Lessons Learned From 5 Years Of Blogging

I recently received a notification from WordPress congratulating me on the anniversary of my blog.

As of June, it’s been around for 5 years! That might be a long time to some, or a short time depending on how you measure things, but in either case, it’s enough to learn a lesson or two, so I’m sharing some of what I’ve discovered about blogging since 2017 and I hope you find it helpful.

Lessons Learned From 5 Years Of Blogging

Make Things Easy To Find And Easy On The Eyes

While you’re free to choose any layout for your blog that takes your fancy, don’t forget that it’s important to make sure it’s functional for your readers.

They are the ones who will navigate it, so my first lesson is to make it as effortless as possible.

While I’ve stuck with my current look/theme for a while, I started with a darker one that matched my book series rather than the content of my blog.

Now I have a “light” look that incorporates pictures I’ve taken and fits better with posts about writing and productivity. I also follow these tips:

  • Make your fonts and color scheme easy to read.
  • Use good quality pictures (you can get free ones from Canva, Unsplash, and Pixabay).
  • Don’t over clutter the sidebars.
  • Have a clean, intuitive site menu.
  • Keep pages like your About and Contact updated with the latest and correct info.
  • Make sure the parts on your site that you want viewed/used are up front and center. Don’t make it hard for visitors to find things. As an example, for the first few years, I had the standard Subscribe and Follow buttons halfway down my sidebar where they would get the occasional subscription/follow. When I moved those buttons to the very top of my sidebar, I started getting new subscribers/followers almost daily.
  • Organize your posts. While I’ve missed the boat on putting my posts into categories, the tag feature is great for grouping things together. Using widgets like the Recent Posts and Top Posts in your sidebar is also an easy way to automatically help readers find your best content.
  • If you have a specific group of posts that you’d like to direct attention to, consider adding them to their own menu. For my site, I have menu listings for my Writing Checklists and my book series, Blackbirch so they can be found easily.

Be Organized And Try To Work Ahead

One key to consistent posting is being organized with your ideas. Knowing what you want to blog about and when will go a long way to helping you stay on top of your blogging.

Does it mean you need to have 6 months’ worth of posts ready to go? No. Some bloggers do that and it works for them. If you think it’ll work for you too, go ahead. I like to blog no further than a month ahead, mainly because if I’m working on more posts than that, I won’t get any other writing done.

If you can’t get a month ahead, try just one blog post ahead. That way, if the unexpected comes up, you have a reserve post to either use while you’re gone, or to take the pressure off when you’re back because the work is already done.

Being organized also means a blogging routine. I separate my book writing into one week, and my blogging into another. It helps me focus on a particular type of writing for a limited time without the guilt of choosing one over the other or the chaos of trying to do both at once. You can read more about this routine in my blog post, The Art Of Authoring.

Try to keep your ideas organized in your go-to method (Word, notebooks, the notepad app on your phone, etc). I use Scrivener and I sort my ideas and drafts into years and then months (as pictured below on the left).

Some of the note files are just titles, some have words already added, and some even have research. When I’ve published the post, I’ll copy the published version of the text into the note file and replace the icon with a tick.

This allows me to keep my own up-to-date records of all my posts and makes it easy to create social media graphics for things like my #WritingTipWednesday posts, which are based on the info in my blogs.

Having all of your blogs listed together like this also ensures you aren’t writing content that is similar and then posting the topics too close together (it happens). It’ll also stop you from naming your next three blog posts all “6 Ways To…”

You’ll Always Feel Like You’re Shouting Into The Void

It takes time to build up your content and for that content to find a place, even if your goal is just to put your blogs out with no expectations or plans to get thousands of followers or make money.

If you stick with blogging long enough, there will be a time when views and likes on your posts will be good. You’ll gain followers without trying and you’ll have a run where it seems as if every post is a hit. But even that will fade.

While things won’t go back to zero, they will slow down. Interactions will wane, and posts won’t be shared, liked, or commented on with the same ferocity.

You’ll be back to shouting into the void. That’s the nature of blogging, and the best you can do is go with it.

Know Your Limits And Change Things Up

If you’re serious about blogging, you’ll need to post regularly, and it will take up precious time.

Some bloggers post daily. Others weekly, biweekly, or monthly. You can even post every quarter if that’s what works for you. Know your limits and stick to them. It’s better than blogging every day for two months and then neglecting your blog for two years because you couldn’t keep up the pace.

A lot of bloggers who were around when I started 5 years ago aren’t now. Life, COVID, and everything in between just got bigger than blogging for them. They knew their limits.

I used to blog every week. When my first book was released in 2020, I realized that was no longer viable if I wanted to actually release my second, third, and fourth book. I dropped my blogging to three posts a month, stopped my newsletter, and turned that content into my Monthly Roundup blogs.

Those are the changes and limits that allow me to keep blogging regularly and still make progress on my other writing goals.

Know your own limits, make the changes that ensure regular blogging works for you, and enjoy it.

Some Posts Will Work, Some Won’t

While every post written is done with care and you’ll hope it will connect with your readers, not every post does.

Sometimes the blogs you like the most are the ones that fall flat. Then there are some that just take off, surpassing all of your expectations.

My first big post was Writer Resolutions For The New Year (And How You Can Achieve Them). I published it during my second year of blogging (2018) and it was picked up and featured in the Discover section of WordPress. Why this post? I have no idea. Perhaps because it mentions Beyonce? It was the first of my blogs to be shared widely and it really bumped up my follower count.

The next big post and the one that now has the most views (over 4,000 and counting) was from my first year of blogging (2017) called The Importance of Writing Badly.

This post didn’t actually take off until 2020 when someone shared it on Reddit. Why this post and why 3 years after it was first published? Another mystery.

My latest post to do more numbers than usual is Grieving A Writing Life. I published this one last month (June 2022), but it resonated with other writers and took off on its own, gaining triple the stats of my new posts.

So, that’s 3 out of 233 blog posts in 5 years that have worked better than any others.

If there’s a secret formula for nailing a blog post every time, I don’t know it.

What I do know is that there will be weeks when trying to come up with a topic or even penning a blog post will be like pulling teeth.

Then there will be times when inspiration strikes and you’ll churn out posts and ideas like it’s the easiest thing in the world. Trust me and go with those moments and ride the inspiration train to the end of the line.

Write about topics that inspire and interest you. There’s always someone out there that will relate. And then sometimes, now and then, for reasons that may never be known, a lot will relate.

Celebrate The Wins

My last lesson is to celebrate the wins. Blogging is a fun activity and should be treated as such.

Choosing how to celebrate is up to you, but don’t just wait for the big milestones. Celebrate your first post, the one that hit a certain number of views, that first comment, the first share, even the post you absolutely loved writing that barely made a ripple when you posted it. It’s all worth savoring and appreciating.

I’ll end with a big THANK YOU for a great 5 years! I’ve met some wonderful writers, bloggers, and now real-life friends through my blog. You guys keep me motivated to blog, and I hope my posts give something back to you. I’ve also learned a lot from finding, reading, and following your awesome blogs, too.

An extra special thanks also to Chris, Sandy, Felicity, Annette, and Victoria, who are always the first to share and support my posts on their own blogs and social media feeds. And to Glynis, Stuart, Alexander, Ari, Jaya, Audrey, Michael, Jeanne, Pete, Rhiannon, and Rebecca who have kept the comment section alive for a few years now. I love chatting with you all whenever a new post goes up, and always appreciate your feedback.

Here’s to another 5 years! 🥂

— K.M. Allan

Find me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

65 thoughts on “Lessons Learned From 5 Years Of Blogging

  1. Congratulations on hitting the five year mark! That is totally awesome!

    My blog has been around since 2016 and I definitely know that feeling of shouting into the void. But I keep going because I have a story I want to tell and so many scenes I’m looking forward to finally posting.

    Here’s to five more years and five more years after that and five more years after that!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mia Bella

    This is an excellent Blog.

    I have been blogging since 2004 – at first not on writing. I had a blog as a Drama teacher for years, then a lifestyle one as I prepared to move to Brisbane. Since I decided to become a published author five years ago, I started a website and a blog. My website and blog is 2 years old. However, I stopped blogging in March when I got injured at work and started looking for a new teaching position. I had a three month break (though I did put up reviews).

    My life has settled down and last week I sat down and thought about what direction I wanted to take my blog. Do I write about writing craft with writers as my audience? Do I keep the content relevant to potential readers? Or do I just blog from my perspective?

    You are right, it’s about consistency. I found every month suits me and my time. I like how you do one week on creative writing and one week on normal writing. I break up my time too—I only do all my fiction writing during weekdays. My creativity needs a break over the weekend. But I love writing, so I do my blogging on the weekends – Saturdays. I plan one week, draft the following (polish on the Sunday and schedule it). I find this way I can get 2-4 blogs ahead—well that’s the aim 🤣

    I’ve decided to focus my content on my process and experience as a writer—what I’m learning and discovering as an emerging writer and then share it – this feels like my audience could potentially be other authors and readers. My first article in this style was recently posted.

    Ms Allan, you are my inspiration. And, this was an excellent email ❤️

    By the way, you may want to keep this secret, and that’s cool, but what’s your first name?

    Valerie 🌸

    >

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Valerie! Sounds like you’ve got a clear plan and a writing schedule that works for you 😊. Wishing you all the best with your blogs and creative work. My first name isn’t a secret 🤣. It’s Kate. Nice to meet you!

      Like

    2. Thanks, Valerie! Sounds like you’ve got a clear plan and a writing schedule that works for you 😊. Wishing you all the best with your blogs and creative work, which I already know is great. My first name isn’t a secret 🤣. It’s Kate.

      Like

  3. Excellent! Thanks for sharing your insight. One takeaway for me is that you said your most viewed post has had 4000 views and you have over 200 posts. I only have nine, exactly 16 subscribers, and my best post has almost 1000 views. So wow! I’m doing tons better than I thought. Lol! Perspective is invaluable.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow, that’s a great number of views. Congrats, Sharon 😊.

      I have no idea how my stats measure up or are supposed to measure up, I just keep an eye on things enough to know when something is getting more or less than my usual 🤷🏻‍♀️.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations on 5 years of blogging! Your blog is a great example of the features you cite in this post–well-organized and consistent.
    My experience of blogging has been similar to yours. Sometimes it’s easy to come up with topics for posts, and sometimes inspiration dries up. I always have a bunch of posts in draft stage so I can usually whip one into shape.
    Wishing you many more good blogging years!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Audrey! I was looking through my drafts recently and I have some I started in 2017 that I just never finished. Some topics just aren’t relevant anymore, but thankfully there’s always something to blog about 😊. Wishing you many more years of great blogging too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s quite a milestone! I can’t imagine writing weekly! I always look forward to reading your posts and I have learned a lot over the time I’ve been reading. Your consistency is inspiring.
    I started my blog to practice putting my writing ‘out there.’ It scared the living daylights out of me at first. It is like shouting into a void with no echo. I write whatever I’m mulling over and rarely plan ahead. I aim for monthly posts and it’s still hard to press publish. I ‘retired’ to spend time writing and creating. My career was high achieving/hyper productive and burnout producing. Now I give myself permission to slack off occasionally and don’t beat myself up if I miss a month. I tell myself the likes and comments are not why I write, but it’s lovely to hear from the void. Thank you for the mention, Kate. I’ve enjoyed popping over to all the other blogs(links) today. It was a lovely way to start my day. 💕

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Happy fifth anniversary, Kate! These are some great learnings here, and what a wonderful way to celebrate your fifth year with a quality post. Love the tips you shared, and yes, so many people ignore the importance that is navigation—I often can’t find my way to someone’s About or Blog page here on WordPress.

    And I never knew Scrivener could be used that way. I might start drafting my posts there from now on. Here’s to many more years to come!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Stuart! That’s how I use Scrivener and it’s so helpful 😊. I’m sure there’s fancier things to do in it too, but I’m afraid I’ve never ventured beyond the basic functions.

      Like

  7. Grant at Tame Your Book!

    Excellent recap, Kate! Keep ’em coming. I’m forwarding your inspiration on to others who will benefit from your gems of wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations on the five years. You have excellent advice here. The best was the position of the follow widget. Although I get about three followers a day I still think mine is way too low on the sidebar. I think I could declutter the side bar too. Thanks for the tips.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. My anniversary is coming up soon as well (a week or two maybe), though I’m not sure if it’s 4 or 5 years. But I know you were one of the first people I’ve interacted with. Even though I’m often a silent lurker, I do read all your posts, even if I don’t interact unless I really have something to say. But I’m glad to be here 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Tom! And thank you for reading my posts. I do appreciate it and I do enjoy your posts too. Your hiking photos are always so stunning and I always love reading your thought processes about your own writing 😊.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Loved reading this! I thought on it a while and scrolled through the pieces you linked here too, as it is so interesting to see how our focuses and expertise change and develop!

    Your thoughts on how blogging and writing interact and change our schedules especially resonated with me, as so much has changed since I started blogging in addition to writing.

    May the words flow into another great year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jaya! May the words flow for you too 😊. Trying to blog and write is a tricky balance and I’m always trying to get it right. Thanks for reading my older blogs too. I try not to as I’m sure I’d write it a different way if I was writing it now and knowing that would annoy me 🤣. All the posts have shaped my writing, though, so I’m happy to have written them.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. All good tips as always. When I am done with Camp NaNoWriMo, I will look into moving the sub and follow button from the top. I never thought to move them but it makes alot of sense.

    Thank you for sharing and congrats to 5 years of blogging!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Pingback: A Fellow Blogger’s Useful Tips – Valerie Ormond's Thoughts

  13. petespringerauthor

    I find something helpful in all of your blog posts. They’re informative and practical. Another blogging friend of mine also mentioned his most-read post happened following a share on Reddit. I think pacing one’s self and remembering to have fun with blogging are two biggies for me.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Very informative post. As I have been struggling with my writing frequency and couldn’t get a chance to post regularly, your tips will help me to decide how I can manage easily. After two years, still I am learning basics of blogging and trying to adopt all the tips and tricks. Hope your tips will help me in setting my blog on fire. Thanks for a good read.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Congrats on your five years. Your have shared some worthy tips. Especially, the layout. It is my trouble shooter and after reading that section, I quickly made the alterations accordingly. Thanks for helping out.

    Like

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