What 4.5 Years and 1 Million Views of Blogging Have Taught Me

About four and a half years ago, I asked my then agent what I could do to better my odds of success as an author, other than writing and writing some more. Among his chief suggestions? Start a blog.

Write for free in the spare time I don’t exactly have? It sounded like dreadful homework, but like many writers, I was eager to do whatever it took to move forward. That “whatever” turned out to be one of the most important professional decisions I’ve made.

Over the weekend, my blog reached 1 million views. While numbers are by far not the most important thing and all relative, this felt pretty awesome—especially considering I recall very well a time I nearly pleaded people to check it out. (Uh, that’s not a suggestion.)

PLEASE? I'll do anything!

PLEASE? I’ll do anything!

Some writers might hear “a million views” and think, “Yeah, but it was all for FREE!” Heck, if if I’d received a penny for every hit, I’d be $10,000 richer. But I can assure you, I’ve received much more than that.

Blogging has helped me build a readership before my first book even released, introduced me to wonderful friends and given me a platform to share and connect with others in ways I hadn’t imagined possible. It’s led to speaking and writing gigs, including my highest paying magazine assignment, some groovy awards and, three years ago, facilitated the launch of Girl Boner®—which led to Girl Boner® Radio. It continues to fill the emotional gaps between writing for others, this writing that is fully mine—no rules or hard deadlines, no editor’s sharp eye or endless rewrites—only me, my soul and my fingers, typing to my heart’s desire, very often letting whatever’s on my mind spill out on the page. In that vulnerability lies strength and even healing.

Blogging isn’t for everyone, but if you’re the least bit curious about what it might bring or allow for you, I highly recommend giving it a try. If you do, or if you’re currently blogging and it does feel like annoying homework, here are some of my favorite strategies:

Write what you’re compelled to write, no matter how seemingly “big” or “small.” When I speak about blogging, I’m nearly always asked what one should write about. The answer is, whatever you wish. Your content doesn’t have to tie in to a particular theme or product. (Yes, Girl Boner® is my brand now, but you’ll also find me reminiscing about whatever and writing about my dog.) It simply has to matter to you.

Be consistent, but not rigid, schedule-wise. When I first started blogging, I’d read that three posts per week is ideal. Holy way-too-much-for-me. I tried it, then quickly realized that I needed to make time for stuff like sleep. If super frequent posting works for you, great! I find that about once per week suits me. Find a rhythm that works for you, and if you need a break, take it.

Set aside fear of what others might think. Yes, it’s important to consider your audience and loved ones when blogging, but there’s a huge difference between consideration and fear. Don’t let fear of others’ judgment hold you back; that’s stifling in all life areas.

Prioritize authenticity, not popularity. When I started Girl Boner®, a few told me I’d definitely gain readers, because “sex sells!” Everyone wants to read about sex, right? Yes and no. There are gazillions of sex blogs and articles, so joining that genre was a bit like becoming a drop in an ocean, versus a kiddie pool. My most popular posts aren’t my most explicit or seemingly “marketable” posts. They’re the ones I feel most compelled to write.

And remember, building takes time. Here’s how my blog’s growth looks visually:

FullSizeRender-2

Don’t over-strategize. Hey, isn’t this a list of strategies? Yup. But I’m talking about not becoming an over-strategizing-numbers-likes-shares/trendy-topic-obsessed monster. My favorite people to read and follow online are those who are *gasp* human. They share to share or because they feel (that word again!) compelled to, not for a particular reaction. That authenticity shows in their writing, their brands and their worlds. And you know what? They’re going far. Gentle strategies here and there, groovy. Fixating on acclaim, not fun or helpful.

Lastly, dive into the community. Seek and explore other blogs. Follow, comment on and share those you dig. Mix and mingle with Kristen Lamb’s brainchild, the #MyWANA community. Check out BlogHer—the best conference on anything I’ve been to, and much more. Spend even 10 minutes a day scoping things out through WordPress, Twitter or Facebook. Chances are, you’ll find your tribe. That is the beginning of awesome.

What has blogging taught you? If you’re thinking of starting, what’s holding you back? Any questions you’d love thoughts on? I love hearing from you all—and am so grateful for the time you’ve taken to read any of my work. It means so much. ♥

Leave a comment

39 Comments

  1. Congratulations, August! You have blown up, girl and have found your niche. I would love to go to BlogHer sometime.
    You’d have a lot more hits if people couldn’t see your posts from the reader and email. I just wrote about how to change that setting.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Susie! Oh, wow. I had no idea I could change that setting – or even that they could see the whole post, LOL. See? Always learning! I’ll have to read your post.

      Reply
      • I didn’t want to spam your comment feed, but I LOVE to help!

      • Congrats, August! My blog passed that million-mark milestone last summer, and like you said, it comes down to slow and steady growth. 🙂

        By the way, on that setting for newsletters, you have to decide what your goals are. Some care about blog hits (in which case, you’d want to turn on the “post preview” setting), and some care about gathering newsletter subscribers (in which case, you’d want to leave the whole post option selected).

        (Many subscribers find getting a partial post annoying, and they’d unsubscribe, since it doesn’t actually offer anything.) As with anything, the best choice for us depends on our goals. 🙂

      • Thanks, Jami! I really appreciate the perspective and tips. I namely care that folks are reading and gaining something from my work. I’ll have to think more on this.

  2. Congratulations!!

    Reply
  3. August you motivate me so much. I have a blog but it’s been a while since I’ve posted new content due to wanting to focus on the re-writes I’m working on my current book project. Thanks so much for this push.

    Reply
    • Oh, I’m so glad you found this helpful. Good luck with your book project and (whenever you get to it), your blog! I’m cheering for you all the way.

      Reply
  4. Reblogged this on Alice White Author and commented:
    Congratulations, August, that is AWESOME! Still working on consistency in relation to “sort of regular” posts, here, but I’m not beating myself up about it 😉 I do re-blog others, too, when it’s something relevant to my own views/interests, which I think adds more diversity. And here I go again, re-blogging you 😉 xox

    Reply
    • Aw, thanks, Alice! I’m so glad you’re not beating yourself up over frequency. I’m touched by the re-blog, too! You’re always so thoughtful, and it shows.

      Reply
      • Thanks, August! I think it’s awesome you got a million views. You certainly do deserve it, my friend! xox (LOVING that photo of Via, too–so damned CUTE!)

  5. Wonderful post and congrats on the 1,000,000 views! You’ve accomplished much in a short time, and you’re always generous to share your experiences with others. Here’s to the next million views!

    Reply
  6. Over 1 million views?
    The power of Girl Boner has never been stronger!
    Seriously, you make my self-esteem sink even lower, but I’m overjoyed at your success. You deserve every hit.
    Thank you for enlightening all of us, August.

    Reply
    • Aw, don’t let anyone’s numbers (or whatever else) leave you feeling down on yourself. Truly, you’re the only you – totally unique and capable of stuff no one else is. Keep up the awesomeness! And thanks for the cheers. 🙂

      Reply
  7. As someone who is revamping her blog, this gave me a lot to think about. Thanks. 🙂

    Reply
  8. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  January 18, 2016

    Congratulations, August! Thanks for the tips and the inspiration. Cheers!

    Reply
  9. Reblogged this on Writer's Treasure Chest and commented:
    This is a very special blog post, written by August McLaughlin, an award-winning, nationally recognized health and sexuality writer and host and creator of Girl Boner®. She writes about blogging. Her own blog has gotten over 1 million views over the weekend. I’m sure I’m not the only one finding very interesting what her experiences are! Congratulations August!!

    Reply
  10. YAY!

    Fashionably Yours,

    Rayne Parvis

    Author/Motivational & Personal Stylist Phone: 1.818.314.6335

    http://www.StyleByRayne.com Better than SPANX.

    Connect with me on Twitter , Instagram and Facebook .

    Grab your copy of *Ultimate Guide to Style: From Drab to Fab ! *on Amazon.

    On Mon, Jan 18, 2016 at 7:19 AM, Girl Boner wrote:

    > August McLaughlin posted: “About four and a half years ago, I asked my > then agent what I could do to better my odds of success as an author, other > than writing and writing some more. Among his chief suggestions? Start a > blog. Write for free in the spare time I don’t exactly have” >

    Reply
  11. Good stuff & congratulations. A great reward for your hard work! As I mentioned over on Facebook, you’re an inspiration to the rest of us who blog!

    Reply
  12. Reblogged this on fonzandcancer blogging daily to encourage. and commented:
    Well I found this helpful, I hope my fellow bloggers do to..

    Reply
  13. Well I have blogged every day for 260 days now. My goal is 365 straight. I just wanted people to know what a bone marrow transplant is like. I have become someone that enjoys ( sharing my heart on the page) I just love loving people and being involved in their blogs. I just hope that one day some 1 million people like my blog. I don’t write about sex, but I am starting to find my way in the poetry world. Again saying what’s in my heart, if I feel I am making it happen it gets saved in draft. Maybe you would like to spare 10 mins for me and nip over and have a look. Critique it, maybe even mentor me, I would consider any of those a privilege. Thanks for reading and thanks for this blog. I feel encouraged. Fonz

    Reply
  14. I totally enjoyed reading this post. This is a great achievement. Well done. This gives those of us who are up and coming a lot of inspiration.

    Reply
  15. I’ve been struggling something fierce for far longer than perhaps I should have. Each time I view my depressing stats (and doing the same pleading you’ve done) I can’t help asking why I continue to bother. The only answer I come up with is my love of writing.

    And just like you have decided writing about sex puts you in the same niche as others, I’ve come to realize that writing about the same mundane bullshit so many others share is pointless. Why write yet another post about shopping at Target (I haven’t done it, but I see too many that do) or how XYZ person/group/society itself is so ignorant/stupid/obnoxious whatever adjective you’d like to use. There’s thousands, if not millions, of blogs that have the same. boring. shit. No thanks.

    Congratulations on 1 million views! I’m hoping that now that I’m making sense of life and blogging, my 5 years of doing won’t have been a total waste and my numbers will start to improve.

    Reply
  16. Congrats, August. Mathair and I are so proud and honored that we’ve watched the rise of Girl Boner and your career as an author. No one could ever deny the blood, sweat and tears that you’ve poured into your writing/blogging/radio career and it’s so evident that it’s been done with the fullness of your big beautiful heart. Here’s to more years of success and happiness to you. ❤ 🙂

    Reply
  17. karenmcfarland

     /  January 20, 2016

    Congratulations August! Look at you go girl! You’ve worked hard to put yourself out there and it shows. So happy for you! 🙂

    Reply
  18. Congrats on hitting the 1 mil mark! But also congrats on sticking to it, never giving up and following your dream. I’ve not been nearly as visible here or on my blog, but I’ve never stopped writing, never stopped plugging along to reach my own goals. I’ve seen my first book published and am slowly getting the hang of the whole marketing through social media thing. I know I’ll get there. I’m constantly inspired by you and the other awesome WANA’s I’ve met over the years who are all making their dreams come true.

    Very proud to see all you’ve done. Way to go!

    Reply
    • Aw, thanks, Serena! I so appreciate all of that. How fantastic, that you’ve been writing and plugging away toward your goals. I know you’ll get there, too!

      Reply
  19. Congrats on a million views and on confirming a lot if stuff I thought about blogging, including reading blogs. I do all that. Keep up the good work!

    Reply
  20. I am not near a million hits, but, you are right, it’s not about the numbers I am very happy with how far I have come in my around 5-6 years (not going to check, that’s close), my over 30-500 followers (do you really count Facebook?), and my over 900 posts.
    I do know that one problem I have is that I am a bouncer – I bounce around different ideas depending on what strikes me at that moment. I don’t have a central core I write from. I go though spurts of this and that, from poetry to writing horror shorts, to discussing my day. Some people like this, others don’t.
    All in all, though, I like it, enjoy it, and plan on continuing.
    Thanks for the post,
    Scott

    Reply
  21. Everyone around me keeps growing.
    And I keep growing older.

    But well done, August!

    Reply

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