So without any more rambling here’s 15 things I’ve learnt from a year of blogging
1.There’s a lot more to it than just posting
When I first started I thought I would just type up a quick post and then publish a couple of times a week. Oh no, its not that simple, even without any promotion there is so much work needed before you can publish a post. You want to make your blog as pretty as you can, which means having a great design, which takes time. You also want to have great pictures to go with your post, which means finding the time to take some photos (easier said than done when you work full time). You also need to know what to write about, do you need to do any research, do you need time to test out a product for review? I could go on and on about how much work you need to do before you can publish a post, never mind what comes after you hit publish…
2. Social Media is so Important
Once you publish a post, you have to promote it, which is where social media comes in. You’ll need to set up Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest etc to go alongside your blog. Each platform requires a different style and it takes time to get to know them and to grow an audience. There is no point in tweeting a link to only 10 followers, so you need to grow an audience on all your social media platforms. It’s also important not to be spammy and just share links all the time, have conversations and engage with people.
3. As is SEO
Along with sharing your post on social media (and building a following) you also have to consider Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). SEO is about getting your page found through search engines (Google). I didn’t consider SEO much until recently, and I have noticed a huge difference in my page views since I started to take it more seriously. Basically, you should think about what keywords people might search to find your post and include these in the text. You should also ensure you use keywords in your blog description and on all photo descriptions.
4. But content is king
It doesn’t matter how many twitter followers you have or how good your SEO is if no one wants to read your content. Blog content is still the most important part of creating a blog. Write posts which help people, for example, my capsule wardrobe posts are really popular because people are interested in the topic and are looking for advice. Posts with lists (like this one) are also really popular. I hate to say it but people are selfish and want to get something out of reading your post.
5. Stop Comparing yourself
This is a lot easier said than done, but it’s important to remember that your blog is just as good (if not better) than all the other blogs out there. Nowadays some blogs are like glossy magazines and it’s easy to think yours isn’t good enough to compete. But you are unique and so is your blog and that’s what makes it special. Remember these girls with the glossy professional blogs started out in the same with as you (with a laptop in their bedroom) and probably feel the same way ever now and again.
6. It’s not all about numbers
This is another hard one, but it’s important to remember blogging isn’t all about the numbers. If you enjoy writing your blog then it doesn’t matter whether 2 people or 200,000 people read it. Yes I know PR’s want to know all your stats before working with you and if you want to make it a career than you do need those readers but if its a hobby does it really matter?
7. Important to celebrate the milestones
Despite having just said that it’s not all about the numbers, I do think its important to celebrate every milestone. Whether that is 1000 followers on Twitter or reaching the first page of Google. Give yourself a pat on the back, every milestone is important and worth celebrating. OK so you might not be reaching for the champagne ever time you get a new follower (but it does sound like a pretty good excuse) but still make sure you appreciate just how far you’ve come.
8. It’s more social than you think
This is a lesson I really wasn’t expecting when I started, but for a hobby which involves a lot of sitting alone writing, blogging is incredibly sociable. From chatting with other bloggers on Twitter to attending events your there is always another blogger to speak to. Once you get your name out there you will be invited to blogger events and meet-ups and through these, you’ll meet some amazing people. I have made so many friends through blogging and know there is this massive community routeing for me.
9. You need to get organised
I work full time, as well as running Tartan Brunette and being part of the Edinburgh Bloggers team which basically means I’m never bored. In order to do everything, I need to be super organised. For me, this means lots of planning and to do lists. I also try to block out set times during the week to work on each of the blogs (every Sunday is blogging day in my household). I’ve found spending a bit of time at the start of every month creating a content schedule and planning my blog related tasks helps me to stay on top of things. I honestly don’t know where I would be without the ability to schedule posts (and tweets).
10. Emails take up half your time
Once your name is out there, the emails never stop. You’ll find your inbox flooded with emails from SEO companies, hundreds of press releases and people wanting you to work for free. However in amongst these emails, there will be the exciting opportunities from brands offering to send you products for review or wanting to collaborate. Annoyingly it’s important to respond to every email (even if its to say thanks but no thanks) as you don’t want to be known as the blogger who doesn’t get back. Although someone works for that annoying company now, they might change jobs and become a good contact to have.
11. It’s not all about free stuff
That first email offering you something for free is a pretty exciting email and I think every single blogger out there said yes the first time. However, you’ll soon learn that excepting a product just because its free isn’t the way to go. You want your readers to trust you (especially if you do product reviews) and know what you’re about. How can they do that if you’ll blog about anything (as long as its free)? Also don’t be that blogger who constantly tweets brands asking for things, it’s really unprofessional and just looks spammy. I admit I’ve excepted products in the past which I wouldn’t buy myself and have never used since my post about them, but now I’ll only except something if I’d buy it myself, otherwise what’s the point.
12. You never switch off
With the constant emails and need to be present on social media you can say goodbye to time away from your phone. Luckily this is something you enjoy, right! I know it drives my husband insane when my phone is always going off (and I can’t help but check it) if we go to see a film I come out of the cinema with 100 notifications! And don’t ever take me anywhere without a 4G signal, I seriously don’t know what to do with myself.
13. Ideas come in strange place
Along with never being able to put your phone down, you’ll find yourself constantly trying to come up with new post ideas. I find they come to me in really strange places (normally when I don’t have a pen). The shower is a pretty common idea font, along with in the car on long journeys, walking the dog and in bed right before I fall asleep (which leads to no sleep as I have to get up to plan out my great idea)
14. It’s harder than you think
Blogging is hard work, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Even if it’s just a hobby it takes a lot of commitment and time. You have to learn about SEO, HTML, website design, social media, branding as well as find things to post about. But at the end of the day, all of your hard work and efforts pays off when someone comments that they love your latest post (and hits that follow button)
15. It’s the best job/hobby ever!