Not too long ago, on September 30th, I celebrated the 10th anniversary of Adventures of an Island Girl!
The average lifespan of a blog, according to some experts, is 6 months. Others say 3 years. The fact that I have managed to keep this up for so long continues to amaze me.
Blogging has certainly changed since I started Adventures of an Island Girl in 2011. And I’ve had to learn a lot in order to keep up. Through trial and error mostly, but also from the investments that I made into courses and conferences, and the relationships I fostered with other bloggers.
I love talking about my journey as a blogger and while I have delivered a few presentations on blogging as a hobby or career, this is the first time I’m sharing what I’ve learned over the years here. These are blogging lessons, but since I’m a firm believer in transferrable knowledge, you might find a few of these applicable to life in general.
10 Blogging Lessons From 10 Years of Blogging
Lesson #1: You have to be consistent to see results
“Consistency will take you much further than talent ever will. So build better habits.” – Glo Atanmo
This is one of the first things that my Blog Like A Boss course instructor, Glo Atanmo, said to us in the opening call of our course. And it fell straight in my pot.
You could have the best written blog posts, but if you’re barely publishing, only a few people will see them. If you want to grow your audience, then you have to be consistent, not only in quality, but quantity too.
To be honest, I think a lot of my struggle with publishing consistently comes from setting unrealistic goals and then chastising myself when I’m unable to achieve them. ‘New post every Friday’ looks great on paper, but it just has not been a sustainable goal for me. Ten years in the game and I still don’t have that kind of stamina.
Lesson #2: You never stop learning
When I first started blogging all I knew how to do was write. But words alone do not make a great blog. Over the years I’ve had to learn, among many others, SEO and how to keep my website running, photo and video editing, and graphic design.
When you have a blog there will always be something new to learn, and there’s no shortage of tutorials to watch and courses to take either. Just make sure you’re not spending all your time learning and never implementing.
Lesson #3: You’re going to have to spend some money
The free version will only get you so far. There will come a time when you have to upgrade to pro.
Lesson #4: Don’t underestimate how much work goes into content creation
My mother once told me that she didn’t know how much goes into publishing a blog post until she overheard me speaking to a group of students about my blogging process. Here’s a quick rundown:
There’s brainstorming (what do you want to write about?), planning (how are you going to write it?) and research (keyword and the fact-finding kind) before writing even begins. Then you can revise and edit.
You have to organize your media (photos, videos, memes, gifs). With the exception of a few, I take all of my photos. So that means staging the photoshoot (if it’s one of those) and editing the photos.
You also have to create the content for the collateral that accompanies the blog post. In my case it’s the text for my MailChimp list (please pause for a cause right now and subscribe to my mailing list), Instagram and Facebook captions, and create Pinterest pins. (And this is why I said I don’t have the stamina to sustain weekly posts).
Keep your blogging process in mind the next time you’re tempted to commit to an unreasonable turnaround time for a blog post. Also when *they* try to convince you to blog for free. Your time is valuable!
Lesson #5: Put yourself out there, even when it’s scary
The thought of pitching terrifies me. I wish my dream opportunities would always magically appear in my inbox, but alas! That’s not how life works. You have to put yourself out there. So head up, shoulders back, don’t talk yourself out of it, and shoot your shot. Sometimes the shot will make it and sometimes it won’t, but you’ll never know unless you try.
Lesson #6: Community is everything
The relationships that you cultivate with your readers and other bloggers help keep you going when motivation is low. There were times when I felt like it wasn’t worth my time to keep the blog going. My numbers were low; were people even reading, I wondered. But then people who I didn’t even know were readers of my blog would tell me how much they enjoyed my last post. Even though it feels sometimes like you’re writing into an abyss, keep writing. They are reading.
As a blogger it’s easy to fall into the “I can do it all myself” trap. We feel like we have to become experts at everything, and figure it all out ourselves. But it’s ok to ask for help. Being part of a community means that you’re not alone; someone will be able to help you, or at least point you in the right direction.
Lesson #7: Trust your voice
There are a lot of blogs out there – 900 million was the last number I heard. So while it might feel that the industry is saturated and your little blog won’t make a difference, remember that there’s only one blog with your perspective, your story and your expertise. Trust your voice.
Lesson #8: Your online presence comes with responsibility
The thing about our wonderful, world wide web is that anyone can publish anything (accurate or not) on the internet. And as a blogger, even if you might not want to admit it, you have some influence over your readers. Use it wisely and be a responsible blogger.
Lesson #9: You might have to pivot a few times
This one took me a while to fully understand and appreciate. As the years went by, I noticed that my interests were changing and I wanted to explore new things. But I thought that I had to stay within this niche that I had chosen 10 years ago. Eventually I learned that I didn’t have to remain bound by the confines of one type of blogging. Sometimes this shift happens naturally, and other times it’s forced upon us by a pandemic.
Either way, it’s important to remember that if you start to feel like you’re not enjoying the experience anymore, then it’s ok to try a new approach.
Lesson #10: Just start
If we keep waiting until we’re “ready” to do something, we’ll probably stay waiting. If you want to launch a new blog, start. If you want to do Youtube videos, start. If you want to add a podcast, start.