Life as a blogger feels different after a year and a half than it does at the beginning. Really, blogging feels different today than it did even a month ago. The difference is momentum. And it’s what makes all the blogging advice about not giving up pretty accurate.
Getting the Google Love
There comes a time in every blogger’s life (as long as you stick to it and don’t totally suck – see above) during which Google decides that they kind of like you. The algorithm decides that you’re not a total loser, that maybe you have some value, and that maybe they can start sending some love your way. Maybe.
But the traffic at the beginning is never useful. For several months (I’m talking like… half a year here), my blog got a few (as in 1-3) views per day from search. But none of that was particularly useful traffic.
I was ranked for the term “what happened in April 2016” because I had written a post updating you guys on how my shit was going (it was shitty) and used that as a title. There’s not a lot of competition for that. Nobody cared to write about April, apparently. But a lot of people, for whatever reason, really wanted that information.
(I’m not going to link to it because I don’t want it to rank even higher.)
Were these good visitors who fell in love with my content, subscribed, and started paying attention to me religiously?
Oh hell no. They came, they saw what the post was actually about, and they left – probably to find some other source of information that was actually relevant. Plus it was a terrible post that I cranked out in 10 minutes and never touched again.
(But Michael you still crank out shitty posts in 10 minutes… Shut up. I know I’m awful.)
But it did show that Google thought I was okay, on a trial basis. And since I kept putting out decent content, building links to my site and different posts, and maintained some sense of sanity and basic human decency, they started to send me more traffic.
And that’s where I am today.
I get like… 10-20 views on several different posts every day from search. The nice part? I don’t have to do anything for that traffic except avoid pissing off Google. The even nicer thing? Some of those posts are monetized in some way, so I actually stand a chance of making some money. Not a lot. But it’s a start. And it’s nice to have the chance of making money without having to do anything* for it.
* Except for all those things I have to do. We’ll get to that.
Social Media Feels Cooler, Sometimes
My general experience on social media has left me feeling old, irrelevant, and unskilled. Social media is hard. It’s hard to compete with billions of voices. Especially when I’m not all that interesting, funny, or aesthetically skilled.
But it’s getting better.
Momentum is picking up. 1,000 Twitter followers means a higher chance of getting your tweets retweeted. 364 YouTube subscribers means a higher chance of getting one of those subscribers to share your latest video with one of their friends.*
I don’t have to fight so hard to get someone else to pay attention to me. What I say has some kind of weight and merit automatically by virtue that hundreds or thousands (depending on platform) have already decided that my stuff is worth listening to. That’s pretty cool.
* I seem to be the exception to this rule, because several of my legit fans have told me point blank that they like having me as their dirty little secret. That’s fine. Keep in mind that literally one share on Facebook doubles my normal rate and doesn’t bring in too many views, so I’m not mad about it.
Oh, and I suck less
The other major factor to blogging momentum is that over time, you get better at creating things. This post is (hopefully) a better read than my first posts were. It should offer a bit more value (even if it’s just you laughing at me) than what I wrote for my first year or so. I know more about what I’m doing.
This is a very learn-by-doing industry. You learn to be a blogger by blogging. YouTube gets easier when you’ve already made a couple hundred YouTube videos. At times, you successfully make a thumbnail that brings in triple the normal rate of views because you’re naked in it.
Maybe I’ll even make enough graphics that eventually I’ll make one that works well on Pinterest.
But I’m not an expert yet by any means. I still have the opportunity to fuck it up.
And I’m pretty sure I’m already doing exactly that.
How to Fuck Up Your Blogging Momentum
Can I be honest with you, and also with myself?
I’m kinda lazy.
Like… I’ve never been accused of laziness by anyone before. Nobody’s ever pointed it out to me. On paper, I do a lot. T-shirts, blog posts, other blog posts, podcast, videos, driving for Uber, and most recently attempting eBay sales… And the dishes are always clean, the bed is always made, and the laundry is always washed, dried, and hung up accordingly.
Sometimes I lay around and binge watch Gossip Girl on Netflix.
And we’re not talking five hours. We’re talking five days. Five weeks.
When I found regular Uber business, I all but stopped doing literally anything else. The entire month of January, my life was sleeping in super late, going out for lunch, sitting around waiting for the strippers to call me, taking them to work, running to the bank, and then going back to bed.
That’s it. I didn’t do anything else.
Sure, I made some videos. But how good were they?
I wrote a couple posts, but I didn’t feel like I’d done them justice.
(We’ll ignore that I got really good feedback on my last income report. Apparently it was my best post ever, according to my former boss, so that’s flattering.)
Other than that, what have I been doing?
Hanging out. Spending time with my boyfriend. Being lazy.
And that’s how you ruin your momentum.
You Quit Blogging Without Admitting You’ve Quit
You throw in the towel not by saying, “I can’t do this anymore,” and giving up, but by refusing to continue giving it your all.
Blogging is a nightmare. It’s hard work. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do, and it pays the lowest wages imaginable at the moment.
But I busted my ass to keep doing it. And I got better. Things improved.
Now that I’m getting search traffic and figuring out how to write, it’s like I’m checking out. I can phone home on a lot of the stuff I make and it still turns out better than anything I made for my first year.
That’s a terrible position to be in for a lazy person. It’s permission to be lazy. You’re telling me I can stop putting in legitimate effort and still do just as well as I was when I was beating my head against the wall for 60 hours a week?
But I’m not allowed to do that.
And neither are you.
We have to keep working.
This is when successful bloggers are made
How you act when you start to reach a certain level of momentum will dictate how far you go with this.
If you call it in and decide that your current level of mediocrity is good enough for you, you’ll stay at that point.
(For a little while. Relevance is hard to maintain when you’re not actively fighting for it. So really, you’ll make it for six months and then someone who’s working smarter and harder than you will take your spot. Sorry ’bout it.)
If you decide to capitalize on it, keep putting in the work, and keep improving, you’ll go a lot further than you were getting previously.
I’m burned out. I am. I’m exhausted.
But exhaustion doesn’t have to be a sign of the end, or even a decline. Sometimes it’s a sign that you’re doing something massively right.
That’s how I’m choosing to look at this.
So I’m going to edit this post, put together my best attempt at some bomb-ass graphics, and include a newsletter subscription form. I may even put a link to a really cool thing I found on Amazon that I think you may want to buy so I can conceivably make some money (for example, this thing that my boyfriend calls “dragon’s blood” and is my secret to having good hair after bleaching). And I’m going to promote the shit out of this post on social media and put it in a new place I’ve never posted before and build two links to it.
Because I’m still here. And I want you to know that.