10 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Blogging

10 things I've Learned in 7 years of blogging at Gin & Lemonade

August marks the 7th anniversary of Gin & Lemonade.  It’s been an interesting ride.  I’ve learned a lot.  About myself, and others.  About writing.  And how blogging is a separate thing almost entirely from writing.  They’re cousins, I think.  And I’d like to bring them closer together.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

I guess I’ve taken a few hiatuses, and since coming off the most recent one I’ve looked at this blog and blogging in general with different eyes.  And not in a gross way.

True confession time, though.  I’ve researched blogging as a business more in the last   few months than I have in all my years of blogging put together.

And I’ve been thinking the business side of it is kinda sleazy.

In the notes I’ve taken in the past few weeks, I’ve come up with my own ideas about how to have a successful blog (?) without selling out/burning out/throwing your laptop out the window.

Putting them here as a reminder to myself.  If you find them useful, bonus.

Don’t be a Stats fiend – I am guilty of this.  But I am in recovery.  Just write your stuff and the numbers will crunch themselves.  Try not checking for a week.  If the numbers are better after a week of not checking, keep not checking.

Don’t be a dick.  Answer your comments.  Read the posts you’re commenting on.  Be a real person.   P.S.  If I comment on a recipe by saying: I wish I could make this, but my husband has a cheese phobia, it is a genuine comment, I’m not a dick, it does relate to your post, and yes it is a real thing.  Hi.

And no, I don’t have to comment on a hiking post, unless I want to.  If you judge me, screw you.

Write your stuff for the day before you read other people’s stuff.  If I don’t get stuff out on my screen before I read other people. I end up not posting.  Because you might be using full sentences and I haven’t had my coffee yet.  Sometimes I want to post random thoughts, but other people’s polished posts with pretty pictures puts me off.

Don’t be put off.  I want to hear your random thoughts.

Have some sort of posting schedule.  I’ve tried this in the past, I’m getting better at it. These days, I post every other dayish.  Use your non-posting days to connect with other bloggers.

Connect with other bloggers.  Talk and share their posts.  For no reason. Except just maybe, I dunno, you’ve read what they have to say and want to share it.

If you have a newsletter, don’t make people jump through all the hoops/give you one of their children in order to subscribe.  Captcha is stupid.  And I am not a robot.

Don’t ask people what they want to read on your own damn blog.  I’ve tried.  People say: you.  So do you.  If others knew what they wanted to read before they read it, they’d write it themselves.  Let them.  Write your own stuff.

Blog like no one is reading.  Not your partner.  And certainly not your parents.  But, if you have to explain the joke, maybe it ain’t that funny.

However.  Think before you hit publish.  But not too much.  If you think too much, you’ll end up with 49 posts in your Drafts.  Hi.

So, how long have you been blogging?  Why do you stick with it?  Are you honest and unfiltered?








93 thoughts on “10 Things I’ve Learned in 7 Years of Blogging

  1. I posted my first one on July 1 (Canada Day), 2009…so, yeah, it’s been a while for me as well.

    I would add — EDIT like crazy. Yes, I’m very fussy, but gave up on too many blogs that were dense forests of copy with no paragraphs or images. Do NOT ever make your readers work that hard!

    And please, remember, that your blog is NOT a personal journal opened to millions of strangers. Before you strip bare emotionally, decide if this is truly in your best interests — and if it’s actually going to be compelling to others.

    On this trip through Europe, I loved meeting a longtime blog follower of mine, an Irish woman in Berlin. We hit it off at once and I spent a glorious day with her and her fiance. It really made Berlin feel so much more welcoming to know a friendly face awaited me.

    1. I always think of one of your early posts when I’m writing stuff for here, especially the point that it’s not a journal. My link (has been) on my CV, so that keeps me in check. Also though, the personal is universal or something. And you can’t be happy all the time. As long as I don’t flail too much in either direction, that works for me.

      Glad you’re here.

  2. I’ve only been at this blog for 6 months. I’ve blogged before this, but never made it to 7 years. That’s quite an accomplishment! I keep going on this one for a multitude of reasons. It’s my therapist, for one. I’ve had all this bottled up inside me for all the years I was sick, it’s great to get it out. Ultimately, though, writing is a passion of mine. I’d love for this to be how I make a living one day. Time will tell, I suppose. If the worst thing that happens is I got to write almost everyday and I met some pretty incredible people then that’s not so bad.

  3. Oh, how i despise captcha! I almost never read blogspot blogs because I have to go through three screens to finally post a comment, and I usually DO want to leave a comment. Turn off the captcha, people, or you will turn off the readers!

  4. Captchas are the worst. I especially love the nonsense words where I can’t tell if I’m looking at the letter d… or is that an o and an l squished really closely together? And the “CLICK ALL OF THE STREET SIGNS IN THE PICTURE” ones… What is up with that?!?!

    Happy Blog-a-versary!

    1. I always thought the different versions cover different accessibility issues. But the ones I’ve come across don’t work for me, and I just click off.

  5. Great points. I don’t censor myself. I write about a variety of topics: feminism, fashion, racism. When I write about social issues, I feel like I can help make a difference. Congrats!

  6. I’ve been blogging for around four years. I wouldn’t say I am good at it, but I keep going.
    Why do I stick with it? I ask myself that a lot. I’m guessing the community, I love the friends I have made, but not being able to give them as much time as they give me gets me down.
    I am honest, I am an open book, I am not however unfiltered. My anxiety reminds me constantly that people I know read my blog, that sometimes makes me not write. I started a second blog for honesty, but still I struggle.

  7. I have been at my blog since December of 2015. I did not even want to start a blog in the first place. But after friends and family convinced me to, I decided to start one anyway. I was hooked right away. It took while till I saw any success on my blog, but I still enjoyed doing it. Summer 2016 was the turning point for my blog because was when it started to be successful. I stick with my blog because I love to write, love the blogging community, some followers stand out, and always surprised by my posts. It is hard to describe exactly why I stick by my blog

  8. I’m so glad to see your posts in my feed regularly.

    Speaking of signing up, I’m about to launch my newly designed website. I’m moving from WP.com to WP.org. Unfortunately WP doesn’t allow me to transfer subscribers, so everyone has to resubscribe to the site/blog. I’m hate asking people to do that. Sigh…

    1. I’m thinking of migrating, too. But that’s the one point that puts me off! Saying that, I’d follow you anywhere, dude. In a non-creepy way. Ha!

  9. Congrats on your blog-birthday! I like your “think before you publish” rule. For me, it’s “read it out loud before publishing.” With an out loud reading, I find typos, catch mistakes, and hopefully uncover those other weirdo awkwardish things that try to sneak into my blogs. Oh, and I freak out my cats, which, by itself, is a win.

  10. Hi Lorna, I didn’t know you had been blogging that long. Congrats on the 7 year anniversary! It’s nice to meet another oldie. I’ve been at it 12 years. I think the most important advice you have is to blog like no one is reading. At the end of the day we all blog for ourselves.

  11. I love this post. I think I’m on the right track so far! Phew! Congratulations on 7 years, Wow! I’ve been blogging since May. It’s been a learning curve, but half the fun is interacting with other blogs 🙂

  12. I just started blogging in April. It’s meant to be focused on my struggles with cooking. I find that this helps me to get all the info out of my head and into a nice form that I can share with friends and family … instead of babbling obsessively to them in person. I’ve always wanted to blog but never felt I had anything worth sharing until now.

    I really enjoy your blog. And congrats on 7 years!!

    1. See now, I love your blog. I’d love to cook more, but I’m also a real person who isn’t delusional that I actually enjoy it. I don’t Ha! Keep going, for all of us who cuss most in the kitchen. x

  13. Hey Lorna,

    I love your advice to blog like no one is reading. We can be more candid and open that way. I try to not be afraid to say things and share stuff.

    Thanks for the encouragement,


  14. After making the transition from a “friends and family update” to a personal blog earlier this year, I got several pieces of advice from a blogging coach that were helpful, many of which you condensed for us already, but I still struggle to find that sweet spot between sparking a genuine conversation with my ideal reader, and sharing content that might be meaningful to a broader audience. But I’m still new enough that I see this as a fun challenge rather than an unscalable obstacle on my path to creating a “successful” blog.

    And I’ll completely understand your silence when I share my next hiking post 😉

  15. Congrats on 7 yrs! I enjoyed – and generally agreed with your points. I’m not fussy on stats. But schedule? I tried. I’m in year four and have currently given up on it. But maybe I’ll hit stride again?

    Your hiking comment made me smile. I take it you are not a fan. I once submitted a short story to a writing contest about joining – and enjoying – an online hiking group because I quickly worked out that no one had any intention of going hiking.

  16. Hey Lorna, I’ve been blogging since late February. I do it because I hope what I post can help make a positive difference in someone’s life – it’s also to build a brand. I’m incredibly honest and unfiltered in my posts.

    My favorite part of this post was the ‘Don’t ask people what they want to read on your own damn blog’ segment.

  17. Hi!! Nice to meet you. Found your blog through the Twitter blog hop. And wow, you have been blogging for so long. Congratulations! I love the points you have mentioned – don’t worry about stats, write like no one is reading.

    I am a fairly new blogger. I have been blogging about books for over a year (sometimes steady; sometimes on and off).

  18. Thank you for this post. I just decided to try blogging a few days ago as something new to try. I tend to try crazy physical things that have resulted in throwing my hip out, breaking my hand and other things that I don’t need to mention publicly. I love to write. I love to read. I enjoy a giggle at the end of the day and this post made me smile and was encouraging. Thank you. Hopefully I find this blogging thing my new favorite past time and hopefully I don’t fall off a chair while enjoying my evening glass of wine. If I do I guess that will be my first blogging adventure. I could write about it.

  19. Congratulations on seven years of blogging. I’ve only been blogging for three and half years, but I’ve learned a lot about the blogging world in that time. Building a community and joining other blogging communities is something I learned very quickly. Thanks for the tip of writing first and then reading other blogs. That’s a lesson I’m taking note of from now on.

  20. Congratulations on 7 years! Your advice is great! I’ve been at it for 9 years and used to check my stats obsessively. I’ve learned to let that go, though, and rarely check them now.

  21. Wow!!!! Seven years! That is such an accomplishment–and speaks to your tenacity…we are the better for it, for you are entertaining and engaging…thanks for sharing 🙂

  22. I think I started blogging in about 2009. My first blog was terrible and only two people read it. My second blog was better, though it took a while to get started. This one’s an offshoot of that blog after I moved it to be self-hosted in … 2014-ish? So theoretically I’ve been doing this since I was thirteen. I’d like to think I’ve improved but mostly I’m sporadic and distracted. Hoping to change that over the summer.

  23. This is great! I blog just to write because I love writing and find that sometimes it’s the only thing I can do to make myself feel better. I would like to become more professional in the sense that my writing improves a bit haha but it’s hard to find topics that I think people will want to read. Usually I like to write about my travels abroad.

  24. Love this! I’m a fairly new blogger (been at it since February). Truth be told, I initially started in preparation for a book that I’m writing. I’ve kept at it, though, because I love reading, writing and sharing what I’ve learned. My very first blog post fleshed out the issue you describe – writing for myself versus writing with my audience in mind. I’m not obsessed with statistics, but I’d love to see them increase if only for the (selfish) satisfaction of knowing that people are interested in what I have to say 🙂

  25. I have been blogging for about half of my life. If there’s one thing I’ve found to be universally true in all of this, it’s this: if you aren’t blogging honestly, you aren’t writing anything worth reading.

    >And I’ve been thinking the business side of it is kinda sleazy.

    All marketing is sleazy, pandering, gross, and artificial. If something exists, there’s a marketer somewhere trying to make somebody money from it – and there’s something kind of disingenuous about that, isn’t there?

    >but my husband has a cheese phobia

    Today I learned about Turophobia. My condolences – cheese is delicious.

  26. This is everything, lady! Just recently did I realize that blogging is ENTIRELY separate from writing. I just want to write…Not too long ago, I wrote about the sleazy aspect of blogging for money. Sure, there are legit people who do it in a legit way, but I can’t help but feel like I get sleaze EVERYWHERE whenever I sideways-glance towards the idea of it. Why can’t someone just discover me and pay me to write already?! SHEESH!

  27. I just started blogging a year ago, and I have certainly seen my blog being swayed by the idea of numbers and “fans” rather than its original intent of being a fun place to document my thoughts. I’m so happy that I happened upon this post because you spilled some serious truth and reminded me to stay true to me. Thanks girl!

  28. Great tips and lots of them I could see me doing but I am trying to get better. ie stats hunter and draft hoarder. As well as not visiting other bloggers the way I should. Thanks for reminding me to not do some of these things and to do others of them. Have a great day.

  29. I just recently started blogging. But I have been writing down my thoughts in my diary for at least 10 years by now. I like the way my thoughts become structured when I write them down…I like your style of writing. It makes me feel like I am reading your thoughts and I like that. Thank you for sharing your experiences and tips 🙂

  30. Your’e write about the blogging. One should take a hiatus once in a while ( or may be even more) because when you distance yourself from something , things get clearer. I’ve been blogging for almost a decade now and things are only now beginning to make sense. I haven’t made the first buck yet nor hit 500 followers and even less achieved 100 visitors a day ( proves I am still addicted to stats) but I do write like no one’s reading ( because I do believe no one does) and YES, I have learnt more about blogging in the past year than I have done all the years while blogging. Loved this post. ( Honest comment)

  31. Thanks Lorna for the tips! I just started my blog last night and I already can relate to what you’ve said and my concerns of my 5 line random musings with no punctuation 🙂 I’ve started for fun, and documentation that I can’t seem to do in scrapbooks or photo albums so hoping I don’t get too carried away, but honestly my mind already went 1,000 miles an hour to dreams of Julie and Julia!

  32. This really is one no nonsense post about blogging that I actually understood. I started blogging this February and I have happily overcome the disappointment over stats. Can’t really get around to answering comments and feel terribly guilty about it but my kids are really a lovely notorious duo and keep me so damn busy.

    1. I’ve been thinking about that point since I put it out there, ha! As long as I visit those who visit mine and find something to talk about on their posts, I’m good. I have to put myself on some sort of schedule since Isla, at 3, is now being officially more social than me, ha!

  33. Thanks for sharing. This is encouraging. I revived my blog last year, posted more than a hundred random thoughts for almost a year. Then one day in March this year, I read my posts. I didn’t like the randomness, so I deleted everything. Now, writing again. 🙂

  34. I just posted my first blog a few minutes ago. I have no idea what I am expecting to get out of it, but it does feel good to go through and find posts like these which give sincere advice. Thank you! wish me luck!

  35. My baby ahem…I mean blog is four months old, at this point I am in the phase of cutting off the breast milk and putting it on formula…ahem I mean it’s growing and needs more of who I am in it. I like your point about writing like no ones reading..gave me a night of sleep from the four month old…ahem…I mean sigh of relief😄

    1. I think as long as people make some sort of connection, it’s all good. Like, even if you don’t reply fast or at all to the comment on your post, do reply to something on the commenter’s blog. Thanks for the comment, ha! Good to see you again, used to read you, but I lost track.

  36. Writing things ahead of time is one of the best things I do for my blog!! I write most of my posts 4-10 days ahead of when it’s published. 1. There is no guarantee I will be home to write the night before, and 2. I go back and change/remove things the majority of the time. It just allows for more editing! The only time I do a poll to find out what readers want is when I have too many ideas for a particular themed post and I can’t narrow it down myself- I’ll be happy to write all of it, but people usually do help me narrow it down with a fast poll 🙂

  37. I will have been blogging for about 4 years come 1 Septmber …… if my blog were a school child hatched in their early twins, they would be we would be waiting for the GCSE about now wouldnt we hahahaha…..
    The honesty in this post…. I heart it

  38. My favorites here are “Don’t be a dick.” and “Don’t be put off.” Basically, when I read that I know that we’re talking about real life, respectful people sharing stuff that matters–but not taking ourselves TOO seriously. Love it.

  39. Good takeaways, thank you. In terms of posting, I’ve been dedicated to publishing once a day for years. However, since moving to WordPress I’ve been better able to review old posts and update them as well. Cool blog!

  40. What I love about blogging is that o can write as much as I want as if no one is going to read it . I’ve been blogging for 8 months and I’ve learned a few things so far . Many of your points are true , defintley checking stats I’m guilty of but I have to realize it’s more then that .

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