Me walking along an abandoned bobsled track, Sarajevo.
BlogBettr has been alive for a month now. As planned, I’ve published once a week with five pretty great posts. They’ve all been between roughly 2,000 words long and contain some neat insights.
The issue with a blog about blogging is you have to be really good at blogging. To write with authority it needs to be immediately self evident that you:
Just get what you’re talking about.
Practice what you preach.
Produce flawless content.
I’ll cut to it: in attempting to do all of these things I’ve been publishing formulaic content which has no character.
I wrote about how important it is to fully understand vanity metrics with your email. Whilst I’ve happily not been especially concerned about how many visits my site gets, I have set aggressive goals for email subscribers and I have failed to realise that that is a vanity metric in itself.
In attempting to aggressively gain subscribers so that I can publish a Hacker News clickbaitey post in three months boasting of how many subscribers I got in a short space of time (further demonstrating just how great I am at this blogging shit and better establishing my authority) I’ve focussed on quantity and not quality.
Focussing on vanity metrics has meant I’ve ignored the things which made me good at this in the first place.
My first serious blog was a spin-off from a games review site I ran with some friends.
Getting sent free games and writing crappy 500 word reviews in return was cool, but paying people to make changes to your website was not something 15 year old me found cool. I did the only thing I could do, and started teaching myself coding.
I wanted to share what I was learning so I set up a blog about “web design and development” and started publishing.
More or less immediately it became apparent I wasn’t very good at writing about “web design”, but I was good at writing about WordPress. Three months after launching I changed the blog’s name to WPShout and starting writing exclusively about WordPress.
Site growth took off and two years ago I sold the site having built a readership to be proud of.
I attribute much of the initial success of the site to this one weird trick (srsly though). You can start using it today. I’ll walk you through it.
I was twelve when I first installed WordPress. When I was sixteen I started my first serious blog (I’ve since sold it). Five years on in my early twenties, thousands of subscribers later and by most accounts I’m able to consider myself a successful blogger.
Getting good at blogging required making mistakes. Man I made so many mistakes.
I failed at fundamentals like choosing the right topics to write about and pickingquantity over quality. Once I had some growth I proceed to fail at building a valuable email list and appreciating my subscribers were actually real people and not numbers.
I even (kinda) insulted my audience’s intelligence by not being honest.
I failed at a lot of things. But I learned a lot too.
Here are thirteen blogging lessons from seven years of mistakes. Some are basic, others are things it took me a long time to work out. All are worth your time, whether you’ve been writing for years and need to recap or you’ve just started out. Let’s get to it.
In the last two years of studying Politics at University (that’s College in the US) I’ve often had to research, write and submit 10,000+ words of essay in around a fortnight.
Being on such a tight schedule and needing writing to be consistently good forces you to be a good writer. Precisely the same skills have helped me blog better.
Long form blogging is very popular (partly just because Google says you should do it), but the tricks required to write a college essays — pulling late nights, only eating chocolate and not leaving the house for a week — probably aren’t healthy.
Let’s go through what writing giant academic essays has taught me about long form blogging so you can get the benefits without the late nights.