Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of progress. I’ve realised one thing. That reflecting on the progress I’ve made in my life, has made me happier. It has made me more content. It has made me more grateful.
It could be progress in anything, really. Like developing relationships. Or getting better grades in school. Or managing your finances. Or building up side hustles. Whatever it is, penning down your thoughts at each stage is a good practice. When you look back at the stuff you’ve accomplished, there’s that wonderful feeling of gratitude, contentment.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to do here – reflecting on my blogging journey, 3 months at a time.
Number of Posts: 21
Page Views: 0 (At least that’s what Google Analytics tells me, even though I have gotten a couple of comments. Strange.)
Subscribers: 0 (Don’t have an email list yet.)
Income: 0 (Haven’t done any monetizing yet.)
Not very encouraging, but I suppose that’s the norm when you start out blogging. I’ve got to put my blinders on and publish as many posts as possible.
At least one thing’s for sure, it’s only going to go upward from here!
Despite the dismal tangible results, there are actually quite a few things I’ve learnt in my first 3 months of blogging.
Perfectionism Will Kill You
Probably the most important thing I’ve learnt, and am still trying to wrap my head around it.
When I first started publishing posts, I laboured over every word, every spacing, every punctuation mark. My habit of perfectionism was so toxic to the point that I spent days reading and re-reading already completed posts. Over and over again. Even when everything seemed perfect, some nagging feeling at the back of my mind convinced me that I had to go back and correct more minor details.
Frankly, it was excruciating. While I love creating content, my habit of perfectionism caused me to feel more stressed out. ‘OMG, what if there’s a grammatical error? Or punctuation mistake? What if my post structure doesn’t make sense? What if it’s too messy? Wouldn’t any potential reader be completely turned off? What if I lose potential readers because of this? My life will be over!’
Time-consuming and agonizing, it was.
Soon after, I came across other content creators’ material on the topic of perfectionism. What I’ve since come to realise, is that most readers don’t give a shit about silly little mistakes like punctuation and grammar. Chances are, they don’t even notice those mistakes.
I’ve seen much, much more popular bloggers share articles that contained these little mistakes. But are they losing subscribers? Are the punctuation police brutally pointing these errors in the comments?
No, and no.
I was over-thinking, and perfectionism was ruining my love and ability to create content.
Enough was enough. No more crazy perfectionism habits. Now, upon the completion of any blog post, I publish it. I resist the urge to re-read the post a million times in an attempt to figure out where I made mistakes. (Apologies for any errors you may find.)
I’m infinitely less stressed, and I create content much faster than before.
With Practice, Writing Becomes Easier, and Less Scary
Publishing my first ever post gave me the heebie-jeebies. I knew that it was by no means good; I was just rambling on and on about life, work and freedom.
A series of thoughts flashed across my mind as I hit that “Publish” button. ‘What if it’s shit? What if everyone hates it? What if I’m starting out on the wrong foot?’ I knew no one would ever see that post, but it was still anxiety inducing.
But a strange thing happened as I published a second post. And a third. And a fourth. And a fifth. Publishing what I wrote became less stressful, and more natural. I can’t quite figure out why. Maybe I decided to stop caring so much about the things beyond my control, like whether a reader would like my post. Or maybe it’s the confidence that comes with progress – the more you publish, the more confident you are.
Right now, it’s practically second-nature. I hit “Publish”, and off I go to work on the next post.
Do I still worry about whether I would get readers? Or whether potential readers would like what I’ve written? HELL YEAH. Like, every single day.
But I try not to let my fears dictate my actions. Whenever those worries pop into my mind, I push them out by focusing on creating another post. And another post. And another post.
Speaking of which, that leads to my third learning point.
Create for the Joy of Creation
I’ve always, always loved to write. But I can’t deny that a little part of me wants this blog to eventually succeed monetarily. Even if I don’t earn much money, as long as I’m able to cover my already-minimal living expenses, I can quit my job. And that would feel amazing.
Personally, I don’t think that would happen any time soon. It could take 2 years. Or 3 years. Or even more. I mean, blogging is a super-super-super long-term goal. Any content creation takes ages to establish and build a loyal audience.
The only way, therefore, to trudge along and not quit, is to create for the joy of creation, and nothing else. And nothing else.
I can’t emphasize this enough.
I’m grateful that I enjoy writing. I’m grateful that I don’t mind plugging away at my computer, producing posts, burning every weekend. I’m grateful that for the feeling of accomplishment that rushes over me as I publish a brand new post. I’m grateful for the excitement I feel when I see my blog being built up slowly over time.
I’m grateful for all of that. Because without everything I mentioned above, I would have given up on blogging faster than you could imagine.
Networking Isn’t So Formidable
Oh, how much I hate networking. Back in law school, I abhorred these networking events and lunches. I disappeared like the wind, while every bushy-tailed, bright-eyed peer of mine greedily attended all of them.
I used to chalk it up to my overly introverted nature. However, as time went by, I’ve come to realise that it was because studying in law school didn’t mean squat to me.
But blogging does. My blog means the world to me. It’s my source of happiness, a feeling that I thought disappeared when I started a corporate job that I disliked. And because of my blog means so much to me, networking actually became rather enjoyable.
A few weeks ago, I reached out to Zach, who runs the blog Four Pillar Freedom. I have been following his blog for about 1 year now, and have always admired his tenacity and consistency. I wasn’t really intending to reach out; I only wanted to drop him a simple single-sentenced congratulatory comment. But I ended up pouring my heart into it.
Zach replied my comment. In addition to that, he went to my blog, read a couple of my posts, commented on one, and even shared one on his blog!
I never expected such an act of kindness, and I was ecstatic for a good half an hour. HALF AN HOUR. Yeah, I even took a screenshot of Zach’s post. (I’m just that happy.)
To other people, this may not be a big deal. It’s not like I wrote some amazing guest post that got published on Zach’s blog. It was just a link to one of my articles that he had liked.
But Zach’s actions still meant so much to me. And I’m grateful for this feeling of happiness, over a little act of kindness. I suppose that’s because my blog means that much to me. Any little bit of recognition makes me super pumped.
At this moment, I’ve only reached out to Zach. And it’s been quite the amazing experience. He also advised me to reach out to other bloggers and leave comments on their sites. Something I definitely will be doing much more of in the future.
I guess networking isn’t so formidable after all. And that’s because my blog means the world to me.
The Joy of Receiving a Reader’s Comment
Up till the time I reached out to Zach, I’ve only ever had spam comments. If the comment wasn’t about SEO services, it was about online betting. After a while, I accepted that these were the only comments that I would receive over the next 1 year or so.
Then, Zach happened. And a few days later, I received a genuine comment from a reader, who loved one of the posts I had written. I was on freaking cloud nine, bouncing around my room for another good half an hour. I spent the next half an hour trying to draft what I thought would be a decent reply to the comment.
To this day, I can still remember the happiness.
The pure joy of having your work finally recognised, even if it’s only by a couple of people. And it’s bliss.
As much as I would love doing these blogging updates every month, I honestly don’t think I would have much to report about. I’m juggling a full time 9-to-6 corporate job, numerous tutoring assignments, and blogging. So, I don’t quite expect too much growth (if any) on a month-to-month basis. But I’m really hoping for at least some growth by the end of Month #6. That’s October 15, 2018.
Going forward, I’m going to try and post as much as possible. I’m gunning for 3 posts a week, although I don’t know how feasible that is, given my already-hectic schedule. Also, I really want to network. Hopefully I’d have overcome my irrational fear of networking by October.
I’ll see you then,