The Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

I’ve been blogging for far too long. While That Tiny Website has only been active for just shy of a year((The first anniversary is technically October 20th)), I’ve been blogging regularly since January 2009 and blogging intermittently since 2005. By my count, I’ve written over 1,200 posts with way too many words viewed by hundreds (if not thousands) of people. Some of those posts might even have been interesting.

There’s a lot I’ve learned in that time — some of those items useful, some not. For today’s post, I’ve decided to take a look at some of the more lasting lessons I’ve taken from blogging and talk about them a bit. While blogging may well be a dying art((Or at the very least one that’s slowly becoming dominated by businesses trying to push a product and salespeople trying to mislead you into buying something you don’t actually need through the use of deceptive information.)), I know fully well that there are young people out there who are just starting blogging and are looking for advice. Hopefully this is able to help that reader.

Blogging Consistently Is Better For Your Traffic Than Binge Blogging

I realize these concepts may have some level of overlap in the concept of volume blogging. There are plenty of bloggers who participate in programs like Post A Day, Blogtember((Or Blogtober, Blogvember, or any other month jammed against the word blog you can think of.)), or BEDM((Blog Every Day in May.)) for sake of hoping to draw in lots of readers over the course of a one or two month blitz of blogging. As someone who participated in Post A Day in both 2010 and 2011, I can tell you confidently that while you will see in your traffic short-term during the event in question, it’s rare that many readers from that event will stick around long-term. Sure, you may have a couple of readers stay after the event in questions, and if that’s all you’re looking for, awesome. But don’t expect people to stay around if you post 30 posts in 30 days, then nothing for months.

A key component to gaining consistent readership is to have a posting schedule and stick to it. I’ve personally found that my blogs get the most traffic if I’m posting three times a week((Usually I went with a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, however your mileage may vary with such a schedule.)). While I can’t currently post with that frequency due to the demands of work, even following my current schedule((Twice a week on Mondays and Fridays for those who aren’t familiar with this blog.)) has netted me consistent readership. I don’t typically see giant spikes in my traffic month to month — but at the same time, I don’t see giant valleys in stats either.

Replying to Comments Helps Build Repeat Readership

It might be a very simple statement to say this, but I really wish I would have known to reply to comments when I started blogging. My very first blog had relatively decent readership for the amount of marketing and sharing I did for that blog((Read: Zero. This was a pre-Twitter, pre-Facebook age where I blogged on Xanga.)), and I actually got comments from time to time. I also don’t think I replied to a single one of them. While not replying to comments can work out fine if you see the commenter regularly, it’s not a good way to build rapport with someone over the internet. Interacting through comments, both on your blog and on blogs you read, is a great way to build a consistent readership base.

People Will Prefer Pictures To Words

I have a second blog. It’s an invite only blog where I post my short stories/longer stories as I write them so as to get feedback on the piece itself, how it’s progressing, character development, and what not((If you’re a regular reader and would like an invite, let me know.)). I had someone come to me earlier this year and ask me why I don’t use this blog for that same purpose.

Statistically speaking, the story posts I write generate the lowest number of hits and fewest comments of any of the posts I write. That’s not to say they’re the worst quality — usually they’re the posts I spend the most time on writing. That said, my short stories tend to average 1,000-1,500 words, while the chapters of longer stories I write can be anywhere from 1,500-4,000 words at a time. While those items certainly can qualify as long-form blog pieces, there’s a reason that more than a few blog advice sites will tell you to keep your blog posts under 500 words. Many readers prefer a quick article with pretty pictures over something written with substance, research, and detail. That’s not to say that shorter pieces can’t be interesting. But it is to say that if you plan to write longer posts((As I tend to do.)), you should fully expect to have a smaller blog following. That can be good or bad, depending on how you look at things.

Other bloggers: What did you wish you knew when you started blogging? Agree or disagree with my pieces of advice? Sound off in the comments.

    1. Same here. The community isn’t what it once was (when it shut down, that is), however it still allowed people to get traffic to their sites. I don’t think most people realized the impact that it had. To put things in context, 20SB has the most referrals to my blog (non-Twitter) this year despite being shut down for almost four months. The next closest site is Agent Q’s blog…at about 25% of 20SB’s total.

  1. I agree with all these points even though I don’t necessarily follow them. I still find it very sad that people often don’t take the time to read longer posts, even though I understand that we all have busy lives and maybe just don’t want to commit than much time to reading a blog. I admit that I’ve seen a long post, though, “I’ll go back to this later” and then completely forget to do so.

    Posting consistently is definitely important and I think that’s been my biggest issue over time… it’s just so hard to keep up a posting schedule when you’re busy with work and trying to have a life outside of a computer screen… but you have to do it if you want to ever maintain a decent readership.

    1. I’ve been known to do that with longer posts, however I find that I’m just as likely to put a short post away for later reading and never come back as I am with longer posts. It’s not always what happens, but it’s certainly more common (especially lately).

      I feel like I’m at the point where I have consistent, though relatively small, readership. I really want to see my blog to continue to grow. That said, my readership has statistically contracted over the last six months (it’s a small decrease, but one none the less). I don’t know if it’s a matter that I got spoiled by my old blog regularly growing, the fact that I’m doing something wrong with this blog, or a combination of the two.

  2. Definitely agree with all of these points. Although I’ve struggled at blogging consistently these last couple of months, because of how long I did, my traffic in general seems to be consistently up as well.

    I think this pretty much covers all the things I would have liked to have known when I first started blogging.

    1. Oddly enough, after taking those couple of weeks off, my traffic has rebounded quite nicely. I’d like to attribute part of that to NaNoWriMo and the story I’ve been writing, however I don’t know if that’s the case.

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