Updated: Apr 21, 2021
A first-hand account of where my New Year resolution has taken me
My New Year resolution for 2021 was to practise blog writing and push out a blog post on my website every week. Thankfully, I’ve kept up with my resolve so far and fully intend to continue doing so. Phew.
In a first-hand account of my experience this quarter, here are the 18 things that happened when I blogged every week for the first 3 months of this year. Hopefully, this post will encourage you to keep exploring your blogging journey, regardless of the result, whether you are deliberating how to start a blogging practice or have already published a couple of posts:
1) At first, I was obsessed with page views—now, it’s something else
My blogging resolution started off as an experiment, meant to see what would happen to my website if I put out a blog post every week. Despite only a few posts up, I kept seeking results in the form of page views, unique visits, and other metrics of success. Needless to say, I was never satisfied with the outcomes and was mostly unhappy, unsatisfied, and unmotivated.
Gradually, I realised that even if I knew how to write a blog post and optimise it for the most effective choice of keywords, I would never be successful until I cultivated the discipline for regular posting first. It’s only once I’ve crossed that level that my mind can define, focus, and start to work on the next step of my blogging success.
Thus, my main aim now is regularity and consistency. In order to meet this goal, I have to execute every post idea that pops up in my head and do it quickly. Else, I’d be staring at huge time gaps between two consecutive blog posts. I instinctively know I cannot afford to have even one of these lapses. This reminder is enough motivation for me to spring into action. I’m now in the process of finalising a content calendar so I can create a bank of posts and hit my targets on time.
2) I was horrified to see how much I’m actually capable of procrastinating
Most New Year resolutions end as dust because of this devil named procrastination and its evil twin, perfectionism. Trust me when I say I had to deal a LOT MORE with these two bastards in the past 3 months. I don’t think the battle’s over even now.
It’s extremely tricky to figure out what form these two would take. You can rarely identify them. Sometimes, they show up as: “You’re not blogging right, so you need some training or classes before you proceed.”
Then, there’s the classic: “Can’t we do something else instead? Like binge-watching or online shopping? We’re not even getting the page views, so what’s the point in blogging regularly now? Besides, movies and shows will also give us blog-post ideas.” (Contradictory points, I know.)
And there’s: “We’re not even getting paid to write this. Let’s pitch to a publication instead or author a book on this topic.”
Finally, the most convincing, yet disastrous: “None of these posts look neat, so we need to put our blogging on hold until we fix them all.”
Thankfully, there’s a force within me that reminds me of the benefits of regular posting, even if the content is far from perfect. It also emphasises the consequences of missing a week’s post—what if my blog suffers through some sort of penalisation or indifferent behaviour by search engines? That fear—even if far-fetched—is reason enough for me to spring into action.
3) I had doubts about who my target audience was
The profile of my blog’s true readership began to emerge on my analytics dashboard only recently, with more and more posting. (A majority of my audience are professionals trying to make a living out of writing and editing, especially content marketing.) So, that’s another advantage of regular and consistent blogging.
Also, I’ve realised that even if you start out with a specific reader persona in mind, you might end up with a different set of audiences from the one you expected. And it’s a good thing because it means you’re fulfilling an unaddressed need and doing it well. You’ll then begin to tailor your content accordingly.
4) I learned to rely less on social media
Through my analytics data, I’ve learned that my target readers land on my website while seeking tips and advice from search engines. So, I need to scale up my SEO and choose topics and content accordingly, instead of merely posting on social media for an assorted crowd.
5) I instinctively began to understand what headlines work
This is majorly thanks to the intense training in headline writing I’ve received from my previous jobs. Apart from optimising them for SEO, I keep questioning and revising my headlines so I can make them more exciting and relevant for my target readers. For instance, would 10 business lessons from an influential book by a respected personality be as impactful as 50 for my reader? These headline decisions, thus, also shape my content. It’s still a hit-and-miss at times, as headline writing is more of an art than science.
6) I realised I couldn’t escape marketing
Even if you know how to write a kickass blog post and your content checks the boxes of value addition and writing experience, it’s still no good if it doesn’t reach the right audience. So, my strategy now is to find the avenues where these readers gather and create targeted content for them. SEO and emailers are two ways—I need to look for more. (Do join my mailing list, BTW, in the Contact section of this website.)
7) I noticed I wrote better on my phone
The key to feeling miserable in my blogging practice and making myself quit even before I begin is to stare at a blank computer screen when the time would come for writing a post. So, I now make it a point to take as many notes as possible on my phone, jot down my thoughts, and even bang out a rough draft for one or more posts in advance. That way, I’m never lost for ideas or content and I have something to work with for a particular week’s post. The bonus: using a phone for writing means autocorrect simply reduces typing time and effort :)
8) I started to think of ways to make my posts personal
I try as much as possible to promote my blog posts on social media using pictures of myself related to the story angle. Personal touches like these help increase engagement at interesting levels. I channel my feelings and emotions, too, for the content—like how I did in this post when I was running out of motivation for my blogging.
9) I swore to write creative, unique content that nobody else could
As I mentioned, most of my blogging content comes from my own life experiences that I channel into creating unique blog posts. Sometimes, I take inspiration from sites like BuzzFeed for interesting and innovative content formats, trying to mix writing resources with huge doses of fun.
In case my idea is already covered by other blogs or websites, I think of ways to inject my own personal touch to it and add more value. I include my own lessons and experiences, and try to simplify, streamline, and demystify the content even more.
10) I started to envision recruiters watching me
I sometimes assume there’s a Bigg Boss-like camera prospective clients and companies have hitched onto me to have it constantly trained on me and following me. So, I better stick to my resolution and post every week to increase my chances of bagging jobs and gigs.
11) I began learning a lot
Take, for instance, my Women’s Day post. It was partly research-based, and in the process, I’ve learned so much more about tone-deaf messaging and how to identify it even in veiled form. I also have to read a lot more—including popular blogs by prolific writers—so I can find more things to share my perspective on. And I’m figuring out how to add multimedia to my posts.
12) I’ve also had to unlearn a lot
When I started out with my weekly blogging, I was still following the ways of my previous clients and recruiters. I concluded that what worked for them at that time may not necessarily work for me. They may have the pressure to generate page views, but I have to build my discipline muscles first. They may feel the need to make me do more to justify my employment, whereas I need to do less but achieve more to conserve my energy, especially to read and live my life, which is how I’d get my content and story ideas. They may have plenty of resources at their end, while I’m just starting out. In short, I had to come up with my own rules and personalise my routine.
13) I rediscovered my own voice
When you’re a writer working for a company, you have to churn out work that’s in line with the company’s voice. It’s understandable for a business entity to want to keep its voice consistent across all its literature. You have to meet briefs there and stick to a particular style and tone. But when it comes to your own work—be it a blog, book, or script—there are no limits. Compare your blog posts with a colleague’s and you’ll see how unique the two of you are otherwise in terms of style, tone, content, and personality. This is what it means to find your own voice.
14) I began to sense content and ideas all around me
Image: Screengrab from YouTube video by Vidhu Vinod Chopra Films
Even a shopping list is a potential blog post for me now. For those seeking blog-writing topics, formats, and niches, here’s a handy list you could use.
15) I saw why one post a week is better than blogging every day
I would sometimes debate whether I should post more than one day a week. But I’m now convinced that one post a week is good enough. Firstly, it helps my post gain traction for a good amount of time. It also buys me enough time to collect ideas, as well as write first drafts for more than one story. I can then afford to give more time to my blog posts and better them over multiple drafts instead of just a couple of them. All this improves the quality of my content. Also, wouldn’t you look forward to something more often if you have to wait for it? :)
16) Blog writing gave me a purpose
My blogging practice has kept me anchored. No matter how unexpected a life event may be, I no longer let it make me drift aimlessly to the tune of my emotions. I know I cannot afford to mope for long and have to get back in action for my weekly posting. Of course, I do face the occasional mental-health issues such as anxiety. But thanks to blogging, I’m learning to cope with them better.
In addition, the mental-health issues and unpredictability of life events further underline the importance of having a bank of blog posts ready, so I’m working full-speed to get it in place.
17) Blog writing became my job
Blogging may not be a paid pursuit in the short term, and so, I still need to explore paid writing opportunities. But when it comes to work that keeps me constructively occupied in the absence of a paid assignment, I don’t have to seek it from someone else. Thanks to blogging, I already have my work cut out for me, whether or not I have paid gigs in my kitty. Blogging also takes care of my regular writing practice and helps build my writing muscles, while paving the way for a good source of income in the future. It’s truly an investment.
18) I started searching for gigs with a different mindset
While money is still a criterion for my job and gig search, a learning curve for my blogging practice is equally important to me now.
What have your experiences been from blogging every day, week, or month? Are you facing any issues w.r.t. consistency and discipline? Or have you successfully crossed these hurdles? Or are you someone contemplating blogging but don’t know how to start? Let me know in the Comments.