9 Lessons I Have Learned From Blogging for 9 Years

Nine years ago today, I made the decision to start my own blog.

9 Lessons From Blogging for 9 Years

I’m beyond thrilled to be celebrating my 9-year blogiversary here. To think about how far this blog come since that special January morning in 2013 when I woke up and decided to try something new is a great source of pride and joy for me.

Almost a decade later, blogging remains one of my greatest passions in life and I’m so happy I have stuck with it.

9 Lessons From Blogging for 9 Years

At the time, I had read a New York Times article that said 95% of new blogs end up abandoned. I was determined to see the project through and hoped to beat the odds by keeping my blog alive for years to come.

I suspected growing an audience would be difficult, but I wanted to try my best to see if I could make it!

1. BLOGGING IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT.

Blogging is a marathon, NOT A SPRINT
I don’t think I ever imagined I would still be operating this blog almost a decade later.

In fact, getting started, I don’t believe I had any idea what I was getting myself into. If you recall, 2013 was around that time when Tumblr and other forms of microblogging were still at their prime. People were leaning into the future of a mobile-centric web and utilizing newer platforms like Twitter and Facebook to post status updates about their lives.

Back then, I was 17 years old, still in high school, and enrolled in college classes. January 23rd fell in between my fall and spring semesters. With 2 days left before the start of my new semester, I decided to bite the bullet and create my first WordPress blog.

Since then, my blog has grown quite a bit and I now have readers in over 190 different countries.

There were numerous times when I felt like giving up… for instance, in 2019 I realized just how difficult it is to travel full-time while still maintaining a blog. Ultimately, persistence and perseverance are what got me through it and those skills can help you become a better blogger too.

Tools that have helped me: FocusMate & Asana.

2. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO INTO THIS ALONE

blogging is about BUILDING A community

Learning the technical know-how of developing my own website was a challenge but I was determined to find a way.

That lengthy learning process ultimately inspired me to create resources on The Rocky Safari for aspiring bloggers such as my free tutorial on How to Start a Blog in 10 Steps.

Prior to starting, I had dabbled a bit in web design. At the time, I was enrolled in a full-time academy to study graphic design for websites, digital art, and other forms of multimedia.

If you have noticed the newer graphics I’ve added to my blog, those are all thanks to my education in digital design. (Thanks, Ms. B!) In fact, everything you see on my blog is a testament to what my amazing teachers, professors, mentors, and friends have helped me learn over the years.

Don’t be afraid to seek help where you need it.

If I could do it all over, I would have changed my approach from the start. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that professional guidance. That’s why I am passionate about helping new bloggers who are just starting out make more informed decisions. Please never hesitate to reach out.

3. YOUR BLOG MAY NEED TO CHANGE AS IT GROWS OVER TIME

YOUR BLOG WILL GROW & EVOLVE OVER TIME

As you grow as a person so will your blog.

I purposefully keep my old blog posts available in my archive because I believe it shows how I have grown and learned new things over time. From 17 years old to 26 years old, my blog posts have evolved quite a lot. I mean, they better have; I know I’ve come a long way since 17.

I have published over 1,379 posts on The Rocky Safari, but almost 400 of them are hidden from search engines because the truth is that I had no idea what I was doing when I first got started.

If you placed a snapshot of my blog in 2013 right beside my 2022 blog, you wouldn’t even know they are the same website. That is because I needed to make a lot of changes and decisions to grow this blog to the point it is at today.

Some of you have been reading my blog since the very beginning and you’re the ones who know how much of The Rocky Safari has changed since day 1… and for those of you who don’t know, it’s essentially a whole new site.

Blogging on The Rocky Safari has helped me learn how to become a better blog writer, marketer, traveler, and business owner.

Realistically, nothing is the same as it was on Day 1… aside from me being the author. Over the last 9 years, I’ve updated and customized pretty much everything. Optimization, evolution, strategy, purpose, branding… so many things were lacking from my original rendition.

As my knowledge about blogging has grown, this website has been updated, developed, and customized to portray those lessons.

4. BLOGGING HELPS YOU BECOME MORE RESOURCEFUL

BLOGGING CAN MAKE YOU MORE RESOURCEFUL

Until you build a team (if that’s something you hope to do) blogging requires a lot of work upfront.

If you want to design a new blog that you have total control over, you will need to fulfill many roles yourself in the early stages.

  • Web Developer (Setting up hosting with a reliable brand such as SiteGround*)
  • Web Designer (Creating an appealing design or customizing a theme)
  • Analyst (Choosing a niche area with demand and monetization potential)
  • Marketer (You can’t count on Google’s algorithm alone to bring traffic)
  • Graphic Designer (People are visual creatures and graphics help conversions)
  • Photographer (Unless you use stock photos, you’ll need to take great pictures)
  • Copywriter (Sometimes it’s easy to lose track of the main point- writing!)

Honestly, that’s just scratching the surface…

All of these skills that I have listed, if it weren’t for the work I’ve put into The Rocky Safari over the last 9 years, they’d be a lot less refined today.

If you are feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of doing all that, don’t worry. You can work at your own pace to get things going and you will naturally grow and learn more over time. It’s like the cliche, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

If you’re under pressure to get things set up quickly, you can always hire help. Websites such as Fiverr* have professionals and freelancers who offer specialized services in all of the areas noted above and more. You can almost always pay for assistance where it is needed.

*Using my affiliate links means The Rocky Safari may earn a commission if you decide to sign up or make a purchase. These links cost nothing extra for you to use and may include additional discounts.

5. YOU CAN’T ALLOW FEAR TO HOLD YOU BACK

BLOGGING MAKES YOU A MORE CONFIDENT WRITER

I used to have anxiety attacks after publishing blog posts. Seriously.

I had such a huge phobia of people reading my writing that it took me 3 years before I ever even attempted to market my blog to the public.

If I had to identify one regret with my blog- it’d probably be that.

I wish I would have embraced my passion for writing sooner. It’s very similar to the process of coming out if you’re gay, in that sense. The idea of doing it is terrifying if you haven’t done it before… for fear of judgment, rejection, etc., but after you become more confident in your writing and learn to stand behind your work, you’re able to face the public and remain resilient to the criticism.

Not everyone will like your writing and that’s okay. You write for those who do.

6. STARTING A BLOG IS NOT A GET RICH QUICK SCHEME

BLOGGING IS A GREAT WAY TO MAKE MONEY

I think one of the main reasons people lose motivation to blog is because they go into it with the wrong expectations. It doesn’t need to take too long to turn a profit, but if your aim is to make money… you need to understand that there are a million ways to do it faster.

With that being said, if you have the patience and willingness to put in the time and work to build a successful blog, it can be a very profitable venture.

Blogging will allow you to explore new ways of making money online:

  • Advertising networks
  • Affiliate marketing
  • Brand partnerships
  • Sponsored posts
  • Email marketing campaigns
  • Donations, Kofi, Patreon
  • Freelancing projects
  • Marketing channels for products & services

When you begin to tap into these revenue streams, you’ll begin to understand that making money with a blog doesn’t have to be difficult. It took me a lot longer to understand this than I wish it had.

Fortunately, 2022 and going into 2023 are looking like they’ll be great years for The Rocky Safari blog which is something I am really excited about. It makes me look forward even more to the future.

7. BLOGGING WILL HELP YOU BUILD A BRAND

2022 is the year that I’ve decided to put a lot of time and energy into developing a true personal brand.

In 2016, I made the decision to radically change my blog. In 2018, I implemented more strategies and direction. Then 2019 rolled around, my life turned upside down and I needed to deal with a lot of challenges in my life offline, and it got to the point where I lost touch with myself for a while and almost gave up on blogging.

By 2020, I decided to begin the process of blogging more professionally and began to steer this project in a direction toward growth and expansion. Now, in 2022, I am beginning to really internalize this idea of branding and trying to use it to help guide the future of The Rocky Safari.

I have far clearer goals in place for 2022 and I know what I am working toward now.

That’s a significant difference from my approach to blogging in my earlier years, a time when I blogged without any set agenda and my website was operating more as a hobby than anything else.

I do want to note: success in blogging boils down to your objectives. If you blog as purely a hobby for self-satisfaction, your benchmarks may vary. Instead, if your goal is to grow a large audience, monetize your content, and build something bigger that brings value to others, then there are certain considerations you’ll want to make surrounding your brand decisions.

8. YOUR WEBSITE ALSO SERVES AS A PORTFOLIO OF YOUR WORK

BLOGGING BUILDS A PORTFOLIO OF YOUR WORK

My blog has been stated in at least 3 of my job interviews to date as the main reason I was hired.

First, it helped land me a remote job in 2014 that helped pay my way through 3 years of college.

Then it was discussed during an interview for a direct sales job I got after graduating. My blog was also discussed before I accepted a full-time job offer working in e-commerce.

Even if you aspire to build your blog into a full-time business (which is achievable with the proper strategy and legwork) you can use your blog in the earlier stages to attract freelance clients for supplemental income. I’ve published a few posts like that where I was compensated for sharing my thoughts, opinions, and experiences about different topics. You just need to be upfront with your readers, remain honest, be selective, and include the appropriate disclosures.

My philosophy is that I will only accept projects that bring value to my readers. My Work With Me page outlines a lot of my personal requirements for the type of work I allow on this blog.

9. YOU CAN EXPRESS YOURSELF ONLINE & OWN THE RESULT!

I started this blog to design a fun, creative outlet for myself. A place for self-expression, tracking my travels, and reaching new people through the internet.

Ultimately, I think people see my blog as a source of inspiration for traveling, connecting with nature, and developing a remote lifestyle that allows you to live and work from anywhere.

With total control over the platform I have built, I’m able to make all the final decisions on what I create.

Unlike Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok, blogging offers the distinct advantage that you own what you create. It’s your platform. No one can take your blog away from you, suspend you, shadowban you, block you, or hide your work.

(Well, maybe anyone other than Google… but that’s why email marketing is so essential for bloggers. Although, Gmail (Google) kind of has us trapped there too. But more or less, I do believe a blog is the best option available for ownership if you are a content creator. Social media should supplement your work, not be the sole place you create it.)

It’s really exciting that nine years later, The Rocky Safari is still up & running and showing no signs of slowing down.

In fact, it’s only the beginning. All of my analytics indicate that The Rocky Safari is trending upward in monthly visitors and now this blog is on track to have its best year yet. I have a ton of terrific things planned for the blog in 2022 and I’m sure that after I execute on those plans, greater things will follow.

Thank You for Reading

I just want to thank you for being here because without your support, I wouldn’t be able to keep this blog going. People like you who click, read, comment, message, email, and share – you all help me make my blogging dream a reality.

There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one. In the beginning, I used to become so frustrated when I’d publish a story only to find out it got 0 views. Actually, that was always a big fear going into this. That I’d write something and no one would want to read it. I think writing appealing content is a learning process too.

In 2022, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about why I blog and how I want to use it to help people. This approach has helped me set new goals so I can work toward bigger things in the years to come.

I’m working to get better and can’t wait to see where things go from here.

All the best,
Rocky

9 Comments

  1. Great points! I run three blogs, and two of them will also be nine years old come this December (and my travel one is approaching six years). Like you, I’ve seen way too many awesome blogs come and go over the years, but really, it’s all about the perseverance that makes you able to continue. I have gone through many ups and downs through the blogs I had for nine years, from the pressure to post daily (but mediocre) posts to months of inactivity, which resulted in a rapid decline in viewership. Regardless, reminding yourself of the passion to write that got you started in the first place is a great incentive to be motivating again and to return to blogging. Glad to see you on your ninth year of blogging, and congratulations on the milestone!

    1. Thank you so much, Rebecca! Congratulations to you as well on keeping your blogs up and running for that long; especially to be maintaining more than one website, that’s a huge accomplishment and you should be very proud of your work. Your point on seeing so many bloggers come and go really hit home. I’ve seen so many fellow bloggers come & go over the past 9 years as well. It’s a shame to see so much talent give up leaving their blogs abandoned indefinitely. I hope something will make them snap out of it someday and be inspired to come back and keep going. In 2013 and 2014, I used to post daily… it helped build my blogging muscle but the quality of each post was so low. Then, as you mentioned too, I’ve also endured long gaps of not posting. I think a healthy balance is somewhere in the middle. Anyway, so happy to have connected with you and to be getting to know another writer who is in it for the long haul.

    1. Andy! Hi! Wow!! Congratulations on your blog making it to the 9.5 year mark. Sounds like we’ll both be celebrating our blogs’ 10 year birthdays before we know it. It is so crazy to think about. How time flies. Blogging can be so rewarding, I’m glad to know you agree with all of it. Really appreciate you reading my post! 🙂

  2. Congratulations on your nine years of blogging, that is something to be proud of! I am probably due for a refresh as I have been at it since 2014 (regularly since 2017). I think there is a always something to learn about blogging and staying open to options is key. Great post Rocky!

    1. Thank you, Leigha! Congratulations to you as well as you’ve been blogging for nearly just as long! Seems we both began blogging more seriously a few years after we first got started- it’s definitely a learning process. You’re spot on with what you said- staying open to options IS key to blogging! Thanks again. 🙂

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