It’s going to be one of *those* posts. Buckle up. I’m not very good at blogging and you might think I’m saying that just to be funny and “relatable” but really, I’m not. I really do suck. And here’s why.

Before I get into this post, I want to just give you all a bit of hope because you CAN suck at blogging and still make a full-time income from it. I do. I have done for a number of years now and I’m incredibly proud of myself for that. I won’t spend this WHOLE post beating myself up with a stick, don’t worry.

Over the years, I have been able to improve my writing skills, learn how to pitch to brands, network with other bloggers and groups of bloggers to help gain more paid opportunities and learn how to put myself out there in order to maintain blogging as my full-time job.

Some months it’s INCREDIBLY hard and difficult for me to know whether this is a sustainable career choice for me. Other months it’s wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy it. Full-time blogging is hard and there are a lot of uncertainties that come with being self-employed as well.

But as time has gone on, I’ve come to realize more and more that actually, I HAVEN’T built a sustainable career for myself. In fact, I’ve probably made it harder for myself in the long run.

When I started blogging back in 2013, I had NO IDEA what I was doing. Literally none. And after all these years (it’ll be 10 years blogging next April *wipes brow*) there are still things I struggle with. No, more than struggle. Some of these are:

  • Pinterest: I hate the platform, I hate how fickle it is, I hate how difficult they make it for creators. It’s time consuming and I don’t enjoy using it. I do use it, to the best of my ability but I know my strategy is way off and probably always will be.
  • SEO: I can scratch the surface with SEO but that’s about it. I can optimize a post but my SEO efforts have never been particularly good. I never thought it mattered – for years I did NOTHING for SEO.
  • Newsletter marketing: I have a newsletter but I’m by no means any good at the marketing aspect of it.
  • Keyword research: Something I only really learned about in 2020, can you believe it?
  • Getting enough views to get onto a “decent” ad network: Due to my lack of SEO efforts for almost a decade, I’ve never been able to build my traffic high enough to get onto an ad network. Yes, even after 10 ears
  • Growing my Instagram: Can ANYONE do this right now?
  • HTML: Nope nope nope nope nope

All of these things are pretty vital for growing a successful blog and being able to maintain that level of success. Ad networks can provide you with well-needed passive ad revenue – especially Mediavine. SEO and keyword research helps with the views required to get onto these ad networks. As can Pinterest.

Newsletter marketing can sky-rocket your affiliate income (something I didn’t add to the list because I simply just hate doing it) and growing your Instagram can obviously lead to a ton of Instagram-based brand collaborations which those with a lower follower count don’t typically have the luxury of taking part in.

So what CAN I do? Well, not much by the sounds of things but I think I’d quite confidently toot my own horn at the following:

  • Writing: I’m alright at that. By no means do I sound like I went to college or University but I can string a sentence together and that’s something.
  • Make people laugh: I like to think I can do this but whether I actually do online is another question. I’m aware some sarcasm or jokes when written down don’t tend to get the same ahm, response.
  • Making the reader feel like they’re chatting to a friend: Okay I’ve had this compliment a LOT and I absolutely love it and it’s probably one of the things I’m proudest of when it comes to my writing
  • I’m organized and productive and I don’t quit: All helpful things for this industry where you’ve got a ton of things to manage

As you can see, none of those things I would consider myself “good” at strictly only apply to having a blog. I’m sure I could write a couple of sentences on a napkin at Starbucks and the reader would get the same result. 

But looking at the typical “blueprint” of what makes a “successful” blog which allows you to get regular income, views through the roof and brand collaborations, it looks like I’m not doing ANY of the things I need to do to make that fact true.

Of course I am mad at myself for not taking those things more seriously sooner in my career. People say “oh just update your old content for SEO and you’ll see an improvement in views!”. Update over 2,500 posts?! No thanks I’d rather rub a chilli in my eye.

The fact is, I don’t enjoy the techy, behind the scenes kinda stuff that comes with blogging. I find SEO painfully boring. I don’t understand HTML and I don’t have the patience for Pinterest.

Yet clearly, that’s not the only way to run a successful blog. 

Having a basic knowledge of those things is a good idea but it is not the be-all and end-all of running a blog, getting brand collabs, growing a blog following and more. But it certainly won’t hurt to learn and make things easier for yourself down the road – the more you know, the better.

This post actually started with the intent to call myself out on all the stuff I’m sh*t at but it’s turned into something quite motivating. So if you see yourself in a lot of what I’ve mentioned above, ask yourself:

  • Do you have a distinct voice that you use in your writing?
  • Do you write beautiful poetry or take beautiful imagery?
  • Can you make people laugh with your writing?
  • Can you illicit feelings in people just with your words?
  • Do you have something of value to share?

If yes to any of those then you can make a successful career (or hobby) out of blogging. And it absolutely doesn’t matter how long you’ve been blogging for; there are some who have been at it for 2 months and know everything they need to know about SEO. Others, like me, who have spent a decade of their lives yapping away online and still knows the bare minimum.

There isn’t a blueprint for what a successful blog looks like.

But if you’re new, don’t get lazy like I did.

I’d love to hear your experience on this topic. Were you someone who taught themselves everything they needed to know? Do you wish you had learned earlier? Let me know!

79 Comments

  1. This was a great post! I often find myself wondering why am I doing this?! I don’t feel like I’m good at any of this and my article production has been slow.

    But then I remind myself that I’m on year 1 and I have time to grow into this!

    -Cheers!

  2. Great post, Jenny.

    Keep in mind that nobody starts a career knowing everything that they need to know – you learn as you go along. Don’t beat yourself up about it 🙂

    As for updating the older posts, couldn’t you pay someone to do it for you? I suppose it’s a question of weighing the cost of that against any likely financial benefit.

    Finally, keep doing what you are doing! Regardless of the various blogging technicalities – people enjoy reading your posts.

  3. I love this post! Recently, I was considering writing an entire post on how one doesn’t need to know or do everything to run a blog and how even the bare minimum of being oneself is enough. This came to me because I started a second dump blog where I basically dump my thoughts. My main blog is where i draft, write, edit, format etc. It’s been so long since I simply wrote with nothing else and I forgot that that’s enough for a lot of things. My anon blog started growing despite me not even using proper punctuation or capitalization. Sometimes, we need to strip back and see what it leads to to understand that we don’t need to add everything to our plate.

    Loved this post, Jenny!

  4. Thank you for shedding more light on how to learn to blog. The person can go to a YouTube channel and search for how to write a blog or how to start a blogging website. Furthermore, you can start reading articles about blogging on social media websites like Pinterest and Tumblr to learn more.

  5. I’m in the category of I *know* how to do the stuff but do I actually… do it? Not a lot of the time, this evening it struck me just how rare my art was back in 2013 on my Instagram (yes, I did scroll back that far), like surely I could have made use of the views? No wonder I didn’t get very far back then! I’d love to make a full time income for myself now though from my art/writing/blog/photography so I’m really getting my act together with certain areas. This post has definitely given me motivation too. x

  6. I dont even know we hat seo is 🤣 i write my blog becaue i too just like yapping and getting my thoughts on a page… And i like to write poetry so whether an observation, an experience or a poem i write it and hit ‘post’… For me, its a hobby that i enjoy…. Good luck with yours and keep going 😊

  7. This post really put things in perspective for me. I’ve not been putting enough energy into my blog and it feels like I’ve been horrible for the past year, but this really made clear everyone sometimes feels bad. Also, this indeed made me laugh a little, especially how recognizable the hatred for Pinterest is 😂

  8. I absolutely love your honesty in this post Jenny! Like you, I never really focused on SEO for a long time until recently, and even then I’m still hopeless at it! I honestly have no idea what I’m doing half the time either! when it comes to blogging! I think the phrase ‘winging it’ definitely springs to mind when I blog! x

    Lucy | http://www.lucymary.co.uk

  9. I’ve been blogging for years now and o still don’t have a clue what I’m doing! It doesn’t make me any money really but I use my blog as more of a hobby and to share my interests hopefully it will get somewhere one day!

  10. I’m awful at it. I hate social media (just trying to figure out what trends are popular and the algorithms). It gives me a headache lol

  11. i love honest posts like this jenny! i feel like all of us bloggers have felt this way at some point. whether it’s imposter syndrome or the ups and downs of blogging stats – i felt like this post was so relatable. thanks for this!

  12. Jenny, I truly enjoyed your honesty. I feel the exact same way. I feel overwhelm every blog post I write and as for going back…I agree, I’d rather rub chili in my eye LOL

  13. I am largely self-taught when it comes to the world of blogging but I took a slightly different angle. While I do make a full-time income, much of it is from my love of SEO. That being said (and I’m not pitching myself – I’m currently booked up – just speaking from experience) have you considered hiring an SEO specialist to go back and optimize your posts? That way it would still be your words/writing, but it would be an investment in boosting your views and help you to get into the premium ad network that you’re working towards 🙂

    1. Great suggestion, Britt. It’s definitely something I’ve had in mind but not really looked into. I just wonder whether it would be worth it, would my views improve THAT MUCH to actually get me onto a decent ad network? That’s my only worry!

  14. Very good post! I so enjoy your blog and I learn so much from you. You do have your own personal voice and it comes across. I am amazed at how many subjects you cover!

  15. Same timeframe here plus a few years, Jenny. And I still don’t have ad revenue or a huge email list. I have CSS, SEO, HTML and other tech knowledge, but if we fail at any of the other things, like consistency, it seems we fail. Ugh.
    I blog for the love of it though. Maybe I am a martyr? LOL

  16. I definitely can relate to the whole “not good at the tech side” of being a blogger. And you are great at making the reader feel like they’re chatting with a friend! So even if you feel you’re not good at it, you’ve built a successful blog!

    1. Thank you 🙂 I know I have, I definitely don’t doubt that. Just want people to know that the stereotypical blueprint of what makes a “successful” blog isn’t the only way to actually have a successful blog 🙂 xxx

  17. This is such a refreshing blog post! I look at you and your brand and I think firstly you are killing it. You and your blog have always inspired me to work harder to achieve. It is nice to know the difficulties I have with certain things like Pinterest etc that other people are experiencing too and it’s not just me. Thank you for sharing this open and honest blog post.

    Lauren x

  18. I feel you with this post. I have been going since 2016 and feel a bit like I’m in the same place. I’ve only just learned more about SEO and Instagram I’ve all but given up on. But I am going to keep working on and hopefully someday I will make enough that I can blog full-time x

  19. I follow your blog from long time Jenny. You are doing really great and I have been blogging since 2017 and its hobby up to now. I am planning to take it full time very soon. I am learning about SEO and it takes time for me to plan everything. When I started blogging I even didn’t know to add tags in a blog post. Everything I learnt till now, I learnt myself . You have come so far in blogging and its really awesome.

  20. I can totally relate to the logistics behind blogging. I just do this on the side as a passion project so I don’t have the pressure of making substantial amounts. But, I can see where the SEO side of things could get discouraging and difficult. All I know is that I love your blog and I feel like you are definitely doing most of the things right!

  21. You’re doing amazing! You’ve taught me a lot in my time blogging, but I think it’s an ever evolving platform. Some of us will be savvy, others will just scrape by like you and I! Thank you for being so honest and open with us Jenny. But, just know, I think you’re doing a WONDERFUL job!

  22. “Yapping away online”, had me HOWLING!!! I love your blog, Jenny, and your writing is the main reason, whatever topic you’re covering 🙂 SEO is all well and good but if you don’t have the passion for writing then what’s the point of running a blog? Really enjoyed this post from you, lil’ Sis! xx

  23. This is such a refreshing post. I too started about the same time as you and I don’t even think SEO was ever mentioned. It was more about blogger chats and writing freely back then.

  24. I have to admit, when I saw this headline it kind of scared me for a moment. I have been following your blog for years and it has always seemed that you know all the secrets, well you have to be to be full-time blogger… right?
    I almost lost all hope I had, but thankfully the story isn’t that dramatic as it looked at first 🙂 And I love how you twisted everything around and gave the hope back with a smile.

  25. I love this honest post Jenny! As someone who is also self-employed, there is so much trial and error and learning on the job- so I found this post so relatable. I only learned about SEO in 2020 too!

      1. This post was painfully relatable to read.. haha! I still have no idea what im doing, I love what I’m doing and I don’t want to stop. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

        Jeannie M

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