Seven things I’ve learnt from my first six months of blogging

imageI 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

18 thoughts on “Seven things I’ve learnt from my first six months of blogging

  1. I really enjoyed this. I’ve stated my blog, Simplicity Sprouts, almost a month ago. It’s so easy to get caught up in statistics. I’m terrible about that. Glad to know it’s not just me. Now off to read about your dog’s revelations 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading! I get the feeling everyone does it, it’s kind of like a drug, you know you shouldn’t and that you really don’t need to, but you can’t help yourself. All the best with your blog, I’ll check it out!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I blog to get my Mum onto a computer. She has to engage with the internet if there’s something there I wrote! Although after three years the novelty is wearing off. “Mum, there’s another post”. And a few days or a week later, she gets around to it. She’s learnt that the internet isn’t going anywhere.

    I know what you mean about procrastination – not just in writing but generally. May I share a tip? I don’t start something. I set it up ready to be started. It might be dot points or mud map on some butchers paper. It might be a piece of fabric and a pattern on the sewing table with scissors placed near by. It might be the washing up in the sink ready to go. In my mind, it’s more likely to get done if its ready to get done.

    Cheers and thanks for a great post.

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    • I love that idea of getting your Mum online. I must admit I kind of envy that lack of interest and resistance to the pull of the rabbit hole that can be the internet. Thanks for the tip too, this is a good strategy which I’ll try. I do it sometimes for chores such as cooking, getting out various ingredients and leaving them out whenever I go past the kitchen, so I’ll try and expand it out to writing. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good read.

    On an old technology blog I used to post Linux guides that used to get silly amounts of hits.

    My current site is just pictures, but I find Pinterest and niche review posts get the most hits. I do not know how to use either to get more views, so made the decision a long time ago to just plod along with pics 🙂

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  4. I enjoy reading your blog and try to read every post but I must admit I find it hard following blogs (due to lack of time and other distractions on the internet!) and I’m still trying to find the best way to follow them. I’ve been looking for an app but I haven’t been happy with the two I’ve tried. Any tips? 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading (and commenting), Megan. To be honest I don’t know that much about blog readers. I use the one that’s built into WordPress, and you follow both WordPress and other blogs (like Blogger – basically anything with an RSS feed I think). I’m not sure if you can just use it as a reader, or whether you have to set up a blog to access it…hmmm….maybe you should set up a blog? 🙂

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  5. There is a lot of truth in this and I relate to it very well. I’m in the process of setting up a Facebook page for my blog as a way of sharing it more but avoiding spamming my friends on my personal page. Only time will tell….

    I’ve enjoyed finding your blog, especially as I’m seriously considering a trip to Australia this Christmas to visit friends in Canberra!

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    • Thanks for reading. I know what you mean about spamming people on fb, but I figure they still have the choice of whether to click to read more or not and it probably makes a nice change from pictures of my dog! Hope you enjoy your trip to Australia, I look forward to reading about it 🙂

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  6. I enjoyed this. I’m fairly new to this too having been blogging for about 3 months. Like you I don’t have a niche, then I start to panic – what hope of ever becoming a serious blogger without a niche or specialism? Then I think what the hell, I write primarily for myself and my closest circle of friends and as long as I enjoy it that’s all that matters.
    Fran x

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    • Thanks for reading Fran. You’re absolutely right that you need to remember the reason you’re writing, and if it’s just for you and your friends then you can do whatever you want! All the best with the blog.

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  7. I’m cleaning up my inbox and catching up with posts from bloggers I like to read. The bloggers who do the best – particularly in the beginning – are those who comment on other blogs. You have to comment in an interesting, engaging way, which would make someone check you out. You don’t comment simply to build readers though. You comment because you genuinely want to engage. If you don’t want to engage, you can write posts but unless you are famous you are not likely to gain readers. You get known by Google partly through traffic to and from your blog. So, while commenting on other blogs bring specific people to you, the more it happens the more Google starts to “notice” you (as far as I understand).

    I have about 4 blogs – my own which is the one I post most frequently to, and engage with others. It has my most hits. I administer two group blogs – they are public but I don’t comment on other blogs in the name of those, so they just potter on with most hits coming from members of those groups. And my husband and I have a travel blog. It’s public but I only promote it to family and friends, so it gets few hits besides those.

    BTW This is a good post of your learnings! I remember obsessional stats checking! I still check fairly regularly but not obsessively any more. It’s intriguing to think about who’s coming and why. I can see patterns now that I have a few years under my best.

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    • I agree, it’s the thoughtful and meaningful engagement which is the most effective, and enjoyable. Very pleased that I am one of the blogs you take the time out to catch up on too! Thanks 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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