I have been writing my blog, Love is Stronger, for about three and a half years now. I have enjoyed writing it so much, and I have l learned a great deal.
Occasionally people ask my advice about blogging, and so I wanted to write a post about some of the things that I have learned during my blogging adventures.
First, let me be clear about a couple of things. I don’t make money off my blog right now. I began my blog because I am a writer, and I want to publish books about building personal, interpersonal, and political resilience through practicing kindness, compassion, and respect. I blog primarily to explore the kinds of ideas I want to publish about and, possibly, to build an audience for my books.
To be honest, though, I like writing so much and find blogging so helpful personally that I would probably write my blog even if I wasn’t going to publish any books. I say this because it is perfectly acceptable to write a blog as a form of self-expression and creative outlet, rather than to have a specific goal like making money or, for instance, becoming a social medial influencer. (Both of those goals are okay, too.)
In addition, I have blogged exclusively on WordPress. I don’t know anything about other blogging platforms. I do know that WordPress is a respectable blogging platform and that it is user-friendly. I say this because if you would like more technical blogging advice, this is not the best post to look for that sort of advice. But that’s okay. A lot of other people have written articles or developed courses about that sort of thing. (I will mention one such blogger below.)
In this post, I want to write more about the value of blogging, the art of blogging, and some of the emotional benefits and challenges of blogging. With that prelude, here are ten things I think are important to know when starting a blog.
One: Know that your blog is valuable whether you make any money off it or not.
Please know that if even you never make a dime from your blog, and even if your blog readership is very small, your blog is still incredibly valuable.
Blogging is like any practice you do consistently like meditating, praying, walking, yoga, or drawing. If you do it regularly, you will learn things about yourself, as well as develop and refine skills and abilities. In my three years of blogging, I have become a better writer, a better artist, and more knowledgeable about social media. I have also developed a deeper understanding of the ideas I have been writing about, and this has given me several cool and unexpected life opportunities.
Blogging is a wonderful tool for self-exploration and personal growth, and whenever we undertake these kinds of adventures, it brings more magic into our life.
Two: if you want to make money on your blog from the get-go, I recommend checking out the work of Heather and Pete Reese.
Some people want to make money from their blog right away, and this is perfectly fine. Blogging can be a powerful tool to help you start and promote your own business. If you are interested in blogging for that reason, I recommend that you check out the work of Heather and Pete Reese at their blog It’s a Lovely Life. Heather’s blog is the family business, and it is very successful. They have a free, five-day blogging crash course here.
Their course helps you set up your blog and figure out how to grow your readership quickly and monetize your blog. It’s also a great course for learning the nitty-gritty practical details of blogging.
Three: Give yourself permission not to make money from your blog, especially in the beginning.
It’s perfectly fine if you want to make money on your blog right away. But I also highly recommend that you give yourself permission not to make money on your blog, especially at the beginning.
One of the most valuable aspects of blogging for me has been taking time to figure out my style, my voice, and different aspects of communicating effectively to my audience. Because I was not focused on making money on my blog, I had the freedom to try new things and make mistakes, and this has made me a better blogger.
If you can, I highly recommend that you give yourself space and permission to do the same.
Four: Slow-burner blogs that take a long time to grow are completely okay.
Some people gain a lot of blog followers immediately, and they immediately have thousands of people view their blog daily (either because they market their blog aggressively or their content just naturally attracts readers quickly). If you are one of those bloggers, awesome.
I, on the other hand, am not one of those bloggers. Over the past three years, I have slowly built up a readership, but my followers and daily blog views are still modest. I average around 150 views a day, and I have about 420 followers total.
I’m okay with that. I have been focusing on polishing my thoughts and my blogging style and philosophy, and this suits my personality.
Please know that the rate at which you build your blog readership does not determine the worth of your blog. There are some bloggers whose blog takes of quickly. Jeff Goins is one of these bloggers. There are other bloggers like Geraldine DeRuiter of the Everywhereist who is an successful blogger whose blog readership increased much more slowly over time.
Whether your blog develops quickly or slowly, you’re on the right track.
Five: Write about what really interests you and about which you know something (or are willing to research).
Of course, one of the most important decisions you can make about your blog is what to write about. I highly recommend that you write about something that has these three characteristics: 1) It interests you. 2) You know something about it or are willing to research it. 3) It is a sufficiently broad enough topic that you can write for a long time about it.
If you choose a blog topic based on the above criteria, I don’t think you can go wrong. Some readers are certainly drawn to certain blog subjects. However, many people are drawn to the style, voice, and magic of a certain blogger, even if they aren’t particularly interested in the blogger’s topic.
Your excitement and knowledge about your blog topic is the biggest draw to your blog, so focus on these things. Also, it may feel like you are writing your blog primarily for yourself a lot of time, especially in the beginning. So, you want to make sure you choose a blogging subject that interests you.
Six: Don’t worry if the beginning is a bit rough.
Please don’t think that you must know everything about blogging before you begin. Blogging is something that you learn by doing. You need to give yourself permission to make mistakes, and you need to be willing for your blog to change and evolve through the process. All good blogs do this.
Seven: Understand that very few people may read your blog at first, and that is okay.
Please know that you may have very few people read your blog in the beginning. Four months after I started blogging, I averaged only nine views a day. By the end of the second year, I averaged about 80. As I mentioned above, I now average about 150 views a day.
I have written posts that took hours to write that very few people read. I have several posts that got a lot of views immediately and that people still view daily. This is the way blogging is.
I used to get really discouraged about writing posts which very few people read. Now I realize that there are some posts I write that are mainly for me. They may not connect immediately (or at all) with my audience, but they help me process ideas, develop my philosophy, and solve problems. Those posts are just valuable as the ones that get read a lot.
Eight: Write the length of blog post that matches your purpose and that fits your schedule. (And do the same with the number of posts you post each week.)
Many people wonder how long their blog posts should be. Some bloggers argue that you should write very short posts because the average reader today has a short attention span. Others say that you should write longs posts because longer posts are better at showcasing your expertise and offering helpful advice to people. Some bloggers also argue that search engines are more likely to pick up longer articles, and this will bring more readers to your blog.
I think you should write the length of blog that matches your content and that is a length of post you can write consistently. I began my blog right after I finished my PhD in philosophy. My academic training (and my personality) make it very hard for me to write short posts. I want to explain everything.
A lot of my early posts averaged 2,500-3000 words. Some of these were great posts, and some of them needed some serious editing. Lately, I have been experimenting with writing shorter posts, although it is hard for me to stay under 2,000 words. That’s okay, my blog and my personality are philosophical, and so my posts reflect that.
There is no right length for a blog post, but there is a length that feels good to you and that matches the content you are writing about. Give yourself permission to experiment. You will figure it out.
This same rule applies for how often you post. You can post every day, three times a week, once a week, or once a month. Post the number of times a week that works for you and fits into your schedule and that you can do somewhat consistently. (It’s okay not to keep a perfect blogging schedule.)
Nine: Draw on your unique skills, personality, and life experience to enhance your blog.
You have something unique and special about you that will make your blog sparkle. Is there something unique about where you live? Do you like to juggle? Can you bake awesome cakes? Are you an ultrarunner? Are you a good photographer? Are you really good at math? Whatever you are good at, use your uniquenesses and even your idiosyncrasies, to enhance your blog.
If you look at my blog, you will notice that I include a lot of my own drawings and watercolor paintings. I am also a philosopher, and I like Bigfoot and slugs (I grew up in Oregon). All these things appear regularly in my blog and give it a unique style. This is something my readers comment on regularly.
Not everyone will be drawn to your style, but a lot of people will.
One of my favorite examples of how a blogger’s uniqueness makes a blog sparkle is Allie Brosh who writes the blog Hyperbole and a Half. Allie has a quirky personality, and she was a mischievous child. She is also really good at drawing childlike pictures. She does a wonderful job of infusing her blog with all these unique characteristics, and it has made her blog wildly successful.
Ten: You will periodically feel like your blog is no good and want to give up.
During my first two years of blogging, I regularly googled, “What to do when you feel like giving up on your blog” (This is my favorite article to read when I feel like giving up on my blog, which I feel much less frequently these days.)
It is common to want to give up on your blog, especially in the beginning. Most blogs don’t make it past the first year, and I completely understand why. Blogging feels very vulnerable. You constantly publish your ideas to the world, and it sometimes feels like very few people see or care. This can make you wonder if your ideas have any value. (I assure you, people do see, and your ideas do have value.)
All of this feels painful sometimes. I get this.
I assure you: It is normal to want to give up sometimes, especially in the beginning.
I also assure you: If you keep going, it is totally going to be worth it.
I have no regrets about starting my blog. I love blogging, and it has taught me so much that I am an enthusiastic supporter of anyone who wants to begin blogging.
If you are one of those folks, I am 100% on your side. Go you!
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