3 Years of Personal Blogging – 5 Challenges I've Encountered
Over the past four years, I have been reluctant to write, but I have had the desire. I pay fifty euros every year to eliminate the technical obstacles. Now I face challenges in blogging, and it is not the creative writer's block or procrastination.
The challenges I face now is little traffic, post length, attention economy, privacy, and value and originality. The challenges are likely all interrelated, which means that they impact one another in meaningful ways. Therefore, solving one challenge may solve the others too.
1. little traffic
I see statistics about how many people read my posts. The reason for low numbers lie mainly in an unspecified topic, and my lack of advertising and networking, and inconsistent publishing.
1.1. vague topic
I haven't made up my mind as to what I should write about after three and half years. I don't know why somebody would read my blog if it is something “simple” like how Bitcoin works. There are countless other blogs that write about it and maybe even better than I ever could. (See WORDS Bitcoin Journal)
This brings to my main point: I am not an expert in anything but my own life. This is the reason my blog over time has grown into a journal and a story of my “exciting” student life. And there is only so much I can write about my adventures. I realize I should write about something niche that I enjoy putting my free time into, if I wanted to increase view counts.
1.2. lack of sharing
I don't advertise and share my blog, because I don't have a specific, niche topic that a certain audience would return to read. I don't know who to advertise my blog to except my family, friends, and colleagues. Mainly because it is indeed about my life. As a result, I get little visitors.
If I had a niche topic, that would open the possibility for me and others to share it to like-minded, interested people. My life is honestly not that interesting.
1.3. inconsistent publishing
I don' publish consistently and so people don't return unless I notify them through other channels. I don't publish consistently because I don't know what I should write about. I can't write about my life all the time, and I don't have a topic outside of myself that I know what to write about consistently.
Focus on writing freq over anything else. Schedule it. Don’t worry about building an immediate audience. Focus on the intrinsic. @andrewchen
2. post length
I sometimes want to write short pieces, like 300-word articles, but I have the feeling that it is too short. In contrast, long 2000-word articles are too long and people don't have the time to read them.
For SEO don't write short articles (>2000 words). @ferrucc
3. attention economy
Given the addicting social media, competing against attention economy is not that great. Why would people read my blog when they can get their good-feeling neurotransmitters off TikTok? Perhaps my audience then is not them. Because if it were, I am using the wrong medium to reach them.
No one has time to read your article, write the first lines like they're a TLDR. @ferrucc
Am I even competing in first place given that I have no agenda that I am pushing, neither am I trying to win something, or clickbaiting in the hopes of increased ad revenue?
What can I share? How much can I share? Can my words be used against me out of context? What are the negative consequences of my blog posts? These questions are in my head and I don't know the answers.
What may be the most universal answer for all bloggers is to not write profanity or humbug, do their research, share only what they feel comfortable with, and know that their digital footprint will last there for decades if not forever.
5. value and originality
This is perhaps the biggest reason as to why I am reluctant to write. I think that whatever I write is just a rehash and therefore not original. What is the value in a paraphrased copy? Then again if I truly wanted to write something original that would mean researching a topic for months and then write a piece about it. I don't have time for that either.
Why would people read my stuff? Because they find my work clear, organized, persuasive, and valuable. But if it is just a rehash, why would it be valuable? Because for me it may be unoriginal and already known, but for others it may be the first time they've heard of it. Therefore, whatever little thing I post, it can be of value to someone.
There’s always room for high-quality thoughts/opinions. Venn diagram of people w/ knowledge and those we can communicate is tiny. @andrewchen
Given the five challenges I've encountered—lack of niche topic and sharing, article length, attention economy, privacy, and value and originality—the central one is definitely the niche topic.
I think that when I find what I am excited to write about, everything else will come after. I will share more aggressively because I know there is value and originality in my writing. Privacy is not an issue anymore given that it is not about me anymore. Competition becomes easier when I establish myself as an expert of some topic. And as a result of an exciting topic, post length will naturally find itself long.
Writing has made me a better thinker and researcher. I expand on my reasons why. @gregorygundersen
Here are some helpful resources and inspiring blogs that I sometimes read that I've found over the four years of blogging.
- William Zinsser – On Writing Well
- William Strunk – The Elements of style