5 Things I’ve learned about Blogging in my first Year!

5thingsaboutblogging

My blog officially turned one on the 23rd! It still amazes me that I’ve been able to maintain this blog for so long and consistently post, grow and learn more about blogging on a daily basis! I’ve tried and failed to keep a blog in the past, but this time it stuck! Maybe its because the availability of resources that are out on the internet and the popularity/success of blogging. Or maybe its that I’ve grown up and find staying inside working on all things domestic is more fun than hitting up the clubs (although on occassion it happens still). Whatever the reason is for me to keep it up, I’m super excited for all that the future brings! Not just with my personal life but with the blog as well.

I read a really great post fromCupcakes and Cashmere about Blogging Burnout. It got me thinking about the times that I’ve had blogger burnout and other things I’ve learned about blogging in general. So after a year, I’m by no means an expert, in fact I feel like I’m just starting to really learn about blogging and what it takes to make it successful; But I do feel like I’ve learned some valuable lessons along the way, that really could help a new blogger.

 

 

dont get caught in statistics

Don’t get caught up in statistics or comparing your views/visitors to other people. (At least in the beginning)

This is a hard one for me. But I’m gradually caring less about how many views a day I get and focusing more on reaching out to new potential readers. Managing my social media (an overwhelming and daunting task I’ve avoided for some time) and creating more dynamic, stimulating content (i.e things with more pictures) and working on transfering everything over to self hosted and re-designing the site with my sister.  Before all I cared about was “oh my gosh! today I only got 10 views wereas yesterday 75!” I was obsessing over small numbers and focusing on that instead of how I could actually grow my readership. Now instead of focusing on the numbers, I focus on how I can reach more people, whether it be through my Facebook Page , Twitter , Instagram and Pinterest (I still haven’t tackled Pinterest yet) and developing my content. The more I focus on those things the more my numbers increase. When I created my Facebook page, my views doubled.

Obviously if you’re monetizing your blog, or working with brands. Statistics matter, but as I’ve realized when you’re starting out, comparing yourself to bloggers who get hundreds of visits a day or thousands a month is a waste of your energy. It takes a lot of time to build that readership up! Focus on what you’re putting out there, including great photographs and interacting with others in the blogging community. I initially tried to sign up for affiliate sites and tried to find different avenues to monetize my blog right away, but after a few weeks I realized; (a) its a lot of work to keep up with on top of creating new content and (b) I wasn’t even getting enough views to even get people to click on the links. I took a step back from monetization and focused instead on building a growing readership. Eventually I’ll get back to it, but for now I’m still focusing on growing my blog.

find community

Finding a blogging community (or a few) is not only helpful but inspiring. And a great way to make friends!

When I first started this blog, I felt very restricted. I scoured the internet trying to find blogs that were similar to mine or places where I could connect with other bloggers that were cool with my content. I came up with one. (maybe there were more but I couldn’t find them) I really struggled with this. My goal was to reach the normal girls out there who maybe aren’t as comfortable talking about sex and make my blog a comfortable spot to come without the graphic details many sex blogs I’ve seen have. But all those people I were trying to find as readers didn’t allow for me to be in their groups, even though my content was about a sensitive topic, I approached it differently than most.  I’m not a graphic person by nature and I know many people are the same. I started getting lost in my content, I felt uninspired, like I had run out of ideas and was struggling talking about sex when I myself was separated from my boyfriend. So I took a step back (especially after my Grandmother passed away) and realized that I needed to find topics that inspired me and others beyond just sexual health and relationships.  So I changed my direction. You’ll still find sexual health related topics on the blog, just not every day or even every week.

After I changed my direction, I switched gears. I instantly found new blogging groups to join and started commenting and posting my links on linky parties and in groups. I started feeling more confident in commenting on other’s blogs and creating connections with new people from around the world. I stopped limiting myself. Blogging is ultimately about community. We share our lives and interests with others in hopes of sharing our own knowledge or making connections with others. Blogs aren’t successful without creating some sort of relationship with your readers. Whether it be responding to comments (which I always do! So comment away!)  or interacting through social media. We virtually meet, chat and bond through shared interests. In some chances we even get to meet in person.

Every blog I read I take a little bit of inspiration. Whether it be ideas to build of off, recipes to recreate or re-invent or just inspiration to do better and be better at blogging.

Dont stop learning

Don’t stop learning!

Technology is constantly changing, so are trends. You have to be constantly learning. If your goal for your blog is to grow it into a business or a brand or even to make a little money from it, you have to be up to date on whats happening all around you. I try to find new resources about blogging specifically in order to know more about what’s happening, whats popular and what works for some and what works for others. I’m not a technical person at all. My sister is a great graphic designer and my boyfriend is in IT. I have some basic knowledge of what I need to do to get posts up and how to utilize some applications like Hootsuite but beyond that figuring out plugins and rich pins and SEO are all things I need to learn in order for me to grow the blog.

Beyond the technical side of things, there is so much I need to learn. Managing social media is a huge challenge for me. I avoided creating a social media plan up until like..a week ago. I’m still working on it and it still overwhelms me. But once I’ve worked out one aspect of the plan, I can focus on the next and so on. Once I’ve worked all aspects of my plan its all about implementing them. Getting over that first big hurdle makes the others go a lot easier. I’m still learning how to climb over it.

Don’t limit yourself to learning at home. Find new places to learn, attend conferences (if you can), sign up for webinars, get ebooks, sign up for newsletters that help you to learn more tools and tricks to better your blog. Figure out what you think is holding you back and fix it! For me, its social media and photography. I’m working like crazy on both. I try to practice my photography as much as I can and I’ve been working hard on building up a twitter following and a facebook fan base. (I’ve heard around the rumor mill that FB for bloggers is kind of dead, but for me, its one of my biggest referral pathways to the blog) Most views on my blog come through FB.

Use tools

Use tools that will help you succeed!

When I first started this blog I had absolutely zero clue about wordpress.com or wordpress.org or even blogger. I had used blogger previously for a class in college, but I knew I didn’t want to use it this time around. I had no idea that wordpress.com and wordpress.org were different (or that there were two!) WordPress.com has worked well for me up until now, but its time for me to venture on my own. Self-hosting opens up a variety of different options for me to not only monetize but control the design and mechanics of my blog. It costs money. Not going to lie. I spent about $40 on a domain name (for a few years) and then decided to try out the same place for my hosting, it cost me another $70. But having the ability to add plugins, control the design and monetize freely is becoming more important to me than the free aspect of wordpress.com. If you can’t spend the money quite yet, its totally cool! Make do with what you have until you can!

A DSLR camera is NOT necessary to take awesome photographs. All my photos? Taken with a small Canon Point and Shoot or my iPhone. I’m absolutely not an amazing photographer, but I’m practicing. And will hopefully get a camera for Christmas this year. But doing your research on good photography (lighting, composition etc) is always a good plan. And if you can’t get great natural light (like me, unless I’m home at 10am everday which I’m not) then you have to improvise. I personally made a foamboard light box with two little desk lamps to help create a natural lighting effect. I also use an editing program. I have Photoshop at work but at home I have Picasa (which I love) and I’ve just recently started using PicMonkey and I have to say…I love it (almost more than Picasa). The ease of use is insane and makes it so easy to brighten photos, sharpen them up and add text. Picasa does a lot of similar things but it slows my computer down alot and PicMonkey is all web-based which is nice.

Since I for the most part load all my photos on my laptop at home and then edit them occassionally while I’m at work, having my devices connected is crucial. I started using Dropbox a few weeks ago and it makes my life so much easier. I have all my photos from my computer, my iPhone, my iPad and my office computer all in one online space and I can access them from anywhere. It makes editing photos at work much easier.

In an attempt to figure out my social media, I started using Hootsuite. I really like the auto-schedule feature and I’m trying to get in the habit of getting up a few minutes early in the morning to create some posts for throughout the day. Trying is the key word here people. Its also difficult for me to figure out what to post for the whole day. I need to start compiling a list of cool links and other blogs to link back to beyond my own posts and content.

dont limit yourself

Don’t Limit Yourself

Whether it be with content, your skills, your interests or your goals. Don’t doubt yourself and don’t put a strict restriction on what you want to learn or do. If you want to write about food but your blog is about fashion…don’t stop yourself because it doesn’t fit, just do it! If you aren’t sure about doing something because you don’t know how, take a moment and learn how or ask for help. Hell I ask for help all the time. If asking for help will make me a better blogger, a better writer or more creative, then ask for it! When you’re stuck in rut or can’t come up with ideas, sit with a friend and toss some ideas around! Have someone tell you what THEY want to read about from you! I ask all the time! (its why I added more food  and will be adding more finances and wellness in the future!) Asking questions opens doors and unlocks your limitations.

Remember if you shoot for the moon, you’ll land among the stars! Its a win win either way!

What are your best tips and tricks for new bloggers out there?

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