confessions: 5 lessons learned from my {relatively} unsuccessful blog

In my journey towards traditional publication (getting my novel published by a royalty-paying publishing house), building my personal platform has been a priority. In 2009, I created my blog, website, Twitter account and started taking my writing career “seriously.”

Since 2009, that blog and website hasn’t gained much traction… at all.

Granted, “success” is a subjective word and I would not trade any of those experiences for anything. Through trial and error, I learned HTML, blogging basics and a lot about self-promotion.

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But there were some key lessons I’m taking to heart and adapting:

1. Stay focused. “Oh, you’re blog is a little all over the place, isn’t it?” Yes, someone said that to me, politely, but it still hurt… It hurt because I know it’s true. I also know the importance of keeping your blog focused and clear. I wasn’t sure of my audience (or who I wanted my audience to be), which led to multiple topics and focuses. Thus, this “confessions” blog is going to stick true to my purpose.

2. Let your voice shine through. Some of my favorite blogs to write were ones that I dropped the “professional” act and just let my voice be heard. And if I enjoyed writing a blog, I believe readers will enjoy reading it. (I hope. Correct me if I’m wrong.)

3. People care about people. There are many places for expert information, but most of the successful blogs are successful because of reader’s personal connection to the blogger. We want to see flaws, truths and authenticity. I strive for that every day.

4. Consistency matters. In my own personal experience, I get frustrated with the infrequent bloggers—perhaps I’m OCD but I want to know when to expect a blog. In my own blog, I need structure and deadlines, so setting the blogging schedule and sticking to it matters.

5. I’m not an expert in much. I’ve had a lot of different experiences—but I’m not a horse expert. I’m not a blogging expert. I’m not a social media expert. I’m not a writing expert. In my old blog, I shared a lot of those experiences, but I couldn’t write with the platform of an expert. So this blog is different and I’m just sharing those experiences from my eyes.

There are no certainties online. The world of blogging and social media is so young and all the “rules” move constantly. It takes time and focus to find what “works” for you. That is what I’m working toward.

Much love,

the “has-been”

More about Nicole

Community Champion at Buffer ~ writer ~ reader ~ urban homesteader ~ former rodeo queen ~ @nmillerbooks

  • Julie

    I certainly love the style of a personal voice being heard over some “professional” act. Flaws, truths, and authenticity turn me on 🙂 My own favorite way of writing/blogging is to find the humor or human connection – those are always the works that receive the most positive response from others.

  • NicoleMillerbooks

    Thank you, Julie! You’re such an amazing, faithful reader. 😉

  • I agree! You’ve gotta be you. I still struggle to narrow my focus but I’m getting there. It’s funny that I just wrote a post on the same struggle. 🙂 http://jessiegunderson.com/?p=3270

  • I “confess” that I struggle with all of these as well. I enjoy blogging–occasionally, and when I feel strongly about something. So consistency and focus are seriously lacking for me. Plus, I get frustrated because so many writers have blogs, and they’re all largely saying the same things. Do I really have anything to add? I seem to do much better on Facebook. But is that enough to build a platform?

  • Dawn Shipman

    This is exactly where I’m at, NIcole, though you’ve been actively working on it longer. (And I DO think you’re an expert on social media!) I know some things about some things. I feel strongly about…some things. But it seems that people who communicate as well or better than I do are already blogging about them. Platform? I have no idea! My blog recently caused a bit of a stir because I put the words–atheism, evolution, creation, God, as tags. The Evolutionists came out in force–to tell me I didn’t know what I was talking about! But hey–at least someone commented, which I think is a first! 🙂

  • NicoleMillerbooks

    I read your blog, Dawn and it did seem to cause a stir! It is funny what does and doesn’t get a response within the blog world. I believe especially as pre-published authors we need to put all our time in our craft. 🙂 Keep at it, Dawn!

  • NicoleMillerbooks

    I agree that we’re all seeming to say the same thing. That’s when more personal posts tend to get more of a response. But I know that a lot of family and friends value knowing where you are in your writing journey… so that is important too!

  • NicoleMillerbooks

    Love your post, Jessie!! Why is focusing so hard—oh look a bird!