Could Instagram Guides replace blogging?

From November 17th, you may have noticed a new feature on Instagram, Guides.

Guides allow users to ‘find, curate and share the products, places and posts you love’. They can feature your own content or the content of others. Tech Crunch have a good article that explains things in more detail.

Aside from captions this feature is the first that allows users to create longer form content similar to a blog post.

It could be considered as an easier way to create blog posts that are based around shopping, pictures and recommendations. In fact, it’s likely to become what many creators will turn to and what many brands will start paying creators for.

On the other hand, for a blog that is focused on the words, where the images aren’t the main focus, guides won’t work as an alternative.

It will be interesting to see who uses this new feature and how. It will also be interesting to see the blogs this feature may end up replacing.

The best thing I’ve ever written

When you’re sharing your words online everyday there is very little pressure for what you post to be the best thing you’ve ever written.

If todays words aren’t particularly good, I know that I can always write something better tomorrow or the day after.

Sometimes what I consider to be my some of my best work doesn’t gain the numbers that I think it will or should. Other times, the stuff I’m pretty indifferent about ends up becoming the most popular.

I’ve written posts that I thought were my best at the time only to look back months later and realise it could have been so much better.

And so the idea of my best work is pretty flexible. If in 20 months of daily blogging, this post was the best thing I’d ever written, I have no doubt that I’d change my mind a few months later.

Reminding myself of all this makes blogging every day so much easier.

7 Reasons to quit daily blogging

I’ve been daily blogging on this site for 22 months now, almost 2 years.

It’s something that I enjoy doing and I love that I’ve created a space to share my thoughts on various aspects of life and my experiences.

However, I’ve recently started thinking about what changes I could make to this site and how I can make it better.

One of the first things that came to mind was posting less. In the past couple of weeks, I’ve found myself not enjoying posting so often. I began thinking about how much I could improve the site if I was no longer sharing a new piece every day and I relaised that maybe it’s time for me to quit daily blogging.

Perhaps you’re in a similar position to me or maybe you are just curious. Either way, here are a few reasons to quit daily blogging:

  • You’re no longer enjoying it
  • Your audience is overwhelmed
  • The quality of your content is decreasing
  • You’re posting out of habit rather than because you have something worth sharing
  • You want more time to work on other projects
  • You’re not happy with your content
  • Posting daily no longer feels beneficial

The beauty of a blog is that you can create your own schedule. You might quit posting daily and realise that all you needed was a break and so maybe after a month you’ll go back to it. However, you might also realise that you’re much happier posting less.

Daily blogging vs Journalling

I recently found myself journalling. It’s something I did consistently for almost a decade.

I stopped keeping a regular journal because it no longer served the purpose in my life that it did when I first started. These days I journal maybe once or twice a month. Sometimes just to let out frustration or get some thoughts out about whatever is on my mind.

Sometimes I think that this site is like my journal because I’m writing about my life and my experiences. But the biggest differences with this blog and my journal are how much effort I put in and my end goal.

My journal isn’t something I put effort into (in the sense that it’s more of a brain dump and not written for an audience) and it has no end goal other than serving as a release.

This blog on the other hand is a real passion project and from around 6 months in I started making plans for the future.

Daily blogging for the reader

I think it’s fair to say that more often than not, a daily blog is for the writer.

The reason behind this is almost nobody reads a daily blog every single day.

There are occasional readers and regular readers but it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t miss a post.

Posting so often allows me to not put so much pressure on each thing I share, it also forces me to challenge myself.

I have posts that have never been read, perhaps the title wasn’t interesting enough or maybe you just weren’t interested. But from a totally different perspective, I posted another day and kept up my writing practice.

That matters to me more than trying to please the reader.

Writing for the reader

I was recently asked about whether I write for myself or for readers.

It’s something I think about every now and then but it was interesting to be asked.

On one hand I write for myself because I love it but on the other hand I write for my readers too.

I’m thoughtful about what I share and my intention is to always add value in some way.

I don’t expect anyone to read every single post I write but for the posts you do read I’d like it to feel like time well spent.

Whether it’s 100 words on friendship, career development or overcoming fear, I do my best to add some kind of takeaway.

Putting more thought into branding

As much as you might want to focus on other stuff, it will always be worth putting some time into branding. It’s important to think about how things look to an outside eye and understand if you’re able to deliver your intended message.

I’ve always wanted The Daily Gemm (TDG) to be a space with writing and simplicity at the forefront and that’s what I focused on when I started posting to the Instagram account a few months ago.  However, I’ve realised that although the simplicity element works well on the blog, it doesn’t translate the same way on Instagram. I realised that I might need to do start doing things differently.

After giving it things more thought and thinking about the grand scheme and my future plans and aspirations, I came to the conclusion that I wanted the TDG Instagram account to represent my long-term plans as a brand, rather than just to represent this blog.

And so over the past week or so I’ve been coming up with ideas for how I could do things differently in a way that works for me.

One the first things that came to mind was more visual content and more colour. Currently the TDG feed is full of quotes from my blog posts in black and white. But it turns out the ‘just words, no pictures’ philosophy that I have for this site doesn’t fit for Instagram.

On one hand my grand plans for Instagram have come crashing down but on the other hand it taught me a lot. I’ve now gone back to the drawing board and spent time planning and creating things that I’m looking forward to sharing.

Blogging bit by bit

There are 2 ways of working.

The first is in batches, a couple of hours one or 2 times a week.

The second is bit by bit, day by day.

Many people find themselves picking one of the two ways thinking that it’s the best way of working.

But it turns out it depends on the work you’re doing and also the way you feel like working.

Last year I was focused on scheduling posts and there were times when I’d be scheduling a week of blog posts in one go.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing and publishing a blog post at the end of my day. At first it felt strange and I was frustrated that my batch blogging habit had fallen away.

However, from taking the bit by bit approach I’m enjoying blogging more. I spend moments of my day thinking about what I want to say and then I type it up at night. It feels like I’m creating a better writing practice because I’m clicking publish each day.

It’s not to say that the bit by bit approach is the best way of working. But what I can say is that it’s going pretty well for me right now.

 

3 simple tips for successful daily blogging

Shortcuts might be enticing but you can’t escape doing the work.

Write more than a post a day
You’ll have days when its easier to write so take advantage. I’ve had days where I’ve written a weeks worth of posts which is a stark contrast to the days where writing a single post feels as difficult as nailing jelly to a tree.

Dedicate a set time in your day to write
If you make it part of your routine it’ll find it’s way into your subconscious and then you’re set. My writing time is the journey to and from work. It’s around 90 minutes daily and I find it easier to use that time than make time before or after work to write. Granted I can and often do write at other times in the day but never as consistent as I do on my journey to and from work.

Don’t aim for perfection
You have to put more importance on having something to publish instead of it being perfect. I often refer to this blog as a writing practice because that’s what it is a place for me to practice writing. It isn’t a place for me to be perfect. I understand that perfection is a falsehood. Focusing on trying to make every piece perfect is a waste of time when you can just write something better tomorrow.

That’s all you need to successfully daily blog. There’s no trick to it. Sure, it might he hard to come up with ideas sometimes but the more you do it the easier it gets.

300 and something

Time flies when you’re daily blogging.

I’ve written over 300 posts for this site and I’ve manged to not run out of ideas.

If you’d have asked me 300 days ago what I’d be writing about towards the end of 2019 I’d have said ‘I’m not sure’. But something I’ve realised is that each blog post is simply the expansion of a thought and humans have tens of thousands of thoughts a day so I’ll never need to worry about running out of ideas.

And I find that the more I experience, grow and explore the more my perspective shifts and I’m able to expand on things I wrote previously or write them with a more developed mindset.

I also find that because I write each day I’m not so focused on the stats. However, what I do notice is familiar usernames that regularly read my posts and that is something I truly appreciate.