- But first, there were blogging mistakes
- Blog in order to just…well…write
- Blog in order to explore your interests
- Blog in order to consolidate your collection of notes and useful advice
- Blog to learn in public
- Blog to learn the technical side of blogging
- Blog to create rather than consume
- Blog for fun
- Blog for free
After a longish hiatus from this blog, I am back with a post that I started almost two years ago but never finished. It was supposed to be a way for me to consolidate my writing and this blog’s purpose but then I, more or less, abandoned the blog altogether, haphazardly publishing a post here and there.
Having a personal blog (as opposed to social media type content) was something that I dreamed of for years (especially back in the golden times of personal blogging – early 2000s) but never seriously considered it. It was always something other people did, and I didn’t know any bloggers in real life.
But I did always want my own little public space to share my thoughts and updates, things I learned and found useful. Something I’d share with a friend, discuss and debate and learn more along the way.
I am well aware that the days of engaged blog audience are mostly over and that we engage on Social media, as I often do with my friends (when I am not taking a Social Media break) and as I still do on other blogs when a particular post resonates with me.
However, I still want to carve out that space for myself, on my blog, with my own paid hosting plan where I can say all that I can say on Social Media but on a more lasting, deeper and more creative level.
But first, there were blogging mistakes
Of course, there were mistakes I made when I first started the blog and for me, they were not the ones you will find in most of the “Blogging mistakes you should stop making” type articles.
The first one was reading too many “how to start a blog” articles on the internet. I subscribed to too many newsletters, I followed too many “grow your blog” groups on Facebook and I bought one too many eBooks on the topic.
They all said pretty much the same thing:
- Find a niche and narrow it down as much as possible
- Focus your time: 80% promoting your blog and 20% writing your posts
- Get good at SEO (this advice actually worked for me and pretty much all of my blog traffic is organic)
- Pinterest is important (I regret hours wasted creating and posting and sharing pretty pins of my blog posts)
- Write to entice others into reading your posts (read: catch-bait titles, appealing visuals) – all my articles of this kind sounded terribly artificial and always turned into useless listicles.
I got so focused on all the above that I forgot to ask why – why should I do any of it?
I didn’t have anything specific to sell or a specific reason to grow my blog rapidly. I just wanted to have my thoughts/experiences out there.
Nevertheless, while, initially, I had about a hundred different ideas for blog posts, these types of advice articles paralyzed me and took all the fun out of it, leaving me with just enough energy to churn out one post every month or two.
The other mistake was speaking of my blog too soon. I shared it with friends and family. Some read it, some didn’t. Most never commented on it. It made me feel self-conscious. Did they not like it? Did they think it was a stupid, childish thing to do at (back then) forty-three? A waste of time?
I have never asked (fear of criticism?), and they’ve never said anything (probably worried I’d make them read it).
In retrospect – I should have just kept on with writing – for fun, to relax, to share, but mainly – for myself.
In order to consolidate my blog’s purpose, this is also what I would, more than two years later, have to advise about reasons to keep a personal blog.
Blog in order to just…well…write
I love sharing things I tried and that have worked for me be it in organizing or living an examined life, but more than anything, I love to write.
I am a person who writes comprehensive Facebook posts consisting of more than one paragraph. I wrote an entire novel nobody has ever seen (yet). I wrote essays and short stories and journal entries. I am bilingual, and I write and share in both languages.
At this point of relaxed confidence about my blog and having learned from my mistakes, I feel that this is my main reason for having a personal blog.
Blog in order to explore your interests
I have many interests; most of them are fleeting, but they are interests, and I do devote my time to them. I wrote about this in my Refuse to Choose article – while once I felt guilty about my many interests, I learned to embrace my ability to be passionately interested in many things, even if for a short time. And even if nothing (tangible) came out of it.
Writing about things I care about results in more honest sharing of ideas and experiences.
Blog in order to consolidate your collection of notes and useful advice
I love documenting things, I am a digital collector, but with this blog, I want to consolidate my collection into something that may be useful for others, too.
I share these gems of wisdom with friends and family anyway, so why not just put them out there for others? I have learned a lot from other people’s personal experiences described in their blogs over the years, too.
Besides, I am forty-five years old now, I do have some real-life, relatable experiences worth sharing, after all.
Blog to learn in public
This short video about Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice about sharing/learning in public, resonated with me so much.
Basically, she says that any talent, wisdom or insight you have that you don’t share becomes pain. We should consider the cost of carrying around ideas for years. By sharing them, we’re not only freeing ourselves but also opening ourselves up to new ideas.
She also talks about sharing without feeling any responsibility for readers or followers. It’s too heavy to think that way, she says. Instead, she offers the path she is on and anyone can choose whether to follow or not. Counterintuitive and goes against most of the advice about content writing, but there we are.
I think that her wonderful book Big Magic proves the point.
Blog to learn the technical side of blogging
Two years ago, I had no idea how to use WordPress (self-hosted). I didn’t understand paid vs. free domains and hosting, and I had no real understanding of SEO. I wasn’t aware of what plugins even do or any of the behind-the-scenes of web design. Or how to access and read your blog’s analytics. And who knew there were special services to write and distribute your newsletters?
I took a LinkedIn course, bought my domain and hosting, a template and just played and played with it for hours. And while I still can’t code, I have helped a friend set up a professional-looking website for her business and when my husband bought a business with a tired old website (but a well-aged domain), I was able to do the whole redesign myself and save us some money.
The point is, I learned so much and I learned on my own through trial and error. It is amazing how many times it comes up in conversation and there I am, speaking with (some) authority.
Blog to create rather than consume
Let’s face it, an hour spent researching a topic and writing will be an hour otherwise spent scrolling or watching. Or reading or listening. But you will be consuming someone else’s content. And while it always feels daunting to take an hour to do something you don’t have to do, the same hour seems to always be available for content consumption. And while my content may never amount to much it is still something I created, and putting some effort into that will help me expand in more ways than consuming ever could.
Blog for fun
Yes, writing, sharing, consolidating, documenting – it’s a hobby, and it can be fun (provided you don’t make the same mistakes I made at the beginning).
Unfortunately, I am still self-conscious and (too) aware of my limitations, and sometimes I really admire people who seem oblivious of what other people do better than them and they just go ahead and do their own thing.
Just do your own thing. Really.
Nobody is watching (and it will take at least a year before your SEO kicks in and by then you will feel more confident anyway).
Blog for free
Yes, I suppose earning money from your blogging would be nice, but there are other reasons to put your work out there.
This article helped put things into perspective for me. I got stuck without even trying to monetize my blog.
So for now, these will remain my main reasons for keeping a personal blog. What are yours?
Awww, I needed to read this. I’ve been feeling doubtful about my blog and reading this made me feel much better because my situation is similar to yours. I don’t need to earn money off from my blog and just like to write.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts,
Hi Stella – I just popped over after reading your comment on my blog (and thank you for the shout out at the end of your post about blogging for free). So much of what you wrote resonated with me. I’ve had questions about paid vs free blogging on top of all the other thoughts you listed, and for me it always comes back to what keeps me enjoying doing this ‘blogging thing’ and what I can do to not put pressure on myself.
I am a very frugal person, so I never paid for courses or for self-hosting etc. They probably would have given me a leg up at the start, but I’m happy in my little world of many niches, many thoughts, and a ‘come what may’ approach. Every time I get sucked into comparing I start doubting myself – and that foreshadows the end of me writing. So I try to avoid compare and despair and just get on with the joy of sharing my thoughts. Your blog is lovely and I enjoyed visiting – I’ll be back!