I started my personal blog more than 10 years ago, but I write more or less “intently” on it for exactly 10 years. In 2009 I decided to try out this hype thing – yes, I’m that old, since when blogging was “cool” – to see if it can be both a rewarding activity and a source of predictable revenue, so I set up a schedule, some goals and just went for it.
10 years later I find myself in an interesting place: I don’t use that blog as source of predictable revenue, nor do I write as often as I used to (but that’s abruptly changing, if you watched this place lately). Nevertheless, there was still a significant amount of time when that blog was both a rewarding activity and a source of predictable income, so I’m going to share what I learned in this process.
1. Finding Your “Voice” Takes Time
If you blog “professionally” then you will need some sort of differentiator. I call this identity thing “your voice”. It’s a combination of topics you cover, of writing style and social media presence. Finding your “voice” is probably the most important thing when doing this consistently.
10 years ago finding your “voice” would have taken 6 months. Now, with the narrower attention span of an audience debilitated by an increasingly aggressive social media, I would say at least 2 years. This may seem overwhelming at first, and, to be honest, it’s quite daunting: I don’t know how many of you have two years goals.
But the difficulty of creating an identity has also a good part: once you’re out there, once you’re finally a “voice”, you’ll gonna have a lot more “inertia” than before, and the boat you launched will float for a lot more time.
2. There Will Be Months When You’ll Not Write. Scratch That, There Will Be Years
Keeping a blog going on for that long means that at some point you will have to take breaks. Wether you like it or not, life will eventually “happen” and your routine will be broken. I know mine was and when this happened, I did have a mild anxiety for a while knowing that “I’m not doing my thing anymore”. Sort of a control freak, I know.
But, at the end of the (more or less forced) silence period, I discovered that coming back to what I built gave me a sense of belonging. It was like coming home. Every little word you write adds up.
I know you’re focused on doing much more and you expect to have more spectacular results, but even the smallest thing you write will have ripples. I find this refreshing and reassuring, at the same time.
3. Timeless Content Is King, Timely Content Is A Gamble
It’s hard to ride the wave of “cool”, and it lasts very little. Always hunting the most spectacular, or the most viral thing is tiring. Writing content that may be well read in 10 years from now is a better choice. It may not be that spectacular, but it will last longer.
I experienced a lot with both types of content and I’m still favoring timeless content. Every once in a while I still write stuff that pertains to a very specific time window, or a very specific event, like storing blockchain data in DNA, but, in all honesty, blog posts like 50 ways to start fresh are still getting decent traffic even 4-5 years after I published them.
4. There’s More Than One Way To Skin A Cat
Monetization is a question of trial and error. Some blogs do well on advertising, some do well on affiliate content, some do well on selling original content products and so on. There’s really no way to know beforehand, you’ll have to try.
Even more important, there will be times when one way to “skin a cat” will work better than the other one. They key is to keep trying, generate meaningful feedback and act accordingly.
To be totally honest, there is a very real possibility to not make money at all, directly, but even in this case, just “being out there” will provide some support. Other people will read you, they will remember you somehow and, when the opportunity meets the right context, something good will come out of this. Eventually.
5. It’s Therapeutic. For You. I’m Serious
When you first start a blog, you probably think of all the stuff you’re going to write about and how your readers will interact with you. And, for a few years, that’s really all there is to it.
But if you’re lucky enough to keep a blog for more than just those years, then you’ll be in the very fortunate position to see yourself exactly as you were 10 years ago. That’s very rare and it’s a very therapeutic experience. If I ask you to remember what you had for lunch 8 years, 2 months and 4 days ago, you won’t remember. But if you happened to write about something on or around that date, well, you’ll instantly be transported back. You will revive your life as it was.
As time goes by, we clog our ideas about “self” with all the experiences we add, every hour, every day, every year, layer on top of new layer. So when we do have a chance to look at “us” without the clogged image we constructed over time, and see “ourselves” exactly as we were, some healing process will start to unfold. And that’s a very good thing.
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I'm a serial entrepreneur, blogger and ultrarunner. You can find me mainly on my blog at Dragos Roua where I write about productivity, business, relationships and running. Here on Steemit you may stay updated by following me @dragosroua.
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