5 Things I Have Learned From a Year of Blogging

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It’s hard to believe that it was just over a year ago that TruthInjected was born. When I held my breath and hit “Publish” on my first post, I didn’t expect that TI would have garnered the readership that has today.

And yet, here we are. People from over 50 countries, spanning all inhabited continents, have read articles on TI.

It’s a huge achievement, and I am very grateful to everyone who has visited.

Personally, it has been a massive learning curve. I knew nothing about blogging at the start of last year, and now I know slightly more than that.

Here are the top 5 things that I have learned from the first year of running TI:

1. Success is relative

In the early days, everything on my blog was about creating as much traffic as possible. I worried that TI was failing.

“Some people are generating a solid income after just a few weeks of blogging! What am I doing wrong?”

“Wow, his blog has more readers than mine – and he started after me! How is he doing that?”

These were all thoughts that kept me awake in the first 6 or so months after I launched the blog.

I would read incessantly about SEO and what sort of dark arts are needed to get people to click on my articles. It was consuming, and focusing so heavily on marketing actually hurt my writing, and subsequently, the very blog traffic that I was trying to increase.

Comparisons are a dangerous game, and I would even suggest that they are the main reason that most blogs that were ever started have either been deleted or are rotting somewhere in the back pages of search engine results, never to be updated again.

It’s easy to be drawn in by the idea that building a community of loyal readers happens overnight, mostly thanks to the sensationalist stories that are found all over social media about that guy who made six figures in his first year writing.

Sure, that happens, but it is the exception to the rule. The majority of bloggers give up when they realize that they haven’t won the writers’ lottery, and they never have sexy news articles published about their blogs.

It’s not a competition – certainly not in the early days. You wouldn’t enter a race with a car that you haven’t built or tested yet.

2. Write good content regularly

In most jobs, there is a trade-off between quality and quantity, and blogging is no different.

You don’t want to be throwing every random thought that pops into your head onto your blog, in a disorganized, rambling torrent of keyboard diarrhea that struggles to meet 100 words or pass a spell-check. But at the same time, you don’t want to leave your readers hanging for months (cough) while you decide whether a comma or a hyphen is more suitable to break your compound sentence on line 4 of your thirteenth paragraph.

My suggestion? Focus more on your quality in the early days.

When you first start your blog, you are unlikely to have anyone holding their breath for your next pearl of wisdom. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s the truth. Been there, done that.

There is a unique freedom that comes with that, though – you can really take your time to proofread and edit your posts until it flows exactly how you want it to, and all mistakes are fixed.

As you write more often, you will naturally find that your time spent producing an article falls. And if you have set your standard of writing at a high level, you will attract far more readers to your blog.

Regularity is also important. I know – this is something that I am learning the hard way.

A consistent uploading schedule is very important, not only to maintain your community’s attention, but search engines are much kinder to those who publish new, unique content frequently. It also develops the personal habit of blogging, which will keep your writing muscle in shape.

3. Patience is a virtue

In June last year, I got really frustrated. One of my posts flopped horrendously, and to this day, remains my only article to have never received a single like. I still don’t know exactly what was wrong with it, but it’s the way things go sometimes. The next month, I wrote my most widely-read article ever.

What was the factor that made all of the difference between them? I still don’t know. It’s just the way things go sometimes.

I can publish an article that I think is very high quality and get a poorer reception than something that I have strung together at 2am over a couple of Coronas.

Blogging is unpredictable, so try to avoid setting expectations – especially early on.

So just try to write something every day – that is my new approach. Just keep writing quality content, and you will eventually pick up a following.

Commit to spending 5 minutes in front of a new post. If you state at the blinking cursor the whole time, congratulations – you are now a writer! If you manage to actually type something, even better.

Invariably, I find myself getting started on my 5 minutes of writing, and I get so absorbed in the process that I can’t stop, and I end up finishing and publishing the post. Maybe that will happen for you as well.

4. You won’t know everything straight away

Just yesterday, I discovered two comments in the admin section of my blog that had been filtered as spam. They weren’t spam though – they were both really well thought out comments on my recent post from a reader, that had somehow been auto-filtered.

Intrigued, I looked deeper and discovered that a grand total of 56 comments had been filtered as spam since the launch of my blog, and had since been vaporized.

Maybe some of them were spam – maybe they all were. But I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of loss at the potential of 56 unique pieces of feedback from you, my readers, being entombed in a spam pile until their demise at the hand of a robotic auto-delete feature.

Firstly, it was my fault for not checking the filtering settings on comments or monitoring the spam pile, and it is now something that I have fixed and am keeping a close eye on. Secondly, I’m sorry to anyone who took the time to comment on TI articles and whose comments didn’t see the light of day.

But these things happen when you are doing something new. It is inevitable that you will screw up spectacularly sometimes. This is just the latest in a string of missed opportunities that I have had over the past year through lack of experience, and I cherish each one as a chance to learn.

Forgive yourself when you botch an article or lose dozens of comments. Each one represents a development opportunity.

5. Success today doesn’t guarantee success tomorrow

TI’s most-viewed month ever was July last year.

This was where I made another mistake. Because I had such a good month, I assumed that I could bank on subsequent months being even better. I got a bit slack with my posting and coasted.

And like a plane without an engine, the descent began.

July 2016 still looms as a sky-scraper on the statistics page, taunting and challenging future months to beat it and also as a reminder to me that you need to keep pushing. Always.

Bonus. The feeling doesn’t wear off

Every time I get a new like notification on my phone, I get as excited as when I got my first. Every new comment that I get (the ones that aren’t accidentally hurled into oblivion) is a personal letter that deserves an equally thorough response. Sometimes I even spam the F5  button on my statistics page like a crazy stalker to see what articles are currently being viewed.

That childlike excitement and satisfaction doesn’t go away. At least it hasn’t yet. If it does, it will probably be the day that I stop writing.

And as always, please share your thoughts below. I promise that it won’t get filtered as spam unless it actually is.

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