It’s been exactly three weeks since I’ve had reliable internet access. I feel a bit like Tom Hanks in Castaway to be honest, especially when he’s sitting on the beach squinting into the ocean, just pining for rescue. Overly dramatic? Maybe.
We were in the path of Hurricane Irma, and the storm knocked our power out for only a day. But we lost internet for about a week (disclaimer: not complaining here — we were extremely lucky, particularly in light of the recent devastation in Puerto Rice and Houston, that we have no real tales of woe). Then a few days later we moved into our new house (yaaassss!! It’s real and it’s spectacular. More on that later)…that was a week ago, and we still haven’t managed to get a connection up.
The lack of internet connection made some things logistically difficult; my husband works from home, and isn’t able to work without internet access. But it’s also been kind of nice to take a step back from this space and have a chance to think about it.
In terms of the blogging world, my blog is a brand new baby. I only started my blog a little over two months ago. So I definitely don’t have a lot of experience yet. But I’ve managed to let it take over my life in the short time since I started it. It’s been good for me to take a minute to think about it, and to seek some balance. I honestly fell in love with blogging once I started, but I have a tendency to go overboard with the things I love.
Needless to say, I’ve already formed a lot of thoughts about blogging. I have a serious problem with over-researching and over-thinking just about everything, but today you can benefit from a little bit of my crazy. If I had a friend thinking about starting a blog and looking for advice, this is what I would tell them.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned as a new blogger:
*Note: I haven’t necessarily been great about following my own advice. Some of these things I’m doing better at than others, but this whole thing (like so much in life, right?) is a work in progress.
1) Blogging is time consuming.
I’m saying that with a nice snicker in my voice, because that there was sarcasm. And a serious understatement. Blogging is crazy time consuming. I’m learning that it can take as much time as you want to put into it. Before I started my blog, I had a vague idea that this was true — like in the sense that I get that writing can take some time. But it kind of baffled me to hear people say they blogged full-time. Like when you say “full-time,” you don’t mean full-time like other people mean it, right? There’s no way you can spend 40 hours a week on a blog. Now I’m debating whether to laugh or cry at my old sweet innocent self. Now when I think of my blogging heroes who are doing this for a living, I wonder how in the world they could fit that into a mere 40 hours a week. Think about it — here’s breakdown of just some of what’s involved in (serious) blogging —
- coming up with great, engaging ideas for posts
- researching those ideas (and as we all know, research can take as much time as you want it to)
- writing up those ideas and transforming them into posts
- thinking up ideas for sharp, interesting photos for those great, engaging posts you’ve written
- taking those photos
- editing those photos
- getting the word out about your posts (a.k.a. marketing) — a step that can be, again, as time consuming as you want it to be. This can involve something as simple (ha) as posting to all of your various social media outlets, including (but not limited to) the Big Four as I like to call them: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. And if you’re a less established blog, you have to go deeper to get your post out there. You’re probably involved in Facebook groups, which can involve a lot of work reciprocating engagement for fellow bloggers. And you’re probably on Pinterest group boards, and maybe in Instagram comment pods.
I’m sure I’ve missed some things here, but this (I think) covers a lot of what goes into creating a single blog post. It’s a lot, right?? Especially when you factor in that a serious blog is publishing posts multiple times weekly. And we haven’t even touched on, not even a little bit, monetizing here…that’s a whole other ball of wax.
2) Content is everything.
This should go without saying, right? The heart and soul of a blog is the posts, this should be obvious. It feels silly to even say it. But…you read all the steps involved in creating a post and trying to get those sweet little baby posts out in the world where the good people called Your Audience may find and read them. It’s a lot. And I think as anybody who’s blogged even a little can attest to, it’s unfortunately easy to get so wrapped up in the process that you forget the #1 Golden Rule of Good Blogging: Write good posts. Write them regularly.
3) Define your niche.
Something I hear over and over again is that as a new blogger you need to decide what your niche is — that is, the subject that you’ll be writing about the majority of the time — and then stick to it and don’t stray from it. You could pick a few different topics, but the newer your blog is, the more it serves you decide what you’re about and then…be about that thing. Think about it: if somebody came to your blog to read about financial investment strategies, they likely won’t be clicking through to your posts about your best crochet projects. Then again, as Shakespeare said, to thine own self be true. This advice (really, on that note, this whole post) is mostly aimed at serious bloggers looking to grow an audience and eventually monetize — if you’re a hobby blogger just having fun and you don’t care whether anybody reads your blog or not, then you do you! But if your blogging efforts are part business/side hustle, defining your niche matters.
4) Be friendly.
This is a big one. One of the best things you can do as a new blogger is to get out into the blogging community and get to know your fellow bloggers (also, give them a chance to get to know you!). Make a point of finding a bunch of blogs about your topic. Comment regularly on blogs in your niche — and not just spammy comments like, “Great post!” but lengthy and thoughtful comments that truly add to the discussion. The blogger will notice you, and maybe visit your blog in return. Other readers may notice as well. Plus, that’s just being a good friend, right guys? Email bloggers whom you’d like to get to know better. Join Facebook groups — this can be a good way to find potential readers for your blog, but — even better — it’s also great for getting encouragement and support. The blogging community is a surprisingly small world in many ways, and you’ll be surprised how often you run into the same people again and again in different places. Get yourself out there.
5) Don’t get hung up on Instagram.
I never used Instagram until I started my blog in July. Right away I saw what the fuss was about, I saw what I had been missing. I fell in love. And for the first month I lived and died on what was going on with my Instagram account — did someone follow me? Did someone unfollow me? It drove me a little bit crazy, to be honest. But I have found that in the two months I’ve been blogging, Instagram isn’t converting into blog traffic (at least not for me, at least not yet). Instagram is fun, but when it comes to my blog, it just isn’t worth the time I had been putting into it. Which isn’t to say you should neglect your Instagram account entirely, but keep an eye on your stats, know what it’s worth to you, and invest your time accordingly. I’m aware that this might be a controversial thing to say. I know there are bloggers out there who do really well on Instagram. I’m just saying my perception so far is that doing well on Instagram is a lot more time intensive and takes more work than doing well on other social media channels.
6) Pinterest is your friend.
Pinterest, on the other hand, is hands down the biggest driver of traffic to my blog. Blogging guru Melyssa Griffin makes the excellent point that Pinterest is more of a search engine than true social media outlet. This makes a ton of sense, and puts a different spin on how you might approach Pinterest as a blogger rather than a casual user. A lot of it involves paying attention to keywords and the descriptions in the pins you’re pinning, making sure they are more truly descriptive than cute and catchy. I’ve read that you should be pinning 20-40 pins a day (too few won’t help you much, too many is spam), at different times of the day to reach people in different time zones. Obviously this is somewhat difficult (and certainly time consuming). This is where pin schedulers like Tailwind and Boardbooster come in. They put your pinning on autopilot, and as such are pretty much a must for the serious blogger. I started using Tailwind a month ago and immediately saw my blog traffic increase. I would be remiss not to mention group boards here. Group boards on Pinterest might be the single easiest way for a new blogger to get visitors to their site. Maybe you don’t have that many Pinterest followers, but when you join a group board you benefit from the followers the other contributors bring. Look for group boards in your niche and try to join some, then pin regularly to them. Ideally you’re pinning more of your own content than others’.
7) Don’t let it get you down.
In blogging, as in life, I tend to ride an emotional roller coaster. I’m up or down; it’s awesome or it’s horrible. And once it’s horrible, I begin to spiral. Blogging is hard work, and when it doesn’t seem like it’s going well, then I start to get worked up about how much time I’m investing in something that I’m clearly not good at, not succeeding at, will obviously never succeed at….you get it. You know what I’m talking about. I think we all go through times of feeling like that about any new endeavor. It’s been helpful to remind myself that hard times are generally followed by good times, and not to get too down about a slump. I guess this is true for life in general as much as it is for blogging.
8) Have fun.
My biggest surprise in this blogging journey so far has been how much I just straight up enjoy it. I enjoy the writing itself. I love to think and talk about the topics I cover. I’ve enjoyed making friends, and getting to know fellow bloggers in the community. Also, and I can’t overstate this — as a stay at home mom, it’s been so rewarding to have something that I get to do that is my own. That might be what motivates me the most. I genuinely look forward to spending time working on the blog.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading! What are some of the most important things you learned as a new blogger? What advice would you share with someone just starting out with their blog?
If you’re looking for some great resources on blogging to help you get started or improve your experience, here are some of my favorites so far:
Comment and share your favorite blogging resources!