5 Blogging Lessons I’m Glad I Learned

5 lessons I learned about blogging: 1) redesign as often as you want; 2) post as often as you want; 3) follow your passion; 4) don't take all advice; 5) don't treat it like a job.

I’ve had this blog since April 2012. That’s over four years now. It took me a long time to find my groove in the blogging world and I had plenty of insecurities along the way (I still do).

But here are five things I finally learned (some of which took me the full four years!):

1) Redesign your blog as often as you want

I used to stress about this SO MUCH. (See “How often is too often when redesigning your blog?”)

As a designer and developer, I get the itch to redesign my blog often.

  • It’s fun
  • I get bored of designs quickly and easily
  • Having a new design is exciting

But I would stress about “my branding” and “confusing my readers” and “not having a consistent online presence”.

Well, after redesigning my blog every 6-10 months for the past few years, I can tell you that nothing bad has happened. My readership continues to grow and people still know who I am. Sure, I don’t have a consistent logo, but that hasn’t stopped me from writing, and it hasn’t stopped readers from coming back.

2) Post every day or once a week—it doesn’t matter

I’ve been on both sides of this coin. I blogged 5-7 days a week for years. Now I post maybe once a week.

I’ll be honest, I do miss blogging 5-7 days a week. I miss it a lot, actually. But after a few years of that, I’m sad to say that I’ve run a little dry of blogging ideas. I simply have fewer things to say, which is why I pulled back to only posting about once a week.

But guess what? Nothing bad has happened as a result. I don’t even get fewer page views. I just make sure to put 100% effort into every post I publish.

See: This whole “post constantly to be a successful blogger” thing is bullshit.

3) Following your passion is the most important thing

Passions change. That means your blog might change. This is also something I’ve struggled with so many times. I was afraid of losing my audience because they wouldn’t be interested in my new passions.

But I can promise you something: you’ll be a lot happier if you follow your passion but lose some of your audience, than if you DON’T follow your passion and blog about something you no longer love.

See: Do I need to ‘find a niche’ for my blog?

“Passion trumps niche” Amanda, Nellie and Co.

4) You don’t have to accept all advice

I’ve often ranted about how much I hate copy and pasted content like blitzes, promo posts, spotlights, etc. — especially where the HTML is provided for you and you just paste it into your blog. Well if you’re seriously passionate about those things, then ignore me and post them, goddammit. Other peoples’ opinions are just that—opinions. You don’t have to follow them.

One thing I ignore is focusing on a specific niche. My blog would probably be more popular if I ONLY posted about books, or ONLY posted about coding, or ONLY posted about WordPress, or ONLY posted about freelancing. But I don’t want to do that. I prefer to awkwardly straddle all of those topics, so that’s what I’ll do.

See: What to do with blogging advice (particularly when you’re fucking sick of it).

5) Don’t treat blogging like a job (unless it is)

So many book bloggers get unnecessarily stressed.

  • They don’t review a book before the publication date and freak out.
  • They don’t feel like reviewing a book at all and punish themselves for it.
  • They push themselves to publish posts they’ve always done, like monthly wrap ups, etc. — even if they’re no longer fun.

Why did you start blogging in the first place? Probably because it sounded fun. Keep it that way.

Unless this is your job, you’re not being paid. You don’t have a boss. There are no rules. So stop holding yourself to these totally arbitrary rules like:

  • Read books in the order you get them.
  • Don’t read that 2017 ARC until you’ve read and reviewed that August 2016 one.
  • Post at least 3 times a week.
  • Review every book you read.
  • Post a wrap up each month.

Who came up with that shit anyway?

If there’s something you don’t want to do, then don’t do it. Stop forcing yourself to do things you no longer enjoy.

See: If you’re a stressed book blogger, why are you doing it?.

What are some lessons you’ve learned as a blogger?

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I'm a 27 year old California girl living in England (I fell in love with a Brit!). I like to inject a little #girlpower into the WordPress development community by teaching women how to be coding badasses. more »

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25 comments

  1. All great advice!

    I do see more traffic if I post more often, but I think 1) that doesn’t mean you have to post all the time if you don’t want to or have nothing to say and 2) that’s probably just a thing that applies to my blog and not all blogs. I have been reading advice recently that suggests putting more into promoting the posts you have, rather than trying to post all the time, might be the way to go. After all, if you don’t currently have many readers, no one’s going to see the 7 things you post each week, right?

    And, yes, just blog how you want. I follow that advice all the time and haven’t been in a horrible blogging slump in the whole five years I’ve been blogging. I just do what I want when I feel like doing it, and it makes blogging so much more fun. πŸ˜€

  2. Great tips! I’ve been blogging on my current blog for 3 years, and I’ve learned a lot of these lessons the hard way. It’s my blog, so I do what makes me happy. I try not to stress about followers or pageviews or anything.

  3. Congrats on the four years! That’s amazing! πŸ™‚
    I’m definitely one of those bloggers that gets stressed about not posting as much as I’d like to, so recently I’ve been trying to stop that, because as you say it isn’t a job, it’s a hobby. I already have a job that stresses me out, without creating another one for myself! And I love what you said about following your passion! I blog about books mostly, but occasionally do writing and lifestyle posts, and I like having a bit of variety like that, even if people are constantly saying to pick a niche and stick with it. It doesn’t seem to have done my blog any harm anyway! πŸ™‚

  4. I’ve totally hit a reviewing rut, and I know, logically, that I’m putting too much pressure on myself to post all the time. I need to step back and do what I want and what I’m passionate about. Because that’s why I started.

  5. Awesome! I love your rules…they touched me like a breath of fresh air. Blogging can be fun if we don’t stress about it and post at will, read whatever we like and whenever we like πŸ™‚ Happy blogging!

  6. I have often wondered if I’m doing it right. What I blog about diverges significantly from the book I try to promote, although I do try to find ways to naturally bring up the book without being overbearing. I also only post once a month. I’ve been blogging for seven months and progress towards a readership has been slow. After reading this post, I feel a little better about what I’m doing.

  7. Love your advice and I so agree with you. Blogging should be like a playground or a notebook – just for fun and creativity.
    But it really is like, there is being created some unspoken rules about blogging (the monthly wrap up is such a great example) and thats kind of sad, I think. The blogs looses their “personality” when they stick to the rules or what other bloggers do. And I do miss more originality and truly creativity in the blogosphere.

    /j, bookblogger from copenhagen

  8. #3 and #5 are so important for me! It’s easy to feel obligated to do things a certain way, especially when you’re new to something, and that was me for SOOOO long. I feel like I finally know myself as a person and as a blogger, and I feel MUCH better about doing the things the way I WANT to do them, not how I feel I should. NoseGraze was always my go-to blog for advice or clues when I wasn’t sure how to do anything blogging related, and I feel like I’ve learned so much from you! (sorry if that’s sappy, but honestly) Thanks for sharing this post! πŸ™‚

  9. LOVE. THIS. POST.

    I think the thing that I’ve most learned is to blog about my passion. I started out as a book blogger and I mostly posted reviews and weekly updates for years. Once I finished library school and got my first job as a librarian, things started to shift slowly. I didn’t have as much time to read as I used to. Writing reviews sounded like a lot of work that I didn’t want to to do. I started wanting to write about the things going on in my library and my school. I’ve very slowly been creeping out of the book blog world and into the ed blog world. Very slowly. This summer I finally had my personal blogging breakthrough where I said, “I’m doing this.” I actually deleted the content I had written previous to becoming a librarian (the reviews are still on goodreads so who cares) and I’m focusing my blog on my passions: education, my library, and books (because of course I still love books).

    Sorry I wrote you a novel…

  10. This is fantastic advice! I really struggle with posting regularly, and I used to get frustrated because I thought that meant I would get less followers. I tried a blogging schedule once upon a time, but it was stressful and didn’t change my number of followers/readers at all. Now, I just put up a post whenever an idea strikes me, and I’m a lot happier that way.

  11. ^^^THIS. This is so true. Most bloggers would unnecessarily stress on these “rules” and the charm and fun of blogging that made them blog in the first place would eventually disappear. I have seen many bloggers who make it a life-and-death priority to finish ARCs in a certain order, or post a certain meme even though they no longer enjoy it, or stress about posting reviews so much that their actual reading gets hampered. As a blogger, comfort and fun is my first priority. I don’t feel the urge to go by any rule (who made them anyway?). Sometimes I post once a week, sometimes a few times a month and sometimes, when I’m not in the mood and it starts to feel like an obligation, I go on a hiatus. Yes, that affects my readership. But I’d started blogging because of MYSELF…because I love reading and discussing and fangirling about books and authors…but if I’m stressing about finishing my ARC pile in chronological order, or forcing myself to read and review a book only because “everyone is doing it”, where’s the fun in that? Isn’t that the death of the reader in me?
    As always, very insightful post Ashley πŸ˜€

    Munira @ In Vogue with Books recently posted: Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna Banks {REVIEW}
  12. From now on, can we direct every new blogger to this list for inspiration? No but seriously this was a great read and there’s so much to learn when it comes down to blogging at the end of the day. Everything you said is 100% true. Also, PREACH PREACH PREACH, when it comes down to those “rules” that come with being a book blogger–that’s something I wish I had realized WAY sooner when I started blogging.

    Jessica Elizabeth recently posted: Stacking the Shelves #1
  13. I’ve been debating with myself about how often I should update my blog. Thanks for the reminder that what’s more important is that I simply post when I think I have something interesting to share. Blogging doesn’t have to be stressful or like a job for me. It isn’t a job for me and that’s a very good thing.

    Tonya Moore recently posted: Defining Speculative Fiction
  14. This is FANTASTIC advice. I totally agree with you! Sometimes I don’t always follow all of these things (even though I want to) but usually I do, and I just try to be relaxed about everything.

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