People often ask what it’s like to be a full-time blogger. They see the pictures and read the posts and I guess it seems easy. Today I’m sharing 8 blogging tips and facts to help you decide whether you should start a blog; scroll down to read on!
When you read articles about the millions some bloggers earn, hear about passive income streams from affiliate links that generate income while you sleep, and huge brand contracts, it sounds amazing. Behind the scenes, however, blogging is a lot of hard work. Here are eight things (and one bonus) people don’t tell you about blogging.
8 Blogging Tips and Facts People Don’t Tell You:
It’s best to learn how to operate your blog yourself, rather than hiring someone else to do it for you. Sharing A Journey went “live” in June 2016, and it was still very much a “work in progress”. After working with a designer for two months in early 2016, I decided I needed to dig in and learn how to operate all aspects of my blog myself, including the dreaded “tech” stuff.
When I hired the designer, I had hoped I’d get a completed blog that I could just post on, but that’s not how it worked out. In retrospect, it was for the best that I learned the technical side of my blog by myself. Several people have contacted me for help after a designer “turned over the keys” and moved on, leaving them without any clue how to do anything except add a post and photo.
When I decided to stop working with the website designer, I had a long list of things that hadn’t been finished. For many months, I tackled my to-do list an item at a time, Googling or watching YouTube videos until I had things on the blog looking and operating the way I wanted them to.
Bottom Line: The tech stuff does get easier, for those of you who are not techies. It’s really important to know how your blog works and remember, there’s always YouTube and Google.
One major misconception about blogging is that you will automatically and magically attract readers. I started Sharing A Journey in 2008, writing “inspirational” posts very sporadically. I had only one follower that whole time. After all, who wants to continue to follow a blog when you can see that the blogger hardly ever posts. It’s like opening a present and finding an empty box. When people see the blog isn’t being updated regularly, they stop coming.
When I dusted off the blog in January 2016 and started posting three times a week, it took months to get regular readers. I found I had to get active on social media, email friends, and even passed out business cards to invite people to read my blog.
I also had to learn how to write posts that are interesting to readers, I learned to create titles and post descriptions that encouraged people to “click” without being “clickbait”.
It is said that 20 percent of your time should be spent creating content, and 80 percent promoting it.
The bottom line: You will need to create the best posts you possibly can, and promote, promote, promote. If you write it, they may come, BUT, you have to beat the drum hard.
In addition to beating the drum and promoting your work, you need to apply the concept of “continuous improvement” to your blog and blog posts. I learned about continuous improvement way back in business school, and while theories come and go, continuously upping your game, improving your posts, and photos, and trying new things is what keeps a blog fresh and alive. And hopefully keeps people coming back.
Here at Sharing A Journey, we are always working to up our game. Each month, we look at how our posts have done, and we review our marketing efforts and our social media results. We evaluate the photos, engagement, and analytics. We sort out what is working and what isn’t.
Bottom Line: Your blog is a living growing thing or it’s not.
Because we are always pushing for improvement and I’m looking to grow as a writer and creator, I am often uncomfortable. I have to reach out and call people I don’t know. I have to pitch ideas and concepts, I have to push hard to get things done sometimes, and negotiate brand collaborations—which I had never done before. There are even legalities to consider. I get out there and confront my fears…daily.
Creating posts and styling photo shoots is fun, but it doesn’t always come easily; sometimes I’m exhausted, and still, have to push through–our best pictures often come after I’ve given up, and try just that one more time.
Bottom Line: Being out of your comfort zone is the new normal.
People blog for many reasons. For some, it’s a form of personal expression, a way to help other people, or a hobby. Some are seeking validation or the limelight and want to be “influencers”. Some use their blogs as a stepping stone to other opportunities or because a brand required them to have a blog. For many of us, it is also a growing business.
It’s important to be very clear why you are blogging and for whom. If you are blogging to get brand deals and big contracts, or if you collaborate with other bloggers, it’s important to know the game and how you fit into it. It’s easy to get lost with all that blogging entails, to lose inspiration, heck I’ve even seen bloggers lose themselves.
Bottom Line: Be clear about why you are blogging, and for whom. Stay on track and don’t get “lost”.
When you are blessed with readers, even if it is only one from the other side of the world, be grateful for that person’s readership. When I was an occasional blogger way back in 2008, my one reader wrote every time I posted. She said I was helping her and always thanked me. I was grateful for her too. When I did get serious about blogging, I figured that if she somehow found me and liked my blog, other people might too. I’ve always felt the sharing between writer and reader is sacred, and am grateful for every one of Sharing A Journey’s readers. If you don’t care about your readers or it’s all about you, they will leave and find people who do care and are interested in them.
Bottom Line: Keep in mind who you are writing for and be grateful for their readership. Each reader is a person who has taken the time to read what you have to say. Their time is a sacred gift that should not be taken for granted.
If I had a dollar for every time someone says that blogging looks easy, I might be able to buy the diamond-encrusted Rolex I have on my vision board. Blogging is a lot of work, ladies. Up until very recently, I’ve worked seven days a week, writing, planning photo shoots, choosing what and where to shoot, learning and implementing new things, AND that eighty percent on social media promoting my work.
Bottom Line: Blogging looks a lot easier than it really is, and takes more time than you think. Writing, editing, getting photos, working with brands, and collaborating with other bloggers all take a huge amount of time, and that doesn’t include that 80% for marketing.
Oh, and about those big brand contacts…When you start out, you will find yourself doing a lot for free or in exchange for merchandise. There are lots and lots of hobby bloggers who are willing to work for free and if your readership and engagement numbers are low, brand relationships start with “gifting”.
Unfortunately, clothes don’t pay the bills…so that’s a thing. Most of the bloggers who are making the big bucks now have been blogging for a minimum of 4 or 5 years, and their content is amazing, they are masters at marketing and they are engaged with their readers.
If you are thinking of blogging, or have one up but aren’t sure whether to keep going and any of the foregoing has put you off, maybe blogging isn’t for you.
I always suggest you write down why you want to blog, who and what you are blogging for, and make a list of 100 post topics you would like to write about—then do a little research to see if anyone is actually interested in those topics. Doing this upfront work will help you see whether blogging is for you or if your ideas are viable. If any of this trips you up, blogging isn’t for you.
Bottom Line: You will know blogging is for you if you go to sleep thinking of new ideas and wake up excited about getting them going whether you are a professional or a hobbyist.
This past year has seen ups and downs both on my blog and in my life, and sometimes it’s been very hard to keep all the plates spinning. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
If you’d like to start a blog, I’ve compiled my favorite resources here to help you get started.
- It’s tempting to sign up for a hosted website, such as Squarespace, Wix, or Blogspot they are super convenient, and it may seem like less hassle. However, if the host goes out of business, at worst, your website goes with it at best you have to change hosts and set things up all over again. I went the “self-hosted” route, choosing WordPress.org and a separate hosting company. WordPress is completely free and has its own community to help with training and troubleshooting.
- I recommend Blue Host for hosting. They are inexpensive, yet really deliver on customer service. Having a great hosting company really helps; there are things that go wrong every so often, and it’s great to know you have good support. Blue Host will walk you through the setup and you will quickly be on your way,
- The first thing people see when they visit your blog is the theme. Having a beautiful theme sets your blog apart from the millions of other blogs out there. It sets the tone for your blog.
- Having a scheduler for social media saves so much time. I use Tailwind to schedule my Pinterest Pins and Instagram posts each week. It’s a huge time saver, and it is super easy to set up and use. I totally love Tailwind.
- Get my Free Blogging Guide! I created this guide to answer all the questions I get about getting started blogging, from figuring out what to blog about to making money blogging.