Can’t believe it’s been 3 years already since I started my blog. Time flies pretty fast. This wasn’t the first time I started a blog, but it’s the only time I have been consistent and persistent. Before this, I usually gave up pretty fast.
The origin of this blog starts off in September of 2013, when I was recovering from my ACL surgery. I had the idea of starting a fitness blog focusing on gaining weight (since everyone focuses on losing weight and there aren’t too many resources for skinny guys actually trying to gain weight).
Initially, I started a free wordpress.com blog, but then the following month, I decided to get serious and put my money where my mouth is and took the plunge and bought a real domain name. So in October 2013, the Gain Weight Journal was born.
At the same time, I also tried to continue maintaining some other blogs in niches such as language learning. However these were all side activities, which consumed a lot of time. So I decided to unite the different blogs and so the Renaissance Man Journal saw the light of day. The decision behind all this is better covered in a previous post.
What I want to cover now is what I have learned on my 3 year blogging journey. There have been and still are many ups and downs and the journey is still just in its initial stages, but there are already some lessons that I can share.
1) Blogging is time consuming and hard, you need to have intrinsic motivation in order to persist in it
Most blogs don’t make any money, instead they lose money: like mine. That’s why if you want to persist and continue on writing for a long time, you need some sort of a motivation that is not dependent on money. You need to have intrinsic motivation.
My motivation is to use this as a way to enhance my learning, and also as a way to give back and share my knowledge and thoughts with the rest of the world and hopefully help people who are looking to improve themselves.
In the past three years, I have covered all kinds of different subjects. In the process, I learned many new things and improved myself in a lot of ways. Just the understanding that you gain is worth it.
However what is frustrating is the fact that the amount of readers has not grown over the years. Ideally, I would like to use this blog as a way to discuss with other people and maybe help them out as well.
I have often started writing about topics, but then switched to other ones, because the process is very time consuming and without any feedback from others, you end up kind of losing motivation in continuing the series.
Another thing that I would like to continue to look at is how the Ancient Romans used to do things. I have already written several articles on various topics, such as Roman tips on humor, gladiator training, and even ancient tips on picking up chicks. I don’t think I will be bragging, if I say that these are probably the most comprehensive treatments of these subjects on the internet today.
Unfortunately, they take a lot of work, especially sifting through primary and secondary sources, and so for the moment I have kind of put this on hold (I did start researching several subjects, but decided to complete them at a later time).
I have tried to figure out what I need to do in order to increase my readership and so have search the net and read through different tips and tricks on how to do that. What I have found is that these rely heavily on survivorship bias.
The most important things are connections and luck. People often try to discount the effect of luck, but it does play a huge role, as books by Malcolm Gladwell and Nassim Taleb have proved. Connections are probably the most important part of blogging, since if influential people endorse you, you are guaranteed people visiting your blog.
It ain’t special plugins, SEO or even quality content that will make the difference. Success in blogging is about how many clicks you get on your stuff. Even if you produce shit, but through special connections or luck, you end up getting a constant stream of clicks, then you are successful.
I have come across many big blogs, which don’t produce anything special, but are popular. On the other hand I have also come across many smaller blogs (sometimes ones that have ceased to be updated), where the content was much better, however very few people were visiting them.
So that’s why the most important part is connecting with others, especially people who are already well-established. That is something I am failing at doing.
However, the fact that my initial motivation for this blog is not monetary, I keep on pushing through, learning and writing.
I try to write long articles and research the shit out of them. That’s why my blog posts are usually thousands of words long and appear only sporadically. It’s hard work, but at the end very rewarding for me and the few readers that I have.
Unfortunately, reading, researching and writing for this blog takes a lot of time. I still have to go to work as well, so many of the goals that I have had had to take a back-seat. However blogging is such a rewarding activity, that it helps me in other areas of my life, not only by teaching me new skills, but also by clarifying the different thoughts that I have on various subjects. It also serves as a repository of knowledge that I can always go back and refer to.
2) When you start off, you will suck, but will get better with time
Seriously, when I started, I sucked. My writing was bad, I couldn’t express my thoughts and oftentimes didn’t produce high quality articles.
That has changed bit by bit. While I am still far from being an excellent writer, my ability to digest ideas and then write them down in a coherent manner has increased considerably. The more you write, the better you will get.
3) The more you learn about things, the more you will start to realize how much you actually don’t know
One paradoxical aspect of learning new things, is that you keep on realizing how much you don’t know. Every new little tid bit you learn, opens up your mind to a whole new world of other little tid bits.
You start feeling like you understand something and then you come across something that shows you that you are far away from understanding.
However, this is a good thing. It shows you that you are learning with an open mind and with every new world discovered, you build up a wider arsenal of mental models that you can use.
4) You won’t always be able to accomplish your goals, so be flexible
Life is a journey, an unpredictable journey. Unfortunately you won’t always be able to get to where you want to go, so that’s why you need to keep an open approach to things. Think of it as your own Hero’s Journey.
Heroes on their journeys usually go through many trials and tribulations. Their way is not straight-forward. Things change, circumstances change, goals change.
That’s why you need to adopt an agile approach to life.
One old Stoic maxim can help keep your head straight on your journey: change what you can change and don’t worry about the rest.
5) You really need to mix and match from different disciplines in order to be the best that you can possibly be
The more I work on this blog, the more I become convinced that you really do need to be a Renaissance Man and try to learn from different disciplines. Just like in Mixed Martial Arts it became evident that in order to be the best, you need to be able to mix different styles, the other areas of life show that the truly revolutionary, paradigm-changing people are usually Renaissance Men.
Guys like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, even James Hutton (who is known as one of the pioneers of geology) were able to bring in different perspectives from various disciplines and come up with new ideas and products.
In a world of ultra-specialization, most people don’t realize the benefits of having a wider scope. Hopefully through my writing, I can change that.
My 2 Year Blogging Anniversary Post – in this post you can learn a lot about how to set a vision, your character, as well as things like fitness and nutrition.