Four Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Four Years

 

by Pekoeblaze

This blog is four today. I’m still amazed that it just started with a random “Hmm… Why don’t I make a blog?” idea all that time ago.

So, like I’ve done in 2014 (part one, part two), in 2015 and in 2016, I thought that I’d share some of the things that I’ve learnt from making a blog for this length of time, in case they’re useful to you too. Hopefully, I won’t repeat anything that I’ve already mentioned, but it might happen.

 

1) You’ll find shortcuts (without even planning to): If you make a blog and update it regularly, you’re probably going to start finding shortcuts for some of the more labour-intensive parts of everything. These will probably suddenly appear to you when you least expect them and they will seem ridiculously obvious in retrospect.

For example, when I used to prepare the earlier versions of my “top ten articles” articles that I post at the end of each month, I used to schedule each draft article, preview it, copy the hyperlink and then return it to draft status. Then I’d type out the article’s title and turn it into a hyperlink. I’d do this 10-15 times in every monthly article. Pretty convoluted, right?

Well, after I’d spent a couple of years getting familiar with this site, I noticed that the “new post” page (on the old editor at least, the new one seems a bit too complicated) had an area below the title box that would give you the address of the article when it was published. All I had to do was copy & paste this, and do the same with the article title. Suddenly, my monthly “top ten articles” posts took between a third and half of the time that they used to make.

So, if you keep blogging regularly on the same site, you’ll probably end up either working out lots of time-saving shortcuts (without consciously trying to) and/or spotting all sorts of useful features that you didn’t even know existed.

 

2) Keep everything in one place (as much as possible): There’s a good reason why the interactive fiction project I made for Halloween 2015 is on a separate site, but the short story collection I wrote for Halloween 2016 is on this site.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, it can be tempting to put your spin-off projects on separate sites rather than on different parts of your main site. The thing to remember here is that it probably took you a couple of years to build up the audience for your main site. The instant you start another site, even if you link to it a few times on your main site, the whole process begins all over again.

So, if you want people to look at your spin-off projects, then keep them all on the same site. People who are reading the other stuff on your main site are more likely to notice them and people who discover them serendipitously might also end up looking at other parts of your main site too.

 

3) Your old articles will always be more popular (and that’s ok): Whenever I look at the viewership figures from this site, something always surprises me. My really ancient articles from 2013 and 2014 often seem to have more views (and more regular views) than any of my new stuff. If I didn’t understand why this happens, I’d probably feel discouraged.

In short, the older something is, the more time it has to accumulate views. The more time it has for people to discover it via online searches. As such, your older articles are always going to be more popular than your new ones for the simple reason that they’ve had more time to become popular.

But, don’t feel discouraged, this will eventually happen to your new articles too – you’ve just got to give it a bit of time.

 

4) Keep some last-minute filler material handy: Although you should always try to have a large “buffer” of pre-made articles so that you don’t have to post and publish your articles on the same day (I mean, I wrote this article quite a few months ago – hello from the past ), it doesn’t hurt to keep some last-minute filler material on standby too.

Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, one easy source of inspiration when you’re uninspired are your own opinions. This has led to a few opinionated articles that I’ve pulled at the last minute (due to worrying that they’re too political, too introspective etc..) and had to replace with something else…

So, if you keep some filler material on standby, then you can quickly replace any article that you aren’t really satisfied with at the last minute.

Anyway, I hope that this was useful. Here’s to the next year!

 

 

 

Guest post contributed by Pekoeblaze. Pekoeblaze is an artist and writer, who has produced many drawings and online comics.

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30 thoughts on “Four Things I’ve Learnt From Running A Blog For Four Years”

  1. I also write articles in advance. You never know what will happen in life and it’s easier to have a buffer. I also have a list of blog post ideas that I will write about in the future.

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    1. Cool 🙂 Yeah, it’s definately the best way to take a lot of the pressure out of writing a blog. The only downside is that pre-made articles often have to be about fairly “timeless” topics (although this depends on how far in advance they’re written, how you write about things etc…).

      But, yeah, having a list of ideas is probably a good way to defend against writer’s block too. Surprisingly though, I don’t really do this very much (I mean, I’ll possibly note down an idea for the next article or two – but I often like the spontaneity and/or challenge of coming up with article ideas shortly before writing LOL!)

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    1. LOL! It’s an annual feature on my blog. So, yes, it’s basically a more prestigious type of filler post LOL!!!!
      But, usually, if I need to make a last minute filler post, I’ll usuallly just post the “work in progress” line art for a few of my paintings (and, yes, I’ve turned this into a regular feature for my occasional comics too – again, a more prestigious type of filler post).

      Thanks 🙂

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  2. Such great advice. I started out with a personal blog and then I began a writing blog. Lately, I’ve been tempted to go back and post political and personal posts to my first blog which, by the way, hasn’t grown nearly as fast as my writing blog. However, if I take your advice, I could let blog #1 go. Hmmm! Always looking for ways to cut back on work.

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    1. Thanks 🙂 Ah, I think that the choice of topic possibly also explains why your writing blog is so popular. I mean, I tried to make at least two personal blogs in the years before I started my current blog (which, these days, seems to be more about art than writing though).
      Both personal blogs hardly had any views and only lasted a few months before I lost enthusiasm for them. So, yeah, blogs about writing, art etc.. generally tend to be more popular than personal blogs.

      But, yeah, I’m not sure what to suggest about the two blogs. On the one hand, keeping the different topics separate will make each blog more focused. But, on the other hand, you’ve got to run two blogs rather than one.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post for me. I’m just starting out as a teacher blogging in the summer. I can do it right now, without the shortcuts, but when the school year ramps back up, it’s going to be a challenge. Nice to know it will get easier and faster!

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    1. Glad to hear that it was useful 🙂 But, the shortcuts I mentioned tend to be relatively small things (which took me quite a while to discover). They’re useful, but they will only save a relatively small amount of time – although this can add up.
      So, if time is an issue, then I guess that a better approach would probably either be to prepare more posts in advance (about more “timeless” topics) when you have more time to do this and/or to change to a more manageable posting schedule, or something like that. Anyway, I wish you all the best of luck 🙂

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      1. Oh, I know those are small corners to cut, but I had to learn where to go for open source photos, but now I have a couple of places queued up. And I plan to crank out a template for posting so the content generation will go much more quickly. I’m just encouraged to know that it will get easier and faster, so I should hang in there.

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  4. This was really useful. I’m so new here I’m practically an infant. I have around 5 followers and a total of about 12 views! But you know, I KNOW what I’ve written is really good, I’ve been writing constantly since as far back as I can remember so I’m sure if I keep commenting and following others I might gather some readers soon. I actually got one comment on my Feminism is a Lie article that was so diametrically opposed to what I’d written that it prompted me to write another post in response. So I thought, well if I’m already annoying someone I must have written something read-worthy! Anyway, I’ve gone on a bit so thanks so much for this post. All the best

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    1. Glad to hear that it was useful 🙂 But, yeah, the early parts of starting a blog can often be the most difficult ones. Still, the thing to remember is that most blogs started out with a relatively small audience, and that audience size isn’t everything.
      I mean, In the early stages of a blog, the best sources of motivation are probably enthusiasm for the subject matter, confidence in the things you create etc.. rather than wanting to get lots of views.

      Still, there are quite a few different ways to increase your audience though – I mean, I’m often kind of shy about commenting and following, so I often focus on just posting regular content. But, each approach has merits (although I’m guessing that the comment/following one is probably more effective though).

      But, yeah, I can also see how articles about more controversial topics would attract additional readers and/or discussions. Plus, as you mentioned, these discussions can probably also provide ideas for further blog posts too. This is an approach to blogging that I’ve personally decided against using, but it seems to work for a lot of people though.

      Thanks 🙂

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      1. Thanks. I actually didn’t intend to write something “controversial ” so to speak, just to gain views (in fact I doubt I’ll get any for a long tine unkess I keep posting quality content as is my main aim) I just had so much to say about the subject it kind of fell off my fingers onto the keyboard so I published.
        Well, thanks again.

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    1. Thanks 🙂 Congratulations on running a blog for so long too 🙂 But, yeah, I can see how working out what to write next might be a problem though, and I wish you all the best with coming up with article ideas 🙂

      I don’t know how useful this is to you, but the things I normally do when I can’t think of an idea for an article include things like revisiting topics I’ve written about before, looking around for anything that can inspire an article, writing a review of something etc… ,

      As I mentioned in reply to an earlier comment, I’m glad that I’m not the only one who has experienced the “older posts” thing LOL!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Not sure about #2 … I recently began a new blog just on my science fiction interest because I found my regular followers were bored by the different theme … I agree, it will take a long time to build my follower list! Great article!

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  6. You use the draft function of WP a lot more than I do. I use LiveWriter for my drafts and keep them there until that last draft that I scrutinize when I upload it to my blog.

    Your idea about ‘last minute’ material is a good suggestion. I will have to get busy and compile some.

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