Wow! This blog is four today 🙂 I’m still amazed that it just started with a random “Hmm… Why don’t I make a blog?” idea all that time ago.
So, like I’ve done in 2014 (part one, part two), in 2015 and in 2016, I thought that I’d share some of the things that I’ve learnt from making a blog for this length of time, in case they’re useful to you too 🙂 Hopefully, I won’t repeat anything that I’ve already mentioned, but it might happen.
1) You’ll find shortcuts (without even planning to): If you make a blog and update it regularly, you’re probably going to start finding shortcuts for some of the more labour-intensive parts of everything. These will probably suddenly appear to you when you least expect them and they will seem ridiculously obvious in retrospect.
For example, when I used to prepare the earlier versions of my “top ten articles” articles that I post at the end of each month, I used to schedule each draft article, preview it, copy the hyperlink and then return it to draft status. Then I’d type out the article’s title and turn it into a hyperlink. I’d do this 10-15 times in every monthly article. Pretty convoluted, right?
Well, after I’d spent a couple of years getting familiar with this site, I noticed that the “new post” page (on the old editor at least, the new one seems a bit too complicated) had an area below the title box that would give you the address of the article when it was published. All I had to do was copy & paste this, and do the same with the article title. Suddenly, my monthly “top ten articles” posts took between a third and half of the time that they used to make.
So, if you keep blogging regularly on the same site, you’ll probably end up either working out lots of time-saving shortcuts (without consciously trying to) and/or spotting all sorts of useful features that you didn’t even know existed.
2) Keep everything in one place (as much as possible): There’s a good reason why the interactive fiction project I made for Halloween 2015 is on a separate site, but the short story collection I wrote for Halloween 2016 is on this site.
If you’ve been blogging for a while, it can be tempting to put your spin-off projects on separate sites rather than on different parts of your main site. The thing to remember here is that it probably took you a couple of years to build up the audience for your main site. The instant you start another site, even if you link to it a few times on your main site, the whole process begins all over again.
So, if you want people to look at your spin-off projects, then keep them all on the same site. People who are reading the other stuff on your main site are more likely to notice them and people who discover them serendipitously might also end up looking at other parts of your main site too.
3) Your old articles will always be more popular (and that’s ok): Whenever I look at the viewership figures from this site, something always surprises me. My really ancient articles from 2013 and 2014 often seem to have more views (and more regular views) than any of my new stuff. If I didn’t understand why this happens, I’d probably feel discouraged.
In short, the older something is, the more time it has to accumulate views. The more time it has for people to discover it via online searches. As such, your older articles are always going to be more popular than your new ones for the simple reason that they’ve had more time to become popular.
But, don’t feel discouraged, this will eventually happen to your new articles too – you’ve just got to give it a bit of time.
4) Keep some last-minute filler material handy: Although you should always try to have a large “buffer” of pre-made articles so that you don’t have to post and publish your articles on the same day (I mean, I wrote this article quite a few months ago – hello from the past 🙂 ), it doesn’t hurt to keep some last-minute filler material on standby too.
Why? Well, if you’re anything like me, one easy source of inspiration when you’re uninspired are your own opinions. This has led to a few opinionated articles that I’ve pulled at the last minute (due to worrying that they’re too political, too introspective etc..) and had to replace with something else, like this.
So, if you keep some filler material on standby, then you can quickly replace any article that you aren’t really satisfied with at the last minute.
Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂 Here to the next year 🙂