How to start a successful blog? The internet is full of experts advising on the topic. I’ve had this blog for two years now with April 30th marking my two year anniversary. When I started writing, I was plagued with number of doubts (not that I don’t have them now) – do I have enough to say? Do I have something new to say? Or at-least a different approach to say things that’ve already been said? I put aside all these and started on my strong belief that I had to write, I had stuff which I wanted to get out of my system, to put things onto paper. So, I made a list of topics I wanted to write about and started this blog. I confess ’had only 10 blog post ideas with no guarantee I would pen a 11th one as I started, but nevertheless, ’ploughed through. During these initial days, I also read up all on ‘how to create a successful blog’ on the internet which boiled down to these few key points:
- Write often – 3/4 times a week (writing more makes you a good writer)
- Write on specific topics – create a niche
- Limit posts to 500–600 words
- Engage your audience (create a tribe)
- Have a social presence – Facebook page, google+ page, twitter, etc
Dutifully and devotedly, I did this, writing a lot in the initial months, limiting my posts to productivity and minimalism, creating profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ & App.net & trying to engage the one odd reader who stumbled upon my blog. But, after a certain point, I not only found myself rehashing what was already said for the nth time, but actually lost interest in writing because I was being dishonest with myself. I was stifling a voice in me which wanted to write something else not related to minimalism or productivity. For sometime, I mulled on creating a new blog for these ‘general expressions’, but, soon dropped the idea because I knew I didn’t have enough to say to run two blogs. So, slowly, my blog started to change as I incorporated my observations of life, nostalgia, interests & workflows. I even stopped writing 3–4 articles a week ’cause I really didn’t have that much to write about, not to mention that I was sounding repetitive and unoriginal. I was not happy. This was not why I had started writing
Struggling with this ‘blogging crisis’, I completed one year of writing. So, as I promised to myself I moved from wordpress.com to a self-hosted blog. I still didn’t knew what I wanted my blog to be, but, I was committed to writing. By now, I had stopped doing a lot of what ‘probloggers’ of the internet advised. I had never seen an uptick in the number of visits to my blog for following their advice nor did I see numbers falling when I didn’t. I wrote at a much slower pace intending to find my rhythm, not fighting any article taking shape in me, not artificially limiting the its length to suit some imaginary template of success letting it find its own logical fit and posting it on the blog. By now, the only people I guess who were reading my blog were my friends/family who were curious to read what I wrote (more to encourage me I suspect, than due to interest) or folks ’round the world who were into minimalism or productivity. Half way through the second year I took a count – around 100 posts, 9,000 visits, no RSS subscribers, 48 Blog/40 twitter/65 FaceBook/3 Google+ followers (many of whom are my friends) – statistically my blog had failed. It didn’t matter if I wrote or not. If I had entertained any idea of writing for readers, it was squashed. I felt like an utter failure. It bothered me. Friends & family were quick to ask if I was writing for myself or others, but it did little to lift me out of despondency. Questions lingered in my heart – Are my views worthless? (I was afraid, I knew the answer). Why do I even bother to write? Why to force my views onto the world (just because I could)? Should I shut down my blog?
But, I still had something to say, ’still had opinions I wanted to share (even if none wanted to hear). So, I decided to take this as a part of ‘finding my blogging identity’ and decided to stay. I chose topics on the hunch that if it mattered to me, it would matter to others. So, when I look back now, some themes do start to emerge – productivity, minimalism, nostalgia, psychology, politics, sociology, technology (& workflows). Probably I’ll continue writing about these or might change direction again, but, I believe the blog will reflect me – my thoughts, feelings, experiences & observations. It’ll be a personal blog – not focused on any one theme. A rookie blogging mistake probably, but, I cannot be dishonest with myself. Will I gain readers? Or will this blog be similar to ‘shouting in the dark’? I don’t know. But, I know I’ll write till I have nothing to write about (to those, who just thought, ‘holy crap’, sorry folks, I can’t help it).
So, on this occasion of completing two year of blogging – I decided to do some spring cleaning – deleting a few posts which did not fit in with what I believed or which were very derivate of other’s works or which added no value to or just repeated a popular opinion and also rewrite a few lines here and there. But, most importantly, I’d like to take this time to thank my readers (however few) for supporting this blog.