10 lessons learned from 3 years of blogging

This week marks the 3rd anniversary of Project Exponential; 3 years of meals served, friends made, and surprising connections between industries and ideas. I am filled with gratitude and awe when I think about those I have been fortunate to introduce.

The anniversary also marks three years of blogging. When I first started, it was a completely new venture. I wan’t sure how to go about it or what to say, and I didn’t know if anyone would care.

I’ve learned so much since those initial posts and want to share a glimpse of what I’ve gained along the way:

1. Establish a practice.

When I started blogging, I would churn out posts several times a week. Eventually I realized that with client work, hosting dinners and volunteering in Nepal, I was struggling to keep up. I settled on once a week and have held myself accountable ever since. My schedule has become routine. I find myself noting possible topics and thoughts that could turn into a post throughout the week.

My tip: Forget about what other bloggers are doing. Find what works for you and stick to it.

2. Small bricks build something substantial.

A handful of blog posts didn’t mean much at first. Three years later, I have accumulated a body of work I am proud of. I regularly receive emails from people who “stumble upon my blog” and find something useful. Put in time and commitment, and you’ll see results.

3. Blogging forces you to discover and connect.

Because of the blog, I have met new people, come across new ideas and found new sources of inspiration — both online and off. Searching for articles and specific topics has introduced me to inspiring bloggers and new theories. As a result, I’ve re-considered some of my viewpoints, developed new ways of thinking, added more sites to my Bookmarks bar, and have exchanged emails with talented writers.

4. Done is better than perfect.

This might be one of the most difficult lessons to learn, but it’s absolutely necessary. Waiting for perfection only hurts yourself. You can spend hours upon hours obsessing over nuances and phrases. Don’t give the Schedule/Publish button unnecessary power. Perfect is a crazy, evading word and we are our own worst critics. Do your best work, be prudent in your edits, then click Submit.

5. You don’t have to be technically inclined to blog.

Sure, I kept a blog when I was traveling around the world in my late teens. But when I considered blogging for professional purposes, I figured only famous people did it. I also thought I needed more technical knowledge. Turns out you don’t have to be computer savvy to write a blog people enjoy. With a choice of platforms and writing tools, anyone can get online and put their thoughts in the world.

6. Don’t stop experimenting.

The first few blog posts feel like a great big experiment. Everything is uncertain and new, and you don’t really have any idea how it works. That feeling eventually fades, but it doesn’t mean you should stop experimenting. Try new writing styles, vary posts from lists to personal accounts to asking questions to honest challenges. Challenge yourself to feel uncomfortable after you start feeling comfortable.

7. Blogging is good for business.

Aside from standard SEO results, the more you write, the more authority you have. Blogging helps cement what you know and show others you can back up your claims. Writing regularly on particular topics helps the right people find you and helps you provide clear information to potential customers. Links and trackbacks to other blogs can build relationships with experts in your industry, and regular posts prove that you’re relevant and up-to-date.

8. Caring what other people think only paralyzes you.

This speaks for itself. Obviously there are societal norms you should keep in mind, but too much questioning and assuming and worrying and forecasting will only ruin your writing and destroy your creative process.

9. I still write with a pen.

My best writing happens when I write in a notebook then transfer to a computer later on. I type directly when I’m short on time or traveling, but I recognize it’s just not as good. Knowing what works for you and acknowledging your strengths and weaknesses is instrumental to your development as a writer.

10. Read good writing.

I have a list of writers I respect and admire. Their websites are saved on my computer, and I drop in and see what they’re up to from time to time. I always leave their websites feeling inspired. Admiring the way they spin words and describe their experiences encourages me to keep working on my own craft.

Whoever those people are for you, study them. Figure out why you are drawn to their work and what is successful about their writing. The best teachers are perpetual students, and the best writers are perpetual readers. Strive to do both.