What I learnt from writing 3,000 blogs

I’ve just worked out I have written well over 3,000 blog posts. In fact, the figure is probably closer to 4,000.

How have I written so many blogs?

I’ve been writing online for over ten years. During some of that time, blogging was my full time job. Even when blogging wasn’t my primary occupation, it normally formed part of my role.

My first foray into blogging was in 2005, when I started a fashion and beauty blog. The blog was short lived, but it did help me land my first paid blogging gig, and for two years I wrote as many as ten blogs a day for Shiny Media, a blog publishing network.

Since then I’ve written a lot of blogs for my employers, from to weather blogs for the Met Office to Twitter tips for Sift Digital.

Over the last two years I’ve been freelance, so I’ve written a lot of blogs on behalf of clients. Plus I’ve also been writing on my surf blog and charlottehowells.com, as well as for websites like Cooler.

What I’ve learnt…

The most popular blogs are not normally the ones you expect

One of my most popular blogs got 80,000 views in one morning. Others haven’t even hit 8o views after several months. Most are somewhere in between.

Even after writing thousands of blogs, it is much harder to predict which blogs will be popular than you would think. The longer I’ve worked on a particular blog, the better I get, but I am still constantly surprised by the content that does the best.

So if you want your blog to be a viral hit, be prepared to try lots of ideas before you hit gold.

Time spent writing does not equal success

Although I am an advocate of creating high quality content, I have to concede that it’s the quality of the idea (and often the headline) that indicates success more than the time spent writing.

Often the blogs I’ve spent the longest on have been the ones where I just can’t get it quite right, so I tweak and tweak for far too long. In contrast, blogs where I have an idea, write it up quickly, then send it straight out often do well.

If you want views and shares, writing twenty five headlines is probably a better use of your time than deliberating over your conclusion.

Blogs do not (normally) get popular overnight

Blogging is a long game. Unless you already have a large following or are just incredibly lucky, it will take time for your blog to get traction. Allow a year to start seeing real results.

Even blogs that are now incredibly popular (like Buffer) often reveal that it took them a year or more to start getting any kind of significant traffic.

Buffer’s blog traffic

You need to blog often

The single most important thing you can do to increase your chances of success is to blog frequently.

I have not always followed this advice (especially on my personal blogs) but everywhere I have blogged consistently, readers eventually came.

Write it, and they will not come

Saying that, just blogging is seldom enough. You need to to promote your content or no one will know about it, especially in this time of content overload.

Social media matters, and so does search engine optimisation. If you want people to read your blogs, you need to invest time in both.

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