12 Things I Learned From 1 Year of Consistently Blogging
Honestly, creativity is in me since I was a kid. I wrote tons of scripts and stories, and also drew a lot of manga and cartoon characters. I may have upgraded my tools for creating, but my love for creating remains the same. However, I have one fatal flaw that all of my work suffered through: I never complete anything for fun. It's either I have a deadline or I owe someone something when I get to finish creative work.
My blogs are no exception. I moved from one platform to another–Xanga, Livejournal, Tumblr... Eventually, I set up two Wordpress blogs. First, I had Art Student Aesthetic, but I wasn't able to keep that up. That name is pretty, but also it's pretty long. It looked good on screen, but imagine talking about it. It's a damn mouthful! Also, what happens when I go to art school and finish it... Am I still an art student? (I made this back when I took a graphic design course.) Plus I had no idea on what to write other than creativity events. Then, I had Aicsthetic. The rest is history.
Aicsthetic is the furthest I've gone with a creative identity online. If this was a plant, this would be the creme of the crop. I didn't "harvest" much with my past blogs or deviantArt accounts because I was a lazy perfectionist. That is such a deadly combo I'd like to warn you all about. For one, I always get sidetracked with the big faults instead of focusing on the small milestones. But with Aicsthetic, I learned not to care about getting it perfect. All I wanted in this blog was to get things done and to do them well, and to carry on the next work.
I also learned a lot more than that! I got 12 lessons from running Aicsthetic. I've divided them into two–mistakes and takeaways. Take note this isn't just a "how to blog" post that gives the same advice you see. I add some of my experiences with it, for practicality.
- Not having a basic plan of what to do. The moment I started this blog, I had a trip to Japan coming up. For me, it meant great blog content! But after that, I was lost on what to do. I did some thinking over before my next move. As much as I love traveling, I don't do it often so I'm not just a travel blogger. Beauty blogging isn't my only schtick either since 1) it can get old, and 2) I haven't had any idea to make it new. So I told myself, "I'll be a lifestyle blogger. Others may do the same things I do, but I can always provide a unique perspective!" I self-identify as a freelance creative couch potato who loves exploring the city's nooks with friends. So I thought, I could post about the movies I watch, the cafés I do my work in, and the fun activities I do!
- Trying to do everything. This is the opposite of the first one. But it's also a mistake! I've seen other bloggers try to do every niche you can think of. And I tried doing the same, frankly! Trying to identify as everything is exhausting. No one can do everything at a single time. My take from this is try to narrow down what you enjoy and what you're good at. Find the common ground between those two, then start from there. The rest follows through. Elle & Co. provided this handy guide for finding your niche.
- Choosing the wrong hosting provider. I plead guilty! I went with a hosting service that offered Wordpress because it's cheap. Also, everyone I knew and their mom uses Wordpress. But I had to pay for the cheap price too. There were multiple codes you have to inject here and there. If you want a decent theme, you have to pay designers just to get the full version. Also, how hassle was it to make sure plug-ins don't conflict with Wordpress updates? It was then I found Squarespace. The prices were a little higher but I definitely got what I paid for. So before looking at the price tags, see what's offered in exchange.
- Comparing myself to others. Sigh. This one applies in and out of blogging. Society, Top 10 class rankings, and Hunger Games forced us to think life is a contest. Sometimes I'd look at other bloggers then those feelings come up. The worst is when I start resentment because I keep comparing and lowering my own value. But then a lot of them are either beginners like me or have worked their way to where they are now. It was then I learned how every blogger's journey is different. Just because my Day 1 is not as glamorous as Blogger X's Day 895, it doesn't mean my way to blogging isn't invalid. What matters is I keep creating.
- Not reading through before submitting the post. I've seen much bigger bloggers do this. It's definitely not good to look at subject-verb disagreements. Beyond grammar matters, sometimes it's about what you share. In the age of opening up online, remember there are details better left unsaid. Sometimes I'd make a personal post, then write aimlessly I write to the point where I put the "personal" in personal. Then I remember a blog is not a diary–at least on my own terms. So think before you click the submit button and check if your post looks good.
- Procrastination. Aye, I'm still guilty of this. But in the blogging context, I'm guilty of not following through dates on my content plan. (Wow, what honesty.) Ask family or friends and they won't rely on me to upload photos on Facebook immediately. They'd often nag me about it–"Aica, when are you going to upload this? Upload that?" But good quality blogs take time more than it looks. The normal process is editing photos, creating a thumbnail, and writing down the actual blog. We're not even done yet–you have to promote on social media, on relevant groups, and matching subreddits. It really takes that much time to promote, even when you've got a big following already. Maybe forgetting to upload my Tita's 70th birthday photos is forgivable, but blogging materials can't just melt in my hard disk.
- Have the heart for your content. The good old "do what you love for a living" mantra once again. But at the very least, be interested in what you write on your blog. You don't have to feel the burning sands of passion to write about charcoal yogurt. Just simply ask if you like what you're making and if you'd do something like it again. If you answer "yes" to both, then alright! Some blogs often write sponsored posts that don't even fit their niche or interest. I'm not gonna blame them for doing so because there's the need to make a living. But you have to consider whether these products are something you'd use and promote.
- You can always share something personal that feels out of brand. There are big moments in life that you want to either learn from or celebrate. Blogging is a good way to do this with your readers, and keeps you in touch with them. Last March, I shared my experience with excessive hydration. I wanted to remind you guys that it does exist, and I wanted you to take care of yourselves in such heat. Not only do you gain closure by sharing it, but others can benefit secondhand by taking notes from it. Also, blogging is a good way to creatively express your feels when you get married or have a baby! (Neither happened to me. I'm only using them as examples.)
- It's OK to take a break. Speaking of near-death experience, the aftermath was a good time to take a break and rest. We're so busy chasing after our goals, we hit the road endlessly. Do we ever stop for gas or even check how our engines and tires are running? Metaphors aside, we need to relax once in a while. I was such in a shitty mood after quitting my job, getting dumped, and being sick I couldn't properly blog at all. I made a few blogs here and there that weren't the quality I really expect from myself. So I thought, rather than post a lot of mediocre entries, I'd rather give it a break and not post at all. This is hard when your livelihood depends on it, but well-being over money. Always.
- There is always something to write about. Easy for me to say because I write lifestyle blogs. But even then there are I have no idea what to put in my content calendar. A simple trick I do is to make use of what I already have and work from there. Did I just hang out with my friend at an interesting cafe? That's one blog idea. Did I watch four horror films for one day? That's another! Just start small. There is no good or bad idea when brainstorming, but there is good or bad execution. Go for the idea you can execute flawlessly.
- Repeat after me, "I'm interesting on my own." This goes with the comparing-yourself-to-others scenario. I follow fellow bloggers and admire their achievements and aesthetic. While doing so, it's so easy to get caught up and forget about myself. It is then when I tell myself that I'm my own person and I can offer as much as other bloggers did. I question myself and ask "am I boring?" We all have those days, but remember that no one shares your DNA, traits, and skills.
- Just be (the best version of) yourself. This is the advice that influencers, teachers, and your mom gave you over and over. They're right. But some of us think "But I'm a big POS, so 'be yourself' is the biggest bull." Well, the better way of saying this is emphasize the good qualities you already have. Being comfortable with who you are makes it easier for you to be honest to your readers. There are times I put on a really neat image online but it doesn't exactly scream "me". It feels so weird, so I revert back to my old goofy self and keep up the gaffs. I feel much more at ease when I'm sharing stuff with all of you in a less contrived way.
12 lessons for 12 months, all right! Running this blog was a far cry from back when I blogged in high school. I let the "critics" hinder my ability to create just because they googled my stuff and mocked it constantly in class. But almost 10 years had gone since then, and I realized that shouldn't even stop creating no matter what setbacks I have along the way. From the time I created a Xanga until today, I have grown and finally put my good old writing to use. It feels great to interact with you guys and to have you read the stuff I share. There's more of that from now on and in the future.
I'm really thankful for you guys, who keep reading my entries. This Thanksgiving (and every single day of the year), I'm grateful for 1) pushing through with Aicsthetic and believing in myself, and 2) you guys. Maraming salamat, ありがとうございます！