What They Never Tell You About Blogging

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.

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.

No.

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.

And I did all this by writing like myself, which isn’t much considering that English isn’t my first language.
I had the guts to be myself, to write my truth into existence even when my hands were shaking against the keyboard and my eyes were teary, because I’ve always thought that the greatest tragedy in this world is to wish and try to be someone else.
In order to stand out from the crowd, your work has to be your own. Creating content that your readers immediately recognize. Writing like only you can. Sharing your stories, your ideas, your thoughts.

I became successful as a blogger because I had the guts to be myself.

Do you?

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…

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112 thoughts on “What They Never Tell You About Blogging

  1. “Adapt. Improvise. Overcome” I love it. In the USMC we said the exact same thing (well, it was improvise, adapt, and overcome, but the spirit is the same). I’ve found so far, in my short time blogging, that I shouldn’t be looking at people with thousands of followers with envy, but rather with inspiration. I shouldn’t think “I can’t believe no one is reading my great content”, but “I can’t believe someday lots of people will read my content”.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Great post as always. Inspiring, and pushes me to keep on writing. I’m going to get your book because I want to have some of those precise tips and learn what I’m doing wrong so I can stop doing it! God bless

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Yes sir, your welcome. Yeah I am stuck with not being able to grow my blog but I honestly haven’t done a lot to grow it either because I am not sure what works, hence why I read your content and want the book 🙂

        I prefer to learn from others mistakes and see what is actually working. Thank God for the internet haha.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. That’s a great way to look at things.

        Most bloggers either become too hopeless and never look a way out, or just start trying all sorts of things out, to see what works.

        Experimentation is a useful tool, but you can’t do everything yourself.

        Liked by 3 people

  3. Always the way. It is however nice when you come across others who have already done the struggle, learnt the lessons and there willing to teach others the skills they got so that history doesn’t need to repeat itself.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. As they say, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme. And I think that there are some struggles that you must go through alone.

      First big heartbreak and the first big failure being two among them.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Motivating.You posts push me to write. And you know what? Earlier today, I’d read one of your posts and had started “punching those damn keys” and by evening, I had a draft ready to be edited. Thanks, Cristian!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. This is exactly what I need to know and remember as I push forward with my blog. I write from my heart in regards to a subject that is emotional, kept secret and that needs awareness brought to it. Thank you for inspiring me to keep going!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Barbara,

      Writing from the heart is one aspect of it. It requires a set of skills. Being able to raise awareness about a certain subject requires another set of skills.

      It’s these skills that need to be acquired through time and effort, and will be as long as you don’t give up.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Thank you for this clear view of blogging. I learn so much from your blogs!
    I began blogging for myself. I wanted to 1) get my words on a page, 2) talk about writing, 3) hopefully, create a rough outline for an online course I will build in 2020, 4) read about other writers and their struggles and successes, and 5) be accountable to any followers through consistency.
    I treat blogging like a business in that I show up to work every day, have a set schedule for posts (3 times/week), have a focus for each day of posts, and plan the posts at least a month in advance. Sometimes, I change my post plan, but the “unused” idea goes into a larger folder of ideas.
    I am in this for the long haul. It keeps my head in the game, so to speak.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And different opinions, different ways to interpret events.

      Blogging is so fascinating precisely because of this: anyone can form an opinion, and share it, and we all learn from that.

      If you want to decide about something, by reading a lot of blogs on the topic, you can make a pretty educated decision.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Taking note of the importance of comments… this helped refresh some points for me as I restart the blogging process with a new domain. I got really into my last blog but ran out of steam when I didn’t understand my focus anymore. I’m going to make a new effort with this one and see how far I get this time, and hopefully reach a comfortable and consistent level of posting. Thanks for the advice. Makes me want to keep searching for knowledge on how I can improve my work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Theresa,

      “see how far I get this time” implies you will quit eventually. Like an ex-addict counting the days they last until they relapse.

      “hopefully” is not a strategy.

      But “searching for knowledge on how I can improve” is actually a great strategy.

      Hope this helps.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree with you there. I think that what tore me down before was all the pressure I put on myself to “make it work”, and once I didn’t see results immediately I got discouraged. I need to redefine what I see as success and be more positive about what I create. All that matters is that I’m learning, improving, and having fun. That should really be the focus before anything else. Thanks for the great feedback

        Like

      2. Success can always be redefined, yes. And I think that having expectations simply means you breaking your own heart. How can you have expectations about something you’ve never done?

        No expectations, just hard work and goals.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Social media and microblogging (Twitter, Tumbler, later Instagram and Snapchat) ‘killed’ blogging. Also Google started to treat WordPress blogs harshly some 8 years ago…

    You just have to interact more now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I also think there’s a lot more competition. The stakes are higher. There’s more to gain.

      Back when I started blogging, even mobile apps weren’t that popular. WhatsApp was something quite exotic. Facebook Messenger didn’t exist, and WordPress.com didn’t have an app for their platform.

      Now, with billions of people addicted to their smartphones, there’s a lot more to gain from having an online presence, regardless of the platform you choose to do it on.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Do you think guest posting and building relationships would be enough for beginners or should we start contacting larger writers and companies as well? Pitching them ideas and trying to be noticed. Or should we wait till there’s a little more credibility to our name?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it’s best (and easier) to network and work with bloggers that have similar numbers of followers or 50% more than you have, but not larger.

      Of course, there’s no clear rule, as you might get lucky and some super popular blogger actually wants you to guest blog for them.

      Or they stumble upon one of your articles and they want to share it or mention it or link to it.

      But it’s usually a slow and difficult game. You network with bloggers that have less than 500 followers, then with those who have thousands, and so on, all the while your own audience increasing.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. But don’t let that stop you from trying. Just don’t be heartbroken when you don’t get the replies you were expecting. Or any replies at all.

        Take me for instance: I loathe e-mails because I receive so many of them. Unless there’s an e-mail from someone I know, I’m in no hurry to even read it, let alone write it.

        It’s not arrogance. It’s just time management. Lots of stuff to do, only 24 hours in a day.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. That’s understandable. I imagine it’s similar to applying for jobs. Employers always respond to the candidates of interest. That can help the company grow. No matter what job you do, you’re bound to receive a handful of no’s.

        Thanks for the wise words, it’ll definitely help me out in the future.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. A very interesting article. I totally agree that you have to be yourself. It can take a while to figure that out though and find your own voice when just starting out. As you say there are so many blogs out there it can feel overwhelming at times, but if you can write about your passions it certainly makes it easier!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I am someone who happens to be incredibly inconsistent and it is one of the heated struggles of my life not only me but my friends circle and family all worry about. That saying by Lao Tzu, “the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long,” applies to me and all my flames. Especially that section allured me where you talked about writing and that words may flow in your veins. I’ve come to realize the same about myself. But my inconsistencies have made me not remain committed to creative writing. It is after one and a half years that I have uploaded anything on my blog, and even though it is a translation of a poem I have done, i.e. not even an original work, it feels sooo good. It was auspicious that I found this post of yours today, it is highly motivating and inspiring Christian. I am picking myself up and trying again. I don’t know if this is a twice bright burning flame again, but while it is, I’m gonna let it burn. Thanks man.

    Like

    1. The trick is not to rely too much on emotions. Smokers know they should quit, but they feel (and quite strongly) to smoke. That’s the difference. The right path is always subtle, like a whisper. It’s easy to ignore it.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Cristian, I am new to blogging and still working on content as well. I include a mixture of subjects including fiction and non-fiction. It is nice to know that others struggle with the same issues. I enjoyed this article and look forward to reading more.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I like your posts very much. Growing my blog was important at 1st, I admit. But, after YEARS of writing and posting and mostly forgetting 🤳my # and categories… I just began to enjoy posting. Personally, there is no more sense of urgency. I have only one real observation, however, anti depressants do dull the creative edge. If you need to heal; write, and if you need to take medication, do it as a process. It all comes back. The colors and the emotion. Self care first. Happy Blogging all… much love 💓💕💗

    Like

  14. Seldom have I ever read a blog post that compelled me to want to applause in slow mo…but this one does, and though applause and whoops isn’t what blogging is about, and their resonance lasts about as long as a sno cone on a hot day, thanks so much for sharing your insight and experience with us. Speaking of Barbados, that’s where I’m blogging from.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I have a blog for the worst possible reason: when FB drives me mad and I still want to say something that’s on my mind…I say a small thing on my blog. I have a non-existent audience….but …that is probably the point. An occasional person accidentally hits on my post…and likes it. It’s like getting into a conversation at the bus stop. With someone I won’t see again.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m curious: when you were blogging like crazy, one post per day — and it sounds like you sometimes were straining at finding a topic — how did you also maintain a “day job”? I assume you needed one at the time (but you know what happens when you “ass-ume”).

    Like

      1. And, if I may ask, what, then, were you blogging _about_? The same topics as now? (It would be nice if I could make money from my fine-arts blog, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen.)

        Like

      2. Writing. About my process, about self-publishing, about art in general. This proved to be incredibly popular.

        Then I blogged about philosophy, life lessons, motivational and inspirational stuff.

        I didn’t even consider blogging about the art of blogging until last year, mostly because I didn’t feel qualified enough.

        The idea is to work an awful lot in order to make any real money. We’re talking 12-14 hours a day. I do this pretty much every day… I blog. I have only once went on vacation, but kept blogging anyway. I don’t take days off, so… It is possible, but there’s a price to be paid.

        Like

      3. There is, and, unfortunately, I can’t pay it. I do have a “day job,” though it’s neither standard nor full-time. It allows me time for my actual professional writing, but I have neither the time, the energy, nor, frankly, the content to crank away “on spec” in the hopes of attracting attention. Therein lies the difference.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. That’s what makes the difference between most people. Some pay the price, some don’t. Talent and natural abilities don’t mean much if one is not willing to pay the price.

        Like

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