What I’ve Learned From Writing This Blog

Lighthouse photo from my hard drive.

Thought Catalog posted an awesome piece today by blogger Danny Rubin, called 9 Profound Lessons You’ll Learn By Starting A Blog.

I had two minds about this article when I read it. First, all of these lessons are great, and some of them I’ve learned from writing a blog myself and some of them I’ve learned by proxy of Danny Rubin. I love the advice, but Thought Catalog tends to title its articles in a way that presumes I’ve already learned the lessons illustrated therein, which in turn makes me wonder what kind of an unobservant buffoon I am if I haven’t. (On his career advice blog, Rubin calls this post “Profound Lessons I Learned From Writing A Blog.”)

How I’ve learned the 9 lessons in the article:

1.) I finally know how the Internet works.
I’ve learned a lot, but still not enough. I still have to remind myself to cite every picture I didn’t take. I know the HTML required to make hyperlinks, but that’s it. Twitter is still largely a mystery to me. But I did learn how to make and maintain a Facebook page, how to work with a URL provider (I use Bluehost, it’s cheap and easy), and a good deal of information about how to troubleshoot WordPress. Not to mention I have to get my information just perfect, because there’s no excuse for mistaking information that’s out there for me and for you to check.

2.) The fastest way to get better is to let my guard down.
When I first started writing for examiner.com, my perfume reviews looked kind of like ad copy. I didn’t consciously tell myself “well I really need to make these reviews better.” I just kept writing them and trying out new ideas (like reviews told by found images) and my reviews kept improving naturally until I was able to give you the solid content you find on Scentsate today. 🙂

3.) All I needed to do was light the spark.
Not quite. A blog requires a lot of upkeep and it can be a struggle to post, comment, read and comment on other blogs, and maintain my presence on Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis. Plus blogs are such a glutted market. But I’m not doing this for money, so my main focus is having an experimental outlet for my quiet feedback and reflections, not creating sparks.

4.) I don’t mind if I get rejected. What’s the worst that happens?
Very true! I wrote a review of Hylnds Isle Ryder that I’m very proud of (not posted yet due to problems uploading media on the computer the pictures are on) but I couldn’t get it published because most big blogs and magazines seem to like themed perfume lists, not reviews of a single perfume. And I thought “well, this review can still be a great showpiece on Scentsate!” I can always have my voice heard in my own little corner of the Internet, and that also makes me feel like I’ve carved out my own little corner of the universe.

5.) Great advice is like solving a 1,000 piece puzzle.
The perfume community is not only helpful when suggesting perfume; you’re also great when it comes to advice about writing/blogging in general. Plus whenever I get a pingback I spend the ensuing five minutes in paradise.

6.) Relationships are everything.
Sniffapalooza was a glorious thing for me. When I met other perfume bloggers, like Barbara from Yesterday’s Perfume, Steve from The Scented Hound, and Ari from Scents of Self, I felt like we already knew each other. Scent is an unusual thing: everyone knows what smells good, but I don’t think it occurs to most people to ask themselves why. Of course, perfume bloggers do! Hence, a community of people who think alike in more ways than one.

7.) Every blogging skill is transferrable.
Research skills? Check. Creativity? Check. Photography? Check. Writing? Check. Social skills? Check. Perseverance? Most important thing of all. I got an assistantship grading blogs in grad school because I write one. Saving $10 grand with my tuition waiver? Check!

8.) We are worth more than a 9-to-5.
Always. While writing for a living is a very difficult thing, as I learned, it’s as much as if not more valuable to write for the purpose of getting your ideas out there. If they’re good, someone will always be listening. Even if you don’t get paid in money, the privilege of giving your audience something to think about is priceless.

Plus, swag. I get swag. I know it ruins the mood but I had to throw it out there.

9.) Don’t wait for opportunities: create them.
Blogging is an opportunity for anyone to make friends, sharpen their creative skills, and develop discipline. I’d recommend it for anyone!

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6 Responses to What I’ve Learned From Writing This Blog

  1. formaggio says:

    Well, then, thanks to Scentsate and others for dealing with the technical stuff on the way toward your main objectives.
    I don’t know from blogging. My interest is that perfumes, which are confusing things, have proved such an extraordinary topic for careful thought, and good writing.

    • Joan says:

      Thanks! I think my ability for critical thought has improved since I’ve had to use it to analyze something abstract roughly once a week for 3.5 years now.

  2. abby says:

    One of the reasons I love this entry is that you seem to ‘put yourself out there,’ the
    warts as well as the terrific, and it might be key to how you got to be such a great writer. I agree totally with number 2 – Scentsate is reliable in giving well thought out, well researched and very understandable and helpful reviews. Number 4 is wonderful – is there hope for all of us! Number 5 – humble is a cornerstone of greatness. well said. Number 7 – good for you! Number 8 – I’ve been a devotee of Scentsate since day one, and I like it more every time you post. You always seem to acknowledge other bloggers work in a complimentary and kind way, which supports the perfume bloggers as a whole. I am eagerly awaiting your next perfume review!

  3. Steve says:

    Great post Joan and I agree with you on each and every point. And since this post was made on the 5th and now it’s the 16th goes to show that it’s hard enough to keep up with everything out there, but I eventually get to reading my favorite blogs. Of course it’s 5:45am…the perfect time to get caught up with a cup of coffee. I used to be hyper sensitive about what I was writing and what people were going to like and not like and if I was going to be taken seriously but you can just drive yourself crazy that way. In the end, if you’re happy it will show in your writing! Thanks for the link love and kind words. I hope NYC is treating you well! xoxoxoxox Steve

    • Joan says:

      Thanks for catching up, Steve! I’ve gotta catch up on blog reading too.

      NYC has everything I could ever want to do or have in it. Now I just have to figure out what that is.

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