Yup! Yup! Yup! I’ve passed the six months mark with this blog and I am so excited. It’s been a pretty eventful six months and today, I’d love to share some lessons I’ve learned since I began this blog: Aberrant Maia.
But first, let’s start with some quick background info. So, the idea to start this blog came after I had woken up one Saturday afternoon, still reeling from my shenanigans of the prior night. In my quite drowsy state, I began to contemplate on my life and asked, “What the heck am I doing with my life?” Yes, I was in school and trying to get a degree, yes, I had done a couple of things I could be proud of, but I just felt that I wasn’t really doing much. Intertwined with this thinking was the voice of my college career advisor at the back of my head, urging me to start anything I have an interest in to determine what I want to do. So, I got up from bed, opened my laptop and began designing a website/blog using WordPress. Fast-forward, on March 17th (3 days after I got the idea to start this blog), I officially launched this blog. It honestly was the perfect time because on Sunday, my university asked all students to go home due to the emergence of COVID-19 in Ghana. By Monday, I was back at home with ample time on my hands (my school was now trying to figure out how online schooling would pan out) and this coupled with the fear of being bored, made me start this blog.
Fun fact: This blog originally began with a free version of WordPress and the URL was: www.aberrantmaia.wordpress.com
Now that my little history lesson is out of the way, let me go ahead and drop a few gems I have gained since starting this blog:
You might probably be wondering if you’re good enough or if you’re ready enough. By all means, prepare and research before you launch. But the honest truth is, you can never be fully prepared. Once you start, you will learn so many things you would have never known or thought about and trust me, it is fine and you WILL make mistakes. The key is to learn from them and create better content than your last. But as I said, START!!!
I’m speaking from experience: stay true to yourself and write about things you are passionate about. With my blog, every poem or article is a topic I’m genuinely interested in. You might be tempted to hop on trending topics or write on subjects which gained views for another person’s blog. If those topics don’t interest you, you’d eventually find out that posting on your blog becomes a chore for you and eventually, you may fold up. Also regarding the interviews I conduct, I’ve always interviewed someone whose work I admired. In fact, this factor is part of my selection criterion. The internet hosts a vast number of people. No matter what you write on, there would be some people interested in what you have to say.
It’s the internet and that means there are hackers and bugs lurking and waiting to pounce on your site. Anytime you make an update, install a new plugin or make even the slightest change, make sure you back up so that if something wipes out your whole site, you would still be able to import your saved site data on your site or a new one. Really, I can’t stress this enough. Find ways to make your site secure.
Hmmm, I’m so passionate about this point. Let me tell you a little story of what happened to me a while back. So, I published a post on my blog and it garnered quite an amount of attention. So, as more people continued coming to my site, my site crashed. Now, the number of people coming was huge at the time for my blog, but it wasn’t a relatively large number. Definitely a number that should not make my site crash. But it did. Apart from that incident, I’ve previously had issues with my host’s server being down, even if for brief moments, but it’s not a good outlook for my blog. You never know the time a person wants to check our your blog and you definitely don’t want them to meet an error message, so GET A RELIABLE HOST!
Hahaha, now I’m laughing but at that point, I wasn’t laughing. Dry spells can either be creative blocks, low readership or your blog not meeting the goals you wanted it meet during a particular period. My dry spell was regarding the interviews I conduct, and it lasted a little over a month. Luckily, people didn’t notice because I had a backlog of scheduled interviews but trust me, behind my screen I was freaking out. Let me break it down. So, before I interview someone, I have certain things I look out for (yes, I’m quite picky when it comes to who I interview). Once a creative meets that criterion, I then begin the researching and monitoring phase; that’s the most involving aspect and can stretch for weeks. So, I had gone through this phase and gotten countless number of people I wanted to interview and to my surprise, I did not receive a favourable response from even one of them. I maintained my calm, because I had like 3 or 4 unreleased and scheduled interviews, which would suffice if I released them periodically. Back to the research and monitoring phase, I came up with the names of more creatives whose works I love, and still no favourable response. Now, I was in a fix. I almost relented on the criteria I use to pick the creatives I interview but decided against it because that would have compromised certain standards I wanted the interviews to have. I was now down to my last scheduled interview, and after that I honestly did not know who I would be interviewing next. Then I thought, if all the people who I thought might respond didn’t, then I might as well approach someone way out of my reach (don’t try and analyse my thinking because I don’t understand it either). So, I reached out to a creative I admire very much but never in a billion years thought I would get to interview. And in a matter of hours, the person replied in the affirmative! When I say I screamed, trust me I screamed! After that, people I had even contacted earlier began to get back to me, and it’s safe to say things picked up again. That just goes to say that there might be dry spells but persevere through them.
When I started blogging, I was just a sole blogger who wanted to release my thoughts via a medium. Over time, I found bloggers in different communities around the world and it has been a bliss. Reading their posts and knowing there are people who understand this blogging life is something I don’t take for granted. These communities have also shared my blog posts and hence, increased the reach of my blog posts for which I am immensely grateful for.
I’ve never really been someone who likes to toot my own horn and so, initially I didn’t promote my posts as much as I could have. Now? You don’t have to tell me twice to promote my posts. On all my social media platforms, I shamelessly promote my blog. I have gained more confidence in telling people what I do with my blog and the more I’ve self-promoted, the more readership and opportunities I have gained. Nobody can promote you better than yourself so go ahead and do that.
What I mean by transferable is that build a brand that people would remember you for even if you don’t have a blog any longer. When I started blogging, I had no intention of building a brand. I just wanted to write and that’s what I did. However, as time went on, I realized that the kind of opportunities people began to offer me, all seemed to be in a particular direction. After realizing this trend, I realized that I was unconsciously building a brand, but other people recognized it. When I became cognizant of this fact, I became more intentional about the brand I want to build in terms of the content I put out. My aim is that if by some ill-luck, something should happen to my blog or WordPress shuts down, that brand can still be useful and translated into other projects and opportunities. Yup, that’s what I mean by building a transferable brand.
Unfortunately, that’s all for now. Hope you enjoyed these few lessons I’ve learned since I began blogging and have a happy time blogging 😊.