5 Things I Learned About Blogging

5 Things I Learned About Blogging on KLWightman.com
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A few weeks back, during my NaNoWriMo challenge, I received the image above in my notifications box.

Has it really been two years?

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Nostalgic memories of setting up my account and writing my first blog post flooded my mind. Oh, how naïve I was in 2012.

Since my first blog post, I interned with a digital marketing agency, accepted a marketing job across the country, and worked relentlessly at becoming the best writer and content marketer that I could be. Two years later, I’m freelancing for Fortune 500 companies.

To be great, I accepted that I am not-so-great. I made mistakes and learned lessons—all on a public platform of social media scrutiny.

So, what things did I learn about blogging? I’ll give you the short list.

Post On A Schedule, Not Every Day

When I started out, I published blog posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. My goal was to build content on my website fast in order to build credibility as a writing expert. But I was also actively submitting resumes and scheduling job interviews, so my time was quickly scarce.

My blog soon took control over me—when I should have been the one in control.

When I dreaded writing a blog post, I knew my system needed fixing. First, I cut it down to two blog posts and a Friday quiz. A month later, I accepted a job offer and reevaluated my time commitments. This schedule now was too much.

Once I committed to only posting every Monday, I had more time to devote towards my other writing commitments without seeing a decline in daily readership.

Presentation Counts

My blog’s initial layout was purple on purple with a dash of more purple.

Can you guess my favorite color?

The font was hard-to-read cursive and the template was not a responsive web design. After months of following analytical data, I found that many of my users were reading my blog posts on their phones. I also had the reality check that my practical, explorative blog posts didn’t match my purple flowery presentation.

The Solution: I chose a responsive design template, font and color scheme that matched reader expectations. Since this change, more readers click on multiple blog posts on my website.

Your Voice Matters

It’s natural as a blogger to explore different personality approaches. However, just because one kind of voice is successful for one blogger, doesn’t mean it will be successful for you.

I learned this the hard way.

Within my first year of blogging, I tried a snarky, matter-of-fact voice. It’s done so well on other blogs, so why not mine?

Because it wasn’t my voice.

This new voice wasn’t authentic to mine, so I couldn’t pull it off successfully. As a result, my readers bounced quickly from those blog posts.

When my blog’s voice humbly returned to its spunky self, my readers sighed with relief and started clicking through blog posts again.

Blogging Makes You An Expert

The simple act of blogging on one topic doesn’t automatically make you an expert. But blogging about that topic weekly, doing your research and finding creative ways to blog about that topic for next week’s post—that makes you an expert.

When you choose to dedicate yourself to becoming the best you can be on one topic, you naturally become an expert. That’s because you’re reading about the topic daily, you’re open to critique on your expertise and you’re still eager to learn more about the topic in order to be better.

Your Most Successful Blog Posts Will Surprise You

When I sat down to write blog posts about writing clues for scavenger hunts or how to write a fairy tale, I didn’t think I was sitting down to write my most successful blog posts.

But that’s exactly what I did.

From search engine results to Pinterest referrals, these two blog posts bring the most organic traffic to my website.

Exploring different angles of blogging helped me find my audience. The purpose of my blog is to help readers find writing solutions—and little did I know that many writers seek suggestions for scavenger hunts clues and fairy tale structure.

What will be my next successful blog post? I guess I’ll need at last two more years to figure that out.

What have you learned from blogging? Share your story below.

The Writer and Non-Writing Careers: Pros and Cons

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When I was a sophomore in college, I had absolutely no clue what career I wanted to pursue.  I was determined to be a published writer and author (and still am), but I was starting to get realistic about the chances of easily sustaining myself financially with book publications full-time.

 

So I visited a college career counselor.

 

I was expecting to learn about new careers that involved writing or editing or endless shelves of books.

 

Her advice was the reverse: take on a career that has nothing to do with writing.

 

Work in a greenhouse, she suggested.  Be a security guard.  Or a hairstylist.  Or a bus driver.  Or a tour guide.  Or a house sitter.

 

She made her case:

 

  • Some non-writing careers keep you energized about writing.  Why come home drained after long hours of writing and editing projects that aren’t your novel or your play?  You won’t come home eager to write out a scene–you’ll just turn on the TV and fall asleep.

  

  • Some non-writing careers (sometimes) permit you to write while working.  There are jobs that require your attendance but not 100% of your attention.  Job breaks are perfect to write a few more pages of your draft or to think up solutions for the problems in your writing.

 

  • Some non-writing careers open you to new ideas for your writing.  How can you become an expert on a profession or a place or a group of people when you’re always on the side of the red pen?  Writers are exploring scribes, and your craft will only improve by studying the world.

 

Needless to say, my parents were not amused with this answer.

 

A lot has changed since 2007.  Writing careers aren’t tied down to just big publishing houses and newsstand papers.  Websites are breeding like rabbits, blogs are more than just open diaries, indie publishers are on the rise, and social media has the power to make or break a company.  Writers and editors are currently in high demand because the perception of (and appreciation of) the writing craft has evolved beyond the pages of a book or the folds of a newspaper.

 

And I have also changed.  My love for writing has extended beyond the joy of scribbling down words into a passion of learning and becoming an expert on a multitude of topics.  I used to write to escape from people and places, but now I write because I want to engage with people and places, because I want to be the one that shapes the telling of their story.

 

In other words, I now love the process of storytelling.

 

These were the answers I was expecting to hear in that counselor’s office:

 

  • Writing careers keep you sharp on your craft.  Professionals in these careers must continuously be experts on craft, grammar, audience targeting, and formatting.  With these industries rapidly evolving, there’s a demand to stay ahead of the competition (because you’re competitive).

 

  • Writing careers are a great way to network.  Writing careers work alongside and with people that love to write and read, engage in writing and reading groups, and associate with others that write and read. 

 

  • Writing careers build credibility.  Even if it isn’t a novel or a play, you will leave work each night satisfied that you have written an article, a blog post, social media conversations, website copy, a grant, a contract–all that can trickle its way into your marketable resume.

 

  • Writing careers keep you writing daily (or close to it). Writing through other mediums keeps your mind fresh and keeps the juices flowing for your personal projects.  The problems you solve while writing 9 to 5 may be solutions for your afterhours prose.

 

So what’s my verdict?  I say both are valid approaches.

 

I am currently searching for full-time employment, and I have been open to both possibilities.  A writing career would continue me on the path towards my passion.  A non-writing career can lead me to possibilities and stories I have yet to imagine.

 

Instead of asking which career path to take, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are my writing goals?
  • What are my writing values?
  • What is my strategy to achieve these goals?

 

Then take action and write your way towards success.