because it is working out.
From what I’ve seen, most bloggers have a perfectionist mindset and it is hard to be satisfied with our content. We need to accept that we can’t be perfect and do our best for the moment and move on.
10. the learning never stops
This is a big blogging lesson: you will never stop learning lessons.
Six years into blogging and I still feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface of everything that is there to learn. I know, I’m writing in-depth guideposts because I’ve accumulated the knowledge. But I still don’t feel highly knowledgeable.
There is always more to learn and it can be a good or a bad thing depending on you. If you like to conquer hobbies and move on, this might not be good for you. But if you’re like me and like to always have an achievable goal to walk towards, blogging is amazing.
There is also a TON of blogging advice available online (psst, I post a bunch too) which makes learning much easier. Bloggers are some of the most helpful people and are also super responsive to questions in DMs.
I’ve explained this in my Q&A post before. The reason blogging works for me is because the learning never stops. I love that I can keep learning and also apply what I learned immediately and see results. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that nothing else has so far.
11. you shouldn’t follow all blogging advice
This blogging lesson applies to real life as well.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a ton of blogging advice online about every single thing that you can think of. Various tips are floating around to help you. Following all the advice is not possible. We should try to. It will lead to too much work and burnout. It is also not required if we’re blogging for fun.
Also, you need to know when a piece of advice doesn’t apply to you. I’ve personally “discarded” a bunch of information because I realized it doesn’t work with my goal, passion, and time.
For example, one of the most popular tips is to stick to a niche. And I don’t because I don’t want to do that. I have narrowed my content down a little bit after going self-hosted but I still post about multiple categories.
While learning, we should pick what advice we want to follow.
12. stop learning and start doing
Confession: I’m a huge nerd. I LOVE reading articles, learning new things, and making pretty notes. Traditional academia in my country never satisfied or encouraged that side of me because of the way studying words here.
Research and learning things for blogging fed the student in me. I make notes and read up on a lot of things for fun. I use my blogging tips Pinterest board to collect all the articles in one place and go through them from time to time.
But at some point, we need to put what we learnt into action. I love the process of learning and not so much the process of practising what I learned. Even today, I find it hard to prioritize doing over learning.
And honestly, blogging is the best hobby to implement learnings immediately. Unlike everything I learned in academia, blogging provides the space and freedom to try things as we learn and learn from that too.
13. everyone’s pace is different
Technically, I knew that everyone was on a different path with a different pace in their lives. What and when we can do depends on several factors. But blogging made me truly accept that fact.
Each blog is unique and the bloggers behind it have vastly different lives and ideas. It is easy to say that we shouldn’t compare our blog’s growth with others but it is hard to let go. Realizing that we can’t truly compare makes it easier to let go of comparison.
I have a note from last year about a blogger’s statistics and how I’m unable to reach that. In the note, I wrote down the different paths we’ve taken and how I shouldn’t compare because our content and readership are different.
We can never truly stop comparing ourselves but making note of the differences can help us move on from it.
14. not everyone will support your blog
This is a blogging lesson I’m learning over and over through the years.
Blogging is not as common and “social” as other forms of content creation. It is far easier for people to accept and support Instagram influencers and YouTubers than bloggers.
I used to be an anonymous blogger and realized this when I later told my friends that I have a blog. Most of them don’t keep up with my blog and a few of them still don’t understand the concept of blogging. It is simply harder to keep up with a friend’s blog compared to an Instagram account or a YouTube channel.
It is a little offensive but I’ve learnt to make peace with it and not expect it. I cherish the people who do take the time to support my blog and don’t expect more from the rest.
15. you can grow out of your content and niche
We are bound to change as we grow. It is simply not possible to remain the same for years together. And we shouldn’t even try.
As we change, so will our content preferences. You may lose your passion for book blogging after 10 years. Or you may simply grow to love another niche more. It happens and it’s okay.
This happened to me with creative writing. I used to write poetry and short stories at one point. When I go back and read some of them, I feel like it was written by an entirely different person. I do not relate to that content anymore.
I’m not saying that your preferences will go through a drastic change. But if it does happen, don’t force yourself to stay in the same place. It can make you lose passion for blogging itself. You can grow out of your content whether you’re ready for it or not. The best way to handle it is to dive headfirst into change.
16. readers will love the original you
Another version of this advice is “be yourself” but I feel like that sentence doesn’t capture how it helps.
If you tend to filter or mask your words or personality when you write online, it is somewhat visible. People might not be able to pinpoint it but something will feel off.
When I read my old content where I was trying to be a better and funnier version of myself, the blogging voice feels off. When I stopped doing that and started writing the way I think and speak, I noticed the difference in responses.
Don’t worry about being uninteresting or weird online. The more your blogging voice sounds exactly like you, the easier it is for people to connect with you. Think of it as making friends online. It is easier to not filter yourself and connect than worrying about how you come across and mess it up.
Be unapologetically you. Also understand that you will change, grow, learn, and unlearn. It will come across in your words. People are here for that too.
17. passion is attractive
If you’re passionate about anything, it is clearly seen by the people around you. The same applies to blogging as well.
I didn’t think this mattered much until I started noticing it more and more recently. When I’m truly passionate about a blog post, it comes through in my post and is loved by everybody. I get comments and Twitter mentions about how people love seeing my passion for blogging. And it attracts more people.
When I follow other people, the ones that make a big mark in my mind are the ones whose passion for what they do stands out. I love following them. I follow bloggers and even entrepreneurs online. The ones I interact with the most and whose content I always keep up with are those who let their excitement shine.
So don’t dim your passion or excitement. It attracts people.
People follow bloggers, not blogs. No matter how much a blog’s content is separated from the blogger, this fact still stands. I follow bloggers for various reasons—their taste, their personality, their knowledge, etc. Even if their lives are not shared, things personal to them are. And those connect me to them.
The best way to connect to readers through blog posts is to share personal facts and stories. It boosts engagement. My post on my blogging journey got way more engagement than any of my recommendation lists. I’ve noticed this trend with every “personal” post.
Hence, don’t hesitate to share personal things! And when I say “personal”, I mean anything that you’ve experienced. It does not have to be something from your real life (privacy is important). It can especially be random experiences shared in a blog post like how I’m subtly doing throughout this post!
19. reach out as much as you can
Being an introvert online is not going to magically get you friends. It has taken me a long time to take initiative and DM people on social media. Keeping in touch is easier once the initial conversation is started.
Earlier, I used to say that making friends online is hard. It turns out, I hadn’t tried enough. I used to comment on blogs and interact publicly on Twitter and expect that meant we were friends. That’s not how it works. It’s only now that I reach out to other bloggers often do I have friends and not acquaintances.
Talking to more bloggers also expands the way you think. You will get to know how they do things, what is happening in the spaces that you’re not an active part of, and more. There are so many views and opinions that will help you and the first step is to start the conversations. It is hard to develop familiarity but it is so worth it.
20. you’re allowed to figure things out as you go
If you have a perfectionist mindset, you might work on knowing things fully before taking any action. Or maybe you just don’t want to try something new without being able to do it properly. Those are valid thoughts but they can hold you back.
You’re allowed to learn things as you do them. That’s the best way to learn. Learn SEO by putting it into practice and learn how to reach out to people by doing it.
I had to let the perfectionist ideal go when I started my newsletter. I knew nothing about having a newsletter—I still feel like I’m figuring things out—and that’s okay! As long as it is something you want to do, go for it. No one is asking you to be perfect.
In fact, not being perfect will help you more. I love following bloggers who are learning and sharing what they learn on the way. It is what I’m trying to do with this post and my other blogging guides as well.
Your journey of learning is wanted. No one wants to see a perfect person with seemingly no struggles or path to it. Learn and share your journey with people. Admit mistakes when you realize them. Ask for feedback. You don’t have to know everything before you start.