Four things I learned in my fourth year of blogging

professorMy blog is turning four. I love the age of four. Both of my boys were full of life and questions and cheek and cute and annoying at four. I wonder if my blog will be the same?

My fourth year of blogging has been an interesting one, what with the move from the Fibro to here, and the fact that my novel was scheduled to come out in June, 2013, and then didn’t (I hope to have a new release date for you soon, fingers crossed). I redesigned, with the help of Kelly Exeter, and started my newsletter. The Pink Fibro Bookclub was born – and thrived, with more than 170 members over in our Facebook group – and I created and released my first ebook.

All of which affected the way I blog. I went through a stage where I put up more posts about writing than ever before (the Starting Out, Social Media for Writers and Business of Writing series were all (and continue to be) extremely popular), mostly because I was writing behind the scenes more than ever before. Now, though, I think I’ve found my groove again, and will return to my favourite mix of life, writing and, yes, whimsical posts. But more about that in a minute.

You’re here for the four things I learned in my fourth year of blogging, after all, so it would be churlish not to get down to them.

1. Blogging is hard work

I know. I can’t believe it took me four years to work this out, either, but the truth of the matter is that until this year, it didn’t feel that way to me. Even when I was blogging every day. I know. I think that everyone goes through stages where their blogging mojo leaves the building and I had several of those stages this year. So what did I do? I wrote what I knew (writing). I asked people for help (the Starting Out series is all written by guests, the other two series are Q&A interviews). I wrote about nothing when I had to (this post will give you an insight into just how often I write about nothing). Writers write. Bloggers blog. That’s all there is to it.

2. You can take your own images

If I can do it, so can you. With the help of Hipstagram (how I love it), I’ve taken all my own photos in the past year. Sometimes I have to think a bit (okay, very) laterally about how I’m going to illustrate a post (see the embarrassed cougar) but, all in all, it’s been a lot more fun than I, a not particularly visual person, had ever imagined. And it gives your blog a uniform look that’s very appealing.

3. Get your blog designed by an expert

Never underestimate the power of design. Incorporating the Fibro into my website meant an overhaul for both, and it’s not just the ‘pretty’ that’s important. It looks amazing, true, but it’s also really well organised behind the scenes. I’ve made a few tweaks along the way as I’ve got used to the new layout, and I have a few more tweaks to make this year, but, overall, there’s a home for everything and I like it that way!

4. Don’t forget you

“What the hell is ‘whimsy’, Al?” asked a fabulous, and very straightforward, friend of mine during a discussion we had about ‘branding’ late last year. We were talking about the fact that my blog had gone down a very ‘writing’ track and I was struggling to front up regularly to create posts. She wasn’t keen on ‘whimsy’ in my tag line, thinking that it said nothing.

“Whimsy is the stuff I like,” I snapped, “It’s the little details, the funny questions that I ask myself, the sunset moments, the dancing feet.” It was also, I realised as I snapped, what I was missing from my blog. Those posts are not the ones that are retweeted and favourited and shared on Facebook, but they are the posts that I love writing. The ones that pour out of me in five minutes at the end of the day. The minutiae of life.

I’m pretty sure that a four-year-old blog, with all its life and questions and cheek and cute (and possibly annoying), will be able to cope with more of those.

How long have you been blogging? What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?

For more on blogging see:

12 things I learned in my first year of blogging

12 things I learned in my second year of blogging

Three things I learned in my third year of blogging