Today is a very special occasion. For today officially marks one year of blogging here! It’s kind of crazy to think it has been exactly one year since I published my first post. In truth, I have been blogging off and on, mostly off, for the last ten years. However, this blog holds a special place in my heart. Many of the previous ones were abandoned after a few months. In fact, some of them never had a single post added. Back then I was so afraid of posting the wrong thing that I couldn’t bring myself to even truly try. In the past year, I have had ups and downs when it comes to blogging. So, I thought I would share my experiences. What worked, what hasn’t, and share a little bit of advice for those who may be thinking about starting their own blog.s
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One year of blogging, what I’ve learned along the way
Don’t compare yourself to others
Seriously, this is by far the most important thing to know. It is also one of the hardest things to avoid doing. We all have a habit of looking at someone’s success and comparing it to our own or lack thereof. However, that usually ends up getting us nowhere. It doesn’t matter that a person who started their blog on the same day as you has more comments, views, or followers than you do. Ignore the fact that they do four posts a week when you only do two. Comparing yourself to others merely lets us feel like we aren’t good enough and more often than not, that leads to us giving up on our blog or other passions.
Growth takes time
Like anything else in life, growth with your blog and social media accounts takes time. It may seem like this takes forever in the beginning, and partially that’s true. You are the new kid on the block and people need to know who you are and that you will be sticking around before they decide to follow you. Don’t be disappointed that you only have 15 followers, be grateful for each and every one of them. In fact, it doesn’t matter if you have 100 or 50k followers, every single one of them is important.
Social media is your friend, but it can be annoying
A big factor of being a successful blogger is being active on social media. The ones most people focus on are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest. There are certainly other social media beyond these, however, they are the ones that have the biggest impact. Each of these social media has a learning curve. They all work in a different way, yet in the end, can help drive traffic to your blog. Social media not only helps you promote your blog, but it also allows you to meet other bloggers, companies you may want to work with and keeps you up to date on the latest happenings around the world.
Social media accounts should be something you create while you are first starting your blog. You want all of these up and running before you hit publish on your first post. People will want to be able to follow you and they can’t without these accounts. Make sure your user names are as close to your blog name as possible, it makes it easier for people to find you. It is also important to share other people’s content. If you really enjoyed another blogger’s post, then tweet about it! See someone mention something you have an interest in. Reply to it! Social media is meant to be interacted with.
There are some downsides, which make these accounts annoying. The biggest of these is the follow/unfollow game that people play. Don’t do it. I beg of you, just don’t even think about it. Follow someone because you truly want to, not because you want to get them to follow you back and pad your numbers. Also, don’t be offended if people don’t follow you back. Not everyone will.
Networking is important
As you grow your social media, you will make friends and acquaintances. These relationships become very important. It is these other bloggers that will help you grow as a blogger. They will visit your blog, comment on it and in turn, you should do the same. They may reach out to you for advice, or perhaps it is you who will seek advice from them. Having other bloggers who you can chat with, whether it’s about your blog or something happening in your life, is the best part about blogging. Get involved in group discussions. Put yourself and your work out there.
Getting ahead keeps you sane, but can be difficult
A year into blogging, and this is something that I still struggle with. Heck, I even put this in my monthly goals and I have yet to achieve it consistently, or at all. But I am trying. Trust me, when you get ahead on posts, even if it’s only for a short time, the stress of blogging goes away.
I find that the most effective way to get ahead, or at least get close to it, is to plan ahead. Not just a day or two in advance, but weeks. Knowing what you want to post at the end of the month or even in the next month really helps to keep you focused. You don’t have to stick 100% to this plan. Sometimes I change what days a post will happen because I don’t feel like that post works that day or I realize that I don’t have the pictures needed yet. It’s okay to shift things about. However, knowing approximately what you want to post about for the next few weeks will make the process that much easier.
Having a planner is a big help as well. I find that whenever I use my planner regularly, I do a better job of getting ahead. Then, inevitably, I will ignore my planning for a day or two and then it starts to fall apart and I am finding myself scrambling to catch up. Find a planner that works best for you. There are plenty out there. I picked on with a verticle layout. The layout gives me plenty of space to make notes of future post ideas and scribble random ideas that come up.
Quality photos make all the difference
When I first started out, my photos were pretty terrible. I remember taking photos in the months before I actually started this blog, knowing I would need them for my future content. I do this hastily and didn’t really focus on making sure the pictures were clear or that they had good lighting. Over time I have put a lot more effort into my photos and it makes a world of difference. Photos give your posts extra life, so you want to ensure you take the best photos you can. Heck, take as many photos as you can of a single object and you will be surprised how many of them aren’t quite good enough before you stumble upon the perfect photo for your post.
Having a quality camera is key to this. I personally use the camera on my smartphone. However, using a DSLR camera is also a great option. Find a camera that suits your needs. Remember, you can always upgrade it to a better and more expensive camera as you go. While you are at it, invest in a tripod or a selfie stick as well. They really come in handy at times.
Commenting is important
I can’t stress this enough. Comment on other blogs. Do it all of the time. People love getting comments. But don’t put something like “Great post” and leave it at that. Bloggers want to know that you actually read their content and that it made some sort of impact on them. The more you say in a comment the better. It doesn’t need to be a novel, but it should express interest in what they read. This allows the blogger to respond as well. Which in turn, helps to build relationships.
If someone has commented on your blog, then make sure to return the favor and comment on theirs.
Mistakes will be made, embrace them and move on
Mistakes are part of being human. Accept that you will make mistakes, but be sure to learn from them. One of my biggest mistakes when I first started was not using Pinterest. I didn’t understand Pinterest at all and thought I could go without it. Boy was I wrong! So months into my blogging I finally buckled down, got my Pinterest account going and had to go back and add in images to all of my old blog posts for it. It was a total pain in the butt!
Another mistake that often slips through, especially when rushing, is grammar and spelling mistakes. These are easy to spot on other people’s blogs, but it’s so much harder when staring at your own content. It doesn’t matter how many times I read over a post before I hit publish, there will inevitably be a misspelled word somewhere in there. If I am lucky, I catch it soon afterward. However, sometimes, I have to rely on my network of blogging friends to point them out. I assure you, I am forever grateful when they message me about these little goofs and I try to do the same for them.
Blogging has really changed my life. I look forward to seeing what the next year has in store and learning more as I go. The important thing to remember is that there are always things to learn when it comes to blogging and you will keep improving the more you do it.
There you have it, what I have learned after one year of blogging. I hope you found this information helpful.