Things I’ve learnt: blogging

When I started this blog just over a year ago, with the aim of documenting my attempts to start up a fabric line, I thought that blogging was the one thing I actually already knew about.

In past day jobs, I’ve run blogs for big online companies. Blogs that are listed in Google News; blogs that attract tens of thousands of visitors a day; blogs that get commended in newspapers.

I knew about search engine optimisation. I knew the rules of web writing. I knew all about sticky content. I knew the importance of social media for promoting your blog…

And then I started writing this blog and none of it really seemed to apply.

What has this little snail got to do with blogging? Why, absolutely nothing. I just found him in my garden yesterday… (Though, if I tried hard, I’m sure I could spin some laboured analogy about taking things slowly, etc etc…)

What was the point of going all out on optimising every single post, when it might be something I was only writing about once and was hardly central to my overall blog?

I didn’t like the look of my web accessible boring factual, descriptive titles – they weren’t inspirational, they wouldn’t make me want to read the articles (even if they were clear and easy to understand).

I felt a bit exposed starting on a really personal project, when I first began, and I didn’t want to promote it on Facebook or Twitter where all my friends could see it and judge. And, worst of all, I simply did not want to write short articles in short sentences and short paragraphs, with lots of white space on the page.

When it came to writing a blog of my own, I just couldn’t see the point in doing it if I wasn’t writing what I wanted to. I’m a waffler. An inveterate burbler. A serious fan of parentheses (perhaps an addict even…) Trying to write my own thoughts in a way that wasn’t natural to me just wasn’t that fun.

What’s more, when I started to pay closer attention to the blogs that I enjoyed reading myself, I saw that many of these broke all the blog rules too.

So I decided that since this was my own time, I might as well do what I want to do, not what know I should do.

I wouldn’t say I have a million readers now (because I don’t), where I used to when I wrote the travel blog for my old website, but I have seen my readership slowly and steadily increase.

But most importantly, while it’s obviously nice to have people reading your blog posts, I enjoy writing them.

So, the main thing I’ve learnt about blogging: don’t worry about any of the rules. Sure, it helps to have nice photos and clear headlines and good social media promotion and all that. But it’s most important to just write what you want to write, the way you want to write it. Somewhere, out there across the ether, there’ll be someone who wants to read exactly that.

Related articles:

Things I’ve learnt is an occasional series, where I talk about stuff I’ve picked up while trying to set up a new business of printed fabrics. I’m hoping that the information in these posts might be informative / interesting / amusing to anyone else setting up their own business.

Other posts from the series are:

10 thoughts on “Things I’ve learnt: blogging

  1. Great post – I’ve come on a similar journey with my blog too. I’m a journalist by day so had all sorts of ideas about how to write and at the start, all my posts were just an extension of the articles I put together for mags. It was a real struggle to break away from that and find my own voice – I realised I’d been swallowed up by house style and had to fight out! My posts are much more badly written now – I put dashes everywhere and I even hit publish before weeding out typos sometimes – but it’s much more me and I like it that way.
    Here’s to badly written blogs… yay!!!

    1. Yes, exactly, you almost have to unlearn all the journalism, don’t you?! The first time I spotted a typo on my blog, I had that stomach-dropping sensation I used to get on the newspapers, and then I realised, oh, actually, I could just go and change it now and it didn’t matter too much… Actually, I think that might be the thing I like the very most about blogging compared to working as a writer for someone else: I don’t have nightmares about typos anymore!

  2. This is wonderful! I have learned to treat my blog as an extension of myself because that’s what it is. And guess what, I’m not perfect and I’m the type of person that goes through obsessive phases. I’ve quit pushing myself to do projects and posts that I think “will make it” and instead make things I want to and share them and hope that they’re well received (and not caring too terribly much if they aren’t).

    Thanks for being so honest 🙂

    1. Yes, I think it’s the not caring part that I found hardest, but which is definitely the way to be happiest blogging. It used to be that if I spent ages on a post that I was really pleased with and liked, but which then only had a handful of readers and no comments, I’d feel all, “Oh, what was the point in all that time?” Whereas now, I try and just write what I enjoy and not worry so much whether that will be a “popular post”… It definitely makes the whole thing more enjoyable and less stressful!

    1. Absolutely, you pick everything up as you need to. For me, rather than working on the technical side of things, it’s been working on my photography and finding the time to write posts and so on…

      (“Sticky content” by the way, is a term I’ve always rather liked, which just means having content on your site that makes people stick around and visit more than one page. For example, linking in your post to another post and so on… It was a major buzzword when I worked for a website — there’s even an online copywriting agency that use it as their name!)

  3. What a refreshing post to read – and so true, too. I think you can only enjoy blogging if you do it the way you want to do it, in your own voice. And you are right, someone WILL want to read it. I think the internet gives us a lot of choices that just didn’t even come close to being imagined, let alone existing, a few years back – and we really don’t have to follow those formulaic guidelines (how boring it would be if we all did!).

  4. What a wonderful post Sabrina. I totally understand where you are coming from here. I used to watch the stats page on a daily basis to see how many people were reading my posts. Then I realised that actually, blogging wasn’t fun anymore because I was writing for someone else. When I started to just write about what I wanted and when I wanted, it was much more enjoyable. You are a gifted writer. xD

  5. Sabrina,
    Here’s to writing what we want when we want to and how we want to, Such punks. Blogging Our Way wouldn’t you say? Hurray and Yay! Looking forward to more connecting as I sense there’s more we have in common besides good writing and wit.

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