So, you want to enter the world of blogging. It seems simple enough – right? All one has to possess is a valid e-mail address and a password. From there, you select the appropriate blog software, and soon you will be publishing your work on the Internet. Again, it seems simple enough – right? Well, it really isn’t. I’ve been blogging since 2008 and I am here to tell you this: it is serious work. Serious work that does not reap a financial reward, well, at least not immediately if you choose to follow a monetary route. Work that is sometimes – scratch that, almost always – thankless at the start. That is, of course, until you have worked tirelessly to establish a regular reading audience. Yes, maintaining a blog is difficult. And today I’m going to share the ugly, not so glamorous side of it. This isn’t a post about how to make money (I get that a lot) or, well, how to make money – seriously, I really get that question a lot. Nope, this post is simply about the trials and tribulations I have experienced as a blogger. So, without further delay, here is what you can expect if you decided to take the blogging plunge.
10. In the beginning, expect to put in long hours. Period. There isn’t an easy way around it. I worked on my site after work. I worked on my website on the weekends. Morning. Afternoon. Evening. It was not uncommon for me to discover myself up at 2 a.m. on a Saturday morning working on material. I started on Blogger because it was a simple platform, but it was still extremely hard. Why? Well…
9. I was a one man show. I had to think of a catchy title and web address that wasn’t already taken. I had to select a theme. Colors. Format. I had to set a vision for what I wanted my blog to be. And if something went awry, I had to figure it out. I would e-mail tech support and scour the Internet for answers. I had to teach myself basically everything. So, along with spending a huge amount of time writing and thinking of material, I also had to educate myself on the software platform itself. That included how to embed videos, post pictures, link to other sites, etc. Yes, a lot of work.
8. For search engines, such as Google, to recognize your site; you have to blog and keep blogging. I was posting material 5-6 days a week when I first started. Think of the Internet as one big cocktail party. If you arrive and then sit in the corner the entire night, no one will know who you are. If you blog once every 2 weeks, there is no way you are going to grow an audience and no one across the World Wide Web is going to know your site even exists. My blogging pace was intense. Sometimes I would be so exhausted, but I understood that a majority of blogs fail simply because the author neglects to post material, and subsequently they either lose their audience or never gain one to begin with.
7. Yes, you are going to get some Debbie Downers. They are going to think that you are on the computer too much. They are going to think it’s stupid, nerdy, and downright foolish if you’re not getting paid. It could come from friends, family, or even a spouse. The negativity will almost make you want to shut your laptop. And I almost did. I just didn’t want to hear the criticism anymore. But, I concluded that I liked to write and I loved creating new things. Blogging made me happy. It was my creation. Honestly, the most support I got in the beginning of my blogging days was from fellow bloggers, and that was probably because they understood what it meant to start a blog from scratch.
6. Maintaining your site will be mentally taxing. Seriously, there are two things that are absolutely paramount to start a successful blog: you have to love writing and you have to be creative. I jot down ideas all the time. At work, in the car, or sometimes I just commit ideas to memory for later use. Making sure the creative well doesn’t run dry can be really challenging. You cannot let complacency creep in.
5. You have to maintain your vision. Creative criticism is fine, but some individuals may try to swoop in and tell you how to run your blog after you’ve done all the heavy lifting. And 9 times out of 10, they’ve never created a site themselves. I understood what I wanted my site to look like, and I understood what was working, I had to stand up for what I believed in. One time, I wrote a post about men comparing their partner to scantily clad women you see on magazines and how it was wrong. To illustrate the point, I included a picture from one of the magazines I was talking about. Thereafter, I was e-mailed by an individual whom stated he enjoyed my site, but the post was pornographic (no nudity was shown) and I should pull the post. He totally missed the point of the post. I didn’t pull anything.
4. Growing an audience is an arduous task. I had to take the time to visit other sites like mine. And not only visit, but comment on other posts with the hopes of building a relationships with individuals that you would probably never meet. It means trying your hardest to answer all comments and e-mails (and I get a lot of e-mail) that come your way. My e-mail gets backed up so much, sometimes I miss e-mails or forget to respond. Because, after all, it’s just little old me running the show behind the scenes. It can be overwhelming at times.
3. It may not seem hard, but learning how to say no is very difficult. Sometimes I get e-mails from an individual pitching a product and they want me to review it. And sometimes said product doesn’t fit my blog. Just recently, I received an e-mail asking if I would review a documentary on strippers from Atlanta. What? Now, that one, I didn’t even bother to answer because obviously they didn’t bother to visit my site. Others, I honestly feel bad saying no.
2. Some of the hardest posts are the most personal ones. Ones about my grandmother. I wrote one about my father. Even Standard posts are sometimes inspired by things that I am going through. It is really a balancing act with trying to be real with the audience and still keeping your private life intact.
1. Pressure. To a certain extent, people have come to expect certain things from me. Given my subject material, it is not surprising. And it helps that I am who I am. But sometimes people expect you to be an expert in everything, which is not realistic. Nevertheless, I understand that I can’t be all things to everyone. I can only be Glen Antoine Palmer.