Okay, so I’ve been at this blogging thing for what will be three years in October. Wow. For something I started doing as a lark, it’s turned into kind of a big deal in my life.
Three years. That’s…
156 weeks. Three posts a week, that’s about…
468 blog posts.
Time spent writing, designing, commenting, tweeting, and reading other blogs…
About 1000 hours.
That sounds impressive…or sad, when I lay out the numbers like that. But I suppose there are worse things I could be spending my time doing, like playing Dungeons and Dragons. During those thousand hours, I’ve learned a lot about what it means, and doesn’t mean to be a blogger.
Blog Smarter, Not Harder
When I started blogging, I had a lot of time on my hands. I could spend hours pouring over a single post if I wanted to, making it just right. These days, I have a lot less time on my hands. The demands of life give me a lot less time, which means I have to make the most of it.
But that hasn’t been a bad thing. Has my blogging gotten worse as I’ve spent less time at it? Not at all.
Spending less time blogging should actually be the goal of every blogger. Sure, I have off days where I struggle to get a thought out, or I have to go over a post a few too many times to get it organized. But your blog should not take up hours on end each week. If you are practicing your writing craft, your blogging should get better and you should be getting more efficient at the same time.
The first key to enjoying your blog is to not let your schedule be defined by it. In fact, the time you spend writing your blog is actually the least important time you spend as a blogger. Those thousand hours I’ve spent blogging? They’re a drop in the bucket. The last three years were made of 26,280 hours. My blog has taken up a mere 3.8% of my time. The rest of that time was spent reading books, working, traveling, playing, and doing all the things that actually define me. If you do not preserve time to do lots of things outside of blogging, your writing will suffer, and it will be a game of diminishing returns.
The Fame Monster
Everyone wants to be famous. It’s easy to criticize people who obsess over celebrities or reality TV and wish they were just a little bit famous.
But the blog world tempts us with the same thing. It gives us the possibility, however remote, that we could be famous…however you define it.
So bloggers waste additional time checking and worrying over their traffic numbers, time spent that does nothing to actually improve their blogging skills.
Here’s the thing: blogging is a lot like the lottery. The chances of achieving blogging fame may seem close at hand, but are actually extremely remote. Like lottery winners, blog land doesn’t always pick the most deserving blogs to be famous. You probably think your blog deserves way more fame than it does. Maybe you are right.
While there are small steps you can take to increase your blogging notoriety, the most important thing you can do right now is this: give up.
Stop trying to define yourself by your blog’s visitors or comments. It’s shallow and trivial like any other obsession over beauty or fame, and it doesn’t make you a better blogger.
And guess what? Even if you got any level of blog fame, nine out of ten friends and family members aren’t going to care one bit. The world of blog fame is very small.
In blog land, three years is an eternity. Of the millions of blogs, most end up quietly dormant within a few months.
I’ve given out tons of advice to dozens of bloggers who are just starting out. It’s easy for me to think that I’ve put in my time, I’ve paid my dues. I’ve spent a thousand hours at this.
I guess you could call me an expert.
But then I realized that in any other realm, a thousand hours means nothing. It takes pilots ten-thousand hours to become “experts.” At this rate, I’ll have to blog for thirty years to achieve “expert” status.
Of course, there’s no certificate to define anyone as an “expert” blogger, so how about this: I can just continue to learn and grow. No matter how long I do this, or how many readers I have, or what opportunities or connections blogging brings, I can refuse to be defined by the cute little trophies that I’ve earned, and continue to be defined by the things I learn every day.
Let’s hear it from you! How long have you been blogging, and how much time do you spend at it every week? What keeps you going as a blogger? What is the payoff or reward?