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I've Been Blogging Since 2010, Here are 13 Lessons I've Learned

I can't believe it's been 13 years.

I'd like to preface this post by saying I am not a blogging expert. Or an affiliate marketing expert. Or trained in SEO rather than some cursory Google articles I've read.

However, my blog has successfully added value to my life with less than 1,000 hits a month and has earned enough to pay for itself multiple times over. Yours can too. Let's talk about it.

My goal with this post is to share with you blogging lessons you may not have heard before, mostly because I don't think I blog in the way most people do.

About my Blogging Journey

In 2010, I was a college student looking for a way to express myself. So, I Googled how to start a blog, like many people do. Did you find my post through that same Google search? Let me know, that would be a full-circle moment.

Blogging in college is a great way to spend your time, learn new skills, and meet new people.

Check out the gallery of all the different looks my blog has had over the years. I changed the theme dozens of times over the past 13 years.

It started as a place for me to share beauty content for the YouTube channel I started around the same time. I realized quickly how helpful it was to have a place where people can get all the references and links I mentioned in videos, as well as encourage them to opt-in to your email list.

It evolved from there to a lifestyle hub of everything that was on my mind. I've changed my content, changed web providers three times, had sponsors come and go, and even used to have a different domain for half of the time.

Yet, I'm still here.

Nowadays, my blog is a focus again, giving me an outlet to express myself and earn affiliate revenue and opportunities. My intention for 2024 is to get back to posting three times a month or more.

I can't believe when I first started my blog I was posting daily, life sure has changed since then.

Now, let's get into the 13 lessons learned across 13 years. What a wild ride.

Lesson 1: Blogging Opens Up Job Opportunities

Many people share how having a niche is important in blogging (I gave up on that and have focused on it as part of a personal branding tool, personally, more on that later) and this can be helpful if your goal is to get a job in the niche you are blogging for.

Blogs can show you know what you are talking about and build trust with employers.

I started my blog in 2010 as a way to express my interest in beauty products (I had a YouTube channel at the time. Let's all laugh at my first video.) and then expanded to lifestyle content (after an interlude into books and writing tips for authors). This blog was a factor in getting my first social media job and was something that differentiated me in my agency job after that. It was also a point of interest for my hiring manager in my third job.

My blogging set up in 2016.

Now I have more experience in my field, so my blog is less of a focus, but it helped a lot when I started working straight out of college. My whole career would be different if it weren't for those social media jobs.

Lesson 2: Blogging is Profitable in More Than One Way

Whether or not you do affiliate links or those easy "refer a friend" links that most accounts have, blogging can make you money.

I have never let an affiliate opportunity influence whether or not I make a blog post on something, but when an affiliate link is available I make sure to share it.

Am I master in affiliate or refer-a-friend marketing? No. However...My post on ClassPass's one-month free trial has been so successful that I've had my membership free for a year. Free gym, facials, laser hair removal - all because of that blog post. I only need to pay for the tip for my wellness services, which is significantly less than the experiences themselves.

I'm not even an official affiliate, but their refer-a-friend program has given me thousands in self-care value.

In a similar way, but less explosive, by sharing a blog article on Mantraband necklaces on Pinterest, I've earned enough referral credit to buy a Christmas gift for my mother from their store.

Results vary widely, but even one post doing well on your blog can lower bill costs, give you credits to stores you use often, or cover the cost of your blog fees entirely for a year.

Profit isn't just money in hand, it's costs covered for other items you would have bought or needed anyway.

Other "values" gained by blogging - a community. Learning about a hobby and meeting people through the process is a value-add to your life.

I'm so grateful for all the value I've gained from identifying as a blogger over the years.

Lesson 3: You Don't Have to be Perfect at Blogging

Do you know how much crap I've posted on the internet?

It's good to focus on improvement, but never to the point of perfection. Working about making each element exactly right only holds you back. If I focused on that, I would have quit years ago.

This is something I'm trying to re-learn. When I started prioritizing my blogging again this year, I started worrying about all the things I stopped caring about in my last blog because I wanted to "do it right."

It has held me back, again, and I'm tired of it. 2024 is the year of progress over perfection for me and my blogging life.

Lesson 4: The Delete Button Exists for a Reason

To contradict a bit, if you create something you feel no longer represents you or is irrelevant, delete it.

There is a balance between moving forward and holding back. You can change your mind about your content and delete it.

There was a segment I used to run on my original blog called Saturday Link Love, where I would share cool things I found online in a simple list format. It was fun to do, but ultimately wasn't that helpful for me. When I moved to this new blog, I didn't save the posts.

Lesson 5: Update Your Posts for Relevancy

So, don't be perfect, delete old crap, but also update old posts??

Of course.

If you have an affiliate post that shares a great coupon and the couple is expired, add the latest coupon and keep the affiliate posts coming. If there is a change to an event or hotel you have covered, add those details later.

For example, I shared a review of the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser late last year. It was the best vacation I've ever been on. To my sadness, the attraction is now closed. Adding a quick line to that post about the closure made sense for an update.

I'm currently taking all the old posts I saved from my blog, editing them again, and re-publishing them to be relevant for life now. I'm excited to get all of them out in the next year and beef up my blog again. I have about 70 posts saved from my previous blogging years that are still relevant or personal to me that I want to preserve.

Lesson 6: Comments Don't Mean Success

Comments are not as common on blogs as they used to be. That does not mean blogs are not as successful.

There will always be a need for long-form content.

More people talk to me about my blog posts in my social media DMs rather than in comments on the blog itself. As long as you have places people can reach out to you, you'll be okay.

I'd also like to mention having an email list at this spot. Not every blog follower will have you on social media, so having a way to reach people interested in what you have to say is important. You don't own your social media, but you do own your email list.

Whether people are commenting or not, you need a way to reach your readers, so the advice about newsletters being required is mostly true. You can make money on a blog without an email list, but to keep people coming back, having a newsletter will help.

If you are looking for a metric to determine improvement on your blog, you can look at average time on site, traffic, and newsletter click rates.

Lesson 7: Many Bloggers Quit. Many Succeed.

Thinking back on the bloggers I was engaging with when I started, there are only three of the dozen still working in social media. Of those three, one is an influencer instead of a blogger (and doing very well), another still blogs the same way they used to, and the final one has launched books and merch from her blog.

I feel like I'm a weird combination of all of them. These days, I focus more on writing my fiction novels than my blog, and post a lot more on social media than here, but living in a world where I never blogged again would never exist for me. Blogging is an outlet for me that I love and is profitable, I'm going to keep going even if I don't look like a fancy blogger.

Your dreams can change along the way, but sticking to blogging opens doors and has benefits. Because it can take a long time to succeed, not everyone is willing to keep going.

Lesson 8: This is Controversial, But You Can Blog on Any Platform.

SEO experts likely disagree with me and that's alright. But I think the most important part about blogging is making it easy to start and easy to continue.

Over the years I've used Blogspot and Wordpress, then switched to Wix. Self-hosted websites on Wordpress are said to be the best, but it was hard for me to maintain. I like Wix for its drag-and-drop features, easy customization without needing lots of code knowledge, and it comes with email marketing and domain management. I use a different email system now, but that was a big help in the beginning. I also like that I can switch between my blog and my fiction websites with one login.

Don't make it complicated to start or stressful to keep going. It matters more that you show up, rather than showing up perfectly.

Lesson 9: Personal Branding Over Niche Content

Establishing a niche is a headache and does not work for multi-faceted passionate people like me. Every time I've tried to put myself in a box, I've rebelled against it, and been less consistent and more unhappy.

If you can relate to that, talk about anything you want on your blog. Just add the personal touches that show it was content that only you can write.

With the rise of AI (love AI, it's so helpful), you need to add a touch of human to what you do to stand out. Anyone can write with robots and start a blog.

Show your personality, being a personal brand, and you'll always have a place on the internet where you are welcome. AI would not have suggested the lessons I have shared here.

Below, see a video of me on Instagram in 2018 still trying to find a niche that I didn't reject - writing a blog for authors like myself. That was a short-lived niche for me. While I am a fiction author, I don't necessarily want to spend all my time teaching it. Now, I mainly talk about fiction on my patreon.

(Note - my blog also looked different in this video from only a few years ago. Personally, I think my current design is the best.)

Lesson 10: MLMs Are Not Sketchy. Stop Saying That.

Related to blogging, but also not. A lot of people get their start in multi-level marketing companies because it creates an easier entry point into entrepreneurship and trying out influencer techniques.

MLMs are simply commission sales, just like affiliate marketing that I use on this blog, with the opportunity to train other people under them in commission sales.

I've been with three different MLMs over the years, getting discounts on products I loved and sharing them online. A lot of my old blog posts were about some of these brands.

These companies help get people started in social selling, which is part of blogging, so don't shoot it down if you also want to sell products on your blog and with affiliates.

Lesson 11: The Only Judgments That Matter Are Your Own

This is a tough one for me because I was judging myself as I wrote this post.

I said to myself:

  • I wasn't consistently blogging this year, why would anyone believe me?

  • I haven't had a sponsorship in a while, no one would think I was successful.

  • I should post two more posts before this one to prove I write more, so I have more done.

Etc, etc.

The thing about judgment that most people don't realize is when you think other people are judging you, it's you who are judging yourself.

So those three things I said to myself? That has more to do with me than it does my readers.

I want to be more consistent. I want to post weekly. I want to gain more sponsorships. So, I'm going to use those things as directional goals for the next year and prioritize blogging in my New Year's Resolutions.

Pay attention to what you think people are saying about you. I talk about this some in Stronger Now, I recommend you pick it up if you want to grow your resiliency and confidence.

Lesson 12: Pinterest Has Always Been a Winner

Focusing on Pinterest is also a goal of mine for 2024, as it has always helped my traffic, especially my affiliate traffic.

Pinterest is a visual search engine and bloggers and influencers benefit greatly from it. I don't have much to say on this lesson, just that if you want to improve your visibility and referral traffic, try focusing on images that would do well on Pinterest and create an account.

At the bottom of this post, I added an image optimized for Pinterest for easier pinning for me and my readers.

Lesson 13: If It Feels Good, Keep Going. If It Doesn't Anymore, Ask Why.

Weird lesson title, but the thought is--pay attention to what you love about blogging and why you want to blog in the first place.

If blogging starts to feel wrong for you, go back to that reason and check in on what has changed.

For me, being niche-focused, trying too hard on SEO, and focusing on making a "perfect" post that checks all the boxes of these guides I see online...those things killed blogging for me for a long time.

But my "why" in 2010 was simple: a place to share my thoughts online because I had a lot of interests without any friends that had them in common.

I love a lot of things. My blog is a non-judgmental place to talk about all these interests, fun facts, adn things I'm trying.

Hold onto why you want this in the first place.

Summary: Top 13 Blog Lessons from 13 Years of Blogging

  1. Blogging opens up job opportunities in related fields.

  2. Blogging is profitable in more than one way.

  3. You don't have to be perfect at blogging.

  4. The delete button exists for a reason.

  5. You should update old posts for relevancy.

  6. Comments are not an indicator of success.

  7. Many bloggers quit. Many succeed.

  8. Controversial, but the platform isn't as important as people make it out to be.

  9. You can have a personal brand instead of a niche.

  10. MLMs are not sketchy, stop saying that.

  11. The only judgments that matter are your own.

  12. Pinterest has always been a winner.

  13. If it feels good, keep going. If not, ask why,

To sum up, blogging still makes me happy after 13 years. I'm not perfect at it, it's not my full-time job, but it has been profitable in so many ways.

I'm happy to keep doing it and to prioritize putting up my old content again.

What about blogging is interesting to you? How did you find this post? I'm curious to know.

Images: Screenshots from my original blog as well as images about blogging created with Midjourney.


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