I’ve been pondering for weeks, trying to figure out what would be a suitable way to celebrate my 100th post. I even had a completely different idea prepared with links to posts (by other bloggers) that had a big impact on me (anyone interested in reading that one or shall I leave it in the cupboard for a dry spell?).
But finally on Monday it occurred to me. I should make a list of the things I’ve learned from the act of posting 100 times.
So here I share with you the things I’ve learned from blogging.
How to Harvest Ideas
When I first started blogging, everything was new. I was excited. I had a brain full of ideas on what to do.
A couple of months down the track, I began to panic. How would I keep posting twice a week? What would I write about? Was this my well running dry?
100 blog posts have taught me how to harvest ideas so I always have something to write about.
Here is what I’ve discovered:
- Always have a place to record your post ideas as they come to you – a notebook, Evernote, a spot on your phone. You never know when the ideas will strike but you can be guaranteed of forgetting them if you don’t record them quick smart.
- Read widely. Read books, follow other people’s blogs, set up Google Alerts for your keywords. Always be in search of great information. As you read, you’ll find connections and things to write about.
- Ensure you’re passionate about your subject. Your enthusiasm comes through in your words and dedication to what you’re writing. If you love your subject, your words will come. If you don’t love your subject, find another subject.
- If all else fails, be random. If you’re really stuck for ideas then listen to an interview (I love Desert Island Disks), take a suggestion from Ghostwriter Dad, read your favourite newspaper or hit the Random Article button on Wikipedia.
The Convenience of Scheduling
Most blogs have a feature where you can schedule posts. In other words you write the post, get it all ready, tell your blog what day and time you want it to appear, then head off to do other things while your blog sits nervously watching the clock until the specified time.
This takes a lot of the stress out of blogging, because you can set up your week’s events and then get busy with other things without having to worry about scrambling around at the last minute.
Of course, for this to work, you need to have posts prepared in advance.
Notice above where I mentioned recording ideas when they come to you? I often start writing out my posts in the same area, perhaps even weeks ahead. That way I can add to them as ideas come to me and let them percolate through the grey matter until they form into something presentable.
There will always be those posts which are prepared the night before, or on the day (eek!), but that’s okay because blogging is supposed to be spontaneous (just don’t forget to proofread!).
Readers are Lovely People
I am blessed with really lovely people who comment on my blog and even e-mail me from time to time. (Thank you all!)
However, not everyone we come across in blogland will leave us feeling warm and fuzzy.
The internet provides us great connections to other people, but on a limited basis. We often only have words and a photograph to go by. No tone of voice, no expression. Sometimes those words can come across as curt or hurtful – leaving you affronted by what was said.
But in most of these cases it’s just a difference of opinion or a difficulty with the medium (words can be read many different ways).
If you assume these readers are nice people and treat them accordingly, even if they’re disagreeing with you (perhaps forcefully), then often times they’ll rise to the occasion and become nice in return.
Treat with respect and you will most likely receive respect. And even if you don’t receive it from that person, you will receive it from the rest of your readers…because they are lovely people.
Remember, each reader is someone who has spent their precious time running their eyes over your words. Whatever the outcome, you should be grateful for their time.
You Can Never Quite Predict Which Posts Will Take Off
The posts you’re hopelessly in love with, and positive other people will love too, often fall flat. That’s the way it is. On the other hand, posts you just dashed off and didn’t think would make that much impact spark conversations and retweets.
Maybe there’s a pattern. Maybe there isn’t. Roll with it.
Don’t get down about the posts that didn’t get a warm reception. It’s all content and, if nothing else, it can be re-purposed and sent out again in another format.
A lack of response isn’t a failure.
It’s More Important to be Read than to Have Page Views
When tallying stats, remember that if someone has subscribed to your blog, they’re likely reading your words in their inbox or their blog reader. You won’t see those stats as page views, but that doesn’t mean they’re not reading your work…
…unless you only send them a preview.
Some of you may have noticed that a couple of months ago I changed the settings on my blog to only send through previews. While this increased my page views, it also increased the hoops my readers had to jump through in order to read my content.
Great for me, because it boosted my stats (making me feel better) but annoying for my readers.
Once I realised this, I switched back to sending through the whole post. I figured what mattered most to me was that my content was being read. Even if the person never came to my blog, never posted a comment, they were still reading my content.
So I mentally added the number of subscribers to my page view stats and then ignored all the results.
Happy readers are what matters…because readers are lovely people.
You Don’t Have to do Everything at Once
There are heaps of posts out there about how to improve your blog. Each has great advice but the long to do lists are overwhelming. The good news is you can do each task at your own pace. There is no rule which says you have to finish the list in question by Sunday, or even at all.
Work on one aspect of your blog at a time. Be methodical and patient. You’re growing something here. It takes time and gentle watering.
I hope these points have been helpful. I’ve enjoyed learning them.
And once again, a special thank you to all you lovely people.
P.S. If you had trouble getting through to jessicabaverstock.com the other day then please try again. The problems with WordPress are all sorted now.
January 18, 2012 at 11:54 am
Congratulations on your 100th post. I’ve enjoyed reading back over some of your older posts, they have been both fun and educational. It is also nice to see how you have matured as a writer over this time.
Congrats on your new website too.
January 18, 2012 at 12:30 pm
Thank you. 😀
January 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm
Excellent post today. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it very much.
January 20, 2012 at 9:45 am
Glad you liked it. 🙂
January 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm
100 – what an accomplishment – congratulations to you! Between your ebook, website and blog, you have a lot to be proud of. I’m just getting back into blogging after an extended holiday break. Looking foward to reading you last few posts.
January 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm
Thanks, Nancy. I really enjoyed your last post – very poetic. 🙂
January 19, 2012 at 11:40 am
Oh yay! Congratulations! Quite a milestone. And the things you’ve learned are very helpful, too. I’m excited for your ebooks.
January 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm
I excited too! 100 used to seem like such a big number, and now it feels like I’m just scratching the surface.
January 20, 2012 at 8:52 am
Wow, Jessica, 100 posts. Congratulations! I’ll join the chorus of admirers and say that I really get a lot from your writing and all that you offer.
I think I’m going to be paying more attention to scheduling my blog posts so I can keep publishing on a more regular basis. I did try it last year for a month or so, but found I was deciding to write different ones anyway. But with more work demands this year (and plans to launch another website), that will be a bit trickier.
Looking forward to reading more this year and beyond. So exciting about your websites and upcoming ebooks too!
January 20, 2012 at 9:48 am
Thank you, Carole. 🙂
I also find that sometimes I change my mind on what I’m going to post after the post has been written, but you can always use that post another time. If nothing else, you can keep them for when you’re on holiday, sick or too busy to write something new.
Another website? How exciting!
January 22, 2012 at 2:57 am
Congratulations on your 100th post! You also helped explain something to me about page views vs. people reading in their inbox or blog readers. Much appreciated! Looking forward to reading your next 100 posts!
January 22, 2012 at 9:46 am
Glad to be of help. Thank you for being such a loyal reader. 😉
January 22, 2012 at 11:12 pm
Sorry, I’m chiming in again. I wanted to comment this time on your sending the whole post instead of a preview. I’ve gone back and forth on that with my newsletter–so many people publish part of the article on the newsletter and then have a “read the rest here” link. So I worry I should be like everyone else (don’t we all?) and do it that way. But then I think, what an inconvenience for my readers. That’s not treating them very nice. Yes, it gets my traffic up, but to what end? So I’m really glad to read that you made this same choice. And I don’t know why I felt so compelled to share that, but I did.
January 23, 2012 at 10:39 am
Thanks for sharing, Charlotte.
I too thought long and hard about the decision, because I knew if I changed it back to full article I couldn’t go to preview again (just not fair to keep bouncing back and forth like that).
I read a post by someone who read a lot of blogs and mentioned how she hated previews because it broke her momentum (had to click, wait for page to load etc.) and how most of the time she just wouldn’t read the post.
I noticed that I too was far less likely to read a post if I was just presented with a preview. Most internet reading is actually scanning because it’s faster. Anything that slows the reader down (like big blocks of text and having to click on another link to get to the post) will likely be skipped in favour of something more convenient.
So I decided to move back to showing the whole post. Of course, my page views dropped, but then I had one reader thank me for going back to showing the whole post as it made it easier for her. That’s all I needed to know I had done the right thing for my readers.
I realised that, for me, being read was more important than page views (although some days I have to remind myself!).