Books Magazine

5 Things I’ve Learned From 5 Years Of Blogging

By Robert Bruce @robertbruce76

I don’t know how long the average blog lasts—maybe a few months? 101 Books has been around for five years and, as blogs go, that’s pretty ancient. It’s like the Bush, Clinton, Kennedy families in politics—whether you like it or not, we never go away!

Over the years, I’ve learned a few things. Most of them by accident. When I started the blog, I just wanted to start a reading blog—more specifically, a reading blog that follows this little reading journey with the Time Magazine list.

I’ve screwed up a lot, but I’ve had a few wins too. And, today, I want to tell you a little about both. Here’s 5 things I’ve learned in my 5 years of blogging at 101 Books.

1. More doesn’t always mean better.

I’ve been dealing with this a bit lately, as I mentioned in my post the other day. I’ve made nearly 1,200 posts on this blog and, for the better part of 5 years, that equaled to 5 posts per week. But over the last year or so, the strain of five days a week has taken its toll on me. I’ve simply been “following the schedule” instead of really thinking about what might be best for me, you, and the blog. You can post 5 days a week with mediocre to good content, or you can post 3 days a week with good to great content.

To counteract the approaching blogging burnout, I’m changing up my schedule. I’ll post more about that next week.

2. Don’t overthink your content.

It’s a trap! It’s easy to worry about which posts bring in the most traffic and which posts get the most comments and tweets. All that noise can make you devolve into trying to land every post on BuzzFeed—remember the time I posted about dogs reading books? Yeah, was totally trying to get on BuzzFeed, and it failed.

You’ve gotta post what you love to write about. If you don’t, your blog will never last (more on that in a minute). Because, believe me, the viral “high” fades and then you’re left to come up with the next idea–and there’s only so many pictures of dogs reading books.

3. Somebody will think you’re stupid.

In other words, haters gonna…no, I can’t say that clichéd phrase. I will put it in this less catchy, less Taylor Swift way: “People will dislike your work, and they will let you know that they dislike your work. There’s nothing you can do about it.” Catchy, huh?

I haven’t had a terrible time with the “haterz” here on 101 Books, but I’ve had my fair share. I probably shouldn’t, but I like to poke and prod them and have a little fun sometimes. One time, a commenter told me that 101 Books was “the death of art and meaning,” and I swear to you I liked that comment so much I almost made it my blog’s tagline. “101 Books: The Death of Art and Meaning.”

If you’re doing something you enjoy, somebody’s going to have a problem with that. Why? Maybe they suck at it, or maybe they just like to troll on blogs. Whatever the reason…who cares? Go do what you love and let the dislikers continue to dislike.

4. If you don’t care, nobody else will.

In short, you’ve got to be passionate about your blogging topic. If you aren’t that will show in your writing—and if your writing isn’t passionate and engaging, then no one will care about what you write!

“The Grapes of Wrath is a good book. It’s interesting. It has nice characters. I like it. You should read it. Great book.”

You get the point.

If you really want to blog, then you have to find a topic you’re passionate about, not just something you think everyone else will like. If you’re not engaged by it, then no one else will be.

5. Have an opinion.

You don’t have to be obnoxious about it—well, I guess you could be—but don’t be scared to share your opinions. Opinions make the world go round, and it is your blog, after all.

In my opinion (get it?), you’ll write better when you’re writing about your opinion. Why? It goes back to my previous point—when you’re writing about something you’re passionate about, your words are more engaging. Your thoughts are a little clearer. People might love your opinion or they may hate it but, more than likely, they’ll be interested enough to find out what you have to say.

That said, don’t be one of those Matt Walsh or Matthew Paul Turner shock jokes who just throws stuff up against the wall to see if it sticks. And, also, don’t be a troll—the internet is already full of trolls. But have an opinion, share it, and make that a part of your writing voice.

There’s a lot of bloggers who know a lot more about blogging than I do. But over the last 5 years, I’ve picked up on these few things.

Hopefully, you’ll find one or two that can help you.

Happy Blogging!

(Image: Wikimedia Commons)

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