Six years a writer, lessons from a persistent journeyman blogger

It’s that time of the year WordPress sends a reminder of my continued persistence to keep writing a blog.

Six years…

Six years of various ups and downs crises of faith, to losing drive to write, yet through it all, I’m still standing strong with another post.

As a journeyman blogger, I’ve kept plugging away in this little space that is my own, not for profit, not for notoriety, and certainly not for women.

And as it’s six years I wanted to mark this occasion by writing about that never discussed topic of “writing a blog”.

I could have been a hack gone for the cliché six years, so here are six lessons, but I realised two of them were just post filler and I’m a firm believer if it doesn’t offer value to the audience – cut them words out!

So, here are four lessons from six years blog writing:

Lesson one – The three E’s of good content

All good content contains one of the following E’s:

  • Entertain
  • Educate
  • Encourage

If your blog post falls out of these boxes, then it does not provide any value to the readers.

Respect that your reader has chosen to spend their free time reading your page, whether it’s a funny story, or being able to teach them something to make their life better, make sure it contains at least one of the three E’s.

Posts that don’t, fall into popular the category of who cares and that means failing to entice people to read your content that is actually good quality.

 

Lesson two – Don’t sweat analytics

I’ve spent more than my fair time examining and lamenting over site stats.

And, if you’re a blogger reading this and say you’ve never done this,

you’re a fucking liar.

An early mistake made was to set goals on the assumption I could gradually increase daily page views.

The problem you find is site stats will never be in a constant upward progression.

It all depends what’s on people’s minds that day.

Sometimes you get lucky.  My post about the Monty Python scene ‘Find the Fish’ is like catnip to search engines.

But recently the post stats went through the roof – I’m talking 5 times bigger than the average normal viewing.

When I investigated, I realised Terry Jones had died, so came to the simple assumption – people saw on the news he’d died, they got nostalgic for their favourite Python sketches and voila!  They ended up on my site

If your goal is growth focus on the long game.

I prefer thinking about stats over the year, this isn’t based on day performance and it’s really rewarding to work your arse of mid-way through the year when it’s looking like you won’t beat last year’s numbers.

Another way of reframing analytics is setting goals to increase referrals from certain places.

If you want more search engines traffic research SEO and write more articles the masses love, if you want more people from Twitter, spend more time engaging, etc.

Analytics can be interesting, but remember your site won’t grow just by admiring page hits, so act:

  • write quality content
  • learn how search engines work
  • develop alternative channels to promote your work
  • get better at understanding social media (no loading up Buffer with inspirational quotes and archives of all your posts won’t do)

 

Lesson three – Good writing

The difference between a good blogger and a bad one is the ability to write their content in a readable manner.

It’s not just about spelling and grammar, it’s how posts look on screen:

  • split long posts down with headers
  • use bullets
  • make text stand out
  • have short paragraphs

In my job when writing for the website we are told:

‘write with the mobile user in mind’

This is because paragraphs start looking very big, very quickly on a small phone screen, making it difficult to read.

And if people struggle to read your post…, well you know what happens.

Also…

On a User Experience (UX) course I heard an interesting statistic – the average reading age of 51% of people in the United Kingdom is below 13!

So, consider – do people understand what your saying?

You can use tools such as this, to find out what the average reading age of your post is, a great way of considering accessibility.

“But why should I dumb down my work for idiots?”

I imagine you shouting into your keyboard.

That’s a perfectly fine attitude if your target audience is of a certain intellectual capability.

But, if you are running a blog designed to promote fitness among people not familiar with the terminology, then you should avoid talking about deltoids, and say shoulders instead.

 

Why it’s important to proof read 101:

When you wanted to say lamenting but actually put laminating.

— James (@jameslanepm) February 4, 2020

Other good writing tips…

  • proofread your work
  • don’t be afraid to cut out content
  • consider if a post can be split down into two/three posts

 

Lesson four – blogging for longevity

When you blog for six years and have been surrounded by the WordPress community you can confidently say a lot of people who start blogs, don’t last.

For blogging longevity, I suggest the following:

  • keep your writing as a regular habit
  • have a consistent posting schedule
  • be realistic how often you post
  • enjoy what you do
  • don’t make likes and validation your reason for being

Enjoyment and validation are two of my firm beliefs why a blog doesn’t last – a lot of people get into the game believing blogging:

  • will give them a career alternative to a job
  • lots of love and attention

I’m sure it can with a bit of dedication, a bit of hardwork and a bit of luck – but doing it for the right reasons will help you keep going when you don’t want to.

 

Six more years!  Six more years!

I look back over posts from the past six years and see my life in snippets, an experience predating my children, meeting my future wife and several jobs.

Those early posts make me cringe, yet, I wouldn’t have it any other way, being there to capture how I’ve evolved as a writer and as a person.


Thanks for continuing to read,

If you want to join me for the next six years, then why not join my mailing list?

I focus on sending emails to make your life better.


And to celebrate this anniversary..

Please see my personal favourite posts:

Avoid these MISTAKES to get a dad bod

Why bucket lists are bad and why you should shun them

I tried to stop complaining for 21 days, here’s what happened

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