A Year of Blogging: Tips and Lessons Learned
There is an enormous amount of content swimming around the internet, some of it good, most of it mediocre, and some of it terribly bad. When creating content, quantity and quality are both important, but difficult to achieve simultaneously. What I have learned though, in the course of a year blogging twice weekly (Thursdays and Sundays if you haven't caught on yet) is that creating quality+quantity takes incredible mental and emotional energy. My most popular blogs were the ones in which I was the most vulnerable and honest. The Timeline of My Eating Disorder, for instance, garnered over 100 reads the day it was published. That was a hit, but I've had plenty of misses too. For instance, this regrettable expose about bananas.
Over the past ~14 months, I've learned a few things. Here is the quick and dirty I'd give to any new blogger.
1. You Better Like Writing
Blogging is 80% writing, 7% building/managing the site, and 13% promoting the damn thing. I'm not the best at the promoting bit, which happens to be lesson two.
2. You Need To Market Yourself
Offer to write a guest blog, promote your blog across other social outlets (I consistently use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Medium). Each platform attracts different types of readers. My most popular blog on Medium, for instance, was this one about chewing and spitting. I published the same blog through my personal site and it was only moderately popular, which brings me to point three.
3. Your Hits Might Surprise You
My most popular blogs by far have been about my eating disorder (ED), but when I first launched The Prosiest, I was terrified to write about my ED at all. I *think* these blogs have been more popular for a few reasons: eating disorders are still pretty shameful and not talked about enough; these blogs are personal, vulnerable and therefore relatable; and perhaps most importantly, they are unabashedly honest, which leads to point four.
4. Authenticity Matters
More than you might think. People can smell an inauthentic blog post just as easily as they can smell an inauthentic smile/laugh/gesture/person. People like people they can trust, and being inauthentic=being untrustworthy= being unlikable. It's not a difficult equation.
5. Good Storytelling Matters
Not only should you like writing, but you better be good at it. My blog has seen steady, if minor, growth which means some of you (thank you!!) keep coming back to read more. Good storytelling takes consistent practice, which brings me to my last point...
6. You Have to be Consistent
As previously mentioned, I post twice a week. I knew when I started this blog that posting more often (daily, for instance) would be unsustainable. Any less than twice a week though, felt like not enough. I'm the type of person who would write every day even if I didn't have to. I write for my job (grants & boring workplace stuff), and for fun (this blog, essays, poetry). Being consistent with any endeavor is considerably easier if you enjoy whatever you're doing.
I've recently developed an intense interest in storytelling, it's importance in our culture/human history, it's undeniable rise (tv, movies, business, life, are all mired in story), and it's simultaneous but strange lack of appreciation. Although many of us consume endless stories, few of us admire or appreciate storytellers. Rather, many of us fail to notice them.
Stories begin and end of and within us. I've been running this blog for over a year, and much of what I write about is my own story. This is at once an act of narcissism, bravery, and a surrender to a larger truth. If each of us land on this planet with a purpose, mine is to tell stories; to inspire, to understand, to make art, to make the world a less harsh, more hopeful place. This is a tall order, and not one to be taken lightly.
My eating disorder informs a great portion of my storytelling on this platform, both because it consumed my life for so long and because I know that it still consumes many lives. By telling my story, I hope to make the personal universal. I hope to colloquialize an eating disorder story that is more about hope and less about anguish. More about the possibility of life beyond the disorder, and less about the raw, damaging, heartbreaking reality that is living one. More about the path out than a rumination on the disease. More myth-busting eating disorders and diet culture than serving a one-size-fits-all bullshit diet theory. I've written about relapsing, the myths surrounding eating disorders, losing my period and getting it back, the difficulty of the holiday season, intuitive eating, and so much more.
My story is not linear, just as life is not linear. There is not a clear, satisfying end, because life as we know it, has no end. There are no bullet points or action items, because life is not a meeting agenda or self-help book. There simply is.
I hope you continue to enjoy my story.