A month ago, I reached my first full year of blogging on Crispy Confessions. And yet, a year ago, I never thought that I would get to this point. Sure, I wished, I hoped, and I dreamed that I would someday have several years worth of blog posts in my archives. But as any realist knows, not every dream can come to fruition. Some dreams are just that — dreams, forever destined to exist only in the mind — while other dreams have the power to transform each of us into something greater than ourselves.
But, I reached the first full year of blogging on Crispy Confessions. During this rather unconventional year, I learned things about blogging that I never knew before. But most importantly, I learned things about myself, who I am in the context of the wider society, and how I fit in to the bigger picture. In this blog post, I want to share with you six lessons that I learned while blogging during a pandemic year.
Make a Plan
I am the type of person who likes to dive right in and tackle a project. I don’t like to read the instructions before constructing a piece of furniture. I don’t like to write an outline before writing an article or a story. I just like to dive right in, guided by my instincts and imagination, and hope that that is enough. As I’ve learned time and time again, this is not always the best way to do things. And in the case with blogging, however tempting it might be to create a blog as soon as the idea takes a hold of you, it is actually a better idea to wait, let the idea stew, and make a plan.
If I could change one thing, I would have not have rushed into blogging. Instead, I would have done more hashtag research, planned out the topics I want to cover, choose a target demographic, create a stellar layout, and write a 30-day blog post plan. If I had done these things before I had started blogging, then my blog would have been more focused. Instead, I just delved right in, letting my blog simply grow and evolve, which isn’t a bad thing. But it’s not the most efficient or smartest idea.
Focus on a Topic
As I’ve mentioned above, I wish that I had went ahead and chose a topic to focus on. When I first started, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about. I just knew that I wanted to write a blog. Because I didn’t exactly have a topic in mind, I wrote about a variety of different topics, many of which were pretty unrelated to each other. One disadvantage about writing about different topics in each blog post is that not everyone will be interested in everything that you write. Of course, I could argue that by writing about different topics you can draw a more diverse group of readers in.
But, in general, I think that it is essential that you choose a topic to focus on. For example, you could be a beauty blogger and write about all things cosmetics and fashion. Or, you could be a minimalist blogger and write about your own journey as a minimalist. Or, you could be a food blogger and share recipes and post pictures of food.
But a year in and I know now what topics to focus on. This is a lifestyle blog, focusing primarily on culture, social media, and writing. But even those three topics are still vastly different. So, I guess you can say that I am still figuring it out. And that is okay because blogging is all about growing and learning. And I do believe that any good blog should be given the opportunity to evolve and grow with its writer.
People Prefer Videos Over Text
One thing that I have always known in the back of my mind and as constantly reinforced almost everyday is the simple fact that most people prefer videos over text. People also prefer images over text. In today’s fast, very visual screen world, people simply don’t like to read as much as they used to. They prefer to read short chunks of text, if any, guided by some good quality pictures and video to help guide the writing along. If you had the choice between reading a website with nothing but lines and lines of black text and a website that had many colorful pictures, videos, and GIFs, which one would you choose? Probably the latter, right?
As a writer, it is disheartening to be reminded that videos will ultimately most likely be more successful than a blog article. It is easier for someone to just watch or listen to a show than to take a few minutes and read an article. After all, you can multitask while listening, but you can’t necessarily do that when you have to read something.
So, how do writers capture the attention of people who would rather listen to a podcast or video? I think the best way is by utilizing all the different platforms and giving an option so that people can choose the method that they prefer to consume the material. When the audience can choose to read the article, or have the article read to them, or see it in video format, then there would be the possibility of possibly greater success. As I once learned in college, it is most effective if you can utilize all the different social media platforms in order to build a large, supportive, and thriving community.
Success Doesn’t Come Overnight
When I first started blogging, I must admit that I expected my first few posts to instantly go viral. I somehow expected people to just find and flock to my blog. At least, I hoped that would happen. As I am reminded time and time again, people will not seek out your blog. Instead, you have to share and put your blog out there in front of people. You have to have an enticing title, image, and description to get people to click on that link. You have to literally put the blog in front of their faces so they will read it.
And even then, even after months, years even, of promoting day in and day out, your blog might not reach millions of readers. But in the end, that’s okay. Success should not be measured by the number of readers you have. Rather, success should be measured by the quality of your blog. It should be measured by the type of information you reach to impart, the people that you affect positively, and how your blog makes you feel. If you are able to positively impact at least one person on the Internet, then you can consider yourself to have made it. If you are able to have at least one person see something in a different way, then you were successful. Remember, success is highly subjective. If you feel as if you are doing a great job, then chances are, you are. Don’t feel down in the dumps just because you don’t have the following that you want. Instead, feel joy because your blog is out there and there is at least one person who is reading what you have to say.
Let Your True Self Shine
When I first started blogging last year, I felt as if my writing was stilted and stale. I felt as if I was doing an infomercial, while wearing a metaphorical mask, and keeping my distance from my readers. But then, as I wrote more and more, I started to write about things that were more personal. I started to show glimpses of my true self. Instead of writing using the listicle method, I started to write in expository prose, using more informal language or language that I use everyday in conversation. I think these things have helped me to write as if I am talking directly to my readers. I think these things have helped me reveal my true self through my words.
When blogging, you should definitely, always, let your true self shine. When blogging, if you are not authentic, or trying to be someone that you are not, then your reader will know. When blogging, you should always write from your heart about things that you are passionate about. Your passion for the material will show in your writing and people will also feel that same passion, and most importantly, it will give them the fire to speak up.
The Blogging Community is Everything
I saved the best point for last. The best point is that the blogging community is everything. You can be a blogger without engaging in the community and supporting other bloggers. But it will be a lonely blogging life indeed. As with almost everything, you need a community. You need a community of people who loves blogging as much as you do. You need a community of people to whom you can lean on in times of stress and pitfalls of writing. You need a community.
So, as a blogger, don’t be afraid to get involved with the community. Read some blogs. Comment and give your thoughts on their posts. Share their posts on social media. Collaborate with other bloggers. Nominate other bloggers for awards. By doing some or all of these things, you are contributing to one of the best communities online. You are not only becoming a great blogger, but most importantly, an essential part of the blogging community.
[See also: 5 Benefits of Having a Writing Community]