Eight lessons from eight years of blogging

A desk with a laptop computer and notepad and pen on it.

Eight years ago today, I published my first blog post. It was nothing special as first efforts go. Just 259 words about why I related to zombies since joining the ranks of sleep-deprived parents.

A lot has changed since then. What started as a new hobby that I didn’t necessarily think would stick has become a huge part of my life. So much so that it’s now my full-time job.

I’ve learned lots along the way. Here, then, are eight lessons from eight years of blogging. This is effectively advice to my past self so, if you’re new to blogging, it may be of use.

Be yourself

For me, the most interesting thing about the blogs I enjoy reading are the people who write them. They all have something in common too – they’ve all stayed true to themselves.

Sure, lots of us have gone on to make a living out of blogging, but the style and tone of the blogs I keep reading are the same as they always were and that’s so important.

Only compete with yourself

Comparing yourself to other bloggers is an easy trap to fall into, but one which should be avoided at all costs! We’ve all done it, of course, but I’ve gradually learned to stop.

The important thing is to strive to better yourself as a blogger. I think this is a key reason why I’m still going after eight years of blogging.

Consider digital footprints

I never imagined my blog would amount to anything – blogging wasn’t nearly as big back then and I wouldn’t have dared to think it likely either. This also means I never considered the digital footprint I was creating for my kids.

If I were to start all over again, I wouldn’t include their names and would have been more selective with pictures. Do what you like, of course, but consider it first.

Blogging opens doors

Thanks to the last eight years of blogging, I’ve made some great friends I would never have otherwise met. I’ve also had some amazing experiences, learned new skills and progressed my career as a result.

So, if you’re fairly new to blogging, have hit that first rut and aren’t sure whether to carry on, please do. It really does open doors.

Awards aren’t the be all and end all

I’m lucky enough to have a few blogging awards. This isn’t a brag – far from it. In fact, I think it qualifies me to say that they’re not the be all and end all.

Of course, it’s nice to win them and I’m proud of the ones I’ve won, but they don’t define me. The posts I write do that much more than trophies ever could.

Know your own worth

If you do decide to earn via blogging, it’s vital to know your own worth. If you’re picked by a brand or agency, it’s because they’ve identified you as being worth working with.

Remember that this works both ways! If they want a lot for a little, ask them to negotiate and be prepared to decline opportunities if they don’t reflect the work that you’d be putting in.

Learn to say no

Akin to the previous lesson, it can be very tempting to accept every last opportunity that comes your way once the emails start arriving. But, if the brand in question isn’t a good fit for your blog, you’re not doing yourself any favours. Or them, for that matter.

It goes back to staying true to your original raison d’être for writing your first post.

Don’t feed the trolls

I’ve been pretty fortunate with avoiding negative and abusive comments for the most part but have been targeted now and then. And, of course, it’s horrible.

But, however much you want to react to them, it’s best not to give them the satisfaction. Ignore them. They hate that.

So there you go – eight lessons from eight years of blogging. What have you learned thanks to blogging?


  1. Ross

    I think I’ve learned a lot of these through my first year of blogging. Can’t imagine getting to the 8 year mark but I dare say it’s inevitable if I just keep writing.

    Some great lessons here for bloggers though, people get caught up in the wrong things when it comes to blogging. Especially when they compare themselves with others. I guess it’s only human to look over and let envy creep in from time to time.

  2. Tim

    Totally agree, Tom – and congrats on reaching 8 years. (You whippersnapper, you.)

    All 8 points are important but I think the first 2 are particularly so. Be yourself and set your own standards rather than chasing someone else’s. It’s advice I have received from various people over the years – and advice I find myself constantly passing on to newer bloggers too. I despair when I recognise that a blogger is obviously copying another ‘big’ blogger – I’m not interested in photocopies, I want to see the original.

    See you on Saturday!

  3. John Adams

    Wow, eight years hey Tom? Roughly speaking, that’s about what you get for armed robbery.

    Anyway, love these tips. being selective with pics, not feeding the trolls and being yourself are vital to writing a succesful blog. Keep it up Tom!

  4. EssexKate | Counting To Ten

    Blogging seems very different now to when I started 7 or 8 years ago, but then again I did it then mostly in innocence. I didn’t know about rankings or SEO, I worked with a few brands largely due to luck and just enjoyed writing for pleasure.
    I see so many people just starting out now who want what the big bloggers have and even people asking what sort of blog they should have. It seems strange that people are thinking “this is a way to make money so what shall I blog about” instead of “I love writing about this, ooo look someone wants to give me money for what I love”, but I guess that is the way of the world.

  5. Suzanne

    All excellent tips and I agree with every one – bar the ‘awards aren’t everything’ because I was a final numerous times but never actually won! Thank you for reminding me to ‘just say no’ because I don’t get all that many offers from brands so when I do, it’s tempting to always say ‘yes’ but that’s not the reason I started blogging. Love the look of your blog by the way.

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