Blogging: Lessons Learned

You know what’s kind of crazy?

This is my 1,000th blog post.

It’s crazy because I never thought I would have this much material to write about, week after week, month after month, and now year after year. I pretty much never run out of things to share with you guys. In fact, I still have a running list with future blog topic ideas written all over it. I love that!

In 2011, I started this blog for a couple of reasons:

  1. People were asking me healthy living related questions almost every day. What do you eat? What’s in that recipe? What should I do for upper body strength training? What tips do you have for beginners at the gym? The list goes on. I thought that having a centralized place to point people to would be helpful.
  2. I was reading a lot of other blogs and a little voice inside of me kept saying, “you should do this.” I’ve always liked writing, but never really did it consistently after college. Blogging seemed like a way that I could put that English major to good use.
  3. I wasn’t feeling challenged at work, and I thought blogging would at least give me a creative outlet outside of the 9-5 to help me feel like I was doing something worthwhile.
  4. I was at the very tipping point of discovering my passion for fitness and wellness. In fact, I was considering a complete career change at the time. Since I didn’t have a degree in any health related fields, I thought that creating a name for myself through blogging could potentially help me professionally down the line.

Since Fitness & Feta’s inception, I’ve grown in many ways. I’ve grown not only as a blogger and as a writer, but on a personal level as well. I’ve learned a LOT about myself during this time, and I want to share some of these things with you today.

Blogging Lessons Learned

1. Blogging is a lot of work.
Blogging is freaking time-consuming. It takes a LOT of discipline and self-motivation to offer regular content that’s engaging, fun to read, and free from error. Since I like to stick to a consistent blogging schedule while working two jobs, I have become a MASTER at time management. Pictures don’t just edit themselves, text doesn’t write itself, and responses to reader emails don’t get sent on their own, you know! People often ask me how much time I spend blogging every week, and it’s hard to say. Some posts don’t take me more than 20 minutes to bust out, while others may take a few hours. It just depends on the topic. Often times the posts that get the most traffic are the ones that take me the longest to write, so I’ve learned to be patient if I don’t finish a post in a single sitting. Thank goodness for the ability to schedule posts ahead of time – it helps a lot, and sometimes I do all my blogging for the week on Sundays. Finally, blogging takes a lot of time to yield results, so I’ve learned to just stick with it. Luckily since I love what I write about, all the “work” doesn’t really seem like work to me!

2. Not everyone will understand.
Most people in my life have been extremely supportive of F&F, but some people simply don’t understand why I blog. Don’t you get bored of it? Why do you spend so much time on something that doesn’t generate that much income? Don’t you hate that strangers can read about your life? I’ve been on the receiving end of all these questions, along with my personal favorite, “so you write an online diary?” Haters gonna hate, and that’s okay. It’s not their journey to make sense of, it’s mine. I can’t spend my time feeling like I owe an explanation to everyone out there.

3. Numbers aren’t everything.
I think every new blogger goes through this phase, but when I started blogging, I obsessed over my stats. “What do you MEAN only 30 people wanted to read about my quinoa ‘meatloaf’ recipe today!?” Oy. Once I realized that looking at the numbers so often was making blogging stressful for me, I just stopped. Now I only check them occasionally or when a brand asks for that information to pursue a partnership. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without looking at the numbers once. It’s so freeing, and I feel better about mainly tracking my results for trends instead of hits/views.

4. Write what YOU want to write about.
When I started blogging, I wanted to be a part of EVERYTHING happening in the blog world. If I read about a certain kind of workout “everyone” was doing, I wanted to try it too. If I read five posts on the benefits of using protein powder, I felt like I had to create a new recipe with protein powder “just because.” Well that doesn’t seem too authentic now does it? So just because “What I Ate Wednesday” and “Thinking Out Loud” are a blog “thing,” I am okay with not participating and just reading the awesome posts that other bloggers write. Just because everyone and their mom wrote gift guide posts during the holidays doesn’t mean that I’m any better or worse for not doing that too. I’ve learned to be mindful of the comparison trap and just be myself. I write about what I want to write about, not what I SHOULD be writing about. By being my authentic self, my readership has grown.

Photo for PopSugar

5. Don’t jump at every opportunity.
On a similar note, I’ve learned that I don’t have to accept every guest post, product review, giveaway offer, or sponsored post opportunity that comes my way. I went through a phase where I wanted to host TONS of giveaways because I thought they would generate more views! More readers! More social media followers! Wrong. Too many of these things can quickly lose their appeal. This is a lesson I learned the hard way, and I still cringe every time I think about those canned tomatoes I tried to give away once. What?! Now I only host giveaways or write product reviews that speak to my brand, align with my message, and to be completely honest, have something in it for me as well. Someone advised me to never under-estimate the value of my blog work, so I’m sticking to it!

6. Blogging is a lot of trial and error.
I’ve learned that it’s okay to change things as I go. I’ve tried out multiple approaches to my format, my style, etc. I’ve had series that I wrote for a while that I eventually grew bored with or wanted to change. For example, I used to write a “move of the week” post every week, a “things I’m loving lately” post every month, and share an inspirational “words for the weekend” quote every Saturday. I haven’t posted something in either of these areas in a long time, and that’s okay! I just find what works for me at any given time in my life, and I run with it. It took me about two years to finally feel like I’m in a “good” groove, but I bet if you ask me again next year, I’d have something else I could say I don’t really do much of anymore. Blogging is an evolving process, and I love that there’s always room to grow and expand.

7. Get on Twitter.
When I started blogging, I created a Facebook page specific to Fitness & Feta because I didn’t want to annoy bombard all of my personal Facebook friends with too much blog content and be considered an over-poster. That influenced my blog growth, and Facebook is still my biggest social media channel, but I really wish I had hopped on the Twitter bandwagon sooner. It has been, hands down, the biggest help in connecting me with other bloggers and brands as opposed to an audience I already had a relationship with (family and friends at first). I only recently started tweeting a lot, but it’s incredible how much it has helped me find new people and has allowed other people to find me!

8. It’s not all about you.
Spread the blog love! I obviously do my share of blog promoting, but I’ve learned that instead of trying to pimp my posts so much, it’s much more helpful to interact with others. I’ve grown my audience so much by CONNECTING with people, not tooting my horn. I have my Reader Recipe and Journey to Fit series to highlight other people. I do my best to comment on blog posts that I enjoy reading or can weigh in on, and I share other bloggers’ content on my Twitter feed and through my Friday Favorites series. A community doesn’t exist with just one person, so it’s important to get involved. Once you share the love, it will likely be shared back.

Friday Favorites

9. It’s easy to feel discouraged
Blogging has a lot of perks, but it can definitely be discouraging too. One thing I struggle with is making my blog unique and differentiating it from the THOUSANDS of other blogs in my “niche.” Every healthy living blogger shares “workouts, recipes, and more,” so how the heck do I make myself stand out? Circling back to #4, it can be very frustrating to feel like there’s always “something to do,” whether it be improve blog layout, switch to self hosted, or even just go back to edit past posts for continuity and format. Another thing I struggle with is the difference between the amount of readers who I KNOW look at my blog everyday and read my posts versus the number of people who actually take the time to comment on what I write. That number is huge. Sometimes it’s hard when a post takes me a couple of hours to write, and I think it’s going to get a solid online reaction, but then not even one person leaves a comment. Wah wuh. When I get down about these things, I simply remind myself that it’s all worth it and that again, I don’t have to do everything at once.

10. The blogging world is incredibly influential.
Before blogging, I never even knew that such a community existed. The healthy living blog world is a powerful place, and there are so many ways that people inspire each other. A lot of these bloggers are very like-minded and just “get me,” even if we’ve never actually met in real life! And when we do meet in real life, it’s like we already know each other, so we hug and get excited (not like that’s happened to me before). The bloggers I follow always inspire me to better myself, and I’m pretty confident that I do the same for them. It’s just really incredible.

Barry's Bootcamp

I hope that you guys enjoyed this post! I love blogging and am so happy that I started Fitness & Feta one thousand posts ago. 🙂

–Let’s chat–
Fellow bloggers, what are some lessons you’ve learned since you started blogging? What advice would you share with other bloggers out there? Non-bloggers, what qualities do you look for in the bloggers you follow or in the blogs you read? Readers, what more do you want to see on F&F? Less? 

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38 thoughts on “Blogging: Lessons Learned

  1. Wow congratulations on so many posts! I love reading yours everyday and always come away with something new. I would definitely say that blogging takes a lot more time than people think, and it’s not as easy as many think to start and find your voice. But, in the end we need to find our voice and focus on that!

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  2. Congratulations! You really have a great blog that is always fun to read. I feel the same way, like I’ll never have enough to write about. I’ve learned that it’s not always about me… That in order to promote my blog, I need to promote others and spread the love. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!.

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  3. As a new blogger, this is some great advice/insight into this whole blogging thing. I am still getting excited about my small stats 40 page views yesterday!!! 83 followers on twitter!!! I can see how that can quickly turn into only 40 page views yesterday?!? Only 83 twitter followers! Thanks for sharing your insight to help keep us new bloggers focused on why we chose to embark upon this journey.

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  4. Great post for sure. If I counted all the blogs I’ve had since 2009, I would probably have over 3,000 posts. Yikes.

    Blogging take a LOT of time, not just thinking of and writing posts, but responding to others, promoting posts, and what not. I just started a new rule for myself: I will write for one hour per day ad respond to other blogs for 30 minutes per day. Let’s hope I can keep to that.

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  5. Wow – congratulations on 1000 posts – incredible!!!
    I love the lessons you shared that you have learned in the past several years. I totally relate to many of them!!!
    Funny to read this today because I just made a couple of changes to my own blogging – I’ve gotten to the point that posting every day is causing me stress and I don’t ever want blogging to be a source of stress!

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    • Thanks so much, Kim. This was good timing with your post the other day on your changes – I read yours before you left this comment and thought, “she’s going to like my lessons learned today!” Good luck with your journey and scaling back a bit.

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  6. Congratulations on 1,000 posts, what an accomplishment! The evolving format of your blog has always been fun to follow. I also enjoy reading others comments as well. There were many times I had a thought to comment on and maybe didn’t do so, but be assured you are making a difference in others’ lives! Thanks for all the time you give to us..

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  7. I definitely relate to this and completely agree!! I constantly wish I could find the time to post more often, but just go back to reminding myself that I started my blog for ME and not for anyone else. Love your words of wisdom

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  8. I love this post, Athena! I agree that the biggest thing I have learned is that blogging takes up so much time. I never expected it, and sometimes I find that I just don’t have the energy (hence my once-per-week posting lately!) I think people don’t quite understand how time consuming it is, even if it’s just a “hobby”. And don’t even get me started on how behind I am on blog commenting, sharing, etc 🙂 Also, a funny thing I’ve noticed, is that I tend to get the biggest response from the posts that take me the shortest time to write!! I think it must be because those are the ones that are usually from the heart and seriously just spill out of me onto the page. Anyway, just a funny thing I’ve noticed!

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  9. Congrats on 1,000 posts! I agree with everything in your list. I’ve learned so much in the 2+ years of blogging. I completely agree with your #5. Every opportunity that comes your way isn’t always a good one. Take advantage of the ones that make sense for you and your brand. Because you really are creating a brand.

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