20 Lessons Learned from 4 Years of Blogging for Satisfaction Instead of Success
April 28, 2016 18 Comments
I launched Midlife Crisis Crossover on April 28, 2012, three weeks before my 40th birthday as a means of charting the effects of the aging process and this fallen world’s degrading standards on my impressions of, reactions against, and general experiences with various works of art, commerce, wonder, majesty, and shamelessness. It’s my way of keeping the writing part of my brain alive and active, rather than let it atrophy and die. If you’ve read my “About” page, you know this part already.
With four years and 1,277 entries racked up, I’ve now spent more time and enthusiasm on this long-term project than I did in college, both attempts combined. I’ve learned a few things along the way. Sometimes I put one or more of those lessons to good use. Other days, I just gotta be me, and hope that’s good enough for anyone else outside my own head.
What I Know Now That I Didn’t Back Then:
* A picture on every post or why even bother.
* Tags: if you add them, they will come.
* I’m rarely the kind of writer who can dash out 200 words in 10 minutes and click “Publish” with a clear conscience.
* Sometimes I like rereading old entries, but I despise proofreading my own writing before it’s posted.
* The internet contains multitudes of friendly people if you know where to find them, flag them down, and wave your arms like an anxious chicken to capture a moment of their time before they turn their attentions back to the people they’ve known a lot longer than they’ve known you. It’s not necessarily anything against you personally. Their friends were there first.
* I will never be a professional film critic, but sometimes they’re fun to write about anyway. But not always.
* Sometimes I don’t realize my full opinion of a given movie, show, or whatever until I feel it flow into the keyboard and appear before me onscreen. Once I find the words, then I find the verdict.
* I can post seven days a week, and did so for the first fourteen months, but I’ve been less stressed ever since I began letting myself have two days off per week. Usually randomly chosen, not the same two days every week. Reminds me of my younger days in the restaurant biz.
* Many bloggers execute specific tasks on certain days of the week, or develop a sort of rote schedule like network TV. That sort of structure clashes with my multifarious thinking processes.
* I’m well aware bloggers are more successful if they focus on one or two specializations and never, ever write about anything off-topic ever. By reserving the privilege to write about whatever’s at my mind’s forefront each evening, I therefore forfeit readership and some precious site traffic. I’ve come to accept this self-imposed major drawback. Writing about the same subject five days a week for consecutive years would bore me into contempt for it.
* A select few entries as proud exceptions notwithstanding, usually the number of readers who read every word in a given entry will be inversely proportional to its word count. Alas. Hence my refusal to self-impose a thinkpiece quota.
* My amazing wife remains the most loyal reader I have ever had, and will ever have, even when she has no idea what I’m talking about.
* In the style of the comic books of my youth, most entries contain a fair amount of exposition on the assumption that every entry might be someone’s first. But from time to time I’ll turn off my courtesy chip and aim thoughts squarely at fellow fans of a thing if the mood dictates.
* Several longtime readers are fellow WordPress bloggers, but I refuse to act as though my audience comprises only other bloggers, even if that’s how it feels in my occasional weaker moments.
* WordPress likes are cool, but I get more excitable whenever I see signs of interaction on Twitter or Facebook.
* WordPress bloggers really seem to love photos and food more than any other area I cover.
* We introverts are utterly terrible at self-promotion. My reaction: DULL SURPRISE.
* My online friends are still my online friends even when they forget I’m still doing this, and even though the occasional supportive exchange of “I’ve been meaning to catch up on your site sometime!” makes me want to jab a pen through my hand. (‘sokay, I do get it, really. But still.)
* Sometimes I wish I had input from a regular editor. The first time I had a post promoted through WordPress’ old “Freshly Pressed” program, before my moment in the spotlight began, the staffer who selected it gave me a few sharp-eyed suggestions that made it better and reminded me how useful constructive criticism can be when it’s given politely, sincerely, kindly, and at all.
* When I see an entry shared beyond my immediate circles, garnering a capital-A Audience, and taking on a life of its own because someone besides my wife responded to something in it, it’s invigorating, it stokes my engines for weeks, and it lends credence to my theory that these four years haven’t been as wasted as my college scholarships were.
If you made it past the 500-word mark 400 words ago, thanks sincerely for reading. Chances are you’re one of the reasons why I’m still doing this four years later. Here’s to four more years, Lord willing, of chasing and nailing down the written word wherever I find myself led.