Ten long years.
That’s how long I’ve been blogging.
It feels like yesterday, and it’s been a terrific journey so far.
It’s hard to imagine where I would’ve been if I hadn’t started blogging.
I would’ve been ended up an engineer or something else, working somewhere 9-5, cursing the traffic and heavy workload, wishing if things were different.
Or I might have ended up running an offline business because because I wouldn’t know what else to do.
But one thing for sure.
You probably wouldn’t have heard about me. We both would’ve been a total stranger to each other. I won’t be writing this, and you won’t be reading this.
Luckily here we are, talking about blogging.
If you know me, you know I love talking about blogging. It is something I never get bored of.
Because I’ve learned and earned a lot (of money and fame) from blogging, and it’s just the beginning. There is a lot more to learn.
However, I wish I knew what I know now when I got started blogging. It would have helped me save a lot of time and money. If I had a mentor, I might have achieved all the things I have achieved in just a few years time, not 10 years.
You need not wait that long for the results to come. That’s why I wrote this blog post.
This blog post is about the lessons I learned in these 10 years of blogging. I’m sure these lessons will add the same tremendous value to your life as it added to my life and profession.
Let’s dive right into the lessons.
1. Focus on ONE thing
It took me a while to learn the value of focusing on one thing, but once I started following this, things changed.
I got better results. I got more readers and engagement. People started to appreciate my work and efforts, which wasn’t the case before.
If you want to succeed in your blogging efforts, you need to focus on one thing.
When I started writing, I was focusing on too many things. I was spreading myself too thin.
I wanted to write this, that, and everything else out there because I didn’t have clear goals. I was all pumped up and wanted to write everything I thought I knew and tell the world about it
But it didn’t get me the results I was expecting.
I didn’t get visitors or comments as I expected. It was like no one was giving a damn about my blog posts. I was losing hope in blogging and my ability to write.
I’m sure you have been there. You start blogging. You are all excited and write on many things. But no one appreciates it, and slowly you lose steam.
Then suddenly, one of my posts worked. People were visiting, commenting, asking questions, and appreciating the post.
I wasn’t sure what made it work, but I decided to follow the same approach and see if I could reproduce the results.
I wrote another post like that one, and it worked.
Then I wrote one more. Again it worked.
That was a eureka moment. That’s when I realized what people are expecting to read from my blog, and that’s what I should focus on.
From that moment, everything changed. I got better results, and the results motivated me to write more, and the more I wrote, the results multiplied.
Of course, after getting a few followers and readers, I tried different approaches and topics. Some of them worked, gelled well with the audience, and some didn’t.
But I kept the focus on the one thing that worked for me.
And the “one thing” isn’t about the content type. It applies to everything you write or create and publish.
Ask yourself – what’s the one thing your reader or audience is going to learn from it?
Define it and stick to it. If you wander beyond it, your content gets diluted, loses its power, and people may not appreciate it.
For example, this post is all about the lessons I learned from blogging for a decade and how you can use it in your life.
That’s the one thing I should focus on, nothing else. If I deviate from it, you won’t like that and will lose interest. You will skip reading and bounce off.
But as long as I keep the focus and stick to the lessons I learned, you’ll continue reading.
Whether it is a social media post, or YouTube video, or podcast, focus on one thing. Focus is an underrated growth hack that is not taken seriously.
2. Consistency Is Key
You read my blogging success story or one the other successful bloggers.
You read about how much we make. It sounds awesome. You also want to earn like that and live like us. You decide to follow our path.
You start a blog. You write a couple of posts and publish them. You wait for thousands of people to visit your blog, read the post, appreciate it in the comments.
Nothing happens, but you were expecting it. You think if you write more, then people will notice you.
You write more posts and publish them.
Again nothing much happens. You lose your initial interest. You start writing less. You publish once in a while. And then you quit because you believe blogging isn’t your cup of tea.
Trust me, I know and have been there.
But later I found out that it’s the reason why I wasn’t getting the results. And it’s probably the same reason why you aren’t too.
The fact is: Blogging takes time to produce the results.
It takes time to Google index your posts and ranks it on the SERP.
It takes time to audience realize there is a new blog on the block, visit you, and consume your content.
It takes time for people to accept your style and appreciate your efforts.
Sometimes it takes a couple of months to see initial traction and sometimes even more than that depending on the niche you have selected and the competition ahead of you.
Chris Guillebeau, one of my favorite and successful bloggers out there, published his success story, and named it 279 Days to Overnight Success.
Yup, that’s how long it took him to succeed.
To get there, he published two posts a week. Most of his posts were of 2000 words or more.
He didn’t quit when no one bothered to visit his first few posts. He kept on writing, publishing, and promoting until the “overnight success” happened.
And it wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t consistent.
In my early years, I also made that mistake. I was posting as and when I wished and complaining that it didn’t work.
Then I read Chris’s 279 Days manifesto, and my perception changed.
I became more consistent, but it didn’t happen immediately. It took me a while to get into the habit of being regular.
And I got my date with success.
The best thing is, it applies to everything in life.
If you want to lose weight or be fit, going for a walk or working out once in a while isn’t going to be enough. You need to do it like clockwork.
If you want to improve your writing, you need to write every day.
If you want to grow your social media reputation, you should post quality content every day.
No matter what you want to achieve, you need to be consistently doing it.
Because consistency is the key to success.
3. It Takes More Than ONE Attempt
Can you learn to ride the bicycle in the first attempt?
Can you learn to swim in the first attempt?
Can you learn to drive in one attempt?
Not really, right?
It takes two, three, four, or even more attempts before you get it right and doing it.
And it applies to blogging too.
You cannot get it right on the first attempt.
Your first post will be rough and unpolished, even if you’ve been writing for a while.
It may not connect with the audience. It may not get ranked on Google. It may not get hundreds of visits, comments, and shares.
It doesn’t mean you should stop. It means you got to try again and do better.
As you keep writing, you get better, and your writing improves. Your blog posts get better, and your audiences will start connecting with them.
Then your content will start ranking and getting visitors and comments. And one day it will happen.
A blockbuster post that puts you in the growth track.
You will want to repeat it. But you may not be able to recreate the same success.
It might take a few more attempts to write one more blockbuster post.
The key is to keep working and trying to do better.
After a few attempts, you’ll understand what works and what doesn’t, and that knowledge will make you powerful. With that knowledge, you’ll be able to create more and more hit posts.
Take this blog post as an example. I didn’t get it right in the first attempt.
I wasn’t happy with the first draft. I edited a few lines and added a few. I polished a few times. I fixed the flow a couple of times. I rewrote the opening part.
I kept working on it until I felt it’s good enough to send.
That’s how it works.
It takes more than one attempt.
And it applies to everything in marketing.
Your first Facebook ad might suck. With few attempts, you’ll get it right, and with more tries, you’ll hit a home run.
Your first email might fail. As you improve the next ones, you’ll get more opens, clicks, and conversions.
Your first pitching might not work. But if you keep pitching, improving, and you’ll land your first client.
Remember, even Sachin Tendulkar didn’t score a century in his first match. He kept working on it.
So don’t expect to succeed at the first attempt and don’t lose your hopes if you fail at it. Keep working and improving.
Because it takes more than one attempt to win.
4. Learn and Implement
My first Facebook ads campaign tanked.
I lost 100$.
At that time, it’s a lot of money. I wanted to understand why it didn’t work. I thought I did excellent work with it, but I didn’t.
So I asked my marketing friends, colleagues, and peers, what’s wrong with the ad? What is the thing they will fix if it’s their ad?
I got a ton of feedback. I wasn’t sure which one is right or wrong.
I picked out the few recommendations randomly, started applying them, and measured the performance. Some worked, and some didn’t.
By the time I finished testing all the recommendations, I had lost another 100$.
But the ad started performing, and I learned a lot.
I learned who knew their game and who didn’t
I learned what worked and what didn’t
I learned the mistakes I made and not to repeat them.
I learned not to post just one ad and hope for it to work.
I implemented them all in the campaigns I ran after that disaster one.
And that was the last time any of my campaigns tanked.
From then on, I made it a habit to implement the lessons. Sometimes, I get a chance to apply them immediately and sometimes at a later time.
But I implement them.
We all make mistakes; some of us learn from the mistakes, and only a few implement what they learned.
That’s why some people are successful while others aren’t.
Don’t just read a book. Apply what you learned.
Don’t just watch a video. Take notes and use what you learned.
Because that’s the only way you can improve, become better at what you do and how you live.
You can learn a lot. But if you aren’t implementing them, you haven’t really learned.
5. Explore out of your zone
When I first started writing, I wrote things as if I’m following a template.
I started my blog posts in a particular style, approached the middle portion in a manner, and closed them in one style. I followed the same approach to all the blog posts I wrote in the first two years.
I did the same with my videos, emails, and ads.
I wasn’t ready to experiment or explore even when I feel that I’m becoming too repetitive because I wasn’t feeling confident enough to do so.
Then it happened.
One day I wrote an email that’s different from my regular ones.
I was so inspired by the book I read, wrote it in a flow, and sent it to my list before I could change my mind.
And I started receiving replies. People were appreciating and thanking me for that email. It never happened before. No one replied to my email in that way ever before.
That was a first for me, and that’s when I learned the most important lesson of my life.
I need to explore. I need to get out of the box, break the pattern, and do differently.
That changed everything.
That gave me the confidence to try different approaches.
I started writing on different topics. I tried different writing styles. I got the confidence to share my failures as much as I do about my success.
A couple of days before I revealed the entire strategy behind my brand and revenue growth.
I wouldn’t have done it earlier.
You wouldn’t be reading about the lessons I learned and the mistakes I made because I wouldn’t have written it.
Probably you wouldn’t be reading my content at all. You would have gotten bored and unfollowed me a long time before.
A lot has changed since I started exploring.
My readership, views, comments, and shares grew.
I’m able to create more because I don’t have to worry about the content, not fitting into a template and create anything.
I’m feeling good about doing it all. And I’m happy about the content I create
Isn’t it the important one? Being happy about doing what you do?
Don’t get stuck. Don’t follow the patter. Don’t become boring. Explore, and you will get new results, learn new things, and will not be disappointed.
6. You Don’t Need To Know Everything
One of the biggest myths that stop many of the aspiring bloggers starting their blogging journey is that “they don’t know enough.”
They believe they need to know everything about the topic or niche they are going to start their blog.
Well, it’s not true. You don’t need to know everything.
I don’t know everything about digital marketing.
I don’t know everything about Facebook advertising. I recently got my Facebook ads account banned.
I don’t know everything about email marketing. I still get my emails landing in the SPAM box.
I don’t know everything about writing, content marketing, social media marketing, and so on.
I don’t even know everything about blogging. I haven’t tried a lot there.
And I don’t know everything about a lot of things other than marketing too.
When I started blogging, I knew a lot lesser than what I know today. Yet, I started blogging because I wanted to share my learnings with those who want to learn them.
Not knowing everything is a good thing.
That allows me to learn more.
For example, once I wanted to write a blog post about data studio. I sat down and asked a friend of mine to teach me how to use it.
I learned to create a dashboard to track the performance of a marketing campaign. Once I learned to create one, I applied it to my campaigns.
Today all my campaigns are driven by that dashboard.
It shows me how many leads I got, how much it cost, how much I spent, and how it is compared to yesterday. It helps me to decide whether the campaign’s performance is deteriorating or not.
If I didn’t set out to learn a data studio, none of it would’ve happened.
Not knowing everything allows you to learn something new. It will enable us to make mistakes, and learn from them, implement the learnings, and grow.
It’s OK, not knowing everything. It’s even good as long as you are willing to explore and learn.
Don’t wait to learn everything before you start. Let the journey be all about what you learn along the way because that’s where the fun is.
Because life is all about learning.
7. You Cannot Get Rid Of The Fear
I remember those early days.
I will finish my blog post and save it in the draft.
I will reread it, edit it one more time, and reread it but won’t have the courage to hit the publish button.
I’ll have butterflies in the stomach.
I used to hear the voice screaming at me and haunting me every time I wrote something asking
What if no one likes to read this?
What if someone reads this but doesn’t like it?
I used to procrastinate as much as possible before hitting the publish button. I have shut my eyes while hitting the button. There have been times when I have closed the system and stopped checking the post for days.
Because I was worried about facing the answer to those questions mentioned above.
And today I’ve been writing for a decade. I’ve written more than a million words. I have written hundreds of blog posts and emails.
Now, as I’m nearing the end of this blog post, I hear the distant voice – what if people don’t like this?
The voice is still there, but it’s no longer screaming at me. It now whispers at me.
Yup. You can never stop worrying about it. You can never get rid of the fear. It might get weaker. It might lose its intensity. But it never goes away.
And it’s a good thing.
It keeps you in check. It keeps you focusing on helping your audience and creating useful content.
Without the voice chasing you, you might lose the track. You might start creating low-quality content. You might create something for the sake of creating. You might forget about your audience.
But when you hear the voice, you will sit up and recheck the blog post you wrote or the video you recorded. You will check whether your audience will like it or not.
And that concludes the 7 most important lessons I learned in the last 10 years of blogging. These lessons have helped me to use my blogging foundation to become a solopreneur first and an entrepreneur now.
I’m sure these will work for you too. No matter if you are a beginner or experienced, you can still apply them and grow your profession and life.
What’s your favorite lesson among the ones I shared? Is there something else you want to add? Tell it in the comments.