Blogging isn’t what it used to be. It’s not exactly dead, it’s not dying, it’s just… different.
When I started blogging seven years ago, all you had to do was create a blog, share some decent content, be consistent, and you’d attract readers and comments.
And you’d be making some money too. Maybe even afford to become a full-time blogger if you managed to build a community of folks who were passionate about your content.
But now… things are different. Now, there are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there for every topic imaginable.
Stuff got complicated. We didn’t even have half of these words back when I first started blogging: webinars, landing pages, sales funnels, SEO, copywriting…
Heck, we didn’t even care much about headlines, intros, and formatting our damn blog posts properly. Just read this old post of mine on “blogging:” 3,647 likes, 508 comments, and all that as a reward for delivering some mediocre advice…
Nowadays, even with all this expert advice, even with all the e-courses and mentorships and books and tutorials, people are having a hard time.
Want to know why?
Because there are some things that no one ever tells you about blogging.
But I am going to.
So, if you want to make it in this brave new world, read on.
First, you’ve got to claw your way out of hell…
It’s easy for those of us who got a head start, who have it kind of easy, who got the chance to acquire some skills over a long period of time, it’s easy for us to be all romantic about blogging.
Sipping lattes and typing out blogging advice for beginners on brand new Macbooks is an almost religious affair. And, man, you should see the view…
But the truth is that I was broke, hungry, and desperate when I started blogging. I mean it.
I wanted it so bad that I tried everything.
The bottom, which is the exact place where you are when you start blogging, has always been overcrowded. There’s no view, no sipping lattes.
You got to put up a hell of a fight to get yourself out of this situation.
You’re not going to receive much attention if you take it lightly. Writing a few blog posts, commenting on a few blogs here and there, and just reading the same regurgitated blogging advice on multiple “award-winning” blogs.
The truth is that even before I started this blog, in order to become a top fiction writer on Wattpad, I did all sorts of stuff: I read other people’s stories, so they could read mine. I read and commented on their stories. I made friends. Lots of them. I offered advice on writing, on life, on love, on anything I could offer advice… found groups on social media, commented on other people’s blogs, guest blogged, asked (begged) others to interview me, and begged (bribed) others to be interviewed by me.
Then I guest blogged for Wattpad, I built connections with social media stars, and then had the “luck” to be featured on Freshly Pressed twice, to have an article shared by Random House on Twitter, and another one by Neil Gaiman.
All the while I was writing like a madman one blog post per day.
It’s not glamorous, I know.
I wasn’t sipping lattes back then. I was barely getting enough sleep.
If all you want is to call yourself a blogger and have your mom and a few friends comment “great job, so proud of you” and the occasional spam comment or two, you don’t have to do any of this.
But keep in mind that things haven’t changed in this regard. No. They’ve just become so much more difficult.
Commenting on popular blogs doesn’t work because there are hundreds and hundreds of comments being added within a few hours. Social media is more complicated, ads are more expensive, and 99% of SEO experts have no idea what they’re doing.
If you want to get out of hell (the 99% of all blogs that no one ever seems to actually read) you’ve got to be willing to do a backbreaking amount of work that will make the time you spend writing your posts feel like a vacation in Barbados.
And when that work is done, and you think you’re done, you’ve got to take a deep breath, smile, and get ready to do some more work.
Authenticity matters. A lot.
Who are you? Exactly?
Are you your own person? Are you a bunch of people trying real hard to act like one person? Are you a mixture of your mom and dad’s personalities?
Are you your star sign? Are you the people you loved?
Why do you love what you do?
Why do you even blog?
I became successful as a blogger because I am an artist. Always been one. And I am deeply in love with words. I am pretty sure it’s ink that flows through my veins. And I am quite certain that sometimes, if I get lucky, I am art.
I’ve run out of walls to hang art on, I’m running out of skin to place tattoos on, and I’ve had to give away hundreds of books because I had nowhere else to keep them.
I became successful as a blogger because I blogged about that. I blogged about my dreams, my hopes, and my desire to become a full-time writer. I blogged about the artistic process, as I understood it, and I blogged about artists that I have always been inexorably in love with.
I became successful as a blogger because I had the guts to be myself.
Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.
A blogger quits after 4 blog posts, 7 likes, and only one comment from a guy with a weird username. Oh, and it was just one word: “nice.”
Another blogger keeps going. She’s been at it since 2010. Consistently. Persistently, some might say.
She has published thousands of blogs in her 9 years. And she has gathered a grand total of 57 followers.
“It’s not fair,” they both think.
What does the first blogger lack? What about the second one?
When I first started blogging, I was writing book reviews, movie reviews, and it felt like death to me. I’d much rather work on my fiction.
But then I realized that I could write about the things that I cared about. And I wrote about art. Then I noticed that people loved to read “motivational” content from me. They thought my story was inspiring. I didn’t. But I blogged about that.
Lessons in life are repeated until learned. Such an awful cliche. But it’s so true.
You either evolve and learn from your mistakes, or you are forever destined to repeat them. And guess what? You’ll grow bitter and angry and remorseful. And you’ll think the Universe hates you, so why not hate it back?
That’s what I thought because my “business plan” for the first few years was to ask people for donations. It didn’t work very well. And I put the blame on the readers, because they were stupid and didn’t appreciate my “great content.”
Newsflash: the content wasn’t that great. And to most of them, it wasn’t worth offering a monetary reward to this weird kid from this country famous only for being the birthplace of freaking vampires (not the sparkly kind, mind you.)
If you’re a blogger looking for more readers, start by learning as much as you can about getting more readers. Obviously, it’s not going to be easy.
If you’re having trouble being consistent, try to figure out how others are able to be consistent.
If someone else is earning thousands of dollars a month blogging, ask yourself how they do it, and replicate.
You must either find a way or make one.
Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.
You know what I find funny?
They never told me these things about blogging, but I figured them out anyway.
And now you know them too…