I’ve been blogging for about 4 years.
And in that time, I’ve started 5 other blogs and bought another dozen URLs that I never used.
This blog is the first one that I am really excited to share, and grow, and build a community around.
Sometimes I tell people, Why couldn’t have I just realized that this is what I wanted to write about from the beginning?
But I know, too, that I never could have written this blog without all the ones before it. And it would be way less awesome without all of the mistakes that I made along the way.
So if you’re thinking about starting a blog, or even just publishing your next post, and you’re worried that you might make a mistake, don’t be. Hope that you’ll make a mistake. Because that mistake will bring you closer to being the blogger you want to be.
Here are some of the biggest mistakes I made in my other blogs.
Mistake #1: Starting a blog about a topic that I wasn’t that interested in.
When I first started working for myself, I was a English tutor for high school and college students.
I started a blog called Nail that Paper (which, incidentally, ranks on the first page of Google for the term “outline and thesis generator”), all about academic writing.
My fear was that no one would be interested in reading about academic writing. But I thought I could blog to build up some credibility.
I wrote blog posts for 3 weeks straight, and then one every few months. It turns out, my fear was founded. Not even I wanted to read many of my posts, let alone write them.
It does get regular traffic without my doing anything, but I haven’t gotten any clients from it. It kind of just sits there, gathering dust.
What I learned:
Starting a blog about a topic you don’t want to write about isn’t sustainable.
How to set up a self-hosted WordPress site.
Mistake #2: Starting a blog based only on my own interests without asking anyone else if they care about the topic. And then being too nervous to actually share it with anyone.
My next blog was called “Craft Your Travel Story.” It was about how to share your travel adventures with others when you get home.
I still remember sitting outside at Stella’s Coffehaus in Denver, crafting my “client avatar” without ever asking anyone if they would be interested in the topic.
I then went onto Vistaprint and ordered 200 postcards with my quickly constructed logo on them. I have no idea why I thought they would be useful.
It took me a full week to shape my newly bought WordPress premium theme into something presentable. There was a lot of coding and a steep learning curve involved.
As it turns out, I didn’t get many visitors.
And I didn’t feel confident enough about it to go out there and share it with people. So I ended up with a few weeks of posts and 200 postcards I later cut up and used as Hebrew flashcards.
What I learned:
I learned how to use a WordPress premium theme, which is a truly valuable skill that I use almost everyday. And I learned that you need to talk to people to have a successful blog. Or, really, a successful anything.
Mistake #3: Starting a blog about random things with no structure or end purpose in mind.
I’ve started 2 blogs, Push Year, and Curiosity Calls, just based on writing about random topics and my own experience.
Both of them got about 10 posts before they started collecting dust.
There’s nothing wrong with writing personal stories on a blog. In fact, one of my favorite posts EVER was on Push Year. It’s called Why Buffy is My Role Model.
So it wasn’t really the randomness of the topics that was the problem, but my lack of a plan. I didn’t consciously decide to take chunks of time in my schedule and devote them to blogging.
And I didn’t have any clue of what my end goal was.
So on I went, leaving 2 more dead blogs in my wake.
What I learned:
I LOVE writing about my experiences and insights. I am still figuring out how to do more of those types of posts on this blog.
But for me, it’s just not sustainable to have a blog that lacks a focus or purpose.
Mistake #4: Creating a blog structure that requires a LOT of work to maintain.
My last blog before this one was called 101 Conversations.
It’s about building business relationships, and it is fantastic. (If I do say so myself.)
I spent a lot of time on it, from creating a clear brand, to making opt-ins, to promoting it.
The idea was that I would interview 101 people about building business relationships. I got to 30 (5 of which are unpublished).
I met a lot of awesome people by doing the project, including my weekly accountability partner, Josh, my awesome Mastermind group, and others that became clients or just friends.
But the problem was, publishing interviews takes a ton of work.
I had to reach out to people to interview, schedule the interviews, do the interviews, listen to them and pull out the insights, have the interviewee approve the post, and then publish and share it.
After awhile, it became more of a chore than a pleasure. So I had to let it go.
What I learned:
Lots of awesome lessons about how to build business relationships.
That I would rather write about my own ideas than write interviews.
That I LOVE interviewing people (just not writing about it) and it’s a great way of both learning and expanding my network.
How to brand my own blog. (I credit the Polish Your Online Brand Workshop by Christie Halmick for this. Sign up. It’s free, and awesome.)
The bottom line is, because of my mistakes, I’ve started 5 “failed” blogs in the past 4 years.
But without those 5 blogs, I never could have started and maintained this one (which I see as my soul-mate, in blog form).
So if you are hesitating to start a blog because you’re afraid it will be a mistake, do it anyway.
I guarantee you’ll learn something valuable. And it may just be the blog you were meant to write.