Try these smart strategies to keep your blog alive for years.
I’m going to take a wild guess and say that if you are reading this, you’re interested in blogging, not just today, but for the long haul. Maybe you’re thinking about starting a blog. Or maybe you already have one and are wondering, I started this site, now what? I’m pretty sure I can post this week, but what about next week, and the week after?
Alec Nevala-Lee publishes five hundred words per day, and has done so for more than five years. He shares his approach in this Discover interview with editor Cheri Lucas Rowlands.
We’ve got you covered. Here are eight ways long-term bloggers sustain their blogs not only through the first few weeks, but through the years.
1. Blog like nobody is watching.
Have you heard the expression “Dance like nobody’s watching”? It’s always been a favorite quote of mine, especially when I’m on a dance floor and I’m feeling self-conscious about making a fool of myself. I think about people looking at me and I lose my rhythm. But as soon as I think, Who cares? Pretend nobody is watching, I can shut down my doubts and forget about everyone else. I tune the world out, let the music move through me, and I dance.
This same sentiment works with blogging. If you feel self-conscious about writing, write like nobody is reading. Get it out. Let the words flow and don’t worry about anyone else. Your blog is your place to express yourself.
2. Don’t let perfection be a blocker.
The imperfect book that gets published is better than the perfect book that never leaves my computer.
— Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project
The first tip, to blog like nobody is watching, is about getting the initial words out without censoring yourself. This tip is about editing once the words are on the screen.
Sometimes you’ll pen a rough draft, but then get stuck when tidying the post for publication. “Do I leave this paragraph or do I cut it? Maybe I shouldn’t use that word. Wow, does this even make sense? I can’t publish this — it’s not just right.”
It’s very easy to get analysis paralysis. Let it go. Perfect is the enemy of Done.
3. Use the device you have with you.
The best blogging device is the one that is closest at hand. Have you ever been out in the world, had an idea for a post, and thought, “I can’t wait to get home to my computer so I can blog about this”?
Forget the computer. There’s no need to wait. Pull out your phone and publish from the WordPress app. I dedicated one month to publishing exclusively from my phone, and I loved the immediacy of the blog post going up while I was still doing the thing I was blogging about. Here are some great tips for posting from your tablet, phone, and other mobile devices.
4. Challenge yourself.
Speaking of dedicating a month to publishing from a mobile device, I’m going to let you in on a big secret: many long-term bloggers sustain their blogs through the years by setting challenges for themselves. Here are a few goals from seasoned bloggers:
Blogger Vanessa Martir, who has been blogging since 2012, challenged herself to publish an essay each week in 2016. The result? “The Relentless Files,” now in week 44.
- Zandy Ring of Revelry Reverie set a goal to blog from her mobile device for one month. The month turned to much longer, and now Zandy publishes almost exclusively from the mobile app. Zandy has been blogging since 2010 and is currently on a 93-day streak.
- Erica Varlese of Greetings From has been blogging since 2011. In 2015 she decided to snap one photograph per day for a year. Once a week, she published a roundup of the week’s photographs. Take a look at her post, “365 Photos – 52/52!” for a recap of the project.
- In April 2015, I challenged myself to publish one 10-minute freewrite from my prompt box every day for a month on my Butterfly Mind blog. I did this April, then again in November, and again whenever I want to jump-start my blog. Challenges like this have kept me blogging since 2012.
- Last year, Luca Sartoni dedicated to publishing a post a day for a month. The month was successful, so Luca stretched and challenged himself to a year. He has been blogging since 2006 and is currently on a 305-day streak.
- Ben Dwyer challenged himself to publish one haiku per day for a year on his site Diurnal Haiku. The daily haiku continued long after the first year was over, and he is currently on a 609-day streak. Ben has been publishing on his Scruffian blog since 2005.
5. Schedule instead of saving as Draft.This is a trick I learned recently from Sheri Bigelow of Cuteness, in all its versatility. Sheri has been photoblogging since 2008, and she recommends that when you start a post, schedule it for publication.
Saving a post as a draft makes it easy to abandon it. Scheduling gives you a deadline, motivates you to complete your thoughts, and results in a published blog post at the end.
6. Give your blog a makeover.
Your blog is your online home. Make it a place where you want to spend time. If you visit your site and are bored, or don’t like the way it looks, or don’t feel cozy and comfortable, you won’t be motivated to keep it active.
When you visit your blog and don’t want to hang out there, it’s time to freshen it up. Move the furniture around, paint the walls. You can do this by activating a new theme, rearranging widgets, and you can even change colors and fonts.
If you are nervous about making changes to your site while it’s live, here are some tips for freshening up your blog’s look. Once you love the way your blog feels, you’ll want to spend time there. You’ll want to invite people over to show it off. You’ll be excited to publish to it so you can sit in it and admire your work.
7. Mix it up.
A blog can contain multitudes. It doesn’t have to consist exclusively of brilliant, thoughtful posts. It doesn’t have to just be photos. One day you can publish a favorite quote. Another day you might publish a photograph from your morning walk. One day you might publish a thoughtful essay you spent a week writing. Another day you can link to a funny video you watched.
Many successful long-term bloggers, including Matt Mullenweg, WordPress co-founder and blogger since 2002, publish a combination of the following:
- Individual photographs
- Thoughtful essays
- Photo galleries
- Quick blurbs
Many themes offer post formats so that you can make different types of content “pop” on your site. Mixing up your post types, and using post formats to make them stand out, adds visual variety to your site, makes it interesting for visitors to look at and read, and gives you a range of options to choose from when publishing.
8. Have fun!
Your blog is your place to express yourself. Enjoy it. Play with it. Try new things, poke around, experiment. It doesn’t have to be anything other than what you want it to be. Have fun with it!
What keeps you going as a blogger? Teach us! Please share in the comments.
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