a) I wasn’t in the right mindset.
b) I lacked vision.
Apparently, most blogs created fold within 6 months of being opened. I suppose I supported that theory. If you are serious about blogging, you will need to have a serious mindset. You need to treat it like a business. A business without dedicated leadership and vision would easily and quickly fold on itself right? The same is true for blogging. You need that end goal in mind.
Here are ten things I learned during my first two months blogging, which will hopefully save you time and aggravation when you are starting yours.
1. This is supposed to be fun
First and foremost, okay? Keep this one in mind for later.
2. Create a vision
Step one is arguably the hardest step to take when creating a blog. What is your vision for your blog? I had an idea of what I thought I wanted my blog to be going into it, but it probably would have benefitted from more thought and additional planning at the start (we will get there in step 3).
What will you call your blog? This question alone is enough to stall a lot of writers from ever bringing their dream to fruition. Whatever you decide, your title should be representative of you and your vision, and also by catchy and descriptive. This is no easy feat. I suggest taking some quiet, alone time and meditate on it. Try to envision your blog if it were in existence already. What are the colors? The layout? What is its purpose?
If nothing is coming to you when you are looking outward, then try turning the vision inward. Who are you as a person and what do you want to share with the world? What is it about your journey that has brought you to this moment of wanting to put yourself out to the world in blog-form? Try to incorporate that vision and words to describe that vision in your title. Even if the title isn’t totally clear on what your blog is, that’s okay, that’s what the “about” page is for.
3. Geography, people.
Would you start driving somewhere foreign without a map? Probably not. Same goes for a blog. Sit yourself down with a pencil and paper and start mapping out your blog. Even better, get a blog planner. Create your own or order one online. Then, write your vision. Who are your readers? What are their backgrounds? How will your content benefit them? How will you deliver this information? Then take those lofty ideas and break it down into concrete areas of writing direction. What will your blog ultimately be about? These ideas will become the basis of your page titles. Keep brainstorming until you have put down on paper everything that was in your head. Cross out the topics that now seem like outliers or ones that you won’t be able to create enough content about. Speaking of…
4. Content is king
When you are thinking about opening a blog, you will first need to prepare some content. When I opened my blog, I had a “blog” page, and “about” page, and “contact” page. The blog page had only a few measly posts up. While I did get some good initial views, I am pretty sure it didn’t hook the readers in long term. Take the time to write substantial and interesting posts, and then take the time to load them onto different, themed pages on your site. The idea here is to show the reader that you have something of value to offer them, while also drawing them in to your site to click around and stay awhile.
5. Be dedicated, consistent, and work hard
Blogging can be fun. When you first start, you are completely overwhelmed with ideas and projects and energy. Harness all of these things! Write them down in your blog planner. Group them into categories according to page titles. Note the planning needed or time of year each idea might require.
Blogging can be hard. Since you are treating your blog like a business, you need to go to work. There will be days where you may just stare a screen and hope for inspiration. There will be other days when you feel overwhelmed, but know you need to get some tweets out. You will have to get yourself over these humps and write on.
6. …but also cut yourself some slack
Sometimes, life will get in the way. Good or bad, we cannot always get to the computer or blogging platform and get a post out. I personally am also working full time, so running a blog is like a second job for me right now. I would seriously stress out when I couldn’t get a post up on time or even blog for a weekend. At one point I got so overwhelmed and anxious that I started feeling like my dream was impossible, and I wanted to give up. I stopped right then and there and told myself, “You are taking the weekend off.” And I did. I recollected myself, and started fresh on Monday. You are only human after all—right??
7. Research, research, research
I had no idea how much I didn’t know about what I didn’t know. There is truly a wealth of information about all tops blogging. It is overwhelming! You will have to sift through a lot of pages and google results once you get started, but you need to put the research in. First, hone in on a few blogs that you really like. Take note of what you like. What is their layout? Colors? Topics? Frequency of posting? Photos? All of these are important things to consider. Second, make sure you do your research on the actual how-tos of blogging and marketing yourself. Know how to use your platform that you select, and how to design a streamlined and un-cluttered page. Unless you are a computer and coding wiz, there is a definite learning curve here. I am in no-way tech savvy, so I had to research. A lot. But if I can do it, you can, too!
8. Get connected
The power of social media. How often do you check Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.? Your reader base will be, too. It is important to not get overwhelmed here, though. I started out with a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and am working on updating them regularly. The blogs I have read also say that Pinterest is a big networking market, too. Not only can you put up your posts, but also connect with readers that like the same things you do-- ie. they will also like your blog! I not only put up the links to my blog posts daily, I also try to incorporate other, relevant media, such as motivation quotes, recipes, or fun photos. It is important to keep yourself at the forefront of your audience’s mind.
From my research, I have also found that it is recommended to get plugged in with other bloggers and blogging communities. Sign up for sites that you may already browse. BlogHer and Bloglovin’ are great ways to see what others are doing, network, and link up posts so that you are more visible. Search Google, Facebook, and Twitter for blogs that are similar to what you are going for. Keep an eye on what they are doing. We are all in this together, and when you share the love, your blog is likely to get some love back.
9. Stay positive
In the last few years, I’ve really learned that stressing and worrying about something doesn’t get you anywhere, and it only makes you feel bad. It is a dark and spiraling circle you don’t want to be in. We all dream about being that one blogger whose blog blows up overnight and is talked about in every social circle. There was a part of me that had hoped that this would be me. Let me tell you, this is far and few between. The successful—and honest—blogs that I have read have had authors who have put in the hours and the work, and it has paid off. Visualize your success, put in the work needed to get there, and you will get there!
10. This is supposed to be fun
Remember that? We have come full circle back around to this bottom line. I still tell myself this phrase, sometimes repeatedly. I started this blog as something fun and because I enjoy writing, researching, and doing. I enjoy running my own show over here. Sometimes I get so caught up in counting the daily page views, I forget the real reasons I started the blog in the first place.
Step back. Deep breath. You can do this, and have fun while doing it.
Need more information? Stay tuned as I create more posts about what I’ve learned, what works, and what doesn’t.