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The 5 Most Important Things I Learned my First Year Blogging
Last January, I took the plunge into the world of writing online for myself. I’d written content for others at their specific direction and I signed up for HubPages in November, 2011, but January is when I actually started writing. I received my first HubPages payout about seven months later and now, a full year after signing up, I’ve finally received my first ever Amazon Associates payout. In the past week, I’ve thought a lot about my online writing adventures to see how things have changed, grown, and, hopefully, even improved over the last year for me. When I first started, I read a lot of advice from more seasoned members of the online writing community, and their advice was invaluable to me. A lot of my thoughts echo words written by others before me, but I hope that adding my voice to the chorus will eventually help some other new would-be author find her way.
1. Do not give up! Everyone says this because it is true. Contrary to popular belief, the Internet is not a magical place to get rich quick. I’m sure a few people have; enough folks found gold in the Yukon to tempt others into traveling somewhere startlingly cold in search of riches, but most people didn’t strike the mother lode on their first day. Even after reaching the year mark on HP, I still feel very new online. You have to take the time to build content and connections, and it takes a while to find your ‘voice’ as an online author. I didn’t reach 10k views on HP until some time in May. Now I get more than that a month!
2. Don’t expect to get anywhere if you don’t take it seriously. Simply writing one thing a month and hitting publish isn’t enough. After fooling around for several months, I finally got serious about writing when I joined the HubPages Apprenticeship program in May. People always say that if you treat something like a hobby, it will never be more than a hobby. I couldn’t agree more. You have to work like you mean it. Work as if you’ve hired yourself at a ‘real’ job if you want real results.
3. Take the time to discover yourself and don’t be afraid to change. The first hub I wrote was on how to use lucet, an historical tool for creating cordage. Next, I wrote about wearing historically accurate clothing and how to tie a couple of different maritime knots. It helped me learn about using HubPages, but no one else really cares and, in retrospect, the hubs weren’t particularly well written. I wrote them because I knew I wanted to write, but I had no idea what to write about. In short, I hadn’t found my voice. You can’t just sit down and decide “Today is the day I find my voice as a writer and I’m not turning off the computer until I do!” It is a process of growth and self-discovery. I realized that one of my favorite parts about life is sharing my knowledge and skills with others – that’s why I am studying education and work in public history. I am happiest with my writing when I use it as an extension of my real life self to share my passion for education, crafting, and cooking. It is really incredible to demonstrate techniques and projects to people from all over the world! When you let your passion shine through in your writing, the resulting piece is much more enjoyable for the author and the reader.
4. Learn some SEO. As addressed in number 1, I know I’m not going to get rich quick, but it’s really nice when other people actually read what I write. Sure, I write because I enjoy it, but it’s considerably less fun when I feel like my writings have been ignored, or even rejected, by the world at large. I only write things I actually want to write, so I don’t choose a topic simply because a Google keyword search indicates it might be popular, but I do research potential topics to discover the best wording and phrases. I also (I admit it!) scope out the competition. If I do a Google search and find that the top two or three search results are lackluster, I figure I have a pretty good chance of creating something better and eventually ranking well on Google, myself. If the top results are literally professionals I could never reasonably hope to surpass, I may choose to write on something else, instead. Once again, writing is fun, but taking the time to make a tutorial or recipe that no one will ever see isn’t so much fun.
5. Have fun and interact. Once again, writing online isn’t easy money for most people. In the last year, I’ve made some great online friends and have experienced support and encouragement from people across the country and the world. You can’t stay in your proverbial room online and have fun or make money – you need to get off your blog or profile and interact with some other people! I’ve learned so many new facts, seen amazing pictures, discovered crafts, and encountered delicious recipes online in the past year by exploring what other online writers have to offer. Without them, the Internet would be a lonely place.
There you have it – the five most important lessons I learned during my first year online. I hope to apply my own advice in the coming year so that 2013 is even better than 2012. Thanks to everyone who has helped me grow as a writer and a person during the past year!