This week marked a year since I started this little blog. I talked about some of the positives and negatives (mainly my own frustrations with myself) in this post when I got back into blogging after a little unplanned life-got-in-the-way hiatus.
While I still wish I could go back in time and not have that blog break, these things happen, and I’m still pretty pleased with what I’ve accomplished over the last twelve months and the main, really good thing is that this first year of blogging has taught me a few things that, no matter how many posts you might read beforehand, I just don’t think you properly appreciate until you start blogging.
- Blogging is far more time consuming that you’ll appreciate
When I started this blog I honestly thought that I would be able to easily churn out three posts a week. So much so that I considered that a conservative goal for myself. At the back of my mind I was thinking I could probably manage more but wanted to set myself an “achievable” goal. LOLZ. I had no idea.
A year ago, I thought all you had to do was write a post, take a photo or two and press publish. I thought blogging would take up maybe a couple of hours a day, a couple of days a week. Turns out there’s a teeny bit more to it than that. Being a blogger is basically like running an online magazine, albeit in my case a very small one, single handed. You’re not just the writer – you’re the editor, stylist, photographer, marketing manager, social media manager, web designer, graphic designer, admin assistant all rolled into one!
A typical post means writing it up, taking loads of photos, realising all your photos are crap and not being happy with any of them, taking loads more photos, editing the photos you eventually settle for, editing and spell checking the post, adding in any relevant links / prices etc, more editing and checking the formatting, publish, Tweet, post on Facebook , add photos on Pinterest and Instagram, spend some time being sociable on social media, reply to comments, respond to e-mails… And I don’t do nearly enough of all that social media stuff just because at the moment, I simply don’t have enough free time.
If I want this blog to become more successful that I know that realistically I need to dedicate probably an extra hour a day to social media because while you absolutely can get a decent following with minimal social media / promotion of your posts if you want to spread the word you simply have to put time into getting your posts out there. Definitely something for me to work on over the coming year.
- Photography is EVERYTHINGWe’ve all grown up being told to never judge a book by it’s cover but, honestly, in the world of blogging images matter. This is something I really need to work on. I don’t have any real photography skills and it’s something I struggle with, which is why you’ll see so many collages / mood board type posts on this blog. But it’s easy to see what a difference good photography makes – posts which have better images just seem to perform so much better.
When I started this blog I thought that all I needed was to take a couple of quick snaps and that would do but I photography is basically the advertising for your blog. The writing could be AMAZING, but we live in a visual world and it’s those images that will draw people in to read your words. I think in the year ahead I need to invest a little in some decent props for blog post pictures and take some time to learn a little (or a lot!) more about photography.
- People will be nicer than you think
We read about and see so much trolling, and just general spiteful behaviour, on the internet and social media that the idea of starting a blog seemed kind of intimidating to me.
I had visions of being inundated with people commenting on posts or sending emails to tell me how ugly / stupid / pointless I was and, while I’m sure that this unfortunately does begin to happen once your blog starts to get bigger I’ve yet to come across a single person in the past year who has been anything but lovely – from nice comments on a post, to social media interactions, to getting super sweet and complimentary emails. In some ways starting this blog has slightly restored my faith in people on the internet. So thank you!
- Don’t compare yourself to others
Really. Don’t do it. It’s hard not to but if you can avoid all those articles that tell you how many followers you should have then you’ll be much happier. Set your own goals rather than attempting to reach those that others have arbitrarily set for you, otherwise you’ll only get frustrated. My social media stats are rubbish, but that’s because I haven’t spent any time or put any effort in to trying to grow my followers on any social media platform however my page views, email subscribers to the blog are really pretty good so… you reap what you sow!
Comparing how I am doing to anyone else isn’t helpful – as long as my blog is growing steadily and I’m working hard to improve things each month then everything’s good. I remember the first time I got 1,000 visitors to the blog in a month, the first time I was emailed about doing a sponsored post – I was so excited. So now the only person I’m “competing” against is myself – if I’m showing progress each month compared to the last then I’m happy.
As Dory tell us “just keep swimming, just keep swimming” or, in this case, just keep blogging.
- You’ll learn so much (and feel kind of proud of yourself for doing it…)There are lots of things I’d like to do with the blog and it’s layout in the future but a year ago I didn’t have a clue about anything to do with blogging or running a website.
I certainly don’t have an all singing, all dancing blog with a super fancy layout but I’m still pretty pleased with how it looks. I’ve sometimes spent hours researching how to do one tiny little thing on the blog, either to add something into a blog post or to the layout. When you finally learn how to do it it’s super satisfying and you feel a real sense of accomplishment.
For most of us, that’s something we don’t really get to experience a lot of as adults. Once we leave school and enter the world of work the opportunities to learn new things and gain new skills can become less and less so one unexpected joy I’ve had from blogging has been gaining these new skills and knowledge along the way because it’s been really rewarding.
Do you have a blog? What did you learn in those first months of blogging?