If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.Barack Obama
I’ve been feeling a bit discouraged about blogging lately. My leave from work ends soon and I’ve been feeling like I haven’t made enough progress; in my recovery or with blogging. I’ve spoken with my doctors and they’ve agreed that I will probably need an extension so that I have more time. Regardless, I now feel the ax over my head. The ticking of the clock, if you will. I’ve been debating whether or not I should write about my leave and my work situation on the blog. It feels risky, but it also feel important to the story I’m trying to share with you.
I digress. I’ve been focused on the things I haven’t accomplished, instead of looking back on all the things I’ve learned and the HUGE progress that I have made. I started thinking back on the last 3 months and it dawned on me: I have accomplished and learned a lot in that time. At times, I have been laser focused on learning or growing or writing my next idea.
There were times that I spent 10 or 12 hours a day on blog-related tasks, sometimes forgetting to eat and use the bathroom. My husband has been amazing, reminding me to do the things I need to do to survive and taking care of the house and kiddo while I hyperfocus for hours on end. I’ve learned about website building, power words, and just a little bit about SEO. I’ve made graphics on Canva and scheduled social media posts on Buffer, 2 things I had never done before last December.
I realized that, despite the fact that my mental health has struggled and losing my dear Mamaw, these last 3 months have been eye-opening. I’ve had less stress (or maybe a different kind of stress?), more focus on my well-being and getting better, and more drive to put in real work towards something I love instead of sacrificing myself for someone else’s dream. I’ve been writing regularly for the first time in a really long time. I have a curious mind and I love to be learning about new things all the time, so blogging has never gotten boring or repetitive to me.
I didn’t know much of anything about blogging when I started last May and I barely knew more than that when my leave started in December. I have learned a lot of lessons and a little bit about a lot of things since then. I decided early on that I wanted to share some of the things that I have learned in that time. So strap in and let’s talk about these 10 undeniable truths from my blogging journey.
1. Blogging is hard work.
Ok, ok. Going into this, I knew that blogging was going to be hard work. But, wow! It is so much work. I don’t say this to complain, in fact. Blogging has kept me busy and focused for most of my time off, which is good for my mental health. When given loads of downtime, I tend to ruminate more. Here’s the thing: unless you’re really lucky, you’re on your own at first. You’re doing it all. From brainstorming post ideas to research and writing to marketing and networking…it’s all you, lovely!
There have been nights where I have worked on the blog for hours on end,when I included making new graphics, posting on social media, or scouring the web for other blogs to add to my RSS feed; until I could barely keep my eyes open . I’ve learned a lot about how to build a website using the WordPress builder and learned just a little about how to use Google Search Console and Google Analytics. I have written, journaled, mind-mapped, brainstormed, and researched…blogging is an extremely intensive path to take.
2. Blogging takes a lot of time…with little pay-off at first.
So, this heading could be used as a double entendre. Blogging takes up a lot of your time, but it also takes a lot of time to build a successful blog. As I said before, you will spend hours learning, planning, writing, and promoting your blog. There isn’t a day of the week that I don’t do something blog related. Just know going into it that is truly an investment, even if you haven’t spent any money on it yet. You will spend time on post planning/brainstorming, building/maintaining your site, researching for posts, writing and editing, social media/promoting, making graphics, learning new skills, and so much more.
3. You need to read and interact with other bloggers.
I really wish someone had told me to do this before I started the blog. I didn’t realize at the time what a rich resource social media can be in finding other blogs. Not only does reading other blogs give you inspiration, but it also helps you to network and to learn more about blogging. There are many good sites that host blogs for you to peruse, including Blogger, Medium, and WordPress Reader. There is also a strong blogging community on Facebook and Twitter and there are always good posts to check out.
Once you have started blogging, commenting on other blogs can be helpful for many reasons. First and foremost, it helps you connect with and support other bloggers. It also provides linkbacks from more established sites, which are important for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Another good reason for interacting with other blogs, especially in your niche, is to help readers of that niche find you.
4. Make a posting schedule.
A lot of articles will tell you that you need to post the same times and the same days every week. I don’t actually use that advice. I tried it out, but waiting on posts to publish always put me in ADHD wait mode and I couldn’t get anything done on posting days. So, I decided to go my own road. I use a Mossery Twinbook as my editorial calendar/blog planner. I write all my post ideas on post it notes, so if they have to be rescheduled, I can just move them to the new day. Once the post is published, I write it on the calendar in pen.
I also try to schedule out when I will write, when I will take planning/learning days, and checklists that I need to complete to get a post ready to be published. I *try* to post on the same days, but sometimes I just can’t. Life happens. Mental illness happens. But, by putting all of my ideas for the week on the calendar, I know what I need to be focused on and, if I get behind, it’s easy to get caught back up. I wish I had worked with a schedule from the start and I highly recommend it.
5. Marketing and promoting never stop.
I assure you that, if you stop marketing or promoting your site, you will see an immediate drop in views, at least in the beginning. Getting your work out to your potential readers is almost as important as the work itself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and promote your blogging efforts every chance that you get. Be sure to be tactful and respectful, but let people know about yourself and what you’re doing. Remember, blogging is hard work…you should be proud of yourself!
6. Post often, but only as often as is reasonable.
The more often you post, the higher you will rank on the search engines, on the blog websites, and social media. You want to post as often as you can. My original plan was to only post once a week until I realized that I would be better served in growing my audience if I posted more often. Luckily I had a really good brainstorm and was able to plan several months of content, so I have lots to write about. Make sure that you stay in niche (or don’t…a lot of people say that niche doesn’t matter), but write your heart out.
That said, be reasonable. You want to make sure that you are posting quality work over quantity. It won’t matter if you post 7 days a week if your posts aren’t visually pleasing, well-researched and well-written, and useful to your readers in some way. You want to make sure that you are having fun and enjoying yourself; blogging shouldn’t be the thing that stresses you out and steals your joy. It should be something that lifts you up. Stay healthy.
7. Keep learning.
When I started blogging, I had no idea how much I would learn in such a short period of time. Stay curious. If you read about something that you really want to try but don’t know how, Google it. I promise you that there will be a video or step-by-step out there that will teach you how to do it yourself. You will feel like a million bucks the first time you enter your first line of short code or score 100 on your SEO plugin. We have the world at our fingertips…make sure you’re learning.
Learn a little about a lot of things and you’ll be blogging like a pro in no time. Make sure you do plenty of research about blogging and about your niche before you get started. You could also start by learning about building websites, SEO (learn this in the beginning…it will save you time later), Google Ananlytics and Search Console, and what type of plugins you may want to use on your website.
8. Reseach everything about blogging, but take it with a grain of salt.
There is advice out there about everything; when to post, how to post, what to post. There are lists of words to use and articles about how long your paragraphs should be and blogs about all the ways to win at blogging. I want you to read them all and then don’t do what I did. My brain read these words and immediately implemented them in stone as “rules.” I started to stress myself out because I was trying to put boundaries where none had to be.
Do what works for you. You don’t want to lose the beauty of your writing because you were too afraid of paragraph length or keyword occurrences. Post when you can and when you want. Consider your niche, but don’t get stuck in it if you don’t want to. Write about what you want; whatever it is that makes your heart happy. If you are going to invest yourself in blogging, then make sure you do it in whatever way fits your life and, more importantly, your rules.
9. It won’t happen fast, but KEEP PUSHING THROUGH.
I’m going to be honest, sometimes it’s going to feel like you’re writing into a void. It’s hard to keep going when you are getting little feedback and your numbers aren’t growing as fast as you would like. But keep moving. Keep writing and plugging your links on social media. If 10 people read your post and you help 5 of them, then you achieved your goal. When you get positive feedback, grasp onto it like a life raft and let the words keep you afloat for that much longer.
I recently had a mother reach out and say that one of my posts helped her greatly in understanding some behaviors from her 5-year-old girl with ADHD. The interaction brought me to tears. I was a little girl who no one understood once. If I brought that little girl an ounce of understanding in her life, then I’m doing what I came here to do; help people. No matter how discouraged you get, remember your reason; your why.
10. Try new and different things.
If you see something that you want to do, try it! Whether it be a new website theme or a series you’d like to try out…just try it. The good news is, you have a lot of room to play in the beginning, before you start getting a lot of traffic. Try new things. Try something different than what you’ve been doing. If it doesn’t work or you don’t like it, simply throw it out or save it for later. There are plenty of things that I want to try later so I keep on on-going list in my blog planner.
Experiment, have fun, and find your groove. You are a unique personality with unique viewpoints on the world…play around until you find the best avenue to convey those messages. There are no rules (not really, anyway) and there are no limits to what you can do when you set your mind forward. As long as your content is quality blogging material, it will speak for itself in the end.
These are just a few of things that I have learned so far in my blogging journey and I know there are so many lessons yet to come. I hope this finds you well and helps you along your way. Good luck and write well.
Don’t forget to catch up on what you’ve missed! You can find 8 ADHD and Mental Illness Truths Everyone Should Know, Why I’m Speaking Out (and how you can too), My Mental Health: Support Systems, and much more…every day on The Winter Of My Discontent!
Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜