4 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging

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by Michael Cristiano

Happy one year anniversary to me! As of yesterday, I have been blogging for a year. A lot has happened in that year: I launched all of my social media/blogging efforts for my writing career, I saw the release of my first novel “The Black Oracle“, and I shaped pieces for future releases.

But during that year, it’s safe to say I learned a lot. Some of my most popular posts had to do with query writing (Why Your Query Letter is Making Agents and Editors Cringe and How to Write a Query Letter that Makes Agents and Editors Swoon), and these posts garnered the most views on this blog as well as nods from agents and editors themselves (pretty awesome, right?). Even ones that had nothing to do with writing got some attention: who knew that 20 Goals for a 23 Year Old was so damn interesting?

But despite the success, there were times when blogging felt like a failure: some posts garnered very little interest at all, and some posts ended up having spelling/grammar errors much to my horror when I re-read posts months later. In retrospect though, these things weren’t failures; they were steps to growth. In fact, there were quite a few things I learned about blogging and about writing during the inaugural year of my blog. Check them out.

 

Keywords Do Matter

I know it’s almost spammy to say (and to acknowledge), but I’ve discovered that content is hard to make known without using effective keywords. I am in no way advocating for click bait, but in order for my posts to be seen, I had to make sure it was turning up in the right places. Let me explain:

When I first started blogging, I created titles out of the blue and came up with a bunch of random (albeit funny) keywords. In those days, I thought adding the tag “chimp” or “burrito” to a blog post was clever, but I soon found out that these same tags were excluding my posts from typical and topical search engine queries. I also found that when I tagged my posts appropriately with keywords such as “how to write a query letter” or “20-something goals”, my content became relevant to search engines, and more people read my work.

So maybe keywords aren’t the evil, CLICK HERE media scams that they’re made out to be. They can be really helpful too.

 

It’s Impossible to Predict Which Posts Make an Impact

Perhaps the hardest blogging pill for me to swallow was the fact that I didn’t know what impact (if any) a particular post would have. For example, a post I worked hard on and thought was sure to be a hit might only get a dozen views and a few likes. Another post that I’d thrown together in merely an hour on the thrill of inspiration, for example, might end up my most viewed post ever, and may get more likes on my website and on social media than I ever expected.

What does that mean? Well, it means that expectations are futile. It also means that instead of *trying* to write posts on things I think people will want to read, I had to just write posts on things I wanted to read. And sometimes, it worked. Sometimes I got more visitors than I knew what to do with. But even when it seemed no one was reading, it was okay because I made sure I delivered quality content and not simply click bait.

 

Blogging is a Medium of its Own

When I started blogging a year ago, I thought it would be easy. I was a writer, right? I had written three manuscripts between 50,000 words and 85,000 words. How hard could a few blog posts a week be?

Anyone who blogs already knows the answer to that one.

Whether it’s trying to think of ideas for new content or trying to secure a couple hours to produce a post, blogging isn’t always fun and games—it’s hard. And the hardest part for me was finding a tone that was effective. When I first started, I tried to have a literary atmosphere about my blog posts. Funny enough, that seemed contrived (and I’m not surprised). Why? Because writing a blog isn’t like writing a novel. There should be very little distance between the writer and the reader. There needs to be a personable quality to it, something that I had to learn over time.

 

Blogging is About Community

I don’t always excel in this part of blogging, but it’s all about progress, right? Over this past year, I’ve found out a successful blog isn’t only about delivering good content or getting a billion likes, it’s about building a community. It’s about replying to comments on your own blog and commenting on other people’s. It’s about *reading* other blogs and writing guest posts if possible. If blogging was only about writing, we’d be doing it alone on Microsoft Word documents for no one but our cats to see.

So while I’m here talking about how much I’ve learned from blogging, I still have a long way to go, darn it! But I’m happy I’ve stuck with it for a year. I never thought I’d make it this long.

 

 

Guest post contributed by Michael Cristiano. He works in editing and acquisitions for Curiosity Quills Press, and his freelance work has appeared on websites such as Nexopia, FluentU, and BlushPost. Check out his blog for more of his work.

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33 thoughts on “4 Things I’ve Learned About Blogging”

  1. Love all your hard-earned lessons. I can really relate to the it is impossible to know which posts will make an impact. Sometimes posts that I have been excited to write for weeks, and I think “wow! this is it! This one is really going to resonate with people” end up tanking. It keeps me humble though. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you for putting this out there. So many of my writing friends don’t understand why I have a blog myself. I’ve tried to explain it, but perhaps this might help me make my point. Blogging, like all writing, is about the community.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. These are such great points. I am approaching my 3 year anniversary and I am still learning the fine points of blogging. You are smart to realize that a substantial portion of blogging is the community element. And for me, although I am definitely a stat watcher, interacting with other bloggers is the best part! Catch you out there!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great insight into blogging. I thought it was just me – sometimes I spend days perfecting a post and get just a few likes while something spontaneous gets resounding applause. Write what you love – that’s why you have a blog, and not a publishing contract on your site.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hardly get viewed or read. I’ve noticed that when I write random and quickly without thinking too much about it, I’ll top my chart and hit the 4-6 view mark. Oh what a feeling!
    Then again. I struggle to write something, anything that may be of interest, and so I’m thinking about nothing. Another Seinfeld myth. Anyway. You get the gist. 😜

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy Anniversary!

    I should pay more attention to keywords/tags. I recently write a post exclaiming that I needed to rename categories and tags, but I have yet to get busy on that. Although my following isn’t as small as it was, I’m sure the engaging in my post still wane terribly.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I resonate with your quote, ” In retrospect though, these things weren’t failures; they were steps to growth.” When we can view our “shortcomings” as growth and not failure, we climb to new heights. I, too, have struggled with the same issues and been discouraged, but I’m out there pushing to engage others with the concept of “finding ourselves at home in the world” with more self-awareness and compassion towards ourselves and each other. Thanks for your openness and sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Appreciate your honest and insightful post about what you learned about blogging. I can relate to a lot of the points you made especially point #2. It’s so hard to predict which posts will take off. Most of the time I’m thankful I get a comment or a few views on a post. I agree with the statement you made that when we start writing about what we want to read that’s when our posts are more likely to resonate with like-minded readers. I will take that point to heart going forward with my own blogging.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a really helpful post for a beginner like myself. Not that I still won’t fall into these pitfalls.

    Regarding the comment you made about trying to have a literary style and it coming out contrived, I’ve been having a similar issue. I’m not trying to have a particular style, but I am trying to be educated and open. I am aiming to develop a comfortable style now that never comes across as harsh or assaulting on my reader. I’m much more interested in promoting conversation between opposition than a screaming match… But I have found so far that the voice I seem to have in my posts is just, bleh! It feels stale, and when I reread it, it doesn’t sound like me at all.

    That said, do you have any recommendations for free bloggers to find their “blogging voice”–or do you think it’s a matter of trial and error, and time to develop?

    Thanx again for the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For me, I think it was largely a matter of trial and error. I found that when I was writing novels I had a specific “novel writing voice”, but that voice ultimately didn’t translate well in the medium of blogging. Instead, I found my blogs worked best when I wrote them in a conversational tone as if I were talking to a friend or something. I think blogs need to have that personal aspect in order to be engaging. Thanks for reading, and all the best with your blog 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. You hit everything on the nose. I did a bit of research before beginning. I suppose that helped a little. Finding one’s voice is a challenge for sure. I quickly jumped into the community aspect of blogging, but finding other people to join in that same community mindset isn’t always easy. I’m lucky I’m an extrovert lol. Not afraid to comment and jump into blog hops and memes. Everything else you mentioned is spot on. I’ve been blogging since August. The one thing I think I’m having a hard time figuring out is whether I should follow other community trends or create my own, or both. I think I’m afraid to steal other peoples’ ideas in creating my own? I also am gaining an older audience than I had intended, which I don’t mind but at the same time, my books are NA and YA oriented so I was hoping to gain a younger audience ‘shrugs’.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Blogging is definitely an art, not a science, and is far removed from many other types of writing. But I think that blogging does so much more for a writer than just building a platform or sharing content. Blogging helps us revisit those lessons we learned in school, or in the trenches of the slush piles, and figure out which ones to keep, and which to throw away. Blogging teaches us how to be better writers, and I think that’s really the point, isn’t it?

    (On a side note, I definitely agree that keywords are hard to choose, and crucial for the success of a post. I’m still learning that one myself.)

    Thanks for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. This post is brilliant, Michael. Just catching up with your work. I’ve been in the same shoes your write about here. Also, great advice on query letters. I’m in the process of preparing a proposal and first draft on a book I’m writing and am aiming to reach out to literary agents in the next few months. My next step is to get an agent. It’s a very big goal. Thanks!!

    Liked by 1 person

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