15 Lessons From 1,500 Blog Posts
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Mar 11, 2014
This is post #1,500 for I’m Just Sharing and it’s been quite an interesting ride. I started this blog in December 2007 with an idea that maybe I could make some money blogging. My other intention was to be able to write whatever I wanted to write, and to that end I was in immediate conflict.
You see, though I didn’t necessarily see it as blogging, I started chronicling parts of my life and thoughts back in 1995 on a site called My Dear Diary. It allowed you to be anonymous and, well, it was a diary. It was a diary that could be read by others if they so chose, and of course you could read other people’s diaries as well. It allowed for a stream of consciousness that I had started back in college when I used to buy all these spiral notebooks to chronicle what was going on in my life; strange stuff…
What is it with some people that they like to write down what they’re thinking and what’s going on? For me, I saw it as a sense of history, people I wanted to remember, events that were special or maybe not so special that I’d like to look back on one day and say “wow, I didn’t remember that”. That I chose to do it online was interesting because I was using a program back in the day called IBM Assistant on Windows 3.1, where I could save everything on my computer but only in small chunks; I’m betting some folks remember those days.
When I got my first Windows 95 computer it was for work, so someone else paid for it. I learned at that time that all my old programs no longer worked, which is why I found My Dear Diary. Then at some point it was giving up the ghost, so I downloaded all those files and moved onto something called Writing Up, where I first met my buddy Mitchell Allen. But that crashed and I moved onto another site whose name I can’t remember, and met some folks I’m actually connected to on Facebook now. Then that crashed and we moved to something called Blogger Party. We were still anonymous, but those days were ending.
It was at that point that I decided to get this blog. I had a business blog, but it had a specific purpose. This one would be different; and it was and is, but I had to resolve some things.
For one, I realized at some point that I had to decide whether I was going to try to remain anonymous or try to make some money. Money won out; doesn’t it always? Lol That meant that I was going to have to figure out how to drive traffic to the blog, and figure out what to sell. I learned one but not the other.
I learned how to drive traffic to the blog. I did two things back then.
One, I wrote a post almost every day, sometimes two posts a day. For the first 3 years of this blog I averaged more than 300 posts a year; yes, the more you write, the more traffic you get.
Two, I learned about commenting on other blogs. In a previous post I detailed ways that you can drive traffic to your blog and this is at the top of my list It differs from writing lots of posts in that when you visit other people’s blogs enough they feel compelled to come check you out eventually. However, when you write lots of posts, you get lots of people but not as many return visitors because they can’t keep up with all that’s being written. If this was a niche blog maybe, but it wasn’t, and still isn’t.
What’s different now? Well, here’s what I’m going to do. Instead of what I usually do whenever I reach a milestone (like I did when I reached 1,400 just over a year ago), I’m going to talk about 15 lessons I’ve learned over the course of 1500 posts, some that I’ve taken and run with, some that have come to me that I haven’t done as often but need to. I’ve already given two lessons above but I’m not going to count those. I’m also giving you one more lesson, that being that list posts always do well, especially when people know they’re list posts because you put a number in the title.
So, you’ve got 15 more coming; let’s see what I have to say.
1. I learned that you make your blog more valuable if you can stick with either just a certain number of categories or tags. I didn’t do that with this blog early on so I have lots of categories, although I did merge a few and I have tags infinitum; maybe ad nauseum. If you’re looking to do real business via your blog you need to make it easily searchable; oh well…
2. Depending on what you’re writing, you often need time to market or advertise your posts in some way. When I was writing early on Twitter was a new thing, and I hadn’t thought about always posting links of all my blog posts, though I certainly could have. I don’t do that now all that often, but I certainly have enough so that I could get away with it. Still, I find that though I don’t get the type of traffic I used to get, I get more return visitors who write better comments; yay!
3. Spammers gonna spam. I know some folks who have shut down their blogs because of it; not me. What I did do was limit the amount of time folks get to comment on my blog posts. On this blog it’s 125 days, and I hate that spammers made me set that up. I’ve also learned that if you don’t set up your protections that spam is even worse than can be imagined. Two weeks ago I turned something off and went from 10 spam messages a day to 50 every hour; not again!
4. What I’ve also realized is that there’s some fairly evergreen content on this blog, and I think everyone probably has some evergreen content somewhere in their writings. Something I’m planning on doing is going back and looking at old posts in chunks, revisiting some of those topics and turning them into new articles. I’m going to do that because people can’t comment on old stuff and I know that if I can’t comment on something I’m less likely to consume it. I’ll also end up with lots of articles written ahead of time so that I can do some other things; neat!
This is also a great idea for those of you who have at least 100 posts on your blog to think about doing. You can do a recap of your first 100 articles in one post, kind of like what I normally do, but you can also see what you’ve written previously that maybe you can find another way to write about. Not only is it new content but it helps solidify what your blog is about; SEO!
5. When you write articles way in advance, it doesn’t mean that if you want to write something current that you can’t do so. All you have to do is change the dates of some other articles and you can always be timely. I usually recommend that people try to write 2 or 3 articles at one time to help alleviate time crunches, but it also helps in occasions like this.
6. Internal linking is a big deal. I’ll admit that sometimes it’s hard remembering if I wrote on a topic 6 years ago but often I remember that I’ve written on something up to 2 years ago. Search engines love internal linking, and any way you can help your blog is a good thing. Of course, I also advocate linking to outside sources, although in this day and age you need to be secure in doing it because of those weasels who might show up and ask you to remove their links; sigh…
7. I’ve learned that for some reason putting an image in a post helps keep people interested in it, even if it’s only one image. I used to have some images that were ads back in the early days but rarely real images or pictures. Once I started adding them it seems that the blog gained some energy with others and I have never looked back. It really works well with very long posts like this bad boy; that leads us to…
8. Length means nada to the majority of people. It’s like going to a movie that’s captivated you and being mad when it’s over because you want more. Some posts I read are way too short, while some are too long because they keep hammering on a point over and over. If I write as much or as little as needed to say what I have to say then that’s the perfect length of a post, and if it’s engaging enough people will read it; works for me.
9. You really can write on one topic in many different ways. Out of all the topics, or categories on this blog, the one I’ve written about more often than not is blogging. Almost 800 of the articles here are on blogging; how about that? And I’ve written some posts that I thought were interesting, connecting blogging with poker, airports, chess and a host of other things. If I can come up with so much to say on this topic, think about what you can do with yours.
10. At some point most of your audience is going to change for one reason or another. Think about your own forays online. Are there blogs you no longer visit that you used to stop by all the time? Life gets in the way, ideas change, tastes change… that’s just how it goes. Sometimes you as the writer has to change, while other times you just keep going your way and you find that there’s always someone who wants to consume your words, even if they just want to fuss at you for them.
11. Blogging takes courage and dedication. There are a lot of dead blogs out there. At the same time there are a lot of blogs where the writer refuses to take a side or offer an opinion because they’re afraid someone won’t agree with them. Like almost anything else, it takes a love of blogging to really do it justice. There are people who have blogged way longer than me, and even a few who have written more articles than me.
Actually, that last sentence I’m going to slightly dispute. I’ve taken a look at some stats of mine and, well, I’m impressed if you’re not. Lol For one, based on the numbers I’ve averaged 20 blog posts a month on this blog, and that includes the last couple of years where I’ve tried putting out 2 a week. Even though this is #1500 here, I write 5 blogs in all, and in actuality this is blog post #3,491 across the board.
That’s only for my blogs. I presently write articles for 2 other blogs that I don’t get paid for and with those I can add another 150 posts or so. Then there are articles I’ve written for my other websites, for other people’s websites and blogs, for places like EzineArticles and Demand Studios and other sources… it’s closer to 4,800 articles overall. There’s a wedding blog and a real estate blog out there that has around 500-600 articles among them, and lots of other topics that I’d care not to remember at the moment. Man, that’s a lot of writing isn’t it? At least for some of those I did get paid.
Courage and dedication; remember those two words, live those two words, blogging and outside of blogging. No one ever becomes rich and famous by sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone else to give them anything.
12. Blogs don’t only have to be words. I remember a blog years ago called I’m Just Joe where every post was actually a video. These days that’s a more common thing and it’s smart because you can have a blog on YouTube and on a blog and have totally different audiences. There are also blogs that only have podcasts and blogs that mainly have pictures. All of them are compelling to someone, and if you can mix some of these things up you make your blog more compelling.
13. Blogging can be fun if you want it to be. I’ve covered a lot of interesting topics over the years; at least I found them interesting. Some of those that I enjoyed greatly took me the most time to put together. These were posts that, if anyone cared, people could learn a lot of things about me, my tastes, my background, etc.
I’m kind of a history person. One of my majors in college was American History with a concentration in African-American Studies. I love reading biographies because you not only learn how people overcame some very interesting backgrounds, but you also learn what to do and not do as it pertains to your life. History does always repeat itself, and if we pay attention hopefully we’ll learn lessons so we have a better chance to get things right.
But it’s not about that either. If I may, here are 15 posts that I believe probably tells you more about me than you’d care to want to know. I do this in the spirit of a guy named Carmine Gallo, who was interviewed by Chris Brogan, who wrote a book teaching speakers how to break their presentations up as if they were giving a TED talk. One of the premises is that no matter what you’re talking about, every once in a while you have to stop and give people a sense of yourself with a story or video or something that shows why you care, why you do what you do. Well, here’s some of mine:
14. There’s always the debate amongst bloggers as to who you should be writing for. I tend to believe you write for yourself first and then others because if you don’t like what you’re writing why should anyone else. The other side believes that everything you do should be for the readers and that if you write with them in mind you’ll be able to reach them better and they’ll be more open to allowing you to communicate with them.
No matter who’s correct on this particular debate, one thing is clear. Either you write or you don’t; plain and simple. Actually, if I get to use my inner Dumbledore I’d like to rephrase this to say that either you produce content or you don’t, since there are many people who are using guest posts to move things along, and there’s always a place for that.
One way of looking at blogging, if you call it that in this case, is that the most successful blogs over time use multiple writers to produce content for them. Huffington Post, Copyblogger, Basic Blog Tips, Problogger… There’s a question as to whether the first two are really blogs but most people call them blogs so I’m not going to argue the point.
There’s really the proof that the more content one can produce, the more traffic they’ll get and the more opportunities to make money. For most of us that’s hard to do on a consistent basis over time. That’s why I’m kind of proud of my 1,500 posts on this blog and my overall total. I can’t touch the really big blogs but I’ll put my output online against anyone else’s. And along the way I hope I’ve helped, entertained, informed, stuck to my principles, and offered in some way hope that blogging can be a “thing”, no matter how it manifests itself with you.
15. Thanking people is never bad to do. This is the final list point and I’m going to take the time to thank some people who have been here with me for years and people who’ve been with this blog a lot who are still here now. If I miss anyone I’m sorry, but I’m setting my criteria such that if the person hasn’t commented on the blog at all in the last year I’m not including them. That may or may not seem right but I know there have been a lot of people over the years who commented a lot and then disappeared.
I will mention two guys in particular. Dennis Edell commented a lot over the first 3 years or so but passed away at some point. John Dilbeck not only commented often but wrote very long, detailed comments that I just loved, and he was one of the nicest and most positive guys I’ve ever known. I’m not a religious man so I’ll just say that I miss both of you guys and hope you’re in another dimension kicking down doors and having a lot of fun.
One of the biggest fears I have is that one day I’ll just disappear and my wife won’t mention it anywhere because she doesn’t know anything about blogging and no one else will either. Stupid to worry about I suppose but I know this; the people I thank now won’t be forgotten because, well, if you read #10 from this post last week you’ll understand.
Here are the people,15 in fact, with links to their blogs:
Sire (Peter Pellica); Kelvin Ringold; Ajith Edassery; Beverly Mahone; Mitchell Allen; Adrienne Smith; Arlee Bird; Carl (Kaloyan Banev); Holly Jahangiri; Charles Gulotta; Ileane Smith; Brian Hawkins; Marelisa Fabrega; Scott Thomas; and John Garrett.
I think I’ve said enough except to close with this. I thank those of you who have been consistent readers of this blog at one time or another. I also always put out that if you have questions or topics you’d like me to address on this blog or any of my other blogs to look at my contact information and send me an email. Hey, even though the next 1,500 posts can be all about my thoughts, it’s much more fun if others participate. Thank you, and… whew, this is long! 😉