What all of my failed blogs have taught me
Blogging isn’t for everyone, but writing is.
I started my first blog when I was 13 years old (Xanga anyone?). “Blogging” wasn’t a really a thing, but it was fun to connect with people on the internet. In the 13 years since then, I started five blogs. I also abandoned five blogs.
They weren’t successful, so I said what’s the point and moved on. I defined success or failure based on impressions. How many people were reading my posts. How many likes they got on Facebook. How many views. The numbers were very bad.
When a blog didn’t immediately take off, I would write it off as a failure, come up with a new concept and start over.
Looking back on my graveyard of failed blogs, they all have one thing in common. They were extremely inauthentic. I was afraid of expressing (and exposing) myself and my thoughts, so instead I would write bullshit articles about topics I saw other bloggers doing. Or I would vaguely review events I went to, never really forming a real opinion and just writing for the masses. A cycle started forming. I would spend weeks creating posts, get frustrated that I wasn’t getting traffic (why would I? I was doing nothing to even promote my writing or really to add value to other people’s lives) and then I would abandon that idea. I almost always blamed the failure on my boring domain name or the fact that I was using WordPress instead of BlogSpot or so many other excuses that really meant nothing when the real problem was in my writing. The problem was that I wasn’t writing. I was so caught up in the idea of being a “blogger” that my content was flat and meaningless.
When I built my website, I was unsure how to incorporate my blog into it. It was just my name as a domain after all. In my mind, there was no point in blogging under my own name because no one knew who I am therefore no one would care what I have to say. My site took many forms over time. It started as a blog, then became a portfolio site, then went back to a blog. Now it exists as a portal to my content marketing business, with little sprinkles of my writing here and there because I’m still not convinced people actually care about what I have to say.
For the past few months, I’ve been leaning on Medium to write. Using this platform and reading the words of others was a lightbulb moment for me. I don’t care about blogging. But I love to write. I’ve finally let go of that incessant need to be a “blogger” and finally realized that all I want to do is write my thoughts and hope that at least one person can relate to what I have to say.
I finally learned that it doesn’t actually matter what I’m writing about, as long as I’m consistent. Most of my blogging failures stemmed from a lack of commitment on my part and my inability to trust the process.
I want to inspire people to look at the world differently, think about new things and explore within themselves.
Numbers or followers or website traffic don’t matter when the subject matter is something you enjoy. Sure, that stuff is important and helpful to have. But creating content has to come first. If genuinely enjoy what you’re doing, and are halfway good at it, people will notice, and the numbers will follow.
It’s so obvious when people are creating bullshit content that they’ve put in a content calendar just to meet their personal quota. It’s obvious when the content doesn’t even mean anything to them. It’s obvious when they’ve picked a few successful blogs they admire and created their strategy around what they think makes those other blogs successful. It’s obvious when their only goal is to monetize their blog because they make little to no effort connecting with their audience.
This is not to insult bloggers. It’s mostly a dig at my past self because those are all things I did and made me think I was so clever. That I had studied enough blogs to discover the secret to blogging success. I look back at blog posts I’ve written when I was testing out the blogging waters, and they were garbage. I don’t care about fashion so why did I write an article about work-friendly outfits? I don’t even believe in dress codes or enjoy corporate culture period. I despise those things. But that’s what successful bloggers were writing about, so I wrote about it too because I was a sheep.
When I was exploring blogging, everyone I consulted had the same advice. Find your niche. My niche now is that I don’t have one. Or at least I haven’t found it yet. I’m hoping it will find me, organically as I keep writing and creating content I enjoy.
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Sarah Aboulhosn is a writer and content strategist who loves good design, flying over oceans, and is a self-proclaimed pop culture expert (seriously, ask her anything). Learn more about how she can help you create the content your brand deserves at www.sarahaboulhosn.com.