We had our first blogversary on January the 8th. I did not think I would maintain a blog for so long but it happened and in the process, I discovered several surprising things, that go beyond the legendary “content is king” and understood a little better things like “write what you are passionate about”.
1. Blogging is a FULL time job (or hobby…or both)
It takes a lot of time brainstorming for a post, writing the best content you can, shooting the right photos and editing them, maybe constructing DIYs, compiling information, shopping for materials or researching for material, improving your blog layout and responsiveness, being on social media, answering comments, answering e-mails, etc. To top all that, new bloggers are usually working around a tight budget and well into the night.
Pfew, that can be exhausting!
2. You Will Go Back To School
No matter your educational or professional background, the blogging world is so multifaceted that you will find your expertise lacking in some areas. At the very least one has to acquire a good grasp or improve on their IT, photography and writing skills. The technical aspects of blogging can soon become overwhelming. Addressing theme tweaks, timeouts, plug-in issues, SEO optimization, branding and so on, all require additional knowledge. One that must be acquired speedily, unless your budget allows for hiring out the necessary professionals.
Tip: HTML will be your new friend. Here is a handy (and free) site for html tutorials and code that I have used extensively.
3. Time management gets tricky
Time management is an issue that is better addressed early on, especially if you have children. Even without any mini-humans to disrupt your workflow with demands or with their cuteness (is there a blogger mom/dad that didn’t stop dead what they were doing just to take a photo of their offspring doing something ultra cute? Or ultra…dangerous?) you still have chores, possibly a job and a gazillion other things you need to attend to. Figure out how to best use your time in order to find time for blogging.
Tip: don’t blog all day long, all week long. You will burn out. At some point you will get so enthralled by blogging, it might turn into the only thing that matters. Consciously control that urge and assign either a specific time in the day (for example from 9am to 5pm) or, a specific amount of time (“today I will blog for two hours exactly”) and break it through the day.
4. Photography and Photo-Editing Skills That Rock (bottom)
We all know the saying that “a picture worth a 1000 words” but the visual quality can vary as much as my 1st grade essays and J.R.R.Tolkien’s epics.
Do not despair if you only own a point & shoot (which by the way, can be pretty pricey, too). It is challenging but you can still get great photos with it and let me tell you a secret: start paying attention and you will notice plenty popular blogs that actually have mediocre and even downright bad photography. 😉
Tip: Photo-collage is as essential as it is easy and here is a compilation of 8 excellent (and free) collage makers to make your blogging life easier.
5. The Community Is Amazing!
When I started blogging, I told no one – not even my family. I was too shy to share my little blogging attempt. I thought “let’s write a few posts to get the hung of it and then, if they turn out good enough, I will start telling people”. However, I reached out and commented to a few blog posts I liked, or re-tweeted them. Wouldn’t you know? Most of these bloggers came in my newborn blog to comment and give me a thumbs up.
These bloggers made an effort to be positive and find something good to say. That, is priceless emotionally and practically. When I made a spring wall mobile, I didn’t really shake the world of DIY. I liked it, it was easy to make and my daughter found it very cute. Yet, the other bloggers and visitors, who have seen – or done – massive projects, still found time to leave a friendly comment in my blog. Comments are encouragement and encouragement can go a long way in helping you maintaining a blog and even improving it.
Tip: Connect, connect, connect! Find bloggers you like their writing style or content and connect. Pin them, tweet them, interact on social media and comment on their blogs. E-mail them directly if you have a suggestion or found an issue with their blog (not loading, not getting subscribed, etc). It will be appreciated and it might earn you another friend.
Don’t: Do not “use” other bloggers. This is why it is important to find bloggers you enjoy reading: it will make your interaction honest and on top of that, you will actually enjoy reading their articles.
Do: Communicate, have a discussion, leave a heartfelt and meaningful comment. This post will – hopefully – help, if you are getting no replies to your comments or you can not reply to comments left in your blog.
6. You Just Might Make Friends
Friends that will e-mail you to check on how you are doing, to discuss blogging strategies, to drop you an e-mail and let you know they can still see your login details (true story!) and how to fix that. Friends that you will video-chat about life and nerdy hobbies and laugh together. Friends with great taste and super DIY skills (by the way, Hi Julie!).
7. There Are Some Ultra Skilled Ladies* Out There – but don’t let that scare you
*and a handful of gentlemen – but mostly ladies
When I started blogging and paid more attention to how photographs were taken, how DIYs were made and even blog layouts, I realized that my skills were seriously lacking and that there were girls (of all ages) out there that rocked the power tools (unlike me but, I am working on it). They also rocked photography and DIYing and pretty much everything really – including technology. It can be very intimidating to compare oneself to them.
“Do not compare your start with someone else’s middle”, is a great advice and one you will often encounter in the blogworld. I would add: do not compare your start with anyone else’s start, either. Be yourself – and that, is not comparable.
Tip: Don’t get intimidated by how professional their blogs and sites are. Most of these great ladies, share their knowledge and can be a great source of knowledge.
Don’t: Get disappointed or quit.
Do: Embrace, learn, get inspired and Be Your Own Kind of Awesome!
8. Social Media Are Important, But…
They also are a huge time hog. It will become overwhelming and it is probable you will end up in chaos trying to have a presence to all of them and write content for your blog and clean, feed, sleep (unless you are a mom, in which case we both know you just don’t sleep). If you do want to sleep sometimes, pick the one or two social media you feel the most comfortable with and stick with them.
If it is in your budget to automate social media, things will be way easier and you may choose to expand your reach.
9. Affiliates & Sponsored Content
In the era that everybody realizes the power of digital marketing, joining affiliates and writing for sponsors, is not as hard as it used to be years ago. Give it time and companies might even seek you out (but it’s faster – and arguably better – if you contact them and make yourself and your blog available).
Do not expect to rake in the cash in your first year – but kudos to you if you make it happen!
Tip? It is not the end of the world if you do not monetize immediately. (Or ever – if you are just writing for fun.)
10. You Never Know Which Post Will Get the Most Views (or even go Viral)
When I posted my diy mail center using the back of a lazy susan cabinet and a used…pizza box, I didn’t expect a single soul to read it. And I was – happily – wrong. Point is, you never know for certain which post will get the most views or, which tutorial will attract the most interest from your readers. In the case of my mail center, the novel and whimsical choice of materials, appealed to many people. It was new and never done before – something really rare in the age of pinterest.
Tip: Go novel, go whimsy and do not be afraid to create and write outside the – pizza -box.
11. Blogging Hiatus Is a NoNo
For a new blogger, taking a long brake from blogging, for whatever the reason, can bring a definite drop to page views. When I left the blog unattended during our long stay in Greece, it meant I had to start re-connecting almost from scratch again.
12. Readers Who Do Not Blog, Are Often Shy To Leave a Comment
I never commented before I became a blogger. For example, I have read Young House Love‘s blog from start to finish – repeatedly – and yet, never commented, thinking that with so many readers, I will just be spamming them. People are – generally – too busy or too shy to post an opinion. Do not get discouraged if you get few comments.
Keep at it and readers will find you.
12+1. Mastering Everything About Blogging Within a Year
Ain’t gonna happen. And that’s a good thing. Otherwise we’d get bored. That is what I tell myself anyway. 🙂
14. Your Niche May Not Be What You Think
To paraphrase what Umberto Eco wrote in his Postscript to the Name of the Rose, a long time ago, a blog has its own mind and life. When I started, I really wanted to incorporate some science. Apart from this post (that is uncertain if it can be considered science) and a baby book review, I have not managed to put in writing a single science word – let alone a whole post.
Your blog inspiration might come from areas you did not expect or, you might realize you actually prefer writing for other things than the ones you originally aimed for.
15. The Final and Most Important Lesson
One day, I decided to write about what I really like the most and wrote this post. It was personal; just something I wanted to write for myself. I loved every moment of it and didn’t expect a single other soul to care in the slightest. Surprisingly, people did care but in addition to that, I liked it. I smiled all day long.
I was thrilled, I had enjoyed writing that post to the depths of my heart. Blogging wasn’t a chore anymore, I felt invigorated and I was actually…happy. Really happy for writing a post that meant something to me, that was about something I was truly passionate about.
That day I realized, that the most important rule about blogging is to never forget to enjoy it. Personally and deeply.
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