I started this blog at the end of 2014, just over six months ago. It was through reading others’ blogs that I became inspired to start my own. It was like falling down a rabbit hole, first I followed a food blog, then a blog about Canberra which led to other blogs about travel and health and fitness and politics and on, and on. I’ve never thought that I have much to offer in the way of expertise on anything, blogging has always been more about having the license to set up a little space of my own on the internet. If anyone ever looks at it, well that’s a bonus.
It’s still very early on in the piece, but having reflected on the past six months, I’ve come up with some things I’ve learnt so far.
Even though it’s something I love doing, finding the motivation to do it is difficult.
I’m a natural-born procrastinator. Even things I love doing, I put off. I don’t know why, maybe some kind of psychotherapy would reveal the deep-seated reason. Before I launched myself into blogging I was worried that I’d never have enough to write about. As it turns out, I have a very long list of ideas for posts but still struggle sometimes to sit down to write. I really admire the discipline of my fellow bloggers who write and post every day.
People are more interested in the ridiculous musings of a small dog than they are in street art.
I started doing the short pieces on things I’ve learnt from my dog as a kind of filler, something easy to post quickly, as I’d ponder his ‘life lessons’ on our nightly walks around the local area. I think they’re kind of chintzy and I get a bit disappointed in myself for not writing something more revelatory or useful to the world. However, they get a surprising number of views, more so than my more ‘serious’ pieces. It just goes to show, there’s space on the internet for everything.
It’s not all about the statistics.
Even though this is supposed to be fun and I never set out to take over the internet (or make any money for that matter) it’s really easy to get caught up in checking the number of views and visitors to your site ALL THE TIME. This need for statistical gratification is not unique to my blogging. I was just this morning commenting to my running friends how frustrated I was that my GARMIN watch (which records your pace and distance along with other things while you run) was on the blink. To me, there’s no point running if there’s no digital record of it – did it really happen? And how can you compare it with other runs? In a similar vein, I like seeing how my posts are going – which ones are more popular and who’s reading. But, really, you can waste a lot of time checking in and agonising over a slow day, when it actually doesn’t matter.
It’s incredible how many people actually do read your stuff.
Now my visitor and view numbers are LOW on the scale of things, but I’m still constantly amazed that ANYONE reads my stuff. I was always expecting my biggest fan to be my Dad (Hi Dad!) and this is still true, but it is just amazing to me that there are people I don’t know, from around the world, who seem to want to look at my posts.
Keep your eye on the prize.
I was convinced to set up a twitter account to help promote my blog based on general advice that it would help drive traffic to my site. What I’ve found is that now I feel twice the pressure to come up with interesting things to post (or tweet as the case may be) and twice the number of stats and (lack of) followers to agonise over. All of this adds up to me realising that the two best pieces of advice I’ve found from reading about how to drive traffic to your site and increase views are actually: Post well (create good content) and post often and, be an active participant in the blogging community.
Blogging is not a solitary act.
Starting and writing a blog can be a solitary activity if you want it to be, but it’s so much more interesting if you step outside your own little blogworld. I had no idea that the most rewarding part of this experience would be becoming part of the world-wide blogging community. WordPress suggests actively participating through reading and commenting on other blogs to build followers, and I heartily agree. I’ve had numerous local and international interactions with people who share my interests in writing, reading, travel, eating, health, fitness, dogs and art. It’s a good feeling to have their encouragement and support and to encourage and support them.
Don’t get too caught up in having a niche, just get started.
I was worried before I started that I didn’t have a well-defined niche for my blog or a definite purpose, like tips for travel or food reviews. It’s something, again, that they say you should have in order to build a successful blog. Without really caring whether my blog was successful or not, I launched myself into it with a ‘personal’ blog, and it’s been a great learning experience, both for getting a sense of how blogging works and finding out what I enjoy most about it.
After all, it’s my blog, and I can do what I want to. Which is probably the most important lesson of all.
Thanks for reading. If you’re a blogger, I’d love to hear your tips for increasing followers and views, and also what you’ve learnt along the way. Please leave a comment below.