Blogging, Writer's Life

10 Thoughts on 10 Years of Blogging

Summer 2020 marks a pretty significant milestone for me: a solid decade of being a blogger. We are a long way from where we started (ahem, light trash talk about assignments and classmates in my 12th grade English class). In all that time, I’ve learned a lot. So after 10 years of blogging, here are 10 pieces of blogging advice.

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1. Don’t Let Lulls Get You Down

Coming back from gaps in posting consistently feels like you’re back at square one with trying to find your audience. Some loyal readers are happy to have you back, while others are no longer interested.

It’s normal to struggle in the beginning to gain a readership. Still struggling after a year or more can be very discouraging, though still realistic. You might consider abandoning your blog, which isn’t always a bad idea. Maybe you just need to tweak your content, voice, or strategy. Or maybe a whole fresh start is in order.

2. Images Don’t Need to Be a Pain

Strong, eye-catching images are essential for getting eyes on your blog. Unless you’re a pro photographer and/or it’s part of your blog, you don’t have to take all your photos yourself. It can be time-consuming to search for the right photo, but it will always be a worthwhile use of your blogging time. And with sites like Pixabay, finding images that are free to use is painless.

3. Blogging Builds Professional Skills

A lot of jobs in every industry value strong writing skills. It’s part of communicating clearly and efficiently. Blogging is a good way to practice those skills and keep them sharp if you’re between jobs.

Blogging builds experience in the growing field of writing for the web. With how content management systems (CMS) like WordPress and Squarespace are so widely-used, getting familiar with their systems on your own time can prepare you to use them for a full-time employer.

4. Making Money Means Thinking Like a Business

A long-lasting blog that generates an income needs to be treated like a business endeavor. Especially if you want to make a career out of blogging, you have to think like an entrepreneur.

That means being GDPR-compliant, understanding how to handle blogging income when filing your taxes, making sure you’re in compliance with the FTC and other governing agencies. And don’t forget keeping updated privacy policies, terms of use, and disclosure statements on your site.

5. Remember Why You Started Blogging

Think about why you wanted to start blogging. Even if your blog is only a hobby at this point, it takes up a big chunk of time and energy to maintain (and it really adds up if you keep going for 10 years).

There are ups and downs. Victories and frustrations around every corner. If you want to keep blogging for a long time, you can’t lose sight of why you were passionate about it in the first place.

Some things will inevitably change along the way, but you have to stay true to the soul of your work if you want it to make you happy.

6. Blogging Grows Your Network

One of the most effective ways to bring attention to your blog is reading and commenting on other blogs — as long as sure your comments are relevant and not just shameless self-promotion.

In finding other blogs you want to read regularly, you have the chance to forge a connection with the creators behind those blogs. These are people you can tap for guest-written content, industry advice, recommendations for other professionals, and other opportunities out in the real world like seminars and conventions.

7. Some Things Suck at Every Stage

Maybe you’ve heard this one before: your earliest attempts will always suck.

True, you can only grow and improve the longer you work at it. But the thing about writing on the internet is that it’s always changing. Trends come and go. Algorithms change. New topics become relevant as old ones fade into the background.

8. Your Readers Change, Too

Your audience might change in a couple of different ways. First, they might outgrow your blog. They might no longer be interested in the topics you cover, or maybe it’s you, not them. Either way, they can move on without you.

But the audience you want to reach could change, too. Maybe you started writing content for a particular age group, but now you want to be more accessible to readers of any age. Everything you write for a blog is going to have your target audience in mind, but that target isn’t set in stone.

9. It’s Never Too Late to Pivot

Whether you’ve been blogging for 10 months or 10 years, there’s never a bad time to shift your blog’s focus. And you don’t need to make a huge public announcement about it, either. Start moving in your new direction once you have a clear idea of what that is.

You don’t need to tear down everything you’ve already done and start from scratch, either. Content from an early area in your brand’s life is still valuable content for your archives. You can easily tweak the design of your blog to better suit your new direction.

If you do overhaul the design of your blog, set aside some time to check all your old posts for formatting problems. Changing themes and styles might have affected older content that still receives traffic. You could lose out on site visitors who click away as soon as they see broken or ugly pages!

10. There Are No Substitutions for Tight, Quality Content

In 10 years of blogging, one thing has never changed: quality content is the key to success. Your content doesn’t only have to focus on an interesting topic and provide value to your readers.

One of the pitfalls of blogging and writing for so long is complacency. Don’t rely on the assumption that your readers will keep coming back no matter what. Your attention and dedication to quality must remain consistent.

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