In May this blog turned 9. I know, crazy. I’ve never done anything for as long as I’ve been blogging. Never had a job for that long, never lived in the same place for that long (as an adult, anyway). It’s been a constant in my life for the past 9 years and I am so incredibly grateful for that. And for the people I have met through it.
I’ve been thinking about what I have learnt from blogging. I’ve learnt a lot! Below are nine lessons, in no particular order, but really it could easily be 30 lessons. Blogging is intertwined with life in general, I think. :-)
Blog for you
Don’t start a blog because you think you have to have one…that’s not a great reason to start a blog. If you’re starting a blog because you ‘have to’, you will never have the same passion for it as you will if you start one because you want to and because you think you will enjoy it. Blog because there is something you want to share with the world. Even if you only want to share it with a few people. Don’t start a blog for anyone else but you.
It should go without saying, don’t try to be someone you’re not. How long can you keep up the pretense if you try to be someone else? Don’t think that you or your blog has to be perfect. Just be you. People will know when you’re sincere. People want to connect with a real human being, messy desk and all. Pinteresting isn’t the same as interesting. ;-)
People change. And their blogs change with them. It is only natural. Blogging itself has changed so much since I started my first blog in 2003.
You may feel like you have to keep writing about the same thing(s) forever and ever. You don’t. Seriously. It’s your blog and you can write about whatever you want. Certainly if it’s a personal blog. I guess if your blog is a car blog and you all of a sudden start writing about flowers.. maybe you need to examine if the car blog has come to the end of the road.
But in general, blogs have room for people to change. The people reading may change as you and your blog change but that’s fine.
You can take a break
The internet won’t collapse if you take a break from your blog. Most people are not paid to write their blogs, they do it because they love it and have something they want to share with others.
You don’t owe anyone anything. You’re allowed to take a break from your blog if you want or need to. You don’t even have to explain or excuse yourself unless you want to. Just come back after your break and carry on where you left of. Your people will still be there and they will welcome you back with open arms.
Don’t worry about the numbers
Sure, it can be interesting to see how many subscribers you have or clicks or page views or whatever. But don’t get hung up on that. Don’t curl up in a fetal position if your blog ‘only’ has 234 subscribers and it’s been ‘stuck’ on that number for months.
Unless your blog is a tool for selling stuff or you want to be famous, those numbers don’t matter as long as you enjoy writing for your blog. It is better to write a blog that is actually being read by 234 people than barely glanced at by 2345 people who forgot why they subscribed in the first place.
Oh and if you see the subscriber number going down, don’t take it personally. Those people aren’t your people. They’re just not that into you and that is ok. Same goes for other social media like Instagram and Twitter etc.
Don’t take it personally
Most encounters on the internet are friendly, but occasionally some people will get nasty. Try not to let it get to you. Most likely it’s not you, it’s them. Something is going on in their lives and you just happened to be in the wrong virtual place at the wrong time.
Looks aren’t everything
By looks I don’t mean how you look, but the look of your blog. Make it easy to navigate your blog, have text that is readable and decent photos. Then stop messing around with the design on a weekly basis. Yes, you can add all kinds of fancy widgets and fonts and shiny gifs, but that doesn’t mean you should. In fact, keeping it simple is better than lots of stuff that doesn’t do anything but look pretty.
One place where looks are important, though, is photos. Take the best photos you possibly can. Always keep learning. Use natural light, never flash.
Music is annoying
I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but music that starts playing as soon as your blog loads is really, really bad. You have no control over where your visitors are reading your blog. Maybe they are at work. Or reading blogs on their phone in a restaurant bathroom. And then all of a sudden Celine Dion or some techno music starts playing. Not. Good.
No ifs, no buts. Remove that music widget. Go and do it right now, please. I’ll wait for you. Ok, all done? Good. On behalf of the rest of the internet: thank you. :-)
One of the best things about blogging is that you can become friends with other bloggers, or with readers of your blog. There are people I know who started blogging about the same time as me and through the magic workings of the blogosphere we got to talking and we still know each other. It’s amazing how you can get to know someone through their words and images, seeing the changes in their lives, both personally and creatively. Their kids grow up, maybe they move to a different country or get a new job. In some cases I have met these blog friends, in others I know its unlikely that we will ever meet. But you never know.