Three thousand blog posts published over eight and a half years of daily blogging…
I’d say it’s a decent amount of content. Could I have written and published more? Sure. More is always the answer when it comes to how much work one can do. I could have written better posts, developed my projects better…
But the truth is that my writing has developed a lot since I wrote my first post on this blog, back in April 2012.
I’ve also learned a few other things I’d like to share with you.
1. Most of My Articles Are Awful
Looking back, reading articles I’ve written in 2013–2015, most of them are just bad.
Articles that I had to write and publish because I was trying to adhere to some dumb rule of consistency (an impossible one that required me to publish at least 2 different articles a day on 3 different blogs).
Articles I rushed to publish because I had not enough mental clarity to properly discuss the topic.
Articles that, well, were badly written, riddled with typos and errors, formatted in a way that that it all looked like a neverending chunk of text.
Heck, even the articles I was most proud of, the ones that got thousands of likes and hundreds of comments, the ones that I wrote under the effect of the muse, made me feel like I could have done better.
Of course, there are two main reasons for this:
- The articles were indeed bad.
- I had progressed in such a way that I could no longer relate to or even appreciate my own writing.
After eight years of blogging, it would have been troublesome, to say the least, to read some of my first articles and notice no progress in terms of quality or writing style.
Count on skills to develop over time, and also count on not being able to relate to (or be proud of) most of your creative output. It is what it is. Failure is the path of any creative endeavor, and we never quite manage to create something perfect, so we just give up and click publish.
2. I Switched Niches a Few Times
When I first started in April, 2012, I was writing book reviews. Yes. I was a book reviewer at first, even though I had no natural inclination towards reviewing anything.
There’s an art to that, and I won’t dwell too much on the topic, but it requires, among a keen eye for detail and killer taste, an almost superhuman ability to write in an entertaining and fascinating manner.
After a couple of months of reviewing books, I began writing essays about art and the creative process. About writing, but without giving advice or trying to preach.
Then I wrote a (mostly) inspirational article about my journey as a writer, ever since I wrote my first story when I was 14 years old. It did extremely well, and it made me realize that I both enjoyed writing and sharing inspirational articles.
That’s when I changed my niche yet again, deciding to write about motivation and inspiration, and a couple of years later I was writing about self-development, self-help, and success.
Sticking to a niche, no matter what, is guaranteed to lead to burnout and creative bankruptcy.
As we accumulate knowledge and skills, the topics and ideas we want to write about change. Our notions change. It’s natural.
I began by sharing blogging advice on The Art of Blogging, but also wrote an entire series of articles on mindset — a bit of inspiration, a bit of motivation, and some psychology and persuasion techniques thrown in as well. Oh, and the occasional wake-up call as well.
Do not be afraid to slowly shift towards different niches, or to write about related topics. It’s how the journey is supposed to be.
3. Inspiration Is the By-Product of Consistency
I can remember whether most of my articles were written under the effect of inspiration or not.
And do you want to know the truth?
I can’t tell the difference between what came easy, what felt like strolling my fingers across the keyboard, and what I had to force myself to write, what I had to struggle for.
If you’ve been blogging for some time, you must have faced this urge to only write when inspired.
Write according to a schedule, according to a clear content strategy, and write in order to reach your goals.
Inspiration is a myth. It’s what happens to you after you do countless hours of work.
The more you work, the more inspired you feel.
The thing is that ideas come from connecting the dots. It’s that easy. Ideas come from past experiences, books I have read, conversations I have overheard. The obstacles I had to overcome.
If you look in the dictionary under the word “procrastination,” you’ll likely find an old photo of me.
I only used to write when I felt like it. Not for the past 5 years or so. I write because that’s my routine, because showing up is half the battle.
I show up, whether I feel like it or not, and when I look back at my content, I honestly can’t tell the difference between what I wrote under the inspiration of the muse, and what I had to force myself to sit down and write into existence.
4. The Best Way to Do Great Work Is to Think and Act Like a Beginner
I went through a dark age of sorts. Two years during which I felt that blogging was a soul-sucking endeavor. It was painful.
I thought there was nothing more to learn.
That was a lie, and just when you think that you have reached the top, that’s when everyone else starts to surpass you.
A beginner’s mindset is key not only to get to the top but to stay there as well. The world wide web is a fast-changing environment.
The only way to keep up is to always be on the lookout for opportunities, to always approach blogging as a novice, willing to learn, to adapt, and to overcome difficulties.
Otherwise, you will become irrelevant in about 2 to 3 years.
5. The Most Fun I Had Was When I Was Experimenting
Experiment. Not everything that works for other bloggers works for you or me. It’s okay if you write something new and different and your post only gets 16 views.
You can always recycle content. After all, if you have a few main themes, you’re bound to tackle them a few times. If it’s a topic you care deeply about, you’ll be writing about it more than once.
This is something most bloggers forget to do after a while.
Experimentation is how you develop new skills, figure out a niche that’s better suited, or engage other parts of your brain.
Experimentation is how you connect the dots or how you develop a different writing style.
So, don’t be afraid to experiment.
When it comes to blogging, you can certainly change even the things that aren’t broken.
6. Going Viral Is a Curse in Disguise
I launched my blog on April 22, 2012. I’d publish new content on a daily basis. The first article of mine to go viral was on the 5th of June, 2012.
And, yes, it felt great, and, yes, I did work harder and managed to take advantage of this opportunity over the following months and had a few more articles go viral, but the truth is… it all happened too early in the game.
It’s not that I didn’t appreciate what had happened, it was that I didn’t know how to replicate it.
That’s why I say overnight success is not worth it.
Focus on the incremental improvements, on metrics that you understand and can replicate if you want to.
Don’t try to win the lottery or rig the system, but try to understand the game and play it so well that you can consistently publish content people want to read.
7. Being Popular Does Not Automatically Mean You’re Liked, Respected, and Admired
Anyone can become popular these days. Well, almost anyone.
But the truth is that we live in a world where influencers with millions of followers fail to sell even a few t-shirts.
Popularity does not mean money, and popularity doesn’t mean you are an authority in your niche.
The numbers don’t lie, but they aren’t telling you the whole truth either.
The road to 1,000 true fans is far more difficult than just getting a thousand people to scan through your articles.
A lot of people will like, few will share, and even fewer will buy.
If you want your work to feel meaningful five years from now, stop chasing the numbers, and focus on sharing work that positively impacts the lives of your readers. Engage with them. Interact with others in your niche. Be a part of the conversation that goes on in the community.
Don’t focus on numbers, but rather on the strength of the connections you make and on the quality of the content you share.
In the end, there’s something else I learned.
There are some aspects of blogging that can’t be reverse-engineered.
In order to fully understand and internalize the most important lessons from writing and publishing over 3,000 articles, you have to write and publish 3,000 articles yourself.
Sometimes, there’s no substitute for first-hand experience.
So, what are you waiting for? Punch the damn keys.
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