Two. Whole Years. Seven-hundred-and-thirty-one days. That’s a hell of a long time. All that time ago, way back then, I thought it’d be a great idea to start up a blog. Rather than letting day after day pass me by and wishing on a star that I’d be a writer, I decided to actually do something. I created a little corner of the ever-growing internet just for me. A place where I could write about geek culture and relish in pursuing my creative passion of writing.
After all: how hard could it be?
As it turns out, very. Apparently, to run a blog, you don’t just need to be a writer. Nope, you’ve got to be a writer, a social media manager, a coder, a designer, a photographer, a marketer, a web-designer, a proof-reader, a copy editor and even have some grasp on media law.
It also costs money. Having a domain name (eg: .co.uk without the ‘wordpress’ tag), and a hosted site isn’t free. Nor are half the decent themes out there. Nor is getting exposure. Etc. etc. You have to give a little to get a little in the blogging game, I’m afraid. (Note: you can obviously keep the ‘wordpress’ tag – and there’s nothing wrong with doing so. It just slightly affects things like Domain Authority and ranking – all which advertisers look at).
All of this wasn’t exactly what I signed up for, but here I am, two years later. Still writing. Still putting word after word on the digital world of pixels, so I guess I’m either doing something right – or I’m just ridiculously stubborn. Who knows. But it’s not all been for naught.
What I’ve achieved
Despite having a six month hiatus – and then a two month slump where I posted the bare minimum, Screen Streams has been something that I’d actually stuck with. And that, in itself, is an achievement.
I’d love to say that I’ve earned enough cash to quit work and write as a living, but alas, not yet. One day, that’ll come to pass. For now, though, that isn’t the reality.
Nor have I amassed thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers, hanging onto their phones as to get a glimpse at when my next post will be.
What I have achieved, though, is something that’s special to me.
First of all, I got accepted into the Google Adsense programme – and then after six months it’s been briefly suspended for no apparent reason. Rather than letting it get to me, though, I’ve found another advertiser to work with! There’s a lot of knock-backs when pursuing a blog, and it’s about how you overcome this obstacles that’s the true test of how much you want it to work. The bottom line is: I’m slowly earning a trickle of cash from my virtual words – so that’s insane!
My most viewed post is one about Lady Gaga, back in the day we didn’t know her album was called ‘Chromatica’, which sits at 3,700 views. Following that is a post about ‘The Umbrella Academy’, which comes in at 3,200. My lowest posts, though – my September ramblings about TV shows, and my review of Twinnie’s country album ‘Hollywood Gypsy’ remain at around 10 views, so it all comes and goes. I can’t wait to see how these numbers change and grow in another two year’s time!
Anyway, in honour of Screen Streams’ birthday, I’ve rounded up a short lil’ list of all the blogging tips and tricks I’ve learnt over these past two years.
Be patient – and grateful
I feel like this is good life advice, to be honest. It doesn’t just apply to blogging. Patience, gratitude and hard-work are a recipe for success in whatever dream you’re chasing.
Now, you’re not going to get thousands upon thousands of views overnight. Your views slump randomly. Your favourite article might only get a trickle, while a lacklustre one might prove to be successful. And that’s okay! You’ve just got to be patient. Slowly chip away at the pile of ‘to-be-written’ posts in the corners of your mind, and enjoy each word you fling out into the digital world. Your patience will, eventually, be rewarded. I promise.
Also – practice gratitude for each view! That one view meant that someone clicked on your blog – using up their valuable time in the day! That’s amazing!
Get involved in a blogging community
One of the best ways to enjoy blogging is to engage with other bloggers. I’m guilty of not finding enough time to do this – as much as I love it. Reading other blogs in your niche is – to me – so enjoyable. Drinking up their different writing styles, reading topics you’d never even thought of, joining in with tags and reading their ramblings on Twitter. I love it all.
Find a Facebook group for bloggers in your niche – and get involved! It’ll make the world of blogging a far less lonely place, trust me. Sit tight until the end of this post where I share some of my favourite blogger pals.
Post about what you want
This is a lesson I learnt the hard way. Don’t write blog posts about things you think will end up ranking highly on Google, or about things you think will earn you a little slice of cash. It gets boring, fast. Write about the topics that set your soul on fire. Write about things that you have something to say about – and then give your own personal spin on it. Write from experience (like how I detailed the time I gave Spider-Man a bag of Uncle Ben’s rice to sign…) – nobody else has done the things you’ve achieved in your life – so write about it! No-one else sees the way the world you do, and your blog is a tool that can give a voice to that. Use it.
Submit to Google Webmaster
This is just a small little trick that some bloggers don’t seem to know about. To get your page to rank faster on Google’s search engine, simply ask them to index your page at this address. Once they review it, it gets slotted away on their pages, giving you a higher chance of reaching that elusive page 1 search result. Win, win!
Don’t get too hung up on stats
Views are a great way to keep yourself motivated as a blogger. You don’t get much validation, on the whole. You get the occasional “great post” comment, or someone complimenting your writing style – but for the time and effort you put in? It’s minimal, so you have to be a highly self-motivated person, otherwise your blog will join the graveyard of abandoned websites (and that’s an eerie place…).
So yes, although stats are a brilliant way to keep yourself going – and to set targets for yourself to beat month on month, don’t get too focused on them. Don’t put all of your worth into view-counts, because they’re as fickle as can be.
Write because you have something to say. Write because you want to. Write because it brings you joy, and you couldn’t imagine life any other way. Write to (hopefully) make a career out of writing. Don’t just write because you want to see a few numbers trickling in. If that’s your only motivation, you’ll get burnt out – fast. (Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to refresh Jetpack another 7,000 times…)
Take a break if you need to
Over the course of two years running this blog, I’ve taken two hiatus’ (you can probably guess when, from my slump is views). Unannounced, I might add. I just… disappeared for a bit. My motivation was lost. My passion – and need – to write about music and film and television just… wasn’t there. So I stopped. I didn’t even think about blogging. I just left it. The first time, I stopped for about six months. The second, for a couple of weeks. I needed to do it, though, for my own sanity. When I came back, I felt revitalised, and ready to crack down and churn out those articles.
Yeah, maybe I should have let my (very few) followers know, but you live and you learn. My advice if you’re starting to feel burnt out? Take a break. This is a hobby, and although you should treat it like a job if you want to see results, it should always feel fun.
Lastly, a thank-you…
Thanks for reading this blog over the past two years! Whether you’ve just read this one post, or you like the odd Tweet of mine, it really does mean a lot and keeps my passion for Screen Streams going.
A special shout-out in particular to:
Nat, from ThereMightBeCoffee.
Alex, from SoundBiteReviews.
Mark, over at GarbledGoodwin.
Stephen, at HonestGamer.
Ash, found at ThisDreamIsAlive.
Mariah, at BizarreBrunette.
Heather, at JustGeekingBy.
and Michelle, writing at AGeekGirlsGuide.
All of these geeky blogs are great and are definitely worth your time to check out! Some of them I’ve been reading for a while, others I’ve been following for over a year now. Go and see what they have to say, man!
Stay safe, stay geeky, and stay kind, always.
– J x