Last week Write for Your Life gained its 2000th subscriber.
To those of you who are thinking about or who have recently started blogging, that might seem like a big number. To the seasoned pro, you know that 2000 is but a drop in the ocean.
It seems fitting then that this milestone for my website comes at pretty much the same time I realise that these numbers, for the most part, mean bugger all.
I won’t pretend that to have more people subscribe to and follow your site is in any way undesirable. Of course not. I want Write for Your Life to reach as many people as possible. I feel it offers something different and I love doing it.
But blogging is not like most blogs about blogging would have you believe. Blogging, like writing, should not be about the numbers. It should be about you, what you have to say about the world and how you go about saying it.
Stuff the profloggers
The problem is, if you do read almost any site about blogging, content marketing or some other made up nonsense, you’ll be told otherwise. You’ll be sold a largely unattainable dream that does little for you and plenty for the owner of that site.
It becomes a never ending circle of, ‘You buy this from me because I’m successful, then you’ll be successful too.’ And whatever it is that you buy will effectively tell you to take the exact same approach, selling an almost indentical product.
Before you know it, your little website about Jacobean tragedy or A5 paper or cat-related cross-stitch, that website that you cared so much about and hoped would introduce you to other people with similar interests, all but disappears.
When you’re told to do something by a blogger who supposes to have thousands of readers and who claims to earn thousands of dollars from doing it, ask yourself a) really? and then b) is that what I want too?
Been there, done that
I say all this because, despite only recently attempting to sell anything through Write for Your Life (I’ve nothing against selling stuff through your website), I feel like I’ve taken and acted on more than my fair share of blogging advice.
Bear in mind that when I started this site, my (Broome)shtick was that hey, I’m a busy chap, so I’ll post whenever I can, but don’t get too worried if I don’t. I started out by doing things on my terms. And people read and subscribed.
But it didn’t take long for me to get the numbers bug. The more people subscribed, the more I thought I had to do more and more on the site to make more and more people subscribe. Another never ending circle.
For example, at some point, I decided I had to post every day. The truth is, before I started link posting, I never actually achieved a daily schedule. And I would feel guilty about it. I felt guilty when I didn’t post. Guilty!
I got myself in a position where, in my real life with my real wife and job and cat, I felt bad about not writing free content for a load of people on the internet, a delight though you are, who I had never met.
It was ridiculous. So I gave myself a slap. I stopped feeling guilty.
That said, there are many other examples. I won’t include them all, but let’s just say I’ve bought and read my fair share of ebooks on blogging, whether it’s gaining more Twitter followers or getting more pageviews. Domination was involved at least once.
The fact of the matter is, blogging advice is almost always about the numbers. And it’s almost always bollocks.
How I blog now
A few weeks ago I decided to go back to my original rationale. That I post when I want and when I’m not busy writing fiction or doing work for clients.
I shall continue to be inspired by the bloggers I love to read, but like Fleetwood Mac once suggested, I shall go my own way. I shall do my own thing. If people keep reading and subscribing, well that would be totally awesome.
I am tired of all the hocus pocus spouted on the web. All the regurgitated posts about the same old subjects. All the people who care more about appearing to be useful and interesting than actually being those things.
I don’t want any of that.
Back to reality
Starting a blog, or as we writers of fiction are told to call it, having a presence, is a massive time suck. It requires patience, energy and typically more technical skills than you’re ever led to believe.
But blogging can also be rewarding, great fun and a stepping stone to some really exciting projects and friendships.
Having said that, if you want to be a successful writer, you don’t have to have a blog, or a presence, or whatever you want to call it. Hardly any of my real-life writer friends have blogs, and that includes my fellow copywriters at work who get paid to write for the web every day.
You don’t need a blog to be a writer. Plenty of people get book deals or jobs and forge a writing career with barely any web presence at all.
Don’t get me wrong, you’re almost certainly better off with a website, but it’s not the be all and end all. Not by a long shot.
So what next for Write for Your Life?
Well, I’m going to employ the following blogging tactic.
I intend not to worry too much about how many people read this site. Instead, I shall simply write about and link to the things that I’m interested in and know a little about. That’s writing, reading, computers and stuff.
However, if you’re just starting out with blogging, and you really do want some blogging advice, all I have is the following. And to my mind, this is all that matters.
Write good stuff. Be nice to people.
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