Today is the second anniversary of The Flat Circle. In that time, I have committed my share of blogging mistakes and learned a few lessons. When I look back over the last two years, I cringe at earlier posts that did not pan out. Over time, I have picked up strategies that have made blogging a more productive side project. Whether that means staying up late to write about Game of Thrones or learning about SEO, it has been a fun opportunity that I am thrilled to take into Year Three. Here are some tips and errors that I have realized since the blog started in 2017.
Plan A Realistic Publishing Schedule
When I first started blogging, I tried to push as much content out as quickly as possible. That resulted in average work, a frenetic obsession with quantity over quality, and low search engine traffic.
The number one key to maintaining sanity as a blogger is planning and maintaining a publishing schedule. I stumbled into this strategy last year when I began writing my Music Monday series. I was able to create one post a week on a topic that I knew I could write about often. Even if I am short on time, being able to post weekly is important. I have never gone into a content drought and I am able to publish regularly.
How I Use Game of Thrones To Improve My Writing
Let’s be honest. If you feel bored writing, your readers feel that way too. Getting out of your comfort zone stops writers from creating stagnant, uninspired work.
I normally take a couple of days to write a post. I prefer to let it sit so that I can revise the piece with a fresh mind. This is time consuming and draining. To challenge myself, I decided to write a series of reaction posts within the first hour of Game of Thrones. If I find myself writing too long after the episode, I stop, edit, and post. By that time, it is way late on a Sunday, but it is a successful strategy. I am forcing myself to write with urgency because 6:30 AM comes early after a long night.
This writing exercise has been a rewarding. It feels great to just get to it and break from the norm. Even if it does not result in the cleanest grammar, it has been a productive way to feel like I am producing something fresh and different.
How To Avoid Blog Burnout
Sometimes a publishing schedule must include built-in breaks. I have read countless advice that mandates 3-4 pieces of 2,000 words per week in order to increase search traffic. Realistically, who has the time to balance a full-time job and write eight thousand quality words a week for an extended period?
I have often read bloggers who struggle to overcome writer’s block or content burnout. It is hard to force writing that results in anything good. Overcoming both is key for a blog to survive.
I have found that beating writer’s block is often intertwined with taking breaks and finding ways to relax. Listening to music or taking a nap can recharge the batteries. A simple reset is enough to let the words flow. Scheduling or even taking spontaneous breaks are okay as long as you circle back to writing.
It Is Okay To Go On Blog Hiatus
It is hard to get back into a writing groove after some time away. Taking an extended break is not the worst thing. I have taken two monthlong blogging vacations. One occurred when I faced a career burnout. The second took place when I switched jobs and had a car accident in the same month.
In those times blogging was not a top ten priority. Setting aside writing was the right thing to do. My mind was not in a good place to create good content. Both breaks resulted in a fresh burst of ideas that was more productive than churning out distracted mediocrity.
Clear Out The Noise And Bad Blogging Sources
When I first started The Flat Circle, I was constantly searching Google for good blogging tips. What I found was a lot of conflicting information and bad advice from people posing as “experts.” There are a ton of blogging and SEO courses that are not worth the time or money. Investing effort in these sources is a common blogging mistake.
Eventually, I began weeding out these sites and focusing on a few sources. Combined with good advice from online support groups, this has resulted in less conflicting strategy and better content.
One tip from ProBlogger’s Darren Rowse that has been productive is cleaning up old postscleaning up old posts. There were so many bad posts in my first 25-50 pieces. Fixing their look and SEO was an albatross that I never addressed until I listened to his Pro Blogger podcast. The result: an increase in traffic from posts that were previously generating zero attention.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is everything for bloggers. Yes, certain blogging genres can be enhanced by social media. But being dependent on social media can backfire. Sites like Instagram or Twitter own your content. Having a site that generates steady traffic means that you drive the path to success. Learning how to rank high in Google can go a long way towards boosting your site’s traffic.
Last month, I published a post that identified the SEO sources that I have relied on to increase web traffic. Since focusing on their advice, I have seen positive results. The Flat Circle’s traffic has increased for five consecutive months.
Identify The Social Media Platforms That Work For You
One aspect of cleaning out the noise is identifying the social media platforms that work well for you. Not all blogs are created equal. There are only so many hours in a day.
I wasted so much time learning Pinterest! I never use the site in my down time and it has little to do with my type of content. Instead, I have found that using Twitter and Facebook regularly has allowed for more time to create good work. It has also afforded me the chance to connect with bloggers and readers. LinkedIn has become a valuable source of traffic on certain posts, but I only use that for pieces that stand out.
Learn How To Create Evergreen Content
One of the worst blogging mistakes that I did not take into consideration early enough is to learn how to create evergreen content. A staple of SEO strategy, the ability to build posts that bring consistent traffic over time has been a problem.
This is a more difficult undertaking in a field like pop-culture instead of travel blogging and Mom blogging. Targeted keywords like “things to do in Philadelphia” are better long-term search queries than movie reviews (which tend to peak after the first month).
As much I enjoy writing movie reviews, building reliable content is the main goal for year three. Learning how to create evergreen content will be a challenge. It means a departure from some of the quick-hit pieces that I love to write. In the end, it is more important to build lasting content that brings greater value for readers.