The end of December marks the fifth year of my blogging. It’s been quite a journey – introspective, educating and rewarding. So for this edition as we enter 2013, I’ve decided to write an article chronicling half a decade of blogging and share my experiences with you. If you are an aspiring blogger, writer or have trouble keeping up, this post is helpful.
My first brush at blogging started in 2004 in my attempts to chronicle stray thoughts and random musings which fizzled out in a few months because there wasn’t an objective. I was riding a trend and when you do that, the venture is usually short-lived. Then, circa 2007, I was reintroduced to blogging as the result of a bloggers’ conference in Coorg, I was organizing (Mahindra Holidays was the principal sponsor of the event, where I was employed). There I was in the company of veteran bloggers who greatly benefitted from their writing experience, under whose influence I was convinced that I could start my own.
However, this time I wanted the writing to persist and charted a timeline of a year. I would write for a year – if it was fruitful (or if I still retained the passion) extend the tenure to 2 more years. Its been 5 years now and the passion hasn’t waned.
Evolution of the blogger (and blogging)
The early days of my blogging were characterized by an increased activity of writing, writing about anything that I found interesting. This period was also marked by a random frequency of contributions or statistically speaking, a higher standard deviation. As time progressed, I was increasingly focused on the theme, quality and consistency of my topics. To sum it up, my blog progressed from reactionary to responsible writing. I have seen fellow bloggers stray away from this path and stop writing altogether. A blogger I know has moved to Twitter, attributing it to be more effective – microblogging as many call it. To me, Twitter is strobe light that calls for your attention, a capsule or headline (if you will) that draws a user’s intent and subsequently leads her to your writing. They are complementary platforms, not a replacement.
Benefits of blogging
So why have I stuck around for this long? Here are some reasons that also resonate with many other veteran bloggers.
- Hone your writing skills
This to me is the foremost advantage of blogging. In our times, when good writing is rare, the practice of blogging refines your writing and with time you become a better writes than when you started.
- From consumer to creator
You move from passive to active. From merely consuming content, you now become a contributor, author of content. I used to achieve a certain satisfaction with churning my own articles.
- Get better at your craft
Most bloggers write around a category or niche; This could range from travel, photography, finance, politics to extremely niche topics like star gazing. Whatever be your niche or craft, you need to invest time in reading doing some research or practicing your craft before you preach. In the process, you refine your skills and transcend from an amateur to an authority. You also stay updated with the latest in the industry as you keep yourself abreast in the process.
My niche is digital marketing and I have experienced a marked improvement thanks to my years of writing.
- Increase your social network
Writing attracts readers – not just within your own network, but readers drawn from search engines. Content is king and good content is its own PR attracting a variety of readers along the way from all over the world (unless your writing is vernacular). Some of these (or many, depending on the quality of your writing) become regular subscribers of your content. Some of these readers end up becoming acquaintances and friends.
- Acknowledgement and Recognition
In the pursuit of excellence and as you progress with your blog, the other bounties follow. Like I said earlier, you evolve into an authority in your field with your writings. One thing could lead to the other and opportunities to speak at conferences, getting quoted in mainstream media and even writing syndicated columns may follow.
Tips for aspiring bloggers
If you are inspired to start a blog, here are some recommended tips, that I’ve benefitted from.
- Define a niche
Instead of writing about everything, define a niche that you would like to write on and focus your efforts there. Choose a niche you are already familiar with, that you are comfortable writing.
- Set an evaluation timeframe
Most amateur bloggers lose interest beyond a certain point and stop writing completely. Set yourself an evaluation timeframe to help you decide if you wish to continue blogging beyond that period. The time frame also serves as a reminder of the time you need to pursue writing before you make a call.
- Schedule your writing
Schedule your writing a few months in advance. You get enough time to prepare for the content and the result is a well maintained blog.
- Create an idea backlog
The dilemma facing many bloggers is lack of good ideas for their content. It pays to be a tough on your own editorial criteria and raising bar. Maintain a backlog of good ideas in a spreadsheet (I maintain a Google spreadsheet) of content ideas.
- Blogging for money
This is a definite NO-NO. Don’t start a blog with the intention of making money or monetizing traffic. You may make enough to pay your website hosting bills or more, but let that be a by-product – never your primary objective. Your blog is a reflection of your work, so when you blog for money it becomes apparent to your reader. You risk losing readers and authority.
Hope you found the article interesting and thank you for your continued readership over the years. As for me, its now time to embark on the next 5 years of blogging!.