When I started my blog in 2004, I didn't know where I would go with it. Back then there weren't any professional bloggers; I just had a crazy passion for online shopping & helping people find things online that I needed to DO something with. When I quit my day job in 2006, I still wasn't sure how far this would take me, but 7 years later, I've evolved my brand & media company and know that I will never stop blogging. I can't say it's always been “easy” with fluctuations in income and working on my own, but over the years I've become ever more in love with what I do and am so happy with my decisions.
As they say though, Love isn't everything; here are a few things I've learned that help me carry on:
Don't worry about being big
My blogs are relatively small compared to the BIG ones. I have a super-narrow niche, and am content to fly under the radar when it comes to fashion blogs. But I'm still able to make a living blogging, and you can too if you want. You know how everyone is always telling you “quality over quantity?” It's completely true. As long as you have passion for your niche, high-quality content, loyal readers and a laser-focused blog you can sustain it for as long as you want to.
Define your own success
What level of “success” will you have to reach to keep you happy blogging for the long term? Since I monetize my blogs, and this is what I've chosen to do full-time, my success is clearly linked to my ability to make a living through them. But if I was monetizing, and NOT getting emails & comments from readers that I've helped them or inspired them, I would not consider myself successful; the two things go together. Maybe for you, just knowing that you're providing a valuable service, or a diversion is enough for you to keep blogging. It doesn't matter how you define it, but you should come up with some measurement of success in which you are fulfilled & happy with your blog; that is what will keep you going. Don't let anyone else's success or your perception of their success cloud your vision.
You probably didn't start your blog with the intention to make it your full-time job, but maybe you see the potential in it. Don't be tempted to rush it; be patient, go slow. Don't worry about monetizing immediately, maybe let it come to you, and be VERY picky about who you choose to work with. Don't focus too much of your energy on SEO and “technical” things that “people” say will grow your blog faster; it's more important to create high-quality content and connect with your community than to grow fast.
Establish trust & engage with your readers
This is truly the key to everything when it comes to success & longevity in blogging – you have to establish and KEEP trust with your readers over time. Your passion, and being able to share that with your readers is what will keep you blogging – if you change your focus too much, monetize too fast or work with partners who do not speak to your readers, you will jeopardize their trust and you will lose your community. Your readers will be fiercely loyal if you share with them, engage with them and provide them something they can't get anywhere else.
You don't necessarily have to publish and follow an editorial calendar every week, but I do think it's important to post everyday (I post M-F, never on weekends) so your readers get used to knowing they'll see something new whenever they visit. If you can't post consistently or have to take some time off, don't get intimidated by the thought of getting started again; just do it! Chances are, your readers have missed you and will be glad you're back no matter the reason.
These are just some of the things that have helped me sustain my blogs since 2004, what are yours? What have you learned about long-term blogging?
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