Today marks 12 years since I launched this blog. My blog has followed me around the world and throughout my life since I was 20 years old. Over the weekend, I wrote a long and, to be honest, pretty negative year-by-year summary of my 12 years of blogging so far. I didn’t think it was fair to publish it. But writing it made me realise many things. Maybe I’ll keep it. I might make it a bit more “happy” and publish it another year. So, instead, this morning I wrote the following. I also, last minute, got Rob to take a quick picture of me on my phone after work. It’s blurry, cos we took it in biasing light and I don’t have my nails or toes done, cos #lockdown, but I’m smiling! Let’s be honest,the blur is probably hiding a multitude of beauty sins at this stage. It’s like I’m bringing back old school blogging for this post.
Anyway, THIS is what I want today to be about:
12 things I have learned in 12 years of blogging.
1. It’s not about the followers.
You can worry about the numbers as much as you want, but they don’t matter that much. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years worrying about the people who don’t follow me instead of focusing on the ones that actually do. It’s all about building a community and fulfilling a passion that you have. Anything else is a bonus. That’s why I write.
2. Always write what is true to you.
Writing something that isn’t authentic to you doesn’t work. It doesn’t connect. I’ve tried writing things that do well on Google, jumping on a trend or niching down, or what other people are writing about. It has never worked for me. And when I look back I’m not proud of those pieces. I’m proud of the ones that reflect me the most.
3. The written word always comes back.
Reading is as popular as ever. People appreciate the written word. We may consume content differently to what we did a few years ago, but writing is an art form. It’s the best way that I can express myself. And although I can be distracted by other forms, it’s the one thing that makes me truly happy. I do it for me.
4. The technical stuff is important.
I used to Google everything when I started blogging. I still do now from time to time. I taught myself how to build a blog, to do basic html coding, to design images, to set up email newsletters, to edit videos. I’ve never been taught that. I just googled it. And now I have a whole social media career based on all of these things that I googled. Writing is a talent I was born with, but the rest? I had to teach myself.
5. Distribution is a big part of blogging.
You can’t just build it and they come. You have to self-promote, which can be hard for some people. I’m good at it to a point. I prefer to share personally a couple of times and then rely more on Pinterest and search results as it feels more organic. The funny thing there is that I definitely don’t pay enough attention to the search side of things because “I’m a creative” and I don’t enjoy that stuff as much. But, if I really wanted to grow, I would have to really step part this up.
6. Write first. Edit later.
I have found that I do better then I just write, without worrying about grammar or typos and just get the words out. Then I can go back and see if things make sense. I also sometimes just around. I didn’t write this post in order. I just write as it comes out of my head and then I make it all make sense later. Stopping to self-edit or fix typos slows me down and I can forget what I want dot say. That’s the worst. Cos it may never come back into my head!
7. Write like no-one is reading.
This is a big one. I love to just get things out there, but I can sometimes censor or edit myself as I go. What I have learned over the years is to get it all out on paper first and then just remove anything that you aren’t comfortable publishing at the end. Often, I end up leaving it in as it makes the post more real.
8. Take inspiration and run with it.
When I travel (even just literally in transit on boats, planes and trains), I get this overwhelming urge to write. I also get this at night time. If I waste that inspiration, it never comes back. When inspiration strikes, you have to take it. This is one of the biggest things I have learnt – I have to write my travel content when I am there. I REALLY struggle to create good content AFTER having left a place. It feels like such a chore. I’m about to start the process of going back through all my notes & photos and I’m dreading it. It’s worth writing during a trip. I will never not do that moving forward. It’s just way better quality too!
9. Community over competition.
It’s always when I stop doing something that I get people telling me that they miss it. And I didn’t even realise they were reading/watching. But I often stop things because I am comparing myself to other bloggers. Because I don’t get as many comments, views or shares. Therefore, it’s not good. But your community, no matter how small they are, are watching and they are loyal. Do it for them. I have to remind myself of this.
10. Authenticity and vulnerability are key.
The posts where I share real, honest thoughts or true life updates are the ones that do well. It’s possibly because people want to know about your life, but more likely because I am connecting on a deeper level. And yeah, people are nosy. My engagement post is one of my most read posts. I have a lot more to share about my personal thoughts which I’m actually looking forward to sharing. It’s empowering.
11. Never stop writing. Consistency over everything else.
This is something I really feel when I am not doing. It is also definitely how to grow and keep an audience engaged. I have struggled over the years with jobs and clients etc to stick to any kind of long term routine with publishing blog posts, but I have never stopped writing. And when I post consistently, all of my stats go up… obviously. I have a huge backlog of posts and notes to get live and I’m looking forward to being able to share them all with you. I may also relieve some of the pressure too. This is supposed to be fun, right? Blogger guilt is real and I’m over it.
12. Pictures matter.
You need something to catch people’s attention and you need something to put out on social channels to accompany your post. I know that my posts do better when I have out a bit of effort or a bit of life into my pictures. This is one thing that I know I need to step up. I tend to just use what I have instead of shooting imagery beforehand. So moving forward, I really want to step that up again and plan it a bit more. I’m lucky enough to have some good camera equipment and software (and I kind of know how to use it!), so I want to do better there.
So, there you have it. That’s 12 Things I Have Learned in 12 Years of Blogging. A bit of a last-minute rough post, but done is better than perfect. I’m back and it feels good.
If you’re a new blogger, then I want you to learn from my mistakes. I’m learning from them. If you’re an old timer, I hope you agree with me. If you are just a reader (no-one is never just a reader), then I thank you for reading. Here’s to the next 12, whatever that may entail.
Oh, and by the way I am going to attempt to do 12 blogs in 12 days to celebrate, so I guess I’ll see you tomorrow! If I make it to the end, there will be a giveaway so hold me accountable!