16 Things I Wish I had Known about Blogging (before haphazardly becoming a “blogger”)

There is a difference between "I write a blog" and "I am a blogger." These are the things I learned on the road from novice to "blogger"

As a kid, I never wanted to be famous. While all my friends seemed obsessed with the glamours and perks of the limelight – I couldn’t help but cringe at the thought of having no privacy. Being out there and exposed, being the fascination of millions? That sounded like a nightmare.

And in case you’re wondering, no, I haven’t changed my mind. But I have embraced the idea that with a bit of elbow grease and creativity, you can change your own public image.

That being said, I just want to emphasise (as I discussed in the Emotional Cost of Blogging article I wrote last month) the fact that I never set out to be a “blogger.” Instead, I set the lofty goals of “get 20,000 pageviews in 2 years” and “make it so when you type in ‘Buchele’ in Google Search, I appear somewhere on the first page.” At the time, neither seemed possible. Then again, I never thought it would be possible to be a real “blogger.”

But here I am, a year and a half later, and I am proud to say I am a “blogger.”

Which is kind of cool, because back when we first got engaged, when I introduced Ryosuke to BBC’s Sherlock (now he’s hooked), and it got to the part where John’s blog became a big bit, Ryosuke put his arm around me and told me “That’s going to be you someday, honey!”

I laughed it off.

“Babe, John Watson gets like 2,000 pageviews a day. On a good day, I get like, 250 pageviews. I don’t care how many times you refresh my blog while watching Game of Thrones, I can’t beat John Watson. He blogs about Sherlock, for goodness sake. I can’t compete with that.”

Turns out I was wrong.

Because this month I got a little over 150,000 views. In compared to the monthly average of around 300 views I got for my first six months of blogging.

screen shot blog blogging wordpress site stats

Those pageviews came from 69,627 different IP addresses (basically, different computers). And before everyone thinks those all came from that article I posted on Huffington Post, only about 15,000 views actually came from HuffPost.

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Which, you know, don’t get me wrong – 15,00 is a lot of views. But it is safe to say that the traffic I get from Huffington Post makes up a very small slice of my readership.

For the first time ever, I had someone recognize me off the street as “You’re Grace, right? You blog about you and your Japanese husband!” and two weeks later, another famous vlogger in Japan (video blogger) ask me if I blogged, because “I swear I’ve seen your face somewhere.”

Honestly (hate mail aside), this is a really good feeling.

I’ve been able to mature as a person because of this online journal – sometimes I wish I could go back in time and tell past-Grace, the Grace that just arrived in Japan and was nervous about not fitting in, speaking Japanese well enough, or being able to graduate on time, that she should stick with this blog because blogging is going to become your biggest accomplishment from study abroad.

Now look at us, married college graduates!

Now look at us, married college graduates!

And, I guess, from college.

But I can’t do that. And even if I had a time machine, I would probably just give it to someone else because there are so many other useful, important, and life-changing things you could do with a time machine than go back in time to give a pep-talk to your 19 year old self (especially if, even without the pep talk, everything turns out fine).

But I digress.

These are the 16 things I wish I had known about blogging (before I starting haphazardly posting on the internet without any sort of direction or preparation)

1. Some people will become successful bloggers, other’s wont.

It’s impossible to tell when/if you will become a famous blogger. I have friends that write some of the most thoughtful and engaging things that remain undiscovered (and eventually quit), while other friends who blog about their lunch and get tons of hits a day.

2. Don’t use random pictures you find on Google Search

Apparently you can get sued for that. Who knew?

Thankfully I figured that out somewhere in my second month of blogging and stopped. Now I’ve just been slowly digging through the archives and taking out “illegal” pictures.

If you want pictures, you have to either pay for them or use a free website and cite them using Creative Commons.

3. You are not the exception to the rule of blogging (continual, hard work = eventual fame)

You aren’t some magical unicorn of a writer that can totally jump the chain of command and launch your blog into fame by quick wit and well-thought out posts.

Every blogging book or blogging self-help blog post (there’s a lot of them) say that you won’t become famous unless you pay your dues. You have to blog for 2-3 years before you can build a readership and get some authority.

And then there are other bloggers who jump in and are like “Yeah, but I got 1,000,000 views in my first six months.” And then YOU think that YOU can get 1,000,000 views well, not in your first six month, but definitely in your first year, because you want it so much more than any of the other bloggers.

Except it doesn’t happen. And you get discouraged and quit. And it’s sad because I really liked reading your blog post.

Honestly, I got really lucky on the blogging front. I’ve had several news media sources (Searchina, Huffington Post, etc) pick up my pieces – and that has done wonders for my search rank. But those aren’t things you can control. I didn’t contact them, they found me and they featured me (often without even sending me a “hello, we’re posting your article on our website” email).

Fullscreen capture huffington post interview grace ryosuke

I just, well, got lucky

[For more, check out: How to Sustain a Blog During Study Abroad]

Also, all those people online who are like “I got 100,000 views after two months of blogging without guest posting or paying for back-links” – I’m like 90% they’re all lying.

4. If you want to increase your following, Guest Post.

Fullscreen capture heyamwf interview amwf

Guest posting will increase your Google search rank (as more sites link into you) and will give you new exposure, possibly attracting new readers from other blogs.

Fullscreen capture grace goabroad.com interview

5. Don’t promote your blog so much on Facebook

No one cares. Ish. Or if people care, they will follow your fan page.

But don’t link every, single one of your blog posts to your personal Facebook. It’s kind of spammy and annoying. It only took me, like a year to figure this one out. Sorry, guys.

6. Post at least 10 blog posts, some pictures, and some information on your Facebook Blog “Fan Page” before you start mass-inviting friends

Most of the people you invite to “like” your page don’t necessarily care. It’s even more difficult to make them “care” when your Facebook Fan Page is an empty shell of a thing without even a real “Profile picture,” cover photo, information, link to your website, photos, and sample posts.

Fullscreen capture texan in tokyo facebook fan page

I feel like I missed out on a lot of free traffic because I mass invited friends to “like” my blog before I had even really set up a page…

7. It is impossible to post anything on the internet without offending someone.

It just is.

Sorry.

[For more, check out: What’s so bad about Blogging? Things to think about before starting your own Study Abroad Blog]

So don’t be surprised when the hate mail comes trickling in…

8. Don’t cry so hard when you get your first hate mail.

It’s going to be ok. It hurts a lot right now, but the words will stop ringing in your ears, I promise.

Pretty soon you’re going to be ok. You will grow a thicker skin.

You will learn to delete these messages without even reading them. You will learn to close your eyes when you see racial slurs and swear words jump up out of the screen. You will learn to just hit “Delete Message” or “Block.”

Words have power… but they can’t hurt you if you choose not to even read them.

9. A lot of people won’t agree with what you write (even if they say they do).

Back at Ursinus, when I was studying in an Olin classroom late in the evening, I overheard two of my friends outside the door. I shut off my laptop (I needed a break), and finished up my drink before going to hang out with them. Hand on the door, I froze, realizing they were talking about me.

Or, more specifically, my blog.

“I can’t believe she acts so ‘high and mighty’ – I didn’t have time to Skype with [insert boyfriend’s name here] while I was abroad. And even if I did, like, what?”

“I know. I bet Ryuusuki (she said his name wrong) doesn’t even want to marry her. Ugh. I will laugh if he dumps her, after all she wrote.”

“Wouldn’t that be hilarious?”

I took my hand off the door and walked back. I grabbed my laptop, moved to the other side of the room, and blasted Paramore while sending Ryosuke a frustrated email. I didn’t cry, though. Kudos to me.

I knew people talked about me. I know most people didn’t agree with EVERYTHING I wrote… but man it hurt to hear it face-to-face.

Back when I was in high school, one of my friends told me “I don’t care what people say behind my back, just as long as they don’t say it to my face.” At the time, I thought he was being stupid. I would much rather hear complaints up front than have people sneaking around behind my back.

But now I understand what he was saying.

The icing of the cake was that I met that same “friend” in lower wismer a week later and chatted in line with her. She briefly dropped in how much she loved that new post on my blog and how cool it was I was still blogging. Oh, it was so awkward. So, so awkward.

[For more, check out: The Emotional Cost of Blogging- the not-so-secret downside to writing about your life on the internet]

10. Some people will read every single post you write, others will never read your blog. That is not a direct reflection on how much they love, care about, and/or value your friendship.

I have some friends that read every post; I have others that have never read a single post. At first I didn’t understand it, but now I’ve realized that it is completely and 100% ok.

Just because you’re my friend doesn’t mean you are obligated to care about what I write (which, to be honest, is a lot of stuff)

11. However, more people than you realize will read your blog.

For instance, I found out a couple of months ago that both of my siblings read my blog. And my Aunt. And my Nonnie. That shocked me. I don’t know why it surprised me as much as it did – I kind of assume anyone who doesn’t regularly comment doesn’t regularly read my blog.

[For more, check out: 7 Unconventional Lessons I learned from Study Abroad]

12. The more you post, the bigger a target you will become.

13. Don’t check your blog pageviews 8 – 20 times a day.

It’s a huge waste of time (even if it’s really, really fun). And it doesn’t change anything.

14. Hosting advertisements on your blog is rarely worth the effort and it makes the blog look trashy.

Even with 125,000 page views, I was only making like $70 a month hosting ads. And these were trashy ads, with weight loss tips, dating services, and scammy websites.

Google Adsense swears it offers “high quality” ads (and sometimes they do), but the “high quality” ads don’t generate nearly the amount of revenue that those “click here to find out if your husband is cheating on you!” Ads do. And as a host, you’re only allowed to block a certain number of ads (I could get rid of weight loss and dating,  if I left up the “is your husband cheating?” ads).

So I took them off.

I get the majority of my blogging income from Amazon Affiliates. Every once and a while I will recommend a book or movie on my blog – and if you click through the link I offer, it will take you to Amazon. Then, I get 6% in advertising fees for anything you buy in the next 24 hours.

For instance, I just read “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green and it really was the best book I’ve read in, well, a really long time. I highly recommend checking it out.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to monetize my blog more, but for me – the Ads were just too trashy. It wasn’t worth it.

And don’t even get me started on scam sites that will pay you $60 a month to publish one pre-written article loaded with links to their client’s sites. Those will crash your blog in a heartbeat.

15. When you tell people that you blog, they will usually judge you.

And that’s ok.

Blogging is my hobby. There are so much more embarrassing hobbies I could have.

16. Blogging can, and will, change your life.

hanami amwf ryosuke mineta grace mineta amwf japanese husband american white wife couple

 

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Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

28 Comments on 16 Things I Wish I had Known about Blogging (before haphazardly becoming a “blogger”)

  1. Hi Grace,
    I remember stumbling on your blog a few months ago but I just redescovered it a few days ago and I’m catching up on a lot of your posts. I’ve been reading it every night for the last few days, going through many of your old and new posts. I just want to tell you how much I’m enjoying your blog and I wish you all the best for your life. You seem very honest, sincere, and genuine ; you write about a lot of different and interesting topics and I like how you can see the bad and the good without ever sound like you are passing judgement. I’m ten year older than you, but you seem to have already understood many things that I only understood many years later. I will keep on coming back so I hope you will write for a long time. I wish you the best!

    • Hi Mary,

      Thank you so much! I try very hard not to be condescending or judge-y, but I worry sometimes. Pretty much all the “maturity” I have, I owe to my husband, because he’s always been the one who has his stuff together.
      I hope you have fun reading through old posts (but, you know, just warning you, some of the really old ones are just bad/awkward…)

  2. Hey Grace, It’s been really impressive to see you grow as a blogger and as a writer. I’m sure this is just the start.

  3. Congrats! You’re an awesome blogger and you sure deserve those 1,000,000 views! You say that you got lucky because Huffington Post, … featured you, but this is also related to the quality of your writing. They wouldn’t have featured you if you didn’t write great blog posts.

    • Awww, wow, thanks! I guess it’s a mix of both – I feel very “lucky” as a blogger to have a great support group, plenty of time, and a very supportive husband. I’m going to throw a HUGE “me party” when I hit 1,000,000!!!!

  4. I totally know what you mean. Blogging does change your life. Even if I`m not blogger-famous, it`s something I`m constantly thinking about.

    I love reading your blog, so keep up all the hard work!! :D

    • Ugh. For a while I was so blog obsessed I forgot how to talk about anything else. It used to drive my husband CRAZY (he would be like “Please, can we have one blog-free night?”)

      Thank you and good luck blogging!

  5. Congratulations Grace and keep up the outstanding work!

  6. I think of blogging now and again. I just really like to write and much like you am a bit shy of the limelight. Maybe I’ll pick it up and start something~ ^u^ Thanks for your tips. Especially about the pictures and scams.
    Good luck on continuing your blog. It’s really something to be proud of for sure!
    Did you ask people on advance to blog about them? I wonder sometimes if people would be upset about what’s written. Do you check with Ryosuke before you write sometimes?
    Keep going Grace! Your blogs are pretty inspiring~

    • I used to check with Ryosuke – but he really doesn’t care. None of his family uses the internet (like, at all) and even if they did, none of them speak English.

      I don’t ever use anyone’s name on my blog, though (aside from Ryosuke and my name). I also try to never post pictures of people I know without their permission and if I AM going to use a photo, I check with them first (so it’s not weird).

      I ask Ryosuke from time to time if he’s ok with what I write and he’s always very supportive :)
      But I do get worried sometimes…

  7. First of all, you should be extremely proud of yourself to be a travel blogger. You truly inspire others and provide them with valuable knowledge about life in Japan and travels around the world. Secondly, I agree with most of you have written here. Not everyone becomes a successful travel blogger and it requires a lot of stamina and hard work. Guest posts and comments are crucial :-)!! Keep up the good job xxx :)

    • Thank you so much :)

      I’m really surprised and impressed by how far my blog has gone – I almost gave up a couple of times because for the first year or so, barely anyone read (or left comments), so I felt like I was wasting time…
      Your blog has also gotten VERY popular!

  8. Congratulations! A well-deserved million views (have you reached it yet? you look really close!) :D

    To be honest, this is one of the blogs that really inspired me to get back into blogging again. I’ve been blogging on and off for what feels like most of my adult life (archived and made my uni life one abroad private, but it’s still there… like you said, like a journal), but I ended up falling out of the blogosphere some time after moving to Tokyo. Which is a shame, because I do a lot of cool stuff. A lot of weird stuff too, but I’m lucky to be able to do a whole heap of stuff I enjoy doing. I just forgot for a while that blogging was one of them. ^^
    Thanks for the motivation, and I look forward to seeing what more you have in store.

    • I’m SO close. But I won’t hit one million for a couple of days. I’m definitely going to write a post about it, though.

      I’m glad I’ve been able to inspire you to go back to blogging! It’s a really great “waste” of time (and looks awesome on a resume). There’s some pretty awesome blogs about Tokyo – I really want to get into the Tokyo blogosphere.

  9. Good job hitting the million! Keep going and soon you’ll hit 2 million, 5 million, 10 million and so on.That’s how Facebook started too =).

    Totally agree with the “more people that you realize will read your blog”. Even my pathetic blog that has updates once every million years has readers. My posts were meant for my own reading and records, I never really tried to promote it in any way, and they never get comments, but frequently I get colleagues and friends who come by and ask: “How’s the stuff that you blogged about going? Yeah I follow your blog”

    • I remember growing up and realizing in high school that a lot of my teachers read my parent’s blog (they lived in Ghana and wrote about it). It was kind of shocking – and kind of weird…

      Thanks :)
      I can’t wait to get to one million!

  10. great job sister. I was being encouraged to start writing and now I can count on you as my sage for advice. good luck and be well

  11. Grace, I really enjoyed reading this post!! I agree with many points you brought up. For me, blogging is a hobby of mine where I can share my ideas about travel and my personal experiences but most of all, my photos. Believe it or not, I haven’t shared my blog with my family and friends, expect for my husband and select few friends who I know would never judge me.

    • Really? But you have so many great photos and travel anecdotes!

      I remember being very nervous when I started posting my blog on Facebook. I still get a bit worried – but it’s better now. And it’s helpful that most the people who read my blog now are people I’ve never actually met :)

  12. Congratulations!!! one million well-deserved views! We can really feel how much you put into blogging, and how much you let people feel close to you. Fighting!

  13. you’re so close to your first million views! congrats :) you got really successful in my eyes :)! I’m happy if I get 600 views per day haha but I know the pleasure – first it’s ‘make it 100 views per day’, then 200, 300, recently I had 400 and now my goal is 600 haha :)

    • Good luck!

      I remember back when it was “see if you can get 50 view” and then 100, 150, 200, etc.
      It’s been a bunch of small steps… but it’s gradually increasing!

      And you have a TON of likes on Facebook, that’s really amazing. I’m jealous. That’s got to be a pretty huge source of traffic!

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