I know from the outside blogging looks like a magical, mystical and wondrous world where unicorns jump over rainbows and we all travel the world as digital nomads ad infinitum. But, in reality, there are some tough things about blogging.
Things that the rich, successful bloggers don’t often tell you.
I’m here to share the truth.
Disclaimer: I do really, truly love blogging
Blogging is rad, and I love it and I do it all the time for (currently) no money. And that’s fine. It makes me happy, so I do it. Maybe one day it’ll pay.
However, there are crappy things that apply to basically all bloggers. These things probably applied to the rich, successful bloggers before they were rich and successful. And these things certainly apply to many fledgling bloggers (like me) who are still trying to “make it.”
It takes a really long time to get noticed
Like, a really long time. For the first few months at least, your Google Analytics will be showing you depressingly low traffic numbers. You’ll get a spike every now and again and get really excited, only to have the realisation that your precious traffic is merely some bots from Russia crash down on you like a tumbling pile of bricks.
And then there’s the fact that your blog’s Facebook page is constantly updating (because you’ve worked out how to use Buffer – good for you!), but legitimately nobody likes or comments on anything. It’s just a sea of links to your wonderful blog, and literally nobody gives a shit.
Or what about when you get a retweet on Twitter, and you lose your shit because you GOT A RETWEET! Never mind that it’s from somebody with only about 25 followers who might be your cousin. It’s SOMETHING.
After a few months, you’ll start getting a bit of traffic (five non bot hits a day? It’s a win!), and might even score some sweet sweet guest blogging ops. Congratulations. You’ve moved from Absolute Nobody to Sort Of Absolute Nobody (this is where I’m at currently).
Now that you know it’s normal to be a nobody blogger for at least the first year, don’t be discouraged! Like going through primary school, you gotta swim with the little fish for a while. It’s all part of the process. Think of this as your blogging grade 1.
There will be times when you just want to give up
Following on from the initial lack of attention, you may start to feel a bit discouraged. Okay, a lot discouraged. There’s a reason why most blogs falls into disuse and eventual deletion in their first year of life.
The blogging to nobody thing gets to people. Hell, it gets to me, even now that I have some connections, some amazing guest posting opps, and some great people commenting on and sharing my stuff. I still want more.
I’ve never seriously wanted to give up though, as I love it too much. I think the first 12 months will weed out the kinda bloggers from those who love it enough to make it long term. As the big boss at my last corporate job said to a room of 500 professionals, “you just gotta love it!” Whilst I didn’t love that job, in general he was right – you really just have to love what you do.
Do you love blogging enough to survive your foetal year?
Self doubt will be your companion
Am I really an okay writer? Why didn’t I get any comments or shares on my last piece of witty gold? Why is my biggest fan my mum?
These thoughts can and will go around in your head.
Don’t listen to them.
You clearly have the passion for creating something with words, something for an audience. You’re clearly a half decent writer and thinker. So why do you doubt yourself?
Easier said than done, I know. I really know.
If you can’t shut off the self-doubting thoughts, then just try to ignore them long enough to get to the point where other people are telling you you’re awesome.
Some days you just really don’t want to blog
It’s crazy, but true. Some days you’re just like fuck it. And that’s really okay. Sometimes I blog daily, and sometimes I only blog twice a week. Either is cool, really. You only have a problem when you realise it’s been three weeks and you have no intention of blogging in the near future. You want to ride wild ponies or learn trampolining instead.
However, if it’s just a case of you need a week off to gather your thoughts, don’t sweat it.
You’re either out and proud, or in the blogging closet
This was certainly an issue for me when I got going with my blog. You will either be:
- out as a blogger who has a blog (which everybody can and will then read), including out at work and in your professional circles; or
- in the blogging closet: using pseudonyms, and keeping your blog a secret, particularly at work.
Obviously, you need to make a choice based on where you’re at in your life and career. For me, I was in the blogging closet for ages and am slowly now starting to come out of it. That said, I still haven’t revealed my full name on this blog, or shared my blog to my personal social media followers. I will probably in the new year, when I’m far enough away from my former job time-wise that it no longer matters.
If you’re not sure which path to take, I’d advise erring on the side of caution. Having a blog can have big repercussions in your professional life, depending on what you blog about and what you do for work.
However, it really takes nothing away from your blog to be in the blog closet – at least not in the beginning. Traffic from your friends on Facebook isn’t good traffic anyway. You need to be networking with bloggers on networks like Twitter and Digg – and that is not dependent on you having a human persona.
It’s easy to get distracted by freelance jobs
I’ve made this mistake – and I’m only just realising what a mistake it has been.
When you’re a burgeoning blogger who is only just realising you’ve got a way with words, it’s really easy to get distracted by a shiny $20 paid job on Freelancer or Upwork.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to do one here or there. But if you’re serious about making your blog a success, don’t take on too many. It’ll bite in to your blogging time like you wouldn’t believe.
I got sucked into a relatively big project on freelancer.com for a dodgy writing agency who ended up not paying me 75% of what I was owed and telling me, verbatim, that I’m a “very poor writer” and therefore they won’t be paying me. The Freelancer dispute is ongoing.
I hope you agree, dear reader, that I’m at least an okay writer.
My point is, I lost heaps of blogging time doing this shitty work that I barely got paid for.
If you want a career as a copywriter (which I potentially do), that’s fine. Get a website, do a course, or whatever – but avoid the shit, low paying work on content mills.
You’ve been warned.
You have to be really self-motivated
If you still work full time, you might be trying to dance the delicate ballet that is blogging whilst working full time.
Believe me, I’ve been there, it’s quite tough to come home exhausted at late o’clock and sit down and your computer for two hours and be creative. But, it can be done. You’ve just got to have the motivation and the commitment.
If you’ve left your job to blog, you’ll have a different issue: that of waning motivation. There are 16 waking hours in a day. How many should you blog for? I recommend sticking to a schedule. Blog for three hours, break for lunch, resume, finish at 5? It might work, unless you’re a creative who likes to work at night.
However you blog, there are a heap of hurdles and pitfalls in your first few months. I’ve outlined a few here.
Please don’t give up tho – I want to read your stuff 🙂