Annyeong! (“Hello” in Korean) It sure has been awhile since my last post. My excuse…there really is no excuse. I can easily say that life got in the way (which there is some truth to it), but if you really want to achieve something you need to put in more than your 110%, and sadly I failed to do that. But if there is one good thing that came out of my hiatus, is this: I can now tell you what NOT to do as a newbie blogger.
Like many of you, I too researched extensively about blogging before taking the plunge and starting Serenaome.com. But now that I look back I think I was a little too hasty to launch the blog when I did, even when I was aware there was still a lot to work on. In any event, today I want to share with you some of the lessons I’ve learned during this year of hiatus.
There are many reasons why people start a blog. Some do it as a form to express themselves, share their view of the world around them with others. Another set, are more systematic about the blogging platform and do it more so as a business venture with the goal of gaining financial freedom and living the Rich Life (as Ramit Sethi would say), while at the same time exploiting their creative side and passions. But if you are serious about blogging there are a couple of things you should be aware before you hit that “publish” button.
Please note that these are not in any particular order but are important all the same.
THINK THAT BLOGGING IS EASY
Many people believe that bloggers just sit behind the computer screen and type out whatever it comes to mind. That is okay if blogging is an occasional hobby to you, one of those hobbies you’re not quite passionate about but you enjoy every now and then.
Blogging is hard and it requires a lot of work. You need to be willing to put in that work if you want to have any chance at success. Especially if you want to be financially independent and use your blog as a stepping stone for that goal.
Writing is a lot harder than people realize, even more so when you want to put out the best content for your readers. They deserve that much, and that is why serious bloggers do plenty of research and edits before they hit the “publish” button.
Having a blog requires more than just writing, it also requires plenty of editing (that might be one of the most difficult parts) and some amount of computer literacy that not everyone has, despite the ever present use of technology in our lives.
- If you’re thinking of doing affiliate programs or ads, that is also another consideration to the work load. Granted it’s not something extremely hard to do, but it does require understanding of these programs and how they will work.
FAIL TO BE YOURSELF
One of the biggest struggles I’ve had (believe it or not) is that even though there are so many topics I would love to write about, I tend to double guess myself and think “there is probably something better out there, why would anyone read what I write.”
While I don’t pretend to be anyone else, I analyze other’s writing style and think “Oh, maybe I should be writing about this, it seemed to work for so and so.” But that is not the answer.
Be yourself. You started your blogging journey because you had something to share with the world, so own up to it and write about the things that you love.
My motto is, that if what I want to write about doesn’t harm anyone, even if it’s silly, then there is no reason for me not to write it.
Prior to launching my blog, I had so many things in mind. For one, I wanted to be ahead with the writing and have at least a month to 3 months worth of content, that way I wouldn’t be struggling to find good topics and deliver to my readers. Also, I wanted to write and publish a post per week. Did that happen? Of course not. I got a little more excited than I should have and launched the blog with just one article. And because I wasn’t too satisfied with the results I was not very aggressive with promoting my blog either.
Even though I did have some drafts of other articles, they were not finished and the more I left them sitting at the computer, the harder it became to finalizing them.
My recommendation for you, is that you create a plan, as ambitious as you want it, and stick to it. Sure you want to be flexible with your schedule (hence the getting ahead part), but if you hope to be independent in the future and be your own boss you need to be able to manage your time and your business. Creating good plans and habits now will do great things for you in both the short and long run.
BE A PERFECTIONIST
I’ve talked about this before in my “What I learned my First Month of Blogging” post. But if there is something that frustrates me (and many others) is that I am a perfectionist to a point that I reach a stalemate and paralyze myself.
You don’t want to be that person. Granted you shouldn’t put out mediocre work either, but you need to find that sweet spot in which you’ve done the best you could and there is still room for improvement…and you are okay with that realization. I mentioned in this post, that perfection takes time, it really does. But if you start your blog with the aim of having “a perfect head start” the “perfect blog” you will not get much done. Actually you will not get anything done, because there is no such thing as “perfect,” there will always be room for improvement and that is a good thing.
In the words of Albert Einstein: “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
As a content creator you have this vision of what you want to do and how you want to do it… it might not always work the way you envisioned. It doesn’t matter how much you read on how to create the most beautiful and engaging blog. Success will not come alone. You need to be able to learn from others and implement different things on your platform, some will work some won’t but you need to continue trying until you find what works for you.
By the same token, know that as much as you CAN do on your own, at times it is best to let others help you, that way you can better use your time for self development and tweak things at your own pace.
Be flexible to accept and make changes in our lives.
PASSION vs. HOBBY
I touched on this very briefly but I wanted to elaborate just a tad bit more, because I’ve found that it is very important. A passion is something that brings you joy and you never run out of things to say or do pertaining to your passion. A hobby is more subtle and occasional, that you do because you want to and you can easily stop doing if you wanted to as well.
Take time to define such passions, and don’t go with what everyone else is doing just because it’s popular. Eventually, you’ll realize that those topics are simply not your cup of tea and you’ve wasted time and energy that could have been spent elsewhere.
Instead, even if it takes time look for that passion and once you’ve found it, write about these topics to your heart’s content. Even if your posts take time to gain traction at least you will feel happy and fulfilled because you are writing about something that you enjoy.
NOTE: Also be willing to accept that you don’t have to stick to just one niche. I believe that you can have more than one passion, but you don’t want to be a jack of all trades either. Experts are the ones who make headlines not those that know a little about a lot, but rather those that know A LOT about a little.
We live in the world of instant gratification, we want things now and the faster we get them the better. The words “patience is a virtue” are truer than ever before, especially in the blogging world. Nevertheless, my young Padawans it is a necessary virtue. Patience and consistency are essential to you, not just in your blogging pursuits but any project that you set out to do.
Similar to losing weight, you can’t expect to lose 20 pounds in three days of intense dieting and exercise and then go back to your regular habits (I don’t know if it is even possible, but generally you gain twice as much weight than what you’ve lost…yikes!). To be successful at losing weight (and keeping it off) you need to make a lifestyle change, not follow fad diets. The same applies to blogging, you can’t dedicate a whole weekend to writing and publishing and then expect for your blog to be successful overnight without any maintenance. In the words of a wise professor of mine, “it’s not one of improvement of 1000% but a 1000 improvements of 1%.” It is easier to make small and permanent changes over time, instead of doing a 180 on yourself and then feel overwhelmed and discouraged to continue because of the difficulty to keep up the pace. Every hefty goal starts with small and more achievable goals that together help you reach that dream goal you have.
I’m here to tell you that you need to put in the grunt work, without being paranoid about the perfect editing or font selection, and you need to do it consistently. That may be the only way you discover what works for you and then work the heck out of that system.
It’s been a long hiatus, but the dream is still alive and I want to continue to share some tips and stories with you, and I hope we can embark on this journey together.
Are you a blogger? If so, what are some mistakes that you’ve made? If you’re not a blogger, what type of content do you look for in a blog?
I would love to hear from you! 😉