Today marks my one year anniversary of blogging! I am so grateful for each and every one of you who reads my blog. I am also very proud of myself for sticking with it for a full year so far! It has been a very humbling experience and also a very rewarding one. It hasn’t always been pretty but I’ve learned so much along the way. I wanted to share with you the most important things that I wish I had known before I started this journey.
I started this blog completely on a whim. I literally sat down one afternoon and created a social media account on every platform, signed up for WordPress.com and decided I was going to start a blog. I literally has no idea what I was getting myself into. Everything I know, I have learned through trial and error and a whole lotta googling. Here are my biggest take-aways from this experience.
What I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog
Creating Your Website:
Before Doing Anything – Decide on a topic/niche and a Name
This should be a no brainer but because I am a woman of so many interests, I really struggled here. I wanted to share about all of my interests. I also couldn’t find a name that I felt worked with what I wanted to write about that could also grow with me. I actually started out with another name and it was very time consuming to change and ended up costing some money.
The bottom line is, you can’t ever be everything to everyone. Write about the things that you can’t stop talking about that are your true passions. Your name should be something that is unique, concise and easy to remember and spell. You want your potential followers to be able to find you!
Pick a Blogging Platform and Webhost
The idea of going self hosted right out of the gates was super intimidating to me. To be honest, I didn’t even really understand what it meant. For those of you wondering, there is a HUGE difference between buying a domain on WordPress [dot] com versus being self hosted. I made the mistake of going into it blind and ignorant and ended up moving to self hosting after a month. If you’re shopping for a web host I highly recommend Siteground. They have awesome 24/7 customer service and were very helpful and patient with me as I was learning.
Visualize How You Want Your Site to Look
Again, this was something I really struggled with. Another reason to start out with a self-hosted site is that you have complete control of what your site will look like. About 2 weeks into blogging, I realized this and started shopping for the perfect blog theme. There are so many to choose from that it can be a bit overwhelming. In fact, I’ve actually changed my theme 3 times over the course of the year (each one cost money as well). I finally found this one which I love that has all of the functionalities I need to support selling my training programs and blogging.
My tips for choosing a theme would be to pick something that is mobile responsive meaning it will adjust to fit the screen of the device it is being viewed on. You will also want something that has a lot of flexibility for changes and if you plan on selling your own product someday, it will need to be e-commerce capable.
Join Facebook Groups for Bloggers
A blogger can simply not survive without their tribe. There are tons of groups you can join that can answer your blogging related questions as well as to help you share your content and put your name out there. I’ve met some amazing people through these group whom even though we’ve never met in real life, I feel as though they are my real friends.
Don’t Try to Master Every Platform at Once
This was one of the biggest mistakes I made. As I mentioned above, I created social media profiles on every platform right from the start. I highly recommend doing this just to make sure you can get the same username across all channels. However, the caveat to this is trying to grow on all of these platforms at once will be difficult. Find which platforms are giving you the most interaction and focus on those first. Some places might just not work for you.
Evaluate What is Working and What Isn’t
When I was first starting out, I would post things that I thought were good and wondered why no one was liking my posts. Turns out, fitness posts and quotes do not perform well for me on Instagram but it took me months of posting them to realize this. Don’t waste your time on things that aren’t working for you!
Publish Only Your Best Work
A professional photographer wouldn’t return unedited photos to their clients just as an author wouldn’t publish a book without proofreading it. If you wan’t to be taken seriously, you have to take yourself seriously! I know some people say that editing your photos is “fake” but I disagree. No one wants to look at dark grainy photos. I’ve actually learned to love the process of editing my photos and knowing that I’m only putting my best possible content out there. Let me know if you’re interested in learning how I edit my photos or create my Pinterest graphics.
Try Not to Play the Comparison Game
No matter who you are, or what you do someone will always be better than you at something. It’s just a fact of life. You never know what goes on behind the scenes to producing the perfect photo or blog post. You don’t know what others have done to achieve the following they have. Worrying about how many followers your peers have versus yourself isn’t going to get you more followers. Figure out what works for you and keep doing that. Remember, blogging is a (never ending marathon), not a sprint!
Learn to Be Thick Skinned
People will leave strange comments on your posts. People will unfollow you. People might not like every single post. That is ok and it comes with the territory. Don’t let that define your worth and your purpose as a blogger. Blogging can sometimes feel like a solo uphill battle but if you truly enjoy what you’re doing, you shouldn’t let that stop you.
Ask Yourself Who You Want to Help
Literally every article I’ve ever read about how to be a blogger says to “define your target customer”. It seemed like such generic advice that I chose to ignore it for quite some time. In order to have a successful post, you have to write something that people can relate to or be inspired by. People who don’t know you don’t necessarily care about your trip to Costco last Saturday. You have to create content that people want to read. If you wan’t to share about your trip to Costco because you got a great deal, write your posts geared toward people who could benefit from that information. This takes some time to get the hang of but I promise you’ll see a great improvement in your engagement immediately! People want to know: what’s in it for me.
Productivity and Organization:
Create a Posting Schedule
I share to Instagram once a day Monday – Saturday and twice a week, typically Monday and Wednesday or Friday to my blog. When I first started it was completely at random. I’ve found that giving your followers something to expect from you keeps them interested and coming back for more.
Keep a List of Post Ideas
Not only was I posting at random when I first started but I was posting about random things. I dare you to scroll through some of my first posts on the blog and on Instagram. I still cringe thinking about them but I’ve left them up to show where I came from. You want to make sure your posts are on topic with the goals of your blog and that they speak to your ideal audience.
Plan Your Social Media Posts
It took me a few months to get on board with this but saves so much time in the long run. I still haven’t started doing this for Facebook and Twitter but I recently started using Tailwind for Pinterest and have been using UNUM for Instagram for months. Tailwind essentially pins to Pinterest on your behalf and is such a timesaver! UNUM is used to organize and plan out your Instagram feed.
Patience is a Bloggers Biggest Virtue
There is a lot of time that goes into writing posts, shooting and editing photos and growing your following. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, have patience and believe in yourself. It won’t be easy but if you enjoy what you’re writing about, it will definitely be worth it in the long run.
I know this was a lot of information! One more thing I’d like to share is that I’m also hosting a giveaway with a group of awesome bloggers for a $1000 Nordstrom gift card on my Instagram as a thank you for your support over the past year. You can enter here (giveaway ends 2/4).Best of luck to you and thank you for following along!