When I first started my blog, I had a certain image in my mind. The short version is that if I started writing, viewers would come. That I would hit submit on my most recent posts, and it would magically be found in the world that is Google. The reality of building a successful blog isn’t quite that simple. In fact, it isn’t simple at all. Here are some of the things I have learned through blogging along the way, and am still learning as I go.
You have to research…a lot
I had no idea how much research would be involved in blogging. From SEO to Affiliate Links to how to build traffic, there is so much to learn out there. And don’t even get me started on stylizing the blog itself. It was a huge surprise when I purchased a theme I liked, only to find out that what I started with was a shell of that themes preview. The rest had to be styled with code and other technical stuff that I don’t have a clue about. I luckily have somebody in my life who can help with the super complicated things.
I have a list of things I would like to have done to style and personalize my blog. It will take time to check every item off that list, and when one item gets checked off two more get added. This causes even more research on how to implement these items into reality.
Seriously, sometimes it feels like the research never ends.
Writer’s block will happen
Having a blog doesn’t mean that you will always have an endless list of things to write about. You’re not always going to post five times per week. Sometimes, it might only be once. It took me a while to realize this, and at first, I felt guilty. Somehow, I felt like I was a failure because my mind was blank on what my next post would be about. Even with a schedule, topic ideas just might not come. It’s okay.
The best idea to avoid this as much as possible, though, is to write ideas down as they come. If you think of something to write about, don’t believe the lie that you’ll remember it for later. It’s a trap! I’ve lost many great ideas because I didn’t write them down the second I thought of them.
Even if you do have a list, sometimes you won’t feel inspired to write about what’s on your list at that exact moment. It won’t feel like the right time. Or, you won’t know how to start. I have a list going where I have a topic without a clue on how to start a post. A week later, ideas start coming and my latest post is born.
While I struggle with this one, I have heard that writing in advance really helps. Having a week or two of posts ready to schedule out can make it so you can work through writer’s block without it affecting getting content out there.
Taking breaks is okay
Just don’t let those breaks turn into months of crickets. I have done this a few times, and I realize my blog could be so much farther along had I just stayed consistent. I’m literally kicking myself knowing that I could possibly be blogging full time right now had I not let my breaks go too long. However, if you start to feel overwhelmed, stressed, or like you just need a breather for a few weeks, don’t feel guilty stepping away. Take the time you need, but have an end date in mind for getting back to it and stick to it. Otherwise, a couple of weeks can turn into months and months of lost progress and loss of followers.
Investing in your blog is almost unavoidable
When I first started my blog, I tried to do everything for free. In my mind, if I put the content out there, people would find it, keep coming back, and I would make a full-time income off of page views. Page views are not guaranteed and in order to truly start seeing success, you almost have to invest something into your blog if you are serious about turning it into a business and/or doing it full time.
My first investment was purchasing a more professional looking theme. The one I was using was very basic without the ability to customize. I realized without a blog that looked professional, it was unlikely it would ever be anything more than a hobby.
My second investment was a course and a book on how to build my blog and turn in into something that I eventually can do full time. There are more courses that I would like to purchase, however, I am going to use what I have learned so far and see where I can go with it.
Promote, promote, promote
In order to grow a following and get your blog out there, you have got to promote. The majority of traffic comes from promoting and others sharing to promote what you have written. Without promotion, my page views would be in the single digits. While I am learning SEO and the power of the right keywords, not much of my traffic is through Organic Searches. It will get there, but social media and promoting my posts has been what’s been generating my traffic.
Every time I post something new, I Tweet about it on Twitter, make a Pinterest image and Pin it, and put it out in some of my Facebook groups that I have joined that are relevant.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for shares. People may love your post, but without a little nudge, many will simply move on after reading it. Asking for a simple share at the end of your post can be the difference between 20 viewers and 2,000 viewers.
Your blog will evolve along with you
When Unveiled Tales first started out, it was meant to be a blog reviewing books I have read. Life got crazy, and I was only reading one book per month. So it turned into life posts and recipes with the occasional book review. While I love to bake, doing a post on my latest desserts three times a week was unlikely while working a full-time job. Plus, I wanted my blog to be more.
Now, I aim to do one recipe post per week, one lifestyle post per week, and one other post depending on what is happening in life at that particular moment. Sometimes…okay, most times…I only get out two posts per week. It is a variation of the three post types above, but I aim to never post less than twice per week.
Once my husband and I have children, I am sure my blog will evolve yet again to add in parenting-style posts to the mix.
My point is that depending on where you are in life, your blog will evolve with you. It may not be the same as it was as when you first started. Or it might be. Wherever it leads, make sure it feels right for you. Once you start losing passion for what you are writing about, it will start feeling like a chore rather than what you once loved. So make sure that you let your blog move along life with you, whatever that may be and whatever direction it may lead.
Success is not overnight for the majority of us
You hear those success stories of how bloggers were able to quit a full-time job in 6 months and blog full time making more than they have ever made before. You get visions of that being you, and then 6 months in feel discouraged when it isn’t. It’s hard not to compare ourselves to the success stories out there. For the majority of us, we won’t be making $15,000 a month less than a year in.
Heck, I am hardly making enough to buy a cup of cheap coffee every month.
But, I am starting to branch out into affiliate posts on products that I use and love. One day, I will be able to concentrate on my blog full time. Not right now, not next month. Heck, probably not even this time next year. With hard work and persistence, the page views will get there. The following will get there. The success will get there. If it is worth it to you and you don’t give up, you will get there too.
Always be yourself
One important thing I have learned and live by is to not lose yourself through your writing. Don’t write what you think others want you to say or state an opinion that is not your own because you fear it will be unpopular. Always be honest in what you write.
You might write a post that is even uncomfortable at times. You know what? That makes you real. People can relate to that and it may be what makes your readers connect with you. You never know who you might help through putting yourself and your experiences out there.