When I started my blog in December, I didn’t have any experience working with blogging software, tools, or editing programs. Spoiler alert! When I started, I didn’t know what to name my blog, what to write about, and if anyone would read it or not. I was nervous, but reading blogs is something I’ve always loved to do, and in the back of my mind for years had kept the idea of starting my own. I finally decided to go for it, and I’ve really enjoyed it since then. Take a trip down memory lane and check out my first post! Not Just January: How to Make Goals that Last.
Of course, I’ve learned a lesson here or there along the way! Whether you’re a new blogger or considering starting your own blog, I hope these tips are helpful to you. If you’re a blogger, what’s one thing that you’ve learned?
Let’s chat! Without further ado, I present to you, my life lessons in blogging.
1. You don’t need to do it all!
I feel like the character in the Incredibles sometimes, because there are so many programs and options out there, you really do need to be a superhero to do it all! There are so many decisions to make when starting a blog: will you include sponsored posts? giveaways? Connect your blog to social networking sites? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google… the list goes on and on.
When I started blogging, I was overwhelmed by all of the options. I felt like I had to connect my blog to 10 different things before I could hit publish on that first post. I quickly realized that would take months to set up, so instead am viewing my blog as a work in progress. Is it perfect? No, far from it. But I’ve found that it’s something I really enjoy and am learning new things on a daily basis.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others. Actually, this is a good life lesson in general and something I still have to remind myself of! But it works for blogging too.
You don’t need to do what everyone else is doing. If every other blogger features a giveaway for popcorn each week, and you hate popcorn, you don’t need to profess your undying love for the salty snack to the blogging world just because everyone else has. I went with popcorn because they’re talking about it on Kelly and Michael on TV this morning. Speaking of that, do you ever do that? Sometimes I’ll hear the TV or others talking in the background, and look down to see something random written instead of what I meant to say!
But in all seriousness, comparing yourself to others, new or experienced bloggers, won’t help you to feel better about yourself or increase your confidence at all. Sometimes I’ll be scrolling through another blog and think how cool something is, admire their layout, or the ease of viewing a post on a mobile device and wonder why I can’t do that. I’ll be jealous of their ability to blog multiple times a day, when I am excited if I finish a couple of posts in a week. Then I remind myself they’ve been blogging for 4 years, 6 years, etc. and I’m going on 6 months.
Others can definitely be motivating and encouraging, but don’t compare yourself in a negative way. Use others as inspiration, not to bring you down.
3. Write about what’s on your heart.
There are an infinite number of topics you could cover! Write about what speaks to you. Write about what inspires you in life. Write about what makes you excited to wake up everyday.
If you have an idea for a topic but the words aren’t coming, write about whatever it is that you are thinking or feeling. When you’re real, it will seem so much more genuine and your readers will be able to tell and connect on a deeper level. I try to keep the mantra “Deep speaks to deep” in mind with my students, knowing that if I open up and am honest with them, they will have a much greater chance of responding to me and opening up as well. That mantra can be applied here as well; be yourself, and the words will flow much easier that way.
4. Get involved! This may seem contradictorary to number 3, but stay with me, it’s not!
So we established that you don’t need to do it alllll. However, if you want to gain followers, then you do need to promote your blog somehow. I would suggest choosing a few ways to do this. Maybe not 20, but just a few. If your blog will feature lots of DIY crafts, make a Pinterest account so others can pin the images that you’ve created. If you plan on sharing lots of recipes, promote pictures of what you make on Instagram, and partner with companies to giveaway samples of items or ingredients. I haven’t personally experimented with this one yet – I would love to someday, but for this moment, let me refer you to #3!
I would also suggest being intentional with the social media that you do choose to go with to promote your blog. For example, if you have a Twitter account, don’t just tweet when your new posts have been published. Instead, have a conversation with others! Connect with other fellow bloggers, retweeting posts of theirs you really enjoyed reading, recipes that you tried, or asking questions. This will help you to make contacts, get your blog out there, and will be much more meaningful than just alerting others when you’ve written something new.
When you do choose to use a form of social media, go with it! If you set up a blog, hit publish on a post, and are done until the next time you begin to write, you will be missing the opportunity to connect with lots of readers.
5. Numbers don’t matter! And those of you that hate math just let out a sigh of relief, right?
Ok, so numbers do matter! But not in the sense that we’re talking about. If you have a blog, it’s interesting to see how many people viewed a certain post, which posts are the most popular ones, etc. but you cannot allow yourself to get wrapped up in the numbers. Otherwise, you will start getting posts out there too fast, only focusing on how many likes, retweets, or notifications you receive from the post, and the emphasis won’t be on the content or quality of the post. Quality over quantity here, all the way!
Whether you have one reader, a hundred, or a thousand, blog because it’s something YOU love and enjoy.
6. Let’s get technical.
Find what programs are easiest to use for you – don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment.
I first signed up to blog through WordPress, a free blogging site. (There are different levels you can sign up for, but the first level is free). I later paid to remove the “wordpress.com” from the end of my URL name. It doesn’t cost much at all for the year, and it makes any blog sound much more professional in my opinion, so I would definitely recommend doing that!
Though I started blogging with WordPress, it was taking me hours on end to finish a post. I downloaded Windows Live Writer and that has made my life SO much easier. Windows Live Writer is a free blogging resource that allows you to type up posts and preview them before uploading a draft to your blog. This program has made it a million times easier for me to add pictures, move the layout around, insert links to other sites, and much, much more. I highly recommend checking this out if you are a new blogger!
I also just started using PicMonkey. This is also free (Who doesn’t love free?!) and allows you to form collages, edit pictures, and touch up photos of your own. For example, I created the Summer Circuit Workout from scratch using PicMonkey this week. Check PicMonkey out today!
I titled this post “Part 1” because I’ve learned much already, but this is only the beginning! I already know I’m going to learn so much more in the future, so stay tuned for Part 2!