Blogging and writing

Blogging Sustainably

Blogging sustainably: ld" traps to avoid – flowers as background image

A blogging friend recently decided to call it quits with blogging, and it got me thinking about how important it is to keep the should monster at bay so that we can keep blogging sustainably.

Shoulds re. what to write about

You may come across articles that tell you what you should write about in order to bring in traffic, make money, etc.  If sticking to those topics works for you, great.  But the beauty of a blog is that it’s your space to write about whatever the heck you want.  Not every post you write has to appeal to all, or even most, of your readers.  You should never feel like you have to self-censor on your blog.  The more you that you’re able to be in writing, the easier it’s going to be to stick with it.

Shoulds re. how to maintain your blog

Post on your own schedule, not other people’s.  Sure, you can analyze stats and try to figure out days and times that will; bring in the most traffic.  If that’s something that makes blogging more interesting for you, do it.  If it’s the most important element of your blog, that’s probably not going to be all that sustainable.

Having flexibility around posting frequency is likely going to be far more sustainable than having rigid expectations of yourself that are barely within reach even at the best of times.  It’s not uncommon for bloggers to express guilt about not keeping up with their posting schedule, but I promise you, you don’t have to apologize or feel bad for posting less often or not posting at all for a while.  No one is going to judge you or criticize you for that, and it doesn’t make you a bad blogger.

More technical aspects of blogging like search engine optimization (SEO), are completely optional.  I don’t mind doing basic on-page SEO because it doesn’t end up taking that much time, but I refuse to change my writing for the sake of SEO.  My SEO plugin typically tells me that my readability is crap, and I’m fine with that.  After all, it’s not who’s actually reading my posts.

Shoulds re. promotion & social media

There are assorted shoulds floating around when it comes to promoting your blog on social media.  You should have [x] number of pins per post, which you should pin on [y] number of your Pinterest boards, plus tweet each new post every [z] number of hours, drop your latest post link in [zz] number of comment threads…  It’s enough to drive anyone bonkers, in my opinion.  My own personal rule is that if it feels like a lot of work, a pain in the butt, or just plain icky, I don’t do it.

There are also plenty of people in the blogosphere that don’t use social media at all, or at least not for blog-related things.  So if you don’t want to dive into the social media deep end, feel free not to.

A healthy relationship with stats

Stats can give you insights, but they can also make you crazy.  Blog traffic can fluctuate for many reasons, some of which are totally out of your control.  Follower numbers don’t reflect the quality of your blog, although it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that they do.  They are some not very good blogs that have high follower numbers, and there are excellent blogs with low follower numbers.

The more that you’re able to detach emotionally from your stats, the easier it’s going to be to continue your blogging journey.

Ignore advice that doesn’t work for you

Plenty of annoying people will come along, like I do every Sunday, and talk to you about different blogging-related things you can try.  Take what works for you, and ignore the rest.  You don’t need to feel like you’re a bad blogger for ignoring other people’s suggestions.  Just because they’re writing about it doesn’t mean that everyone needs to do it.

One of the things that I’ve chosen to ignore is the “rule” that anyone who’s trying to make money blogging needs to put together an email list.  I don’t sign up for other people’s email lists, and I don’t want one of my own, so I’m not doing it.  It doesn’t matter if all the gurus are saying it’s a must-do; it doesn’t work for me, so I’m having none of it.

You do you

I really do think sustainability is important to think about, and it’s important to start thinking about early on in the blogging journey.  Trying to write for your audience is all well and good, but if it’s not sustainable then it doesn’t do you or your readers any good.   So my biggest piece of advice for blogging sustainably would be for you to do you.  Embrace the things that make blogging fun and exciting for you, and hopefully you’ll be around in the blogosphere for many years to come.

A New Blogger's Guide to WordPress from Mental Health @ Home

You can find more about blogging on the Blogging & Writing Tips page and in A New Blogger’s Guide to WordPress.

36 thoughts on “Blogging Sustainably”

  1. Great article. I started my blog account just for a way to be able to have a sort of safe online space for myself. I personally don’t mind if my stats say 0 hits a day. Its just something I’m doing for myself and if one person comes across it and gets something out of it, thatd be enough for me lol

  2. Hello Ashley!
    I can’t wait to come back FT and blog again. I’ve got maybe another week left and the blanket I’ve been making (for what seems like forever) will be completed. Yay!
    I miss all of you a great deal because all of you usually keep me quite grounded.
    Crocheting use to relax me, but since I’ve been watching the news while doing it, I’ve been tense.
    I really can’t wait to be amongst you all again!!
    I hope that you are safe and healthy. Take care.

  3. Yeah, blogging is so weird, because it can mean different things to different people. My mom’s always asking me how to make money at blogging, and I’m always saying, “I dunno.” I love the concept of making new friends, expressing myself, and having the blog available at any time. I think it’s impossible to self-censor, as you said, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to do it, either. Let’s face it–we’re all going to occasionally (even if we don’t mean to) express some rather “out there” viewpoints. Hey, it’s life! Why obsess over everything you say? (Well…. within reason, of course.)

  4. Ashley this is a great post. I do post occasionally on my blog and the only reason is purely personal. It helps me to write it down and I feel connected with those who comment. If it helps anyone in the meantime that’s an added bonus. I never check the stats!!! AND a huge thank you for your tool kit. I’m going to take some time to read it through and check out the links. I needed this right now xx

  5. I’ve learned much about blogging since I started. I was used to post more often but forcing things seems worse to me than follow my inspiration. Life sometimes gets in the way. I really like that you can blog whenever you want or need to. I know that I’m inconsistent with my posts but I’m getting used to it without feeling guilty about it. Blogging should be fun. On the other hand I feel that some things are changing with COVID-19 in the blogging sphere. I just don’t know (yet) how to pinpoint it.

  6. Love it Ashley. You’re right – there are so many posts on “what you must do…….” and I spend my time reading them all, hoping to find something I’m doing right.

    It all drives me insane. Of course I love having followers – just so I know that someone reads and likes some of my content. Other than that, I don’t care where I rank and despite not having much, I don’t want to earn money from my blog.

    So, I’m going to take your advice and ‘just be me’. Caz x

  7. Great post 🙂 I started blogging because I felt like shit and it’s something I said I always wanted to try. Come to find out it’s quite fun and motivates me to take out my real camera more….not that phone cameras aren’t real……..

  8. Love it! while I was reading i found myself breathing a sigh of relief. I so agree. All the “shoulds” about gaining traffic and social media etc…are really overwhelming and drive me bonkers too! makes anyone want to give up! I really like the “you do you. ” I think it really takes some of that pressure off. thanks for this post!!

  9. Blogging is all about what works for you. I wanted social media to work to help me gain readers. I realized the work it takes isn’t worth it for me.

    I have seen bad blogs and bloggers who rarely publish posts get lots of followers and engagement. You shouldn’t compare yourself to them because you don’t know why they do.

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