Lessons from 6 years of blogging

• 7 min read

🎧 Note: you can also listen to me narrate this piece on the podcast.

This week marked my 6-year blogging anniversary.

Since 2015, blogging for me has consisted of the following:

- Sharing things on Medium & LinkedIn
- Starting and writing on personal blogs: A Happier Introvert, Quarter Life Introvert, Awkward Brown Guy
- Writing on my current blog, INF Club (previously Introvert Jedi), and my digital journal
- And I can’t not mention the journalling I have been doing pretty consistently throughout this time. I have one journal for writing pieces I will type up & share (on my 2 blogs; see above), and another which is just for me and me alone. To me, blogging really is just “journalling that I share online”.

When I left my corporate job I had plenty on my mind that I wanted to process and share. I didn’t have any clear, logical idea of what would come next, but I knew intuitively that a change was needed and the timing felt right or it.

To be honest, that’s what writing did for me. It helped me express myself in ways I couldn’t through mere spoken words, acessing the deeper parts of my mind and soul, whilst through the process itself reflecting, realising, and growing. For me, it remains to be one of my highest forms of self-care, of creativity, of accessing and deepening my relationship with my intuition… my highest self.

Now that I run a blog and newsletter, I can sometimes find myself forgetting my strong why behind writing. Really, though, nothing has changed.

I continue to write to self-express, to process, to heal and to grow. My hope is that others connect with me and are helped by my writing. Or, rather, my writing is ther to be read by exactly who it’s meant for.

I wrote this piece for my ‘younger blogging self’, and I think those who are wanting to start blogging - as well as those who already have experience with blogging - might find this piece interesting.

It’s been a journey, and one that continues, but here’s my attempt to distil some of my key learnings about blogging:

Blogging for yourself

When you’re getting started - and actually even when you’ve been
blogging for a little while - I feel it’s important to blog for
yourself. Now I’m not saying that you can’t think about who you’re
writing for (this can actually be really helpful), but if you’re writing
about things or otherwise in a way that doesn’t feel good to you, if
you’re not feeling connected to what you are writing about, I might say that you need to return to centre and write from a spot that’s nourishing for you.

First and foremost, write for you. The process is yours and, actually, if
you’re writing from an authentic spot that’s serving you, you’ll find
that others will connect more deeply with what you are writing about. At
least, that’s been my experience.

And this is why, when you are starting out, I would create a container for yourself to keep yourself feeling safe from the vulnerability of sharing your stuff “with the outside world”. Maybe this means writing pieces you won’t share (initially at least), or that you’ll share in a private and safe space away from social media. Start gently whilst you are stepping into this new blogging phase and finding your writing voice. It’s okay to do that.

Journalling

Whilst I share things on my blog, I find it helpful to have a space I write in that’s truly for me and me alone.

Journalling is a way for me to keep a creative practice that is truly for my own joy in and of itself, separate from the “outside world” so to speak. I also feel that journalling helps me hone my writing craft, connect with my voice, and bring me closer to centre… so it also serves my blogging, too, as well as many other parts of my life.

Writing by hand

It might take me longer to produce finished, publishable pieces, but I do all of my blog writing (including this very piece) by hand first.

To me, the act of pen-to-paper can’t be replicated; it’s like an outlet connecting my soul to the page, and it just isn’t the same with my fingers tapping on the keyboard.

I write by hand, type up /edit as I go, before publishing.

Keep the barrier to entry low

Keep a small, simple space to write at - your blog doesn’t have to be the Wall Street Journal. In fact, some of my favourite blogs are beautifully simple… a minimal layout, friendly font, with the focus on the words on the page (or other content, such as a podcast, course, YouTube channel, etcetera).

Either publish on your own space (e.g. Medium), or host on a very simple platform like Proseful. Again, don’t put pressure on yourself to have a fully-fledged blog where you have to post daily or even weekly… especially near the beginning.

Just practice writing, and sharing, and writing, and sharing. There is no rush. You’ll find your own rhythm, and get a sense of whether you’d like to gently double-down and become more serious about blogging.

Finding a writing community

Wordpress comes built-in with the ability to find and comment on other blogs (though I’d stick to one of the simple/minimal templates if you choose that platform).

There’s also twitter, slack channels and other writing communities online. The reason why I prefer twitter and slack in particular, is that they feel conducive to getting to connect with people 1:1 through conversations (in a “public” and a “private” space  - through DMs).

I’ve been a part of some amazing communities online, but the magic really does happen over video calls or - better yet - in real life. Whether it’s a silent writing meetup, or some kind of meetup or gathering for other writers/creatives/indies, I can’t recommend being part of something ‘in person’ enough.

For example, writing or ‘making’ sessions are a great idea as you keep one another accontable, and can also share what you’re working on or others converse in small groups at the end. I’ve been a part of Mastermind groups for the last 5 years, and this was actually my first paid offering for INF Club*. For good reason! :)

*Edit: actually, whilst narrating this piece, I realised that technically this was my 2nd paid offering after 1:1 coaching, but still. And I kinda still see it as my first course/thing, because I ran the Mastermind pilot before I offered my coaching services.

When your goal becomes to make money, giving yourself both time & space

Making money from a blog, in a way that feels healthy and good for you, in my experiences takes time, patience and some experimentation. There are different ways to monetise, and different strokes will suit different folks.

If you put too much pressure on metrics and numbers, this can be stressful and overwhelming, kill the joy, and disconnect you from the joy of the writing process and that why of yours.

Instead, let yourself step into monetising your blog in a gradual, experimental way. As you put one foot in front of the other, you’ll land on what feels good for you and can step more in that direction(s). There’s a reason why I have been calling myself a slowpreneur of late.

Writing freely

This is perhaps controversial, unconventional advice, but I would say not to think too much about topics or niches or any of that rational stuff - especially when you’re starting out. Just let yourself write unfiltered and see what emerges.

You’ll get to experience what your soul really wants to write - or, in other words, you’ll write from that authentic place I’ve already mentoned… rsther than try to morphy yourself into something you’re not right from the outset.

In my experience, your writing and blog may evolve, and it can take some time for you to naturally land on the sort of theme(s) you’d like to write about, and discover exactly the sort of blog you’re interested in writing.

I’m not even convinced a specific niche is needed, to be honest. It can be helpful to think about topics and the sort of person you would like to serve, but oftentimes stepping into the rational brain can trip us up and lead us down a writing path that doesn’t serve us.

Write as often as you feel like, and start light

Again, possibly an unconventional suggestion here. Is it helpful to commit to publishing an article every week? Is some more space needed for you to write with freedom, and free from the pressure of expectations, goals, readers, social media, likes and follows, money…?

You see, this is where it stats. So often we can get into future thinking and imagine this perfect, fully-fledged blog with all the bells and whistles.

Don’t do that! Instead, try to remain planed in there here and now, and keep things simple for yourself by just sharing in your own timing on a platform like Medium or Proseful. As momentum develops and you find some rhythm, then you can think about gently increasing the regularity of your posting, or commit to a schedule that serves you (though being okay with keeping some fluidity so that you don’t burn yourself out - I loved Kat's sharing of burnout and her own experiences with managing her relationship with her blog, here and here).

Learning through experience, not through ‘research’

If you’re interested in understanding the building blocks of building and running a blog, stick to the basics-only and then just learn from the experience itself. There’s much wisdom and intuition to be gained from just stepping in and trying things out.

A couple of guides for bloggers, artists & makers which easily cover the 80%+ that is more than enough to get started, are:

Corbett Barr’s 18 Months, 2 Blogs, Six Figures

Chris Guillebeau’s 279 Days to Overnight Success

Remembering your ‘why’

Don’t lose sight of why you’re writing in the first place. Find the balance that works for you when it comes to getting writing done, without setting yourself a rigid schedue but instead following your natural rhythms.

Remember, whether you’ve published 10 posts so far or 1000, blogging should still feel joyful and like you’re letting your authentic voice come out, expressing your truth, your thoughts and your “way of being” out into the world.

Blogging is a magical, fun and nourishing thing… if you remember just two or three of these things, it might just help you keep some of that magic alive as you embark on your own blogging adventure.

So what about you?
What's your journey been like so far? Is there anything you've learned along the way. You can write back to me at jasraj.s.hothi@gmail.com, or tweet me @jasraj0.

by,

Jas


👤 Amongst other things, Jas Hothi calls himself an writer, dreamer & slowpreneur. He curates INF Club, a blog + podcast to help bloggers, artists and makers navigating their creative journey. Subscribe to the newsletter and you'll receive Happier, an e-book that shares Jas's story of transitioning away from corporate life.

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