I often cite December 1st 2011 as my first official blog post from my first running blog, Running for Dummies, but I have had this blog since January 2009. I once said in a post that Nov 4th was my fitness Blogversary. The dates may be a little muddy in my mind but this is what I know:
On January 4th 2009 I officially started this blog. It didn't have a blog name, just my name stretched across the top. I didn't know anything about blogging. I didn't even know that there was anything to know about blogging. I was blissfully unaware. I just opened a free blog account and started writing. My first post ever was a year-in-review of 2008 which was mostly pictures, something I still do every year. I like to look back on my year and remember the highlights. I read that first post from 2009 and realized that I ran my first 5K in 2008. Blogging is cool.
This wasn't even a fitness blog at first. I just blogged about whatever was on my mind. I didn't have an editorial calendar, a mailing list or the realization that those were things I was supposed to have.
My first post about fitness was this one on July 14 2011. It is really not bad for a first fitness post. I thought I would look back and cringe (maybe I did at my graphics) but I started off OK. There were plenty of other posts to cringe at over the years.
In November of 2011 I renamed this blog 'Running for Dummies' and began my first journey into fitness/running blogging. In 2013 it was growing so fast I worried about copyright infringement on that original name and I rebranded as 'Running with Ollie.'
I learned a lot in five years of fitness blogging and I realized as I was writing it that the things I learned about blogging are also important life lessons.
5 LESSONS I LEARNED IN 5 YEARS OF FITNESS BLOGGING
|I learned that Pinterest-friendly graphics can drive a lot of blog traffic|
1. IT'S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU
It's my blog. Of course it's about me. right? Yes and no. I realized pretty quickly that people don't care about me. Not really. It's human nature. People care about themselves. If I wanted people to read my blog and return to read more, I couldn't just blab on about myself all the time. I had to either inform or entertain. People don't care about my latest PR (personal record), they care about what they can learn from it in order to achieve their own PR. They don't care about my race experience, they care about what to expect before they run it themselves. They don't care if I lost 10 pounds, they want to know how I did it so they can try to apply it to their own lives. They don't really care that I $hit my pants on a long run, but they sure enjoyed laughing about it.
I'm not saying people are jerks. They are not (well most of them). It is just that people are too busy to read blogs about nothing so it is important to share information that is relatable, informative or entertaining.
2. YOU CAN'T DO IT ALONE
I had no idea back then that there were blogging communities and maybe in 2009 there weren't. Around the time I started 'Running for Dummies' in 2011 I learned about the Fitfluential and Sweat Pink fitness blogger communities. In the early days of these groups I made many blog friends that I am still friends with today. I learned so much about fitness blogging from the people that were already doing it and the people like me that were just learning to navigate the blogging world.
Today Facebook is inundated with blogging groups from every niche imaginable, it is almost overwhelming. I am grateful to have been part of my online fitness communites when they were smaller and more personable. They are still great, but they have grown so much over the years that they naturally have changed and evolved into something much bigger. The connections I made in the early years mean a lot to me, especially the people I eventually met in-person at races, events and conferences.
3. YOU GET WHAT YOU GIVE
Just like anything in life, you get what you give. If you live in a blogging bubble and just pump out content without ever engaging with other bloggers, you'll never get anywhere. It really goes back to both of my previous points. It is not all about me. I have to get out there and see what everyone else is doing, leave thoughtful comments on blogs and share great content from other bloggers. Engaging with other bloggers is critical to success of a blog because you can't do it alone.
4. THE PASSION DRIVES YOU
People are starting new blogs every day. They start blogs with good intentions and then sometimes they naturally fall off and fade away. What is the difference between someone like me who has been blogging for five years and someone who lets a blog go after six moths because life gets too busy?
Passion. I have a passion for writing, fitness and blogging. Someone once asked me "Don't you ever just not feel like doing it?" If I ever truly didn't want to do it anymore I would stop. This isn't my career. My mortgage payment doesn't depend on this blog. I do it because I love it. It's a hobby, a part-time job and passion rolled into one.
It is a ridiculous amount of work, so much more goes into it than just the writing. But it is a work of passion. It is my creative outlet. I get so much personal fulfillment from this blog that I don't get from my day job or anywhere else. Sure, like anything, there is an ebb and flow to it. There are times I am less motivated and step away for a short time, but I always come back. I can't imagine my life without blogging. I often wonder what I did with my life before 2009, I honestly can't remember.
5. YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW
These days I watch people in those Facebook blogging groups freak out about launching a new blog. They want to have two months of flawless content ready, a logo, a mailing list opt-in download and a solid SEO strategy. There is nothing wrong with striving for the best but I read these threads and am grateful for my ignorance in the beginning.
I didn't know about Google analytics, unique monthly page views or SEO. I wasn't comparing the success of my blog to other more established blogs. I didn't even know what success in blogging meant. I didn't know anything, but one day I started and I figured it all out along the way. I did some stupid things and made many mistakes over the years, but day by day, I learned just about everything I needed to know to run a successful blog.
It wasn't perfect then and it is certainly not perfect now, but every day it gets a little better. I didn't worry about launching with the perfect blog. I launched my blog and perfected it (on my terms) over the last five years. Then I took what I learned about blogging here and applied it to my new blog on www.leagendersfitness.com. Just imagine how much better I'll be with five more years of learning and evolving under my belt.
Blogging taught me an important life lesson. A lesson that I am applying in my own fitness business. You don't have to know everything to start. You just have to start. You learn along the way. You make mistakes. You keep moving forward. You keep getting better. You fall. You get back up. Not knowing is OK. Not starting because you don't know is NOT OK.
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