On May 20th I will have been blogging for 7 years. I can hardly believe it's been that long. This blog was birthed in our cancer journey and started as a one page, basic Wordpress site. It has now grow to a multi-page, multi-experience site. I've added lifestyle posts and Vlogging into the mix. Some things I've tried have failed (Ask Sarah) and others have taken off (our YouTube channel). Still I've kept pushing forward. While it's not always been easy it has been an adventure. Seven years in, my life would not look anything like it does without this little blog. For that I am grateful.
To celebrate this 7 years of blogging, I'd like to share 7 things I've learned along the way.
#1 It doesn't pay the bills: I'm sorry if I broke some of your hearts with that statement. I'm sure many of you have heard the success stories about people bringing in mega cash from their blogs, but the truth is those people are few and far between. Trust me, I've talked to many bloggers, none of whom are earning much income from their site. I actually LOSE money from my blog (yes, you read the right). It costs me money for operating costs to bring the content to readers, none of which do I make back. What a blog can do is create other opportunities for you to make income i.e. writing books or speaking engagements. Even with those things coming in, and with all of my writing success, it still hasn't provided me with enough money to make a living from it-yet. Hopefully one day.
#2 I don't always feel like doing it: I don't wake up every morning with massive amounts of inspiration to draw from. Sometimes I have an idea and the post will flow freely, other times I'm faking my way through until I make it. But I continue on, no matter what, because it's my job. And you don't get to pick and choose what days you show up for your job.
#3 I can never predict which posts will go "viral": As I'm writing a post, sometimes it's all flowing. I hit the publish button, sit back and wait for the shares.....that never come. Other times I write a post totally half-heartedly and it gets spread around like wild-fire. I'd like to say after 7 years it'd be an easy prediction to make but truth is, I can never quite put my finger on what my audience will share or not. I'll always write the content to the best of my ability, but whether or not it's shared is a total shot in the dark.
#4 My old posts make me cringe: Like really cringe. The raw talent was there all those years ago but it needed to be honed in and refined, big time. That's where writing for other groups and having my stuff in front of other editors has helped me tremendously. They've taught me how not to be repetitive and to structure my paragraphs in a way that is pleasing to the eye. Again, the nuts and bolts where there but I had to work hard to learn the finesse.
#5 It takes a long time to grow an audience: My audience did not just appear overnight. In fact it took a solid 3 years to grow my email list to a mere 200 people. Yet I kept going and year after year I watched my list steadily grow. Now, 7 years in, my subscribers are close to 5,000. Any writer will tell you, email lists are crucial to our success and a healthy one is important.
#6 Consistency is key: There were two periods of time in my writing journey, where I took a few month break. My readership suffered because of it. There's nothing worse than working your tail off to grow your audience, only to lose it when you're feeling burnt out. Staying consistent, even if you only put up shorter posts, is so important. If your audience knows there will always be content to read, they are more likely to stay right along for the ride
#7 You'll only continue if you love it: I get asked all the time for tips on how to create a blog, how to make it a success etc. My #1 piece of advice is you have to love it. Anything you're doing in life, if you don't love it, you won't stick with it. As stated above, you definitely won't stay for the money. You most likely won't even stay if you enjoy moderate success. The only thing that will keep you coming back day after day, is a true passion for writing and a desire to share your story with the world. You don't have to even be a prize winning author, you just need a willingness to be open with your readers and a love for sharing your heart.
Having said all of the above, would I encourage someone to start a blog? If you love writing, then I say absolutely yes! I would caution you to go into it without any expectations. Don't expect it to make you rich (it won't) or to be all puppies and lilies (not in the slightest). Sharing your heart openly with others, will also unfortunately open you up to their opinions. You have to learn to have tough skin in those instances.
Yet if it's your passion, don't allow yourself to be deterred. Enter this journey with an open heart, a willingness to share and you might be surprised at where this journey of writing can take you. Seven years later, I continually am.
(And thanks for taking the time to read my little corner of the internet:)
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