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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele