I started my very first blog in November of 2007. It was the cool thing to do then. I had just had my first kid the year before. I would be a mommy blogger like the rest of the world.
6 years, and switching blogs 7 different times, I’m still learning. Yes, you heard me right. I have had 7 blogs in that time! My poor parents are so confused. This month, I officially bought a domain name, and finally feel good about the choices I’m making. I feel comfortable in my own blogging skin I guess you could say.
After 6 years, I have learned some things. And, I’ve made tons of mistakes along the way. I’m still making them. Just this month, I accidentally sent 116 emails to my email subscribers all within a matter of seconds. EMBARRASSING! My poor parents and friends who have been following me for 6 years have been on a journey too. But, the good news is, you can learn from my mistakes:
1. Think long term. This was my biggest mistake. There was actually no way of knowing that I would love writing as much as I do until I started doing it. So, for that, I can’t really blame myself. But, I didn’t think about my blog and what it would be like 6 years from when I started. For one, I have two more children. For two, I want to write about more than just my kids. So, just counting on a family blog to do the trick wasn’t the right choice for me.
2. A catchy blog name isn’t everything. One mistake I made was to think that every idea that popped into my head would be amazing! And, people would just love me, and follow me, and I would be the next blogging sensation because I thought of this great blog name. (OK I didn’t totally think that) Wrong! A blog does not become a success overnight. And, honestly the name of the blog has little to do with the success. I had an idea to start a scrapbooking blog about the same time I started a food blog. Both of those bit the dust rather quickly. Why? Because it is a LOT of work to build an audience and it never, ever happens overnight. Even if you have a post go viral for a couple of days, hanging onto those new visitors is not a piece of cake.
3. Don’t run multiple blogs at once-instead, make your one blog all encompassing. At one point, four of the seven blogs I had were going on at the same time. Ummm. Talk about insane! There was no possible way I could grow any one of them successfully unless I neglected the other three. Now, I’ve realized that my one blog can have it all. If I want to blog about food, I can do it here. If I want to blog about scrapbooking, or my kids’ allergies, or how mad I am that my toddler didn’t sleep last night, I can do it here. Everything can be in one place. We are complex people, and our blogs can be about more than one thing.
4. Do your homework. SO, I started out at blogger. It was good for the first couple of years, then I started thinking I wanted to do more with my blogging. Go public. Maybe earn a living by blogging? I saw plenty of other bloggers doing it, so why not me? I heard wordpress was better (although I didn’t exactly know why) and so I switched my blog over there in January of this year. I had no clue there was a wordpress.com vs. wordpress.org self-hosted blogs. I hadn’t done any homework about wordpress. And, while the wordpress.com community is AMAZING. I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do over there. Like put ads on my blog if I decided to. But, the community was awesome, so I stayed. But, once I realized my vision for my blog, I realized I wanted more control. So, here I am. I wish I would have gotten here a lot faster, because in a way I’m starting over again. All I needed to do was my homework. There are PLENTY of articles on the subject of blogging.
5. Figure out your purpose early. What is your goal? What do you want to do with your blog? Make money? Write for fun? Make friends? Be part of a community? By answering some of those questions first, you will save yourself some time. Figure out what the goal is, and then you will know where to start.
6. Prepare yourself for Criticism. For the most part, I haven’t had anything too ugly said to me by strangers. There was one nasty comment that made me want to throw up one day that I promptly flagged as spam, (although I believe it was something more sinister), but what I wasn’t prepared for were the comments from friends and family. You know, real-life people. Opening yourself up takes courage. Even people who think they know you might hear and read things that changes their opinion of you. Be prepared to defend yourself, or develop a thick skin and let the criticism not affect you too deeply. People may not EVER get your point. I almost stopped writing because of an experience I had, but now I’m so glad I went through it, because I learned a lot about myself and why I write.
7. Protect yourself and Your Kids. One reason why I switched (again) was because I suddenly realized not everyone visiting my blog was a friend. Some people were downright creepy based on the search terms I saw come up. I had people clicking on pictures of my kids. Multiple times. I had one photo stolen from me. In making my blog more public, I decided over time, that it just wasn’t for me to have strangers clicking on my kids photos over and over. Deciding how comfortable you are with sharing your kids’ information is a step you should definitely consider before blogging publicly. Pay attention to what brings people to your blog. I now have a private blog for family only to share pictures of my kiddos.
8. Measure Your Success in a way that is appropriate for you. Don’t compare yourself to others. Maybe that blogger that has 400K views a day and makes money blogging spends 80 hours a week running her blog. If you want to do that, then great! That takes a lot of commitment. But, if you aren’t willing to do that kind of work, then maybe you shouldn’t use that blogger as an example. Find a way to measure your own success that fits you.
9. Ask Other Bloggers for Help. I have realized that asking another blogger what they are doing or how they are doing it is such a good resource. They are usually ALWAYS willing to share their tips.
10. Find your voice and keep it. Last, the thing that will make people come back is because they love your writing voice. Find it, and don’t lose it. Stay true to who you are.
I’m no expert, and I don’t have a million followers, but it doesn’t matter. Because, I’m happy in my blogging skin, no matter what happens.