I truly can’t believe that it’s been a whole year since I took the dive into blogging. After hours and hours of tinkering with settings in Weebly, creating my logo, building an editorial calendar in Excel and writing content, I still hesitated to hit the “Publish” button. Looking back, I’m glad I took the leap.
Before I launched my blog, I read hundreds of articles about blogging by bloggers. I was convinced that I had to follow a specific formula: fill a beautifully-designed editorial calendar with content for the next six months, create an affiliate marketing plan to monetize my site, become an expert in SEO (the ever-changing science that’s not really a science that I’m fairly certain no one is actually an expert in) and schedule posts on every social platform for the optimum days and times to drive traffic. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things are important, and they can certainly help to make your blog more successful. But I doubt there’s a single blogger out there who’s doing all of these things perfectly 100% of the time.
No matter how many articles, videos, podcasts or books you consume on blogging, you have to figure out what works for you. Blogging is an incredibly personal endeavor, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. That being said, I’ve learned a few things in my first year of blogging that probably apply to most bloggers, or anyone taking on a large creative project. If there’s a topic you’re passionate about or you have a personal story you’d like to share, blogging is a great platform for doing so. Just keep in mind some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way:
1. The things you create don’t have to be perfect to be worth sharing.
Blogging is less formal than publishing a novel or writing for a major magazine. Consistency is almost as important as the quality of the content you create. When was the last time you felt like you had a long-term relationship with the freelancer that wrote that article in Cosmo?
When readers follow a blog, they develop a relationship with the creator. They understand that the human behind the blog is just that – a human. Your audience doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but they do expect you to keep them in the loop and not leave them hanging for weeks or months at a time. So go ahead and post. Don’t wait until your writing is perfect or overedit to the point of exhaustion. Completion is more important than perfection.
2. You’ll be amazed what simply telling your story can do for others.
Over the last year, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with some amazing people I never would have met if I hadn’t started blogging. When you share your own story, you create a safe space for others to do the same, and you learn from each other. I’ve had the chance to collaborate with other advocates, bloggers and artists, and I’ve learned some invaluable lessons in living with chronic illness and pursuing a creative career from their experiences.
I’ve also had the pleasure of hearing from readers who’ve been impacted by my blog in some way, and it’s been humbling to say the least. It’s opened my eyes to the importance of advocacy and the scope of the chronic illness community as a whole.
3. You won’t run out of ideas. If anything, your list will just keep getting longer and longer!
One of my greatest fears in launching a blog was running out of things to write about each week. What would I do when I came to the end of my list of 50 topics and didn’t have anything left to say? Now I laugh when I look back and realize I actually lost sleep over this. If you have this same fear, trust me – your list of things to write about will be longer after a year of blogging than it is now! If you’re afraid that your niche is too small to support new content on a regular basis, this is a good thing! A focused niche will set your blog apart, and the worst case scenario? Your list of blog post ideas might actually be manageable.
4. Write for yourself, not anyone else.
You’re bound to come across articles by bloggers bragging about their six-figure incomes and suggesting that all you need to do to be successful is take some Insta-worthy selfies wearing vegan CBD-infused eyeliner, and the sponsorships will come rolling in. Affiliate marketing can be a great opportunity for someone who has a decent following, but it only works if you actually believe in the products and brands you promote. You can’t build an engaged audience by selling yourself.
First and foremost, write and create content that’s genuine and reflects you and your feelings. In the last year, I’ve become more comfortable opening up about my own experiences and sharing my personal opinion on my blog. At first, I was afraid to share anything that may be considered controversial or too personal. But that’s what blogging is all about. Forget about others’ opinions and stop worrying about how someone else might react to your own. When you write for yourself, your audience will appreciate your honesty and genuineness.
If you’re a blogger yourself or you’ve considered starting a blog, I’d love to hear about your ideas! Leave me a comment or send me an email.