Welcome back to Voyage of the Mind. Today, I’m going to discuss three important things I’ve learned about the craft of blogging that you should know, too.
I started blogging in January of 2019, which means I’ve only been blogging for about a year and a half. It’s funny, because it feels like it’s been a lot longer than that.
Keep in mind that though I haven’t blogged for very long, I have been writing seriously since fifth grade, which makes a grand total of about 12 years and over a million words. Over 1,000,000. Probably over 2,000,000, too. Which means I’ve had a lot of time to master the craft of writing, which is essential to the craft of blogging.
But here are three things you should know about blogging, specific to blogging, which I’ve learned in the past year and a half.
1: Blogging is easy and fun when you write about things you love.
This tops the list of things you should know about blogging. And, really, this is also true: blogging really sucks when you don’t write about the things you love.
I’ve written about this before, but a bit of brief background for those of you who haven’t followed by blog all along.
Voyage of the Mind started off as Laura Schmidt Books in January 2019. I started Laura Schmidt Books as part of a New Year’s resolution to get an agent for my then-work-in-progress, As In A Mirror. So Laura Schmidt Books existed, at least in part, to attract agent attention.
Let me just tell you one other thing I’ve learned — starting a blog to attract agent attention, for no other reason, is a really bad idea.
On Laura Schmidt Books, I blogged solely about books and writing. And I love both books and writing, but I have a lot of other interests, too — in cooking, current affairs, politics, history, math and science, and all things under the sun.
I was also afraid to publish my own creative writing when I started blogging, so I didn’t. I gave people writing advice in my posts without ever proving to them that I had creative writing chops. This made me feel like an impostor. Impostor syndrome, anyone?
The bottom line was that I wasn’t writing about the things I loved. And I wasn’t sharing the things that were most important to me. I blogged on and off, took a lot of unannounced hiatuses, apologized for said hiatuses. It was a stop-and-start experience at best. Eventually, I knew I had to rebrand if I was going to continue blogging.
And that’s how Voyage of the Mind was born! Now, my blog is a platform for my passions. All of my passions, not just a few. It’s not a niche blog, because I’m not a niche person. I aim for it to be a dizzying, mind-opening, polymathic experience. And I’m happy with it and happy with myself.
2: Blogging isn’t just about writing.
When I first started blogging, I thought that since I was a good writer, I’d make a good blogger. Wrong! Well, sort of wrong. Good blogging is about good writing. But it’s also about a whole host of other things — your ability to connect with your audience on a personal level, your ability to story-tell, your selection of topics, your curation of beautiful images, your ability to grow a social media following, and a whole lot of hard work and perseverance.
Blogging is not a rewarding craft, at least not at first. You start a new blog, and you have few followers. You have to learn to celebrate every victory, no matter how large or small. The moment that first comment pops up? It’s golden. In the beginning, you might obsessively check your blog’s stats. I know I did. It didn’t make them go up any faster.
And as your blog grows, you might become even more obsessive. You might worry about losing your following overnight (which, I promise you, won’t happen despite your fears) or otherwise really fucking something up. It’s okay to make mistakes. I assure you of that. My whole first year and three months of blogging was almost like one long, drawn-out mistake, except that I rescued it in the end by taking the parts I loved and rehashing them into something new and hopefully wonderful.
So, speaking of things you should know about blogging, blogging isn’t just about writing. And it’s very cerebral and can be emotionally taxing. Build a support system for yourself. Be prepared for success and failure. You’ll experience both along the way.
3: Blogging makes you feel powerful.
Ah, power. Something I’ve always wanted, but something I’m afraid of at the same time. Because power changes people. It turns them into shadowy reflections of their former selves. I always told myself that if I were to obtain power, I’d use it wisely and for a good purpose.
And through my words, through blogging, I’ve obtained power. Hopefully, I’m using it for a good purpose.
I didn’t count on feeling powerful this way, though. But I remember the first time I looked at this infographic on WordPress…
… And I realized, suddenly, how many places around the world my words have reached. It was an eye-opening, Lord Almighty moment. And I felt so powerful. My words had touched all continents except Antarctica. My words had traveled around the world. From North America they’d hopped to the UK, from the UK they’d charted a path across central Europe. They’d crossed Russia and moved south across China, the Indian subcontinent, and the Pacific islands to Australia. And then they’d come back around and hit up Alaska before coming home.
This is something beautiful and something powerful. This proved to me that the world is connected and that there are people everywhere who want to hear my voice. Now, it’s not as if hundreds of thousands of people across the world have read my words. But audiences grow in time. That first small audience of ten or twenty is as important as that eventual audience that you don’t know yet. Treat all audiences equally, and you’ll find success.
My favorite blogging moments
So, in my year and a half blogging, here are my top three moments.
May 13, 2020. This one has to be at the top of the list. This is the day I released Voyage of the Mind: A New Vision and laid out my plan for rebranding Laura Schmidt Books into Voyage of the Mind. It was, hands down, one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life, let alone blogging. It’s made me a happier person.
June 8, 2020. Only two days ago, Voyage of the Mind surpassed 100 followers on WordPress. This is a big deal for me! I’m looking forward to hitting 200 next. But this is a sure sign for me that my words are reaching a good audience.
I owe a lot to you.
Without you, my words would never be read! I might feel like I have power, but I only have power to produce and promote. You, on the other hand, have the power to take my words and magnify them beyond what they were, into a big and beautiful community. Voyage of the Mind is not a voyage of my mind. It’s a voyage of all of our minds. Thank you for your continued support and readership! And if you’re a blogger, just starting out, I hope these things to know about blogging prove useful and bolster your spirit in in the months and years to come.