Whether your blogging goals are to make money online or become the most popular blog in your niche, there’s one goal bloggers don’t talk about enough: to enjoy what is, first and foremost, a hobby and an intellectual pursuit.
With all the pressure to write posts that do well on social media, ‘network’ with influential figures and simply publish content on a regular basis, blogging can start to feel a lot like work rather than something we do for fun. In this post, I want to share five simple things you can do to start enjoying blogging more — which is also one of the simplest ways to increase the quality of your blogging.
1. Keep track of milestones.
Things like reaching 100, 1,000 or 10,000 subscribers, getting an email from a popular blogger, making the front page of Digg or getting your first AdSense check are all important blogging milestones. Keeping track of them on a time-line allows you to identify both purple patches and troughs, but most importantly, it provides a record of the highlights in your blogging career. Looking over your milestones can give you a motivational boost on days when you’re feeling ambivalent about blogging and its rewards (and even the best of us have those days). Typing or writing a milestone into your record can help the reality of your achievement to set in.
Your milestones time-line could be a text file, a piece of paper stuck to your wall, a scrapbook or a note file on your phone. The format doesn’t matter, as long as it’s easy to access and update.
2. Structure blogging around your family and social life.
One of the finest qualities of blogging as a hobby is its flexibility. You can write posts when you want, where you want, meaning you can structure your blogging to fit around the most important things in life. Some kind of blogging routine is important (even if it’s flexible), but if your blogging often gets in the way of your family or social life, you’re going to start resenting it rather than enjoying it — or you might start simply neglecting it. One simply way to enjoy blogging more is to try and write posts or answer emails during the quietest period of the day for you. That might be early in the morning before work, during your lunch-hour, or late at night. Set aside zones of time where you often see friends or spend time with your family and make sure to blog outside those times.
3. Find your favorite place to blog.
Certain locations and settings can seemingly induce an automatic flow of ideas and fluid writing. The very act of experimenting with different creative settings can take your blogging to another level, so it’s worth doing! If you’ve got a laptop, you can write posts almost anywhere. Go down to your local cafe, the park or the local library and work out which location you find most inspiring (though it might turn out to be home!) Free wireless at any location is a bonus. If you don’t have a laptop, you could try drafting your posts with a paper and pen in an inspiring location and typing the final draft into your computer.
4. Get to know your readers.
Your blogging success depends on your audience. In many ways, so does your enjoyment! Getting positive feedback and hearing that you’ve helped or entertained people you’ve probably never met feels pretty good. However, by putting so much time and effort into creating great content and promoting your blog it’s very easy to become disconnected from your audience, either by not reading and answering comments, or by not answering reader emails. Without the positive feedback and re-enforcement an audience provides you might start to feel like you’re blogging in a vacuum. Remembering to engage with your audience is a simple way to enjoy blogging more even when your other goals (creating a popular blog or making money online) aren’t yet falling into place.
5. Add an income stream to your blog.
If you’re not yet monetizing your blog, adding an income stream (like a banner ad or affiliate program) can be a fun thing to do, as long as you don’t become too pre-occupied with it. Even if you don’t make more than small change, you might make enough to pay for your monthly hosting or your domain name, or for your kids’ pocket money, and every little bit helps. Part of the fun is watching this income stream grow as your blog does.
6. Engage with other bloggers.
If you’re like me, your friends and family look at you with a quizzical, slightly impressed, slightly confused expression when you start to talk about the blogging world. Through blogging, I’ve been able to meet people know actually know what I’m talking about when I start to go on about RSS feeds, bounce rates, guest-posts and being Dugg . Building friendships with other bloggers and being able to talk about your hobby with other like-minded people is one of the best aspects of blogging.
I should stress that in this point, I’m not talking about your traditional networking connections where the primary motivation is: “What can I give this person, and what can they give me?” Step out of that mindset and think of other bloggers as potential friends rather than potential business partners!
A final tip
One of the most illuminating things a blogger can do is to sit down and rank the different aspects of blogging from most enjoyable to least enjoyable. Doing so will help you identify why you started blogging and why you continue to do so. Your next goal should be to maximize the percentage of time you spend on the tasks you enjoy and minimize the time you spend on those tasks that bore you (or eliminate them completely).
If they’re important tasks, consider outsourcing them or approaching them in a different way. For example, if you like the money-making potential of blogging but dislike writing posts, you might find that taking on more guest-posters or hiring paid writers is the answer for you. You’ll never be able to maximize your enjoyment of blogging until you can define exactly what it is that you love about it.