I’ve just realised that I’ve come to the end of a half year of blogging every week, often twice a week.
With a total of 32 posts of between 500 — 5000 words each, I can’t help but feel proud of myself. No, quantity alone is not impressive, but I’ve never published a post I wasn’t happy with — at the time.
I’m also always going back and revising old posts so that they read better, whether that’s breaking up long sentences, adding images, or correcting errors in my spelling and grammar. All-in-all, this blog has become quite an obsession, and I think I’ve learned a few things that will only improve it in the future.
1. Keep To A Schedule
Without a regular update to work to, I doubt I would have written a good half of these posts. That isn’t to say that they’re worth less than the posts that came more naturally, either.
Writing to a deadline, I find myself constantly on the lookout for new things to write about, so I take more of an interest in the world — and I sometimes end up with more interesting posts, because of it.
I can’t simply abandon an idea if it doesn’t work, so I take the time to understand what’s really going on behind the idea — what I’m really interested in. I believe that this means I end up with posts that are more honest and more in tune with how you really feel.
It also means I feel more professional. I can point to my regularly-updated blog and say “See that? I can produce writing to a good quality, to a deadline, no matter what I’m dealing with in my day-to-day life.”
That’s no small thing.
2. Don’t Overpost
When I first started writing this blog, I was posting huge posts to it at least two times a week. That’s great, and I know that some people could make it work, but in conjunction with everything happening offline, it would have driven me insane.
It’s also a waste.
Writing good blog posts two times a week meant that my readers were unlikely to read both posts. This isn’t just a theory, the traffic stats back me up here. That means that one of those posts was, not quite a waste of my time, but not quite as worthy of my time as it should have been.
You don’t even need to worry about ‘losing the idea’. If you think you really have to write about something right there and then, WordPress can simply schedule your post to be published later on. That way, you don’t end up with a flurry of posts and then an anxious silence lasting for months.
Posting twice a week also meant that I was hesitant to promote my blog via. social media. We all know the archetype of the overzealous self-promoter, and on Twitter and Facebook the threat of becoming that person yourself is very real.
I’m fairly sure I’m not in danger of falling into that trap, and neither is anyone else I know, but a thousand lazy Collegehumor infographics have alerted me to the possibility of being perceived that way.
3. Read Widely
The more blogs you read, the more likely you are to find a kindred spirit.
It’s as simple as that, but the feeling of finding someone who shares some or all of your world experience and views in the vast mire of the internet is invaluable. The idea that you should get something besides that feeling from socialising online, such as extra viewers or followers, is appealing, but it shouldn’t be nearly so important.
Extra viewers make your blog feel more important in the short term, while getting a real feeling of satisfaction, community and social engagement will make you feel much more committed to, and passionate about, your blog.
4. Keep Posts Short
Keeping posts to under about a thousand words has worked much better for me than my longer labours of love. No-one coming to a random guy’s website is going to give them the benefit of the doubt when they see four thousand words of dense text and weird images.
It’s also easier to sum up what your post is about, and thus get more views from people who don’t personally know you, if it’s short.
5. Write What You Want
I’ve really enjoyed writing for this blog this past year, and I owe that entirely to the fact that I’ve written whatever I’ve felt like at the time. Forcing yourself to continue with a blog post that you’ve lost faith in can kill the sense that you’re writing something that is completely yours — because once you’ve lost faith in your material, it just isn’t completely yours any more.
I think this is the most important point of all for a personal blog — even successful commercial bloggers like RT Cunningham of Untwisted Vortex come back to this point again and again. If you can’t enjoy what you write, the urge to write goes, no matter what secondary rewards you might get from it.
That’s all I’ve really learned about blogging from some half a year. It might apply to you, it might not. It’s not an impressive amount to have learned, but the achievement of having made it this far is more than enough, as far as I’m concerned.