Simple Life, Happy Wife celebrated one year in the first week of January and the year has flown by but it was full of a lot of emotions. I cried, I screamed and I jumped up and down like a kid in a candy store over this blog. The year was full of quite a few lessons as well and I want to share some of the biggest ones with you. Maybe you're thinking about starting a blog or maybe you have one that just doesn't seem to be able to get off the ground - I hope these ten points will help you put things into perspective and focus on what's really important in the first year.
1.) Blogging takes a lot of time. If you come into it thinking you can sit down and in 30 minutes have a witty, well-crafted blog post, you are setting yourself up for failure. There are several factors that go into making a post worth reading and worth sharing. Not only do you need to write great content, but you need to research topics, take and edit photographs, proofread and edit your post and share it on your social media channels to get the word out there. Food bloggers have to create their own recipes, test them, re-create them, test them again and write the recipe out so the rest of us can create an identical dish. DIY bloggers are in the same boat, having to complete a design or craft while photographing the steps. Unless you want to use your blog as a personal journal, plan to put several hours of work into most posts.
2.) Proofread! Once your fantastic blog post is written, go back and read it aloud to check for grammatical errors. Check it for spelling errors. Make sure you're using "there", "they're" and "their" correctly before you post that baby. Nothing can discredit your authority faster than not knowing the basics of writing or taking the time to make sure an article is free of errors.
3.) Make your blog easy to navigate. Something that all of the ultra-popular blogs have in common: their blogs are all pleasing to the eye. There is a sense of organization on the sites. You can easily find what you are looking for. Choose a color palette for your blog. Make sure you have designated areas for things like social media icons, a place to search or look up previous blog posts, and a page where your readers can learn about you and why you started writing your blog. If your site is difficult to use or looks chaotic, people won't spend much time there and that is the last thing you want to happen.
4.) Be authentic. Being authentic in your writing is so important. Readers are coming to your blog to see what YOU have to say! When you try too hard to pretend to be someone you're not, it comes off as being fake and will show in your writing. Instead, be the genuine, sweet you and let your real personality shine through!
5.) Don't expect to make money right off the bat. Blogging is not a scheme to make money quick and while there are a few bloggers out there who found their niche and made it big early in their career, that is not the status quo in the blogosphere. Most advertisers don't want to look at you until you have been blogging for a certain length of time and have a steady following of readers on your blog and/or social media. I would recommend sitting down and thinking about the companies you'd like to work with in the future. Follow them on social media and see what kind of bloggers they back so you know what they look for. Focus on growing your blog and writing great content and not the money to be made.
6.) You can't focus on the numbers. I can remember my first month after the blog went live. I checked my stats every hour and it drove me crazy. I got super excited when one post would get hits and depressed when another one got nothing. Really, it isn't worth it in the infancy of the blog. Check your analytics weekly or even every other week and focus on writing great content and getting your name out there on social media. The numbers will come soon enough.
7.) Don't compare your blog to others. This really is like comparing apples to oranges. While we all have those big, successful blogs we admire and dream about being one day, comparing your blog to those is pointless. Every blogger is in a different walk of life and wants different things out of their writing. Comparing your site to theirs is only going to make you jealous and lose focus on important things.
8.) Ignore the haters. At some point, your blog is going to have someone leave a nasty comment on one of your posts or on social media. This is the result of people having way too much time on their hands and being uninhibited while hiding behind their keyboard. There is always going to be a small percentage of readers who feel it is their responsibility to hurt feelings and criticize something we've written about. You can take precautions and moderate comments on your blog or you can simply ignore the haters and delete the nasty comments while singing "Shake It Off". (What did we do before Taylor Swift?)
9.) Join blogging networks. There are a lot of blogging networks out there. Some geared toward certain locales and some to certain niches. Some are free and some are paid. Find the ones that fit your style and join up. You will find tons of great tips and information as well as meet tons of other inspiring bloggers. Most blogging networks can help connect you to potential sponsors and the connections are invaluable.
10.) Network, network, network. I love building connections with other bloggers and have made some great friends over the last year. I make a point to comment on other blogs and share their content on social media on a regular basis. Networking is a great tool to building your own brand, connecting with potential sponsors and meeting some new friends too!
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