20 Lessons Learned from 4 Years of Blogging for Satisfaction Instead of Success

WordPress 4 Years!

Fun trivia: if you try to pay Facebook to “boost” one of your posts so more than five followers will see it, they’ll refuse your money and deny the request if the post has no images, or if its primary image contains more text than picture. I learned that one firsthand in August 2014. Y’know, for science.

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.


18 responses

  1. Congrats on your anniversary, Randall! You started blogging shortly after I did and wow, 1277 posts – that’s impressive! I managed about 300 or so. I’m not only an introvert who doesn’t enjoy self-promotion, but also a slow writer apparently. Best wishes for the next 4!


  2. Some wise words You might say “golden.” I’ve found that when I write for myself an amazing thing happens. I can reach others. Maybe not as many as Donald Trump. But those who are meant to be reached. Keep up the faithful blogging!


    • Thanks, Tony, that means a lot to me. The reassurance and inspiration I’ve found in your own writings has, on more than one occasion, reached me at times when I’ve needed them most. That’s immeasurably more than Trump ever has or ever will do for me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: 20 Lessons Learned from 4 Years of Blogging for Satisfaction Instead of Success — Midlife Crisis Crossover | nowavailableonvhs

  4. I like this alot Randall. I reblogged to share your wisdom, if that’s cool.
    I’m in agreement that blogging for yourself is the way to go. I might not get much attention by jumping around in topics, by not staying current or trying to be more relatable, professional, timely and organized but I get more out of treating my space here as my little self indulgent-thoughtbubble-obsession-spot (and often times that thought bubble is empty!)….


    • By all means, I really appreciate you sharing this. And I have those emptied-out days myself. On the last day-off I took from MCC this week, I just spent the whole night book-reading because sometimes I just really need to get away from all the screens, and to switch mental modes to “input” instead of “output”. Overall though, I take pride in taking things at my own pace rather than feeling obligated to adopt some sort of Professional Blogger lifestyle with a regimen and procedures and business plan and strategic initiatives and BLEARGH.

      (Fun postscript: after posting this Thursday night, within the past 24 hours I’ve suddenly found myself with several new Twitter followers, all of them with the words “marketing” or “social media” in their profiles because apparently they’re super-eager to help turn internet small-fry into Professional Bloggers. For a price, of course. These people obviously don’t know me or get me…)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I tried that once-posting so many days per week, certain topics on certain days and while I might enjoy it on other blogs it wasn’t me. It made me feel a completely unnecessary pressure to produce when all I wanted to do was share things I liked or vent a little or babble on about fun stuff that maybe my friends don’t care about. It started to feel like homework. I got burned out and realized there was no point because I didn’t have a monetized blog or plan on that. I never wanted to start counting followers or manipulating what I wrote to gain attention and now I never do that and it’s so much better and easy breezy and if nobody stops by than so be it (although of course it’s like absurdly exciting when somebody does!)
        Much wisdoms in your post! Had to share. Glad you don’t mind.
        I know what you mean about being screenless sometimes, too. In fact lately I’ve been getting headaches from my PC so maybe glasses are in order but I started reading more and watching actual television when it actually airs on a real television instead of on my pc or tablet streaming and it’s pretty fun! Who knew. Sometimes we just need that break.

        Pfft–it actually really bugs me that those twitter accounts popped up there wanting you to fork over some $$…can’t blogging just be PURE! get away with your marketing junk you jerks.
        Nothing, NOTHING (scream that out loud when you read it please) makes me more insane then spammers though & spammy likes from randos that clearly didn’t read a post and never plan to.


      • Also it’s so cool your wife reads your blog! Time and again I’ve heard people say they can’t get their spouse to care even the tiniest bit about their blogging and I always think if that was me it’d hurt my feelings. Good on her. What a lady!


        • My wife is indeed amazing in a ridiculous number of ways. I’m not even sure any of my other relatives have ever seen this site. I learned years ago to avoid talking up my internet activities with most other friends or family in person because they tend to get this special look in their eyes, a disturbing combination of glazed and patronizing, right before they make up any possible excuse to change the subject or run away in the other direction.

          So yeah, Anne pretty much wins at ALL the things.


  5. Thank you for this, Randall. I’m new to blogging, don’t know what kept me away from it for so long. I soaked in every paragraph you wrote, way past the 500-word mark, right to the end actually. It’s fascinating to read about you looking back on your blogging journey. I wonder what I will say in four years, if I’m still blogging, as I hope I will be. Good luck for your next four years!

    Liked by 1 person

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