It’s been five years since I started this blog. Five years of blogging about multiculturalism and cultural habits.
This blog started out as a place to put up articles I’ve written, articles knocked back by dozens of publications I pitched to. Today this blog is a space helping many around the world understand cultural differences.
Through blogging I also improved my writing and am now a freelance writer selling my services.
Looking back, this blogging journey taught me what makes a successful blog. There are many life skills and lessons which I learnt from blogging.
It is these skills and lessons that helped me overcome blogging challenges and grow this blog to what it is today.
Here are some valuable, reality-check lessons I learnt from blogging and you can learn them too.
1. Time management is your best friend
Time management is essential in helping you blog regularly.
The more you plan, the easier it will be to juggle the many aspects of blogging. Showing up to blog with planned intention will make blogging feel less overwhelming.
As a blogger, you often need to brainstorm blog ideas. Write and schedule posts. Respond to comments on your blog. Social media promotion. Read other blogs and make connections with other bloggers.
Setting aside regular time for blogging will help you stay on top of it. For instance, set aside a couple of hours a week to brainstorm and schedule future content. Set aside time on the weekend to engage with other blogs and see what other bloggers are up to.
In 2016, a survey of 1,055 bloggers around the world conducted by web design firm Orbit Media revealed bloggers spend more than 6 hours writing a blog post (average length 1,050 words). The survey also found 95% promote their blogs on social media.
When I get blog ideas, I jot them down in a notebook on the go so I don’t forget. When drafting a blog post, I Google to see what has been said and come up with my own ideas. I set aside a two to three hours in the evening after a day’s work to write a blog post.
It usually takes me about three weeks to put together a post including editing photos, sometimes longer. Also for the past year, most days I spend an hour or more reading and commenting on other blogs.
2. Failure is an option
You won’t always reach your blogging goals. You might get stuck in a blogging rut, or your reasons for blogging change over time.
Finding a blogging audience can also be tough. Today there are over 440 million blogs across various online platforms and over 81.8 million posts are published on WordPress each month. So making your blog stand out even within a niche demographic can be hard.
If you’re wanting to make a tidy profit from your blog, revenue from blog sponsorships and ads aren’t always consistent.
When you feel like you’re going nowhere with your blog, rethink your blogging approach. Be flexible. Try taking a blogging break. Try setting fresh blogging goals. You could try blogging about something different.
Initially I started this blog to share my non-fiction pieces on multiculturalism in Australia. I wanted to connect with Australian writers and grow my presence as an Australian writer.
Over time I realised most of my readers are from the United States. This could be because of Australia’s small blogging scene. In 2010, social media analytics company Sysomos analysed more than 100 million blog posts. 29.2% of bloggers were located in the US and 2.2% in Australia.
Two years after starting this blog, I switched up my blogging style and content. I wrote more about universal, everyday experiences from cultural perspectives, shifted from academia linguistics to colloquial semantics. Since then, my blog seems to have become more relatable and finding time to engage with everyone stopping by here is challenging.
3. You’ll get criticism
Not everyone will like your blog. Not everyone will agree with what you share on your blog.
At some point your blog might get opinionated comments, personally attacking you or your readers.
Internet trolls and warrior keyboards can be hurtful. In 2014 a study on 2,849 web users found 40% experienced online harassment. 22% mentioned this took place in the comment sections.
When I published the post Understanding the Asian-Girl-White-Guy Relationship, many disagreed with my opinion on this topic. Some readers commented I’m a white worshipper with ‘hidden agendas’, told me to ‘stop being racist’ and that I should ‘remove the world multicultural from anything talking about yourself. It’s an embarrassment’.
Have a thick skin when blogging. Ignore the haters while take on constructive criticism to improve your craft. Everyone has an opinion and their opinion is their opinion. Your opinion is your opinion.
4. Be ready to learn
Being a blogger involves wearing different hats. You have to multi-task, think outside of the box and pick up skills to grow your blog.
Over the years, I learned how to use a camera and take decent photos for this blog. Learned to promote my blog across social media. Learned to brand my blog as SEO-friendly and turn it into a writing portfolio which has opened up freelance opportunities.
A well-presented, well-written blog can be a springboard towards career ventures. According to author Danny Flood, a blog can open up ‘side hustles’: creating a product-facing blog instead of focusing on getting views is key to building the right relationships and sustainable networking opportunities.
When you’re consistently seeking ways to improve your content, you learn to better your blog. Not only might you grow your audience, you might also come to earn passive income from your blog.
5. Not everyone will be interested in your blog
Not everyone will be drawn to your blog. Not everyone will come back for a second look. Not everyone reads blogs, and your friends and family might not read your blog.
You might feel a bit lonely blogging on your own.
If you do feel lonely blogging, read and comment on other blogs. Especially here on WordPress, there’s such a welcoming, diverse blogging committee – and you can exchange blog ideas and experiences. Consider going to a local blog meetup and get to know likeminded bloggers in your area too.
It’s humbling to have regular readers who leave reflective comments on this blog as opposed to just leaving a quick ‘Like’ for a ‘Like’. Also, most of my friends don’t read my blog. We rarely talk about my blog. It’s not a bad thing: my friends see me as much more than a blogger.
* * *
Blogging takes up your time. You also need to be in a clear and creative headspace to blog.
Sometimes you might not feel like blogging. You might feel it takes up too much time or are not motivated. Or perhaps you are in a different phase of your life where other priorities come first.
Writer Jeff Goins suggests that when we’re not feeling creative, sometimes we have to give up our passion momentarily and solve creative blocks with uncreative solutions.
Over the last five years, I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve with this blog: build a writing portfolio and become a better writer. There have been things I got out of blogging that I didn’t expect: getting invited to give talks on multiculturalism, published a book chapter in Lady by the River and meeting bloggers who are now amazing friends.
Now I’m faced with ‘where to’ with this blog.
I’ve thought about walking away from this blog, packing it all in and closing this chapter on a high. Juggling blogging with a day job and freelance work takes up a lot time. Most nights I don’t go to bed past midnight.
When it comes to living my life, I never like doing anything half-arsed. It’s either ‘go hard or go home’ in everything that I do. But admittedly the introvert in me would love to have more time taking life at a slower pace.
While blog recognition and blog traffic is nice, in the grander scheme of things being present in the offline world is very much important – another valuable lesson.
Where and who I am today has got a lot to do with this blog. Each one of you who comments or silently reads plays a part in that. So thank you.
Moving forward, I do wonder what else I’ll write on this blog. Blog posts from a few years ago read vastly different to the posts I write these days, and I’ve thought about re-visiting these topics.
What do you want to see on this blog?