Five Things New Bloggers Should Know
This coming November, this blog will be five years old. I didn’t know what it would become when I started it, but I knew I wanted it to be the driver behind a career shift for me. It has most definitely been that. I was very clueless to the ways of the blogging world five years ago and was figuring everything out as I went. On reflection, had I have known some bloggers at the time, some advice would’ve been useful. So if you’re just starting out blogging or are fairly new to the scene, here are some things I wish I’d known when I started:
It Takes Time
I mean this in a two pronged way. Firstly, the posts do not write themselves and as much as you may enjoy writing, maintaining a blog, especially a blog you would like to get noticed at some point and get to a high level, doing so is time consuming. I worked full time when I started so I’d work 9-5 at my money maker, then come home and work 6-midnight on my blog. You get out of it what you put in.
It also takes time for it to actually get anywhere. No one read my blog for the first two years. Seriously. But I posted five days a week, religiously. That was all good practice. My favourite quote that I live by is from Field of Dreams, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ Those first two years, I was doing a lot of building. People will not just magically find your blog and instantly elevate you to super-blogger status. It. Takes. Time.
You Will Not Be Constantly Inspired
I hear so many people say ‘oh I’ve got tons to say, I should start a blog!’ And they do. And after three posts, the blog sits there, stagnant, with tumbleweeds blowing through it. Maintaining a consistency is part of the key to having a successful blog but constantly creating content is really hard work. Sometimes you just don’t feel creative or inspired at all. What are you going to do on those days. How will you help your blog progress even when you can’t put pen to paper (or finger to keyboard)?
Old Posts Live On
I was a bit of a radical, mouthy so n’ so when I started and really prided myself on my outlandish opinions and being unafraid to voice them. It worked for me as it got me a core readership who appreciated it. But five years on, I’ve mellowed somewhat. While I’m still opinionated and put it out there, I’m much more considered in the way I share them. Sometimes people will come across the old posts and make judgements about me based on that, which is fair enough – I put it out there – but those things are not necessarily representative of me now. It’s just worth considering how you want to craft your online persona and how each post will relate to that.
It’s Not About Freebies
I had no idea when I started that companies would read my blog and send me stuff. I started it because I love writing. I started it because I wanted to connect with people through that writing. I wanted that writing to have an impact in some way. I understand for bloggers starting now, you see bloggers who’ve been around for a while getting all these free things and you want a slice of the action, sure you do, but that can’t be the only reason you get into it. Firstly, no one sent me anything til almost three years in and I found it really shocking when it happened. But at the same time, I had put a lot of work into my blog and had an online reputation as a bit of an influencer, I had an audience, people were listening to me. You can’t just pop up, do two posts and say ‘where’s my stuff?!’ How does it benefit the brand to give you things? But mainly, just please be into it for more than the love of free stuff.
You Are the Writer, Editor and PR Person
Unless you have a big team behind you, you will be playing every role. It is a hustle. The self-promotion part is probably the bit people are most uncomfortable with but if you aren’t going to tell people about your own project, exactly who do you expect to do it? I had no problem promoting my blog from the start – I was managing an accessories boutique in Canada at the time and I used to put my business card with my blog address in every bag, I’d tell every customer who’d listen. It may seem silly, but five years on, some of those customers are still regular readers. What you need to know though, is that bit never stops. You can’t take your foot off the gas and hope the thing will promote itself. It won’t. It’s all you, all the time. So unless you can commit to being OK with shouting about yourself a little, this is probably the wrong game for you.
What about you? Experienced bloggers, what would you add? Newbie bloggers, what are you finding hardest at the moment? Are there any other tips you’d find useful?