There’s plenty of ‘how to blog effectively’ articles out there, and you may be wondering, “Why should I take advice from someone who has ~300 followers?”
The reason I think you should care is that I feel those 300 followers is about average, perhaps a little more or less, to what you should expect after blogging in the writing community for about a year (which is where I am) with absolutely 0 online presence beforehand.
The main way to succeed at blogging is to not give up. You may never get paid for it, and you may never get famous, but you will still gain from the experience. Here’s how.
What Blogging Can (Will) Get You
You can easily get articles about ‘how to direct traffic to your blog’ or stories about how people succeeded. Some of that crap works, but in real life? This Bo Burnham quote sums up my thoughts on most of that advice:
I would say don’t take advice from people like me who have gotten very lucky, we’re biased. You know, like Taylor Swift telling you to follow your dreams is like a lottery winner telling you, ‘Liquidize your assets, buy Powerball tickets, it works!’
— Bo Burnham on TBS’s Conan, 2016
The same can apply to advice from successful bloggers or, gasp, authors. Sure, they put in the effort, they had skill, and they did what was necessary to start the process, but an element of luck plays into all of it. None of us are failures when luck or zeitgeist didn’t fall our way.
What you can really expect is to contact a few other dedicated bloggers or, in my case, author-bloggers. You can expect to see more of what other people do, recognize what choices you have and what steps you need to take if you do want to chase a dream like publishing – either traditional or self-published.
What You Must Pay
While I believe having more than the free plan would help me grow my blog, direct monetary loss isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about payments of effort. Time is something even free bloggers have to spend.
When it comes to your own posts, you’ll figure out your balance of quality vs. quantity. I decided to post every day for 3 months in 2018, and that was definitely when I got through the beginning slump – but posting every day isn’t necessary. What is necessary, if you want to keep growing, is to just not quit. Keep commenting and reading even if you post once a week or once every 2 weeks.
This leads me into the other ‘payment’ – comments. Likes are penny candy after a while, and you can’t be sure some of those people even read your stuff. Try using the wp reader for a while – it’s way easier to like than it is to go to the website, load it, read it, then like it. So yes, like, but also comment – comment like you think the poster is about to quit and you’re the only one who can prevent it. Even if they don’t care about you in return, you did a good thing. Start a conversation, be the reader you want other people to be. Don’t depend on getting secret readers or stuff like that.
Eventually, commenting won’t feel so nerve-wracking. You’ll just do it. Right now I have a hard time commenting on popular blogs because I feel like I can’t add to an already illustrious conversation – but that’s not true, and I can get over that psychological block.
Also, don’t be an asshat in the comments.
Have a Good Time
Warning: atypical advice ahead!
If you don’t enjoy blogging, don’t do it. It’s that simple. The chances of getting internet fame or causing your book sales to skyrocket are low, especially after a short time online. If you don’t enjoy the platform, try posting less often. Try finding a type of post you like better. Maybe try Twitter (which makes me a nervous wreck, but you can find me @hrrgorman) or Tumblr or Instagram.
If you don’t like blogging, you’ll require more comments, likes, and traffic to feel worthwhile. You might get them – it is possible – but that’s still got a lot of luck basis. If you don’t like blogging, really consider what your ‘final straw’ is. Don’t let online bs drag you down in real life. Have reasonable (aka low) expectations if you are a stat dependent creature.
Do you have any tips for beginning bloggers? Any questions about startup, fears about where your blog is going? I’d love to have a chat in the comments, so meet me there!
In 2 weeks, I hope you’ll enjoy my post about writing prompts and how they are super useful to worm yourself into the writing community on WordPress! Give me a follow if you’re interested!