The written word has changed a lot over the last couple of decades.
The way we consume words has changed, the sheer quantity of content and the ease of access, and the fact that we are now all interconnected, all of these factors influence the way we write and the way we read.
But the basics have stayed the same. The principles of good writing, the principles of a healthy inner game.
Here are 7 timeless tips that, if applied, will help you become a better blogger.
Two and a half years ago I was just about ready to quit blogging.
First, because I thought there was nothing new to learn. I knew it all, I had reached the top of the mountain, and there was nowhere else to go from there.
Second, because I didn’t get much pleasure out of writing articles anymore. It was not challenging me anymore.
It was a rough time for me, considering that my income was a direct result of my ability to consistently produce new content.
I believe that creativity is directly tied to our ability to interpret work as play, and in order to do so, we must constantly work towards becoming better at our craft.
Since I thought I knew it all, there was no incentive to find ways of improving myself as a blogger.
Accidentally, I shared a couple of blogging tips with my readers. Until then, I had only ever wrote one article about blogging, way back in 2012, an while it was my most popular article ever, I had never thought of it as a topic worth writing about.
Talk about missed opportunities, right?
When I realized that my blogging tips were quite popular with my audience, I decided to launch The Art of Blogging.
It was supposed to be a side-hustle, nothing too wild, just so I could supplement my blogging income.
And the more I researched the topic, the more I understood that, in fact, I knew nothing.
“It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.” — Ernest Hemingway, in a letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins
The average age of a Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature is 63.
The youngest writer to ever be awarded this prestigious award was Rudyard Kipling, at the age of 41.
There’s an often overlooked rule of the written word: you can learn how to write a good story only by writing an awful lot of bad stories.
Do you want to be a fantastic blogger? To share articles that have an impact on those who read them? To create a catalog of blog posts that you can be proud of?
Maybe you aren’t sure you have it in you to become a successful blogger. Maybe you think you don’t have the skills, the life experience, or the expertise to share content that significantly changes people’s lives.
Maybe you’re afraid that success as a blogger comes down to luck, or being friendly with the right people, or the ability to clickbait readers, and you’ll only be wasting your precious time and energy.
Well, you’re wrong.
And I’m not telling you this because you are a beautiful, unique snowflake whose particular set of experiences, feelings, and ideas are going to be the stuff history books are made of. No. I’m telling you this because blogging is a process.
There’s a lot of blogging advice out there. A lot. I’ve written some of it myself. More than five hundred articles, tutorials, how-to guides, step-by-step guides, habits, lessons, case studies, books, and online courses.
But the truth is that most of the stuff I wrote, most of the advice I’ve given, it’s not going to make much of a difference.
Look, I’m going to be honest with you. When you play this game of “offering blogging advice,” you often feel the pressure to come up with some insight, some strategy that no one’s ever thought about. Most of the times, that strategy sounds clever and simple, but it’s difficult to implement, especially by a beginner.
Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes the advice is good. At least, that’s what I’d like to believe. Sometimes the advice I share is something that’s been just at the edge of your mind’s peripheral vision, and that way I help you bring it into focus.
Eight years ago, long before I started the Art of Blogging, long before I was coaching aspiring bloggers, I wrote a post. The 7 Golden Rules of Blogging. Some five hundred or so words.
In this article I shared advice such as, content is king, format your posts, and engage your audience. This post got over 3,600 likes and 510 comments.
Even though it makes a lot of people angry, the best advice is the most obvious. The best advice is the one you actively choose to ignore, or the one that involves a lot of time and mental energy. The “read a lot” and “write a lot.” The, “if you want readers, go out there and comment on a bunch of blogs every single day.”
A lot of people don’t want that. They ask, “Is it that simple?”
It is. Blogging success can be as simple as leaving half a million comments on half a million different blogs.
But can you do it?
Do you ever ask yourself if you can do it?
Do you want to know how much time and energy a full-time blogger invests in doing those three dumb things? Reading a lot. Writing a lot. Commenting on other blogs.
That’s why I am sharing with you the tips and tricks and rules of blogging that sound clever when you read them, only to make you angry when you try to apply them.
I’m not in the sugar-coating business, mostly because sugar, even though it tastes good, is kind of bad for you.
I don’t like to tap-dance around the truth, because ignoring the truth is a gateway to a lot of frustration and heartbreak.
But I haven’t been completely honest with you. No one who shares advice on writing ever is, because complete honesty would mean that we should place a disclaimer at the top of each article, guide, or tutorial saying, “There are certain aspects that you can’t control, no matter how much you try. You might give 100% and still fail.”
And no one wants to read that.
But, well, I am going to do my best to share with you some of the things that no one likes to tell you about blogging, mostly because they are nuanced truths that can be easily misunderstood.
Blogging is mostly a balancing act. Just like walking on tightrope.
One one hand, you have to write about the things that matter to you. And you have to write them however you feel like it. On the other hand, you have to cater to your audience and deliver them what they want to read most.
There are two different ways to approach blogging.
One is to sprint. Your enthusiasm fuels your inspiration. You punch the damn keys. You write, write, write, publishing one post after another. You interact with other bloggers, you try to take advantage of any guest posting opportunity, blogging award, or challenge.
But then you run out of steam. You cannot maintain momentum. You are tired. You give up.
Most bloggers struggle with getting their writing done for one surprising reason: they approach writing as the act of creating something out of nothing. It’s the main reason you want to bash your head against the keyboard.
In fact, writing the damn thing should be the easiest part of content creation.
Once I realized that you can’t create something out of nothing, I could wake up at 5 AM, have a sip of coffee, and sit down to punch those damn keys until my hands hurt.
No more time wasted staring stupidly into the abyss of a blank document, no more cursing that blinking cursor thing.