25 Random Things I’ve Learned from 9 Years of Blogging
A couple of weeks ago, it suddenly occurred to me that this blog will be 10 years old next year.
And I mean, wow, that’s kinda crazy, isn’t it? I mean, if it was a person, it would be preparing for high school and asking me to buy it a pony by now… but of course it’s a blog, and I’ll probably forget its “birthday” anyway, so it’s probably just as well, huh?
Anyway, nine years feels like a long time in blogging terms (maybe they’re like dogs, and age 7 years for every one of ours, in which case my blog is .. let’s not go there, actually.), so here are some totally random things I’ve learned in that time…
People like stories.
Everyone tells you not to write long posts, because no one will read them, but my longer posts have always been the most successful, and I think it’s because people like stories. They like to know a bit more than what you wore that day or what colour of lipstick you like, so don’t be afraid to tell your story: everyone has one, and no matter how insignificant it might seem, there will be someone out there who will relate to yours.
You can’t please everyone.
As Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” Ain’t that the truth?
It’s easy to annoy people on the internet.
The piece of advice bloggers are given most often is that they should grow a thick skin and not take things personally, but I feel like the internet encourages hyper-sensitivity, which means that no matter what you say, or how innocuous you think it is, someone, somewhere, will find a way to be offended by it. Because of this, you find yourself having to caveat absolutely everything , and tie yourself in knots wondering if the words you’ve used are politically correct enough not to get jumped on. Which is exhausting, really.
The posts you like the most are rarely the most successful…
…and the ones you think will sink without a trace will often surprise you. (If I particularly like a post, or the photos or whatever, it’s sure-fire way of knowing it’ll get zero comments…)
You’re only as good as your last post.
You can go from 60 comments on one post to zero on the next. You will have no idea why one post was successful and the next one wasn’t, and when a post you’re proud of generates absolutely no response, you feel like you’ve been kicked in the teeth, and you want to quit. You know you won’t, though, because the next day you’ll have the opportunity to try again, and you never know when something is going to resonate with people, and be unexpectedly popular.
Being creative every single day is mentally exhausting.
No matter how much you love writing, the pressure to be creative all the time can be mentally draining – it feels a bit like you’re on a treadmill you can’t ever get off, and the fact that you chose to get on it in the first place doesn’t stop you wanting to hit the “pause” button every now and then.
Never, ever give out your address on the internet.
Get a PO Box. Switch off the location services on your Instagram photos. If you live in a small town, don’t mention it by name. Because people can be creepy, and you can never be too careful.
Not everyone is like you.
Not everyone has the same values, or the same ideas about what constitutes good manners. It’s easy to dismiss tactless or rude people as “haters”, but they’re normally just regular people who have different ideas about what’s appropriate.
Some of them ARE haters, though.
A lot of people like to pretend that all feedback is good feedback, and that there are no “haters”, just people with different opinions. Some people ARE just haters, though. And as Taylor teaches us, haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…
Always assume good intentions.
With that said, for the reasons given in the “not everyone is like you” point, unless you can be totally sure that someone really IS trying to push your buttons, it’s a good idea to assume that people’s intentions are good, and that it’s just their way of expressing themselves that needs a little work. You might be wrong, but you’ll also be happier.
A decent backdrop and really great lighting does more for your photos than an expensive camera will.
Seriously: a white Ikea coffee table was one of my best blog purchases ever. If you don’t like white, choose a pretty fabric, or a square of wallpaper you like, set it up next to a source of natural light, and never take another blurry, badly-lit photo again.
And fresh flowers are the easiest photo prop ever.
People will tell you it’s “such a blogger cliche!” Those people probably don’t have to try to find an interesting new way to photograph their own home every week, though, and if they did, they’d be all about the fresh flowers, too. (Also, they’re pretty. Who doesn’t like pretty?)
Friday posts get the fewest comments
Or they do for me, anyway – I have no idea why I even post on a Friday, to be honest. I should probably get the message already…
People will never stop asking what you actually DO all day.
Seriously, you just take selfies, right? Like, you don’t actually DO anything?
Brands will never stop expecting you to spend several hours taking and editing photos and then writing a blog post to accompany them, complete with their specified links and marketing messages, in exchange for a £20 dress.
Because THAT’S fair.
You actually can spend the entire day in your pyjamas if you want to.
You probably won’t want to – especially if you blog about fashion, because why wouldn’t you want to actually WEAR all those clothes? – but you could if you wanted to. The dream is real, people.
No matter how successful you are, some people will never take you seriously.
I once walked into a room where a woman was sounding off about “stupid bloggers, who think people are actually interesting in reading their diaries – like, WHO CARES?” Then she turned round and saw me, and my friend said, “Er, this is Amber: she’s a full-time blogger!” It was awkward.
Pageviews always drop during the summer.
People go on holiday, they become obsessed with Wimbledon, they go for picnics and days out, and they don’t comment on blogs as much as they do during the rest of the year. At least, I HOPE that’s why my pageviews always divebomb at this time of year…
Humour doesn’t always translate well online.
No matter how obvious you think the joke is, someone will take it seriously – and nothing kills a joke faster than having to explain it.
No one will notice if you take a few days off.
You think everyone’s sitting on the edge of their seats, waiting for that post you always publish at 2pm on a Tuesday. But they’re not. No, seriously: they’re not.
You can’t just write ‘for yourself’.
Once you know people are reading what you write, it changes things. It might not necessarily change then in a bad way, but writing a blog isn’t like writing a private journal. Not AT ALL.
But you can blog however you want to.
I’m STILL seeing tons of blog posts from people saying they feel “pressured” to blog in a certain way, and I STILL don’t know where they feel this pressure comes from. You can ignore EVERYTHING anyone tells you about blogging if you want to. I don’t go to events, don’t join in Twitter chats, don’t do many of the things other bloggers do: the only pressure I’m under is self-imposed – which is one of the reasons I chose this as a career.
Everyone else always seems to be doing it better than you.
It’s easier to view this as inspiration, rather than getting jealous. If they can do it, so can you: how amazing is that?
Assume that everyone you know will read every word you write.
That way you’ll never write anything that’s likely to get you in trouble, and will sleep much better as a result.
The night is dark, and full of terrors.
OK, I actually learned this one from Game of Thrones, not from blogging. But it seemed as good a place as any to end…