This blog is celebrating its 15th anniversary this month! And to mark the occasion, I’m posting 15 blogging truths I’ve learned over the years.
I started this blog on February 7, 2004. Over those 15 years, I’ve learned quite a few things about blogging truths, and so I decided to post a list of 15 of them over the next few weeks.
I would never have imagined that 15 years later, I’d still be going. (For more than five years now, I’ve been posting daily!)
No one runs a blog that long without one key ingredient: an audience. So I thank you for visiting, reading, commenting and sharing what I’ve had to say all these years.
And that brings me to the first item on my list of blogging truths…things that genuinely matter when you have a blog!
1. Your Audience Matters.
A lot of people who blog like to claim that they only write for themselves. I’ve heard it plenty of times over the years.
Some of you may have started to convince yourself that you only write for you and no one else. You may subscribe to the point of view that you don’t care what your audience actually thinks.
But let’s be honest for a second.
If that were true, you’d open up a platform like Evernote or you’d grab a pen and an old-school paper journal and write to your heart’s content.
You wouldn’t post these thoughts you don’t care about anyone else reading on the internet.
And if you didn’t care what your audience thinks, you wouldn’t have comments enabled for what you do post online, would you? I mean, if you really didn’t care, why would you leave a channel designed for that “unimportant” audience to leave their feedback open to begin with?
Deep down, we both know better.
There’s some part of us that wants — maybe even craves — hearing from your audience. Even if we don’t want to admit it. Even if it makes our shyness a little more comfortable to think no one’s actually reading what we post.
But it’s your audience that can keep you going with a kind word at the very moment you begin to question whether you should continue. It’s your audience whose loyalty you appreciate when you contemplate skipping a day because you’re afraid no one cares.
Your audience is important. Respect them. Write for them and allow them to join your conversation.
2. Commitment Matters.
When someone tells me they’re thinking of starting a blog, one of the first things I warn them about is the commitment they must consider.
I don’t say it to scare them off.
I say it because it’s easy to jump in head-first into an enterprise like this without missing some of the more basic blogging truths. It takes a lot of commitment to blog longterm.
Anyone can blog for a few weeks or months. And a lot of blogs end up lasting less than a year.
But take it from someone who’s lasted for a decade-and-a-half: it takes a lot of work.
Sometimes, the reward is more than you could have hoped for. Other times, the reward seems almost non-existent. (You have to be able, at times, to find your own reward in what you do, even if it’s not always obvious.)
You have to sit down and plan out what you want to accomplish, then figure out how often you need to post to be able to do so.
And then — here’s the hard part: You have to figure out how you’re going to make time to actually make it happen.
You’ll notice I said you’ll have to make time. You’ll never find enough time to blog. If it’s something you’re truly passionate about, you make time to hit your goals and communicate your ideas.
That takes stubbornness. It takes dedication. It takes commitment.
Can you pull it off? Absolutely. As long as you know going in that it’s going to take some real work to keep going.
3. Variety Matters.
As the old saying goes, “Variety is the spice of life.” This blog has a bit more variety than most, and you, the audience, must decide whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
Conventional blogging wisdom — one of the most repeated blogging truths — is that you should pick a very narrow niche and be the “star” of that niche.
I contemplated that. But I just didn’t like the idea of forcing my site’s subject matter down into one narrow little pipeline. I was terrified that I’d get so bored that within a few months, I’d have shut down the whole thing.
Once I’d been writing on a variety of topics for a while, I even tried splitting them up into multiple blogs. (This was back in the Blogger days of this site before I made the move to WordPress.) I had a blog for some weekend “games” that I used to post, a separate blog for posts about faith, a separate blog for posts about writing and grammar, and then another blog for “everything else.” After a few months of that, I couldn’t stand it anymore. And I folded all of them back into this one where everything still simmers together.
You may have been able to successfully settle on a single topic and write only on that category of content. If you have, honestly, my hat is off to you: you’ve managed to accomplish something I just couldn’t begin to figure out.
But even so, a little variety can make a big difference. How about trying a video post, or maybe a photo post? If you do a lot of reviews, how about invite someone in your audience to write a review for you — or maybe even one of your blog itself? Maybe you can do a “behind the scenes” style post about what got you interested in this topic you write about and what your writing process looks like.
There are plenty of things you can do to stay true to your brand and your subject matter while still mixing up the method of presentation a bit.
Your faithful audience might enjoy seeing a different take on you. You might even get a creative charge out of it yourself.
That can only make your blog that much better!
That’s the first installment. Initially, I thought of trying to squeeze them all into one post. Then I thought I’d break into two or three. With just three, however, I find that I’m already past the 1,000-word mark.
I’m not one to worry a great deal about word count, but at the same time, I respect your time enough to not want to bog you down with a novella.
So for now, I’ll stop with these first three. I thank you again for helping me reach 15 years of blogging and helping me learn these blogging truths!
And be sure to check out Part 2 here.