It’s really hard to believe that this little online space of mine has already existed for a year. I’ve come to really love blogging and being able to share my ideas/tips/thoughts here, but it has definitely been a learning process.
I feel like I’m constantly learning new information and better ways of doing things, so I thought I’d take time to round up nine key lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a blogger:
1. Set Realistic Goals
As I’ve said before, I consider myself a planner, and when I first started blogging, I wanted to be like some of the amazing bloggers I follow… have a fancy website, do daily blog posts, grow my following to tens of 1000’s of followers, and that all sounds great, but guess what…
That’s not my reality right now.
When I stared in late September of 2017, I was a full time student and working 29 hours a week. And while I would have loved (and still would love) to be able to post daily, it just wasn’t/isn’t realistic with where I’m at.
I’d much rather do posts that I feel like have some quality information/inspiration once or twice a week than posts that are a hot mess express everyday of the week.
All that is to say that it’s important to set goals for yourself that are SMART (Specific, Measurable, ATTAINABLE, REALISTIC, and Time-Bound), and to work hard to meet them, but not hate yourself for coming in a little short. (Wow, college stuff really does apply to the real-world 😉 )
2. Don’t Worry About What Others Will Think
This one is hard and is something that will probably always be a struggle, but I feel like I’ve found a bit more confidence in myself in the past year.
It’s not easy to be vulnerable whether you’re talking through written words on a screen or face-to-face, but that is where you’re able to make some real connections. For me, this happens mostly in my motivational posts because I think it’s important to share where you’re at and use your experiences or trials to help others. The post I did last month entitled “A New Season” was pretty easy for me to write, but was so hard to post because I was worried about sharing what feels like weakness. But you know what? After posting that, I felt more at peace with the whole feeling/situation because I was able to say how I felt without saying how I felt.
People are going to talk no matter what, but once you’re able to find that comfort in yourself and your abilities, it won’t matter because as long as you’re confident in what you’re sharing, others will be, too.
3. Follow Bloggers You Admire
This may sound like common sense, but following people you admire can give you so much inspiration. Now, I am not saying copy and share the same content that they are… I am saying look at how they do what they do. Figure out what draws you to them, what you like about their blog/demeanor/style and figure out what you can do with your content to create that same feeling for your readers/followers.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out, ask questions and build your network. A few of the bloggers whom I started out following on Instagram have become much more like friends to me, and having people who understand what you’re trying to do or what you’re struggling with is soooooooo helpful.
4. See The Success
I think this once is so important! And it’s something I have to remind myself of CONSTANTLY!
When something doesn’t work out for us, we are so quick to consider it a failure and to see all the wrong/bad things. It’s our natural reaction.
BUT what if instead we look at the success. This relates back to lesson 1. If you have a goal of doing 10 blog posts a month and you only get 6 up, don’t spend your time feeling like a failure because your were 4 posts short, spend it looking back at those 6 posts, what you like about them and what your followers liked about them. And if you think 6 posts is more realistic, change your goal. If you feel like you need to work on time management, start doing more planning. If you think your readers really like a certain topic, write more about it. If you think one of your posts was trash, skip that topic for a little while.
No matter which of those steps you take, you have learned something, and that is most definitely success!
5. It’s An Investment
Blogging takes time, energy, money, planning… the list goes on, and I’ve learned that you have to passion for it to be willing to make investments into it.
I’m not sure what it’s like for people in other niches, but for home decor, one post can involve so many things: styling an area, photographing that area, editing those photos, uploading them to your site, writing the content that goes with them… and if products are involved, I try to find them online and link them into the post. Then you schedule it, and once it’s posted, you share it on all your social media platforms.
So, it’s not something that you can do in five minutes. You have to be willing to put the time and energy into it if you expect to create some quality content.
6. Social Media Is Your Friend
Speaking of social media, it is your friend! If you’re just starting out, people are not going to google you and are not going to know anything about you or your blog unless you tell them and make it easy for them to get there. When you publish a new post, share it! Put a link on Facebook and Twitter, share a post on Instagram, talk about it in your stories. People won’t come unless they know.
The majority of traffic on my website comes from Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I share all of my posts to these platforms and I try to make it easy for readers to get to. In addition to posting direct links in Facebook and Twitter, I have the address for my homepage listed in my profile information. I also have a Facebook page solely about my blog. On Instagram, I share a picture to let my followers know a new post is up and direct them to the link in my profile through my stories (because I’m not fancy enough to have use the swipe-up feature… yet!)
Also, you’re a lot more likely to get interaction through social media than you are on your posts, so use those platforms to connect with your audience!
7. Know Your Stats
Know your stats! If you don’t know who your audience is, how they’re finding you and what type of posts they like the best, it will be even harder to grow.
I’m still learning a lot in this area, but just knowing simple things like how many people are visiting your blog and what posts are getting the most views can give you a lot of insight as to what your readers are most interested in and how your blog is doing. Of course, number are not everything, but the more you know, the more you can grow.
You can get these stats in lots of ways. The platform I use, WordPress, gives you all kinds of information like what time you get the most visits, how many people are visiting, what posts get the most views and where your audience is geographically.
I also monitor my Instagram insights because it tells you more demographic information (i.e. Male v. Female followers, City followers are from) as well as number of profile visits, reach, impressions, etc.
Know what’s going on with your content and watch how it changes, does the time of publish change how a post does? Do you have a more male or female based audience? Do people like a certain topic more than another?
Like I said, the more you know, the more you can grow!
8. Always Be Willing To Learn
Maybe this is the aspiring educator in me, but you should always consider yourself a sponge. And what I mean by that is you should soak up as much information as you can wherever you are because you never know when it could be useful.
In addition to looking at what’s trending in home decor, I look at what’s happening in social media, marketing tactics, the blogging world, and other related areas. I want to be able to motivate and inspire readers, and to do that, I have to be willing to study and dig a little deeper so that I can give the best information to my audience.
Whether it’s an article, a podcast, a YouTube video or an actual person, there’s always something to learn that can help you improve.
9. Do You!
I wanted to conclude with this one because I think it’s the most important if you are looking to blog: Do you.
People don’t and won’t come to your blog if all you’re doing is posting about what other people are saying and doing. You have to find and own your voice. Write about what you think is important, post content that you think is worth sharing.
You may have a new idea or thought that hasn’t been shared before, and that may make you nervous or anxious, but if you believe in it, others will too!
If you’ve seen the movie Dirty Dancin’, you know there’s a scene where Patric Swayze says “No one puts Baby in a corner.” Take that line and insert your name: “No one puts _____ in a corner.” And it’s true!
You should never feel like your in a box and can only do or say or write certain things. If you can dream it, you can achieve it, and if you think it’s important, you should should go for it. You do YOU!
If you’ve stuck with me to the end of this post, bless you. I know it was a bit longer than my usual musings, but I wanted to share what I’ve learned in hopes that it will help or inspire someone to take that step their thinking about taking. Maybe it’s starting a blog, and maybe it’s not.
I truly believe that if you feel the urge to do something and have the passion to do it right, you should go for it. I didn’t know where this blog of mine would take me (and I still don’t!) But it’s a part of me, and I truly love it.
You are awesome, and you can do anything you put your mind to. Don’t forget that!