What I’ve Learned in my First 10 Years of Blogging

10 years of blogging

Thank you for joining me today as I celebrate my 10 year blogiversary!

Before attending the 2006 POC Conference, I had no interest in blogging. Then I heard one of the speakers say that blogging was fun, easy, and good for business, and that we should all go home and start a blog.

She said that blogging was fun, easy, and good for business. Was she right?Click To Tweet

I was skeptical, but decided to give it a try, and soon afterwards From the Desk of Janet Barclay was launched.

From the Desk of Janet Barclay

I had no plan, no strategy, no goals, and no idea what I was doing, but I was immediately hooked. And after writing hundreds of blog posts over the past ten years, I’ve learned a quite a bit along the way.

Here are my top five pieces of blogging advice, based on my 10 years of experience.

1. You need a clear focus.

When I started my first blog, as a professional organizer / virtual assistant, I wrote about organizing strategies, technology, working from home, the organizing industry, and anything else that crossed my mind. It wasn’t until I took a blogging course in 2009 that I understood the importance of having a focus. To achieve that, I had to start over from scratch, and that’s when I launched Your Organizing Business.

2. Your blog should live on your business website.

I’ve always had a website for my business, but From the Desk of Janet Barclay was a separate site, and so was Your Organizing Business initially. Because of that, people were reading my blog, but not visiting my business website. Some of my readers probably weren’t even aware that I had a business or what services I offered. I later merged Your Organizing Business with the Organized Assistant website, with great results, and eventually shut down From the Desk of Janet Barclay.

3. It takes work to build a list.

Building a list isn’t just about allowing readers to receive your blog posts by email. Most people are very cautious these days about getting on yet another mailing list, so you need to offer them something over and above the convenience of not having to check your blog for new content.

I was really slow out of the gate on this one and didn’t offer an opt-in gift until last year. And it took me nearly that long to clue in that I could make joining my list a requirement for participating in the Professional Organizers Blog Carnival.

4. Your work doesn’t end when you hit the Publish button.

Coming up with ideas, researching them, drafting and editing your post, and taking or finding great photos to go with it can add up to a lot of time, and it’s tempting to just move on until it’s time to write your next one. If you want your time and effort to pay off, (and I know you do!) you need to get the word out in as many ways as you can. That includes posting it on social media – not just once, and not just the week you publish it.

You also need to allow time for moderating and replying to comments, communicating with guest bloggers (if you choose to have any), keeping an eye out for broken links, and performing regular website maintenance.

5.  The blogosphere is constantly evolving.

No matter how much thought and planning you put into your blog, you’ll need to make changes.

For example, when I started From the Desk of Janet Barclay in 2006, many of my posts had no images and some had tacky clipart, as shown in the above screenshot. Even when I used photos, they were quite small, since most people didn’t have fast internet connections. The fonts were pretty tiny too!

By the time I started Your Organizing Business in 2009, I was excited to put a “big” 400 pixel wide photo on each post. If you look back at those older posts now, those photos seem quite puny!

Now they are even larger, and many WordPress themes (including this one) automatically display the first picture in the post as a Featured Image. Because my photos were already embedded in my posts, I had to decide whether to display them twice, manually update each post to remove the extra image, or edit my theme files. I opted for the latter.

In summary, blogging has been more work than I anticipated, but it’s also been much more rewarding, both personally and professionally, than I ever imagined.

Answer one of the following questions in the Comments section:

If you’re an established blogger, what blogging advice would you give to someone who is just getting started?

If you’re planning to start a blog, what information do you need to help you move forward?

Photo © gvictoria / depositphotos

A former professional organizer, I’m now a Web Designer and Care Plan Specialist. I love helping others succeed by sharing the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through marketing my own business for over 15 years! When I’m away from my desk, I enjoy reading, photography, watching movies, and cooking.

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Comments

  1. Congratulations on 10 years, Janet! You make some important points, including the fact that it takes time to grow your connections. I’ve found it to be a very satisfying and fun part of my business. I would say, don’t start if you don’t like writing :), but if you enjoy connecting with people, and meeting people beyond your geographical region, it’s a great way to go. It’s through blogging that I’ve met great people like you!

  2. Congratulations on your decade of blogging!

    The advice I would give to someone starting a blog is to use compelling photos and infographics. It takes time to find or design good ones, but, in my experience, it makes a big difference in people clicking on your blog on social media.

  3. Congratulations on 10 years blogging! Your point about having a blog focus hits home for me. I realized recently after 5 years of blogging that I need to reduce my focus on my organizing blog. So, now my focus is strictly DIY organizing (craft and challenges) and quick recipes. After I revamp the blog the end of this year, it will be strictly those two topics. Since I established my small business blog, it has been much easier to create content and stay focused when I had a much smaller niche.

    Plan the week before the beginning of the month the various topics you want to write about. Write them down on a dry erase calendar. This has helped me stay focused on what I want to write and allow me to see the bigger picture.

  4. How exciting, Janet!!! Congratulations on your 10-year blogiversary. That’s something to be so proud of. Thank you for sharing your reflections of what you’ve learned not just today, but for how you continue to support and share with your blogging colleagues.

    I found it interesting to read about how you made the choice to mesh your blog with your business website…and how that’s been good for business. I currently have two sites…my book/blog site and my organizing services site. While they link to each other, I’ve opted to keep them separate based on advice I received when I set up my book/blog site when the book launched six years ago.

    Especially after reading your comments, I can definitely see the value in having them be together. For now, though, I’m going to keep them separated. But it gives me something to think about and if perhaps the reasons for separating them originally no longer apply.

    Thank you for always giving me more to ponder.

    • It can be a big undertaking to merge two sites, especially when they’ve been around for a long time, but it’s definitely worth considering. I know you’ll make the decision that’s best for you and your business!

  5. Yay for 10 years, Janet!!! Thank you for sharing your valuable lessons with us. I love your point about your work not ending after you hit the publish button. This is an area I need work on. Here’s to another 10 years… 🙂

  6. I think consistency is key. Even if you only blog once a week or once a month. Getting out of the habit of writing, editing and promoting can send you into downward spiral. The next thing you know it’s three months later and your blog is lonely and your readers have forgotten about you. Blogging is a muscle, use it or lose it.

  7. Janet,
    Congratulations on the ten-year anniversary of your blog! Quite an accomplishment.

    My advice is to be consistent in your blogging. If you want to blog weekly, then do instead of sporadically. I have an excel spreadsheet to track my blog/social media posts and newsletters by month including; main topic (theme); subtopics (4 per month for 4 blogs and my newsletter links to them); a client story, an organizing quick tip; special offer; event, and featured product. I try to have a plan for 3 months and as I come across ideas, I plug them into my spreadsheet for future months.

    Anne

  8. Happy 10 Year Anniversary!
    Thanks for telling us how you evolved with technology. There is always something new to integrate into what you are already doing. I appreciate that you share what you know to educate the rest of us.
    My advice to someone new to blogged is schedule it. So many of my colleagues have told me that they have a blog, but haven’t posted anything in months (or years). Posting regularly is important to growing your followers.

    • Yes, I agree! I tell people just because they have time to write 10 posts this month doesn’t mean they should publish them all right away, especially if there may be long gaps afterwards. Slow and steady wins the race…

  9. Congratulations, Janet! Thanks for offering such a wonderful venue for sharing our blogs. I still remember the excitement of having one of mine included in the lineup!!
    I have found that having a theme word for each month for my newsletter helps me to determine the topics for my blogs for that month. I also highly recommend having a wonderfully talented daughter to be your virtual assistant. I send her my blog just as a plain word document & she gives it her creative touch that makes it look beautiful!!

    • Well, I always wanted a daughter, though I hadn’t specifically thought of THAT benefit! Your blog is beautiful, so I have to say you lucked out!

      You and Anne both recommend monthly themes. I’ve done that sporadically in the past… maybe I should explore that again.

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