I originally wrote this article in 2014. This was post #1,500 for I’m Just Sharing; it’s been an interesting ride. It’s more than 3,100 words, and was one of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever written. It had nearly 100 comments, so I decided not to kill them all like I’ve done other articles I’ve reposted. Instead, I’ve kept all the comments of active blogs; that seems to be the fair things to do… and maybe it’ll be popular again.
I started this blog in December 2007 with an idea that maybe I could make some money blogging. My other blog, Mitch’s Blog, is my business blog and has a different purpose.
Anyway, 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 1996 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 indeed…
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”. It can also remove bad things from your mind because once you’ve written them down, sometimes your mind feels free. 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 start this blog. I had the business blog of course, 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; truly, the more you write, the more traffic you get.
Two, I learned about commenting on other blogs. In other articles I’ve 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.
Scott Beale via Compfight
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, I’m going to talk about 15 lessons I’ve learned over the course of 1,500 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 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 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 4 years, which is actually pretty good, as it used to be 125 days. I hate that spammers made me set that up.
I’ve also learned that if you don’t set up some kind of protection, 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! Right now I’m using two different spam plugins. One is called Clean Talk, the other Stop Spammers (good name lol). In conjunction they work pretty well; luckily (or not, depending on what you’re hoping for), I only need both for this blog, as Clean Talk isn’t free, so I’m only paying for the one license.
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 doing is going back and looking at old posts in chunks, revisiting some of those topics and turning them into new articles (like what I’m doing with this article lol). 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 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, 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 works!
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.
kris krüg via Compfight
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.
Also, many blogs die out, and major websites don’t keep all links around forever. Thus, you need to stay vigilant and remember to remove bad links so it doesn’t mess up your online presence. For that I use a plugin called Broken Link Checker. It will check both links within your articles and links from people who’ve commented on your blog that no longer exist. For instance, for this repurpose I’m starting out with 29 comments, which is a lot, but as I mentioned earlier I was close to 100 comments; that’s a whole lot of folks who’ve disappeared…
7. I’ve learned that 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 regained some positive energy with visitors, and I’ve 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 without adding anything new. I write as much or as little as needed to say what I have to say and that’s that; sometimes I say what needs to be said in less than 700 words; other times… you know… If it’s engaging enough people will read it; that works for me. If not, that’s their problem because at least the search engines will love you. 🙂
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 bunch of other things. If I can come up with a lot of different ways to speak on this topic, think about what you can do with yours. The most important thing to do is just to keep writing.
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, bloggers 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, patience and dedication. There are a lot of dead blogs out there, as I alluded to earlier. 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.
J. Money via Compfight
I’ve written a lot over the years. I estimate I’ve written more than 6,000 articles, though not only for me. Overall I’ve had 8 blogs that I owned, and now I’m down to 4. That’s allowed me to repurpose some content onto my other blogs, but not all of them because a lot of topics I wrote for others don’t mesh well with anything I have now. I presently write articles my accountant and that’s it for writing content for others at the moment.
There are articles I’ve written for other websites, for other people’s websites and blogs, for places like EzineArticles, Demand Studio, About… ugh! At least they paid me, but in my opinion, that kind of formulaic writing is stifling. There’s a wedding blog and a real estate blog that I got close to 800 articles in total (contracted with the same guy for both of them), and I wrote on lots of other topics that I’d care not to remember at the moment (though I wish I could get all those articles I wrote about epilators and turkey hunting out of my mind). Still, if you can get paid enough so you can pay your bills and possibly make a living from it… good for you! Writing, editing… if it’s fun and feels good, take a shot at it (like I’m doing).
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 page on YouTube and 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 and find your audience 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 else cared, people could learn a lot of things about me, my tastes, my background, etc, as well as a lot of things from me.
I’m kind of a history person. One of my majors in college was American History with a concentration in African-American Studies, though I graduated with a degree in music. I love reading biographies because you not only learn how people overcame some very interesting situations, but you also learn what to do and not do as it pertains to your life. History 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 some years ago, who wrote a book teaching speakers how to break their presentations up as if they were giving a TED talk (I know 3 people who’ve done TED talks; I’m working on being able to do one myself). 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 you you are with a story or video or something that shows why you care, and why you do what you do. 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 then 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 (just not here lol).
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… I’m sure you know a lot more already. There’s a question as to whether the first two are really blogs (I say that about Medium), but most people call them blogs so I’m not going to argue the point.
There’s 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 reaching 1,500 articles with this post, though I’m presently at 1,851 here. I can’t touch the really big blogs, but I’ll put my output online against anyone else’s (well, maybe except Ramana lol). 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; people love seeing their names in other places. 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. I’ve had to remove a few people from this repurposing because they’ve stopped blogging; that’s too bad.
I want to 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 those guys and hope they’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 that will be that because almost no one’s going to know I’m gone and even if they do, people who know me won’t see anything about me if posted by someone else. Stupid to worry about I suppose but I know this; the people I thank now won’t be forgotten anytime soon because I’ve mentioned them here; check out their sites if you’re predisposed to do so.
Here are some of the people I mentioned with links to their blogs:
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. It’s much more fun if others participate. Thank you, and… whew, this is long! 😉