5 blogging lessons from 2011

This post was going to be a summary of the year on a month-by-month basis. I started writing it and thought: “Boring! No one wants to read this!”. So I rethought my approach and decided what better way to wind up 2011 than to share what I learned about blogging this year?

1. Blogs never die

I hadn’t given this blog any TLC for a very long time. I threw in a few half-hearted posts over the last year or so, but never really lavished upon it the attention it so rightly deserved by blogging consistently.

NaBloPoMo changed that. I wrote regularly – just about every day – and I have managed to sustain it. And I found that the more consistently I wrote, the more readers I attracted, and kept. I have gone from zero to a few hundred readers in a month or so, and I know I will attract more next year. People are actually following my blog and subscribing. I owe it to these people to keep writing, and I will.

Take away: your blog might be on life support, but it’s never too late to unpack the defib.

2. Be honest, be real

Readers love real. They like writing that they can connect with, that speaks to them. They want honesty. And why not, because the world is increasingly fleeting and transient. Real is refreshing. Real is a life buoy in an ocean of superficiality. No wonder people like reading honesty.

Honesty also makes you a better writer. It forces you to take stock of your thoughts, opinions and perceptions and pick them apart to find the essence or thread of what you truly believe. And it is this process that helps readers connect with you.

Take away: keep it real. That is all.

3. Write it and they will come

One of the most rewarding posts I’ve written was a five parter about how my heart was broken by The Italian. Even though the subject matter was tough, people loved it. And they loved it for several reasons:

  • I wrote it as an archetypal fairy tale
  • I had a cliffhanger at the end of each post
  • I added a new “chapter” daily
  • They could relate to it.

I had never attempted anything like this before, but it forced me well out of my comfort zone as a blogger. It was experimental, but because I had committed to it and was honest, my readers rewarded me. They commented here on my blog and they talked about it on Twitter. Lots. The feedback was positive and instant: people couldn’t wait for the next installment.

Take away: serialised posts work just as well as short posts if they are written right.

4. Celebrity endorsement has pulling power

I wrote a post about Bruce Campbell and how he uses Twitter. No big deal, I hear you say. Maybe not, but it was the post with highest number of views ever: traffic to my blog went through the roof on that day, and it was an amazing experience.

I tweeted the post, which had Bruce Campbell’s Twitter handle in the heading. He saw it on Twitter, and he must have read it (Oh. My. God. Bruce Campbell read something I wrote!) and liked what he saw because he retweeted it. And others retweeted it. And Twitter people flocked to my blog in droves, just to see what all the fuss was about.

Now maybe these people haven’t returned to my blog, but that’s ok. Just the fact that I can attract this sort of attention in a crowded, cluttered field pleases me greatly.

Take away: a celebrity who endorses your blog is a beautiful thing.

5. Blogging is writing

There are a purists out there who frequently bang on about blogging not being writing. It’s not on a paper page, they say. It hasn’t been rejected a million times by a publisher, it doesn’t have a literary agent and there are no book signings, ergo it is not real.

Bollocks to that. Blogging is as real as it gets. Every time you hit Publish, your work is out there. You are out there. Instantly. In front of a gazillion eyes. For immediate critique. And because it’s an open platform, readers are up front about whether your writing works. You get instant feedback – positive or negative, on and off your blog. If you blog, you are a braver writer than most. And it’s real.

Take away: I blog, therefore I am.

Update:

The lovely folks at WordPress have issued me with my 2011 blogging report. Check it out here… it’s super cool!

0 comments

  1. All true.

    There seem to be two kinds of bloggers — those who never get around to posting (why bother even starting a blog?) and those who are diligent, consistent and interesting. The latter seems to be about 5 percent of what’s out there.

    I would suggest (which maybe you do?) visiting other blogs, and commenting, to attract new readers. I make a point of doing this every single day and have added more than 60 readers in two months. Waiting to be discovered doesn’t work for me.

    The one challenge most bloggers ignore is to be personal enough to be interesting, but universal enough to be relatable. Most blogs are hopelessly navel-gazing. The ones that give me something to think about will keep me coming back.

    1. Thanks for the advice – much appreciated. And you are right: reading & commenting on their blogs is a good strategy to build readership. I am also very active on Twitter, and attract many readers (and repeat ones) there. I will also be trying out guest post tactics in 2012.

      Blogging (for me) is a way to exercise my writing muscles. I’d like to have enough stuff written (over the next 6-12 months) to pull it all together into eBooks. That’s the plan, anyway!

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