With my one year blogging anniversary approaching this week, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on all that I’ve learned. I truly knew nothing before I published my first post, and while I am certainly no where near being an expert now, I have learned a lot over the past year. I’ve put together what I feel are the top 10 blogging tips for beginners.
10 Things I Learned My First Year of Blogging
10. Create a Space. I blogged from my couch until about two weeks ago after we got a desktop computer. I’ve found that I am much more productive when I sit at a desk to blog. We don’t have an office, but I positioned the bed in our guest room so that a desk fits comfortably in the room. It’s nothing fancy, but it feels like a work space, and I therefore get to business as soon as I sit down.
9. Attend a Blog Conference. This is the best thing I did for myself as a blogger. I attended Haven Conference after 6 months of blogging because my blog friend told me it would be a good experience. My only intention before the conference was to meet new blog friends. I had NO idea about most of the things discussed at the conference, but I took great notes and came home with a new perspective on blogging. I learned that blogging is what you make of it, and it can be anything you want it to be with a lot of hard work.
*UPDATE* Since writing this post I have read Just a Girl and Her Blog’s eBook, “Building a Framework: This Ultimate Guide for Blogging“, and it was a total game changer. When readers email and ask “how to start a blog” I always recommend Abby’s ebook because my blog (and own well-being) gained so much after it. It’s perfect for someone who wants to start a blog but has absolutely no clue where to begin, yet it’s also great for someone who has started but isn’t sure what to do next (me when I read it). I literally walks you through how to start a blog (TONS of technical advice that I had no clue about) and then goes in full detail on how to grow readers. I’ve wasted so much money on books and guides on “how to grow a successful blog” but hands-down this is the best one I’ve read.
8. Choose Your Name Wisely. I can speak from experience on this one. I’ve had 3 different blog names/urls in under a year. Not exactly ideal. When I decided I wanted to start blogging I felt rushed to pick a name because I wanted to get started! I failed to vision what I wanted my blog to be in five years, and what I picked for my first blog name unfortunately didn’t reflect that. Funny story… my sister in law is also Claire C. Brody. It’s comical at times. My second blog name was “Claire Brody” because I wanted to get as far away as I could from my first blog name, Honey Haven. My sister in law is in the entertainment industry and will eventually need the domain clairebrody to pursue her career. I knew this when creating my second blog name, but again I just wanted a fresh start. After deciding on a business name, Claire Brody Designs, I changed my blog name for the third time to that. Fingers crossed that the third time is a charm. 😉
7. Content is King. Content, content, content. This is something I recently learned and am working to achieve. Your blog content is your portfolio. If you’re not proud of your work, don’t post it. (I could go back and delete so many posts that are cringe-worthy.) Your blog content is what keeps readers coming back, and if you’re not putting out great, original content, they simply won’t return to your site. This should be the first priority when starting a blog.
6. Photography. I’ll be honest, I might have shed some tears over photography. It’s SO hard to master! You can create great blog content, but if you can’t photograph it, no one sees how great it is. Invest in a DSLR camera, take a photography class, learn to shoot in manual and practice like crazy!
5. Network. It will feel weird at first, but create a Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter account specifically for your blog and network like crazy!! Comment, share and like all of your favorite bloggers posts and they will eventually notice you! (Still working on that.) Brands also pay attention to your social media, so keep that in mind if you hope to work with brands one day. Treat your social media accounts like a mini portfolio. Also don’t be afraid to email the bloggers that you look up to and introduce yourself or ask for advice! What can you lose?
4. Prepare. You will most likely not have the time you’d like to commit to blogging. (Isn’t that the case with everything in life?) As you get more and more into your blog, you’ll learn that it becomes quite time consuming. Set aside time each day to commit to blogging. I’m a night person, so I prefer to stay up late writing posts, keeping up with social media, and everything else that goes into blogging. You might have to sacrifice sleep to grow a blog, but if it’s something you’re really passionate about, I think it’s worth it.
3. Don’t Compare. This is easier said than done. I’ve been told by some great bloggers to never compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. I definitely get discouraged when I compare my work to bloggers who have been doing this for years. When this happens, use their work as inspiration for where you hope to be one day.
2. Be Authentic. There are certainly “ways” to build a successful blog, however, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. I’ve learned that it is so crucial to have an authentic voice through blogging, and if you don’t then your readers will see right through it. I’ve gone back to some of my posts and thought, “that doesn’t sound like me.” It happens. Just be you in all that you do.
1. Just Do It. Starting a blog is scary. Thoughts like “what will people think of me?” and “what if my blog isn’t good?” might run though your head. I’m pretty sure that every single “big time” blogger had those same thoughts before they pressed publish for the first time (unless they’re just really awesome). If you have any inkling of wanting to start a blog, do it! It probably won’t be what you expect, but you won’t be sorry.
Now the good stuff! I asked a few of my absolute favorite bloggers what they wished they knew when they started blogging. Here’s how they responded:
“It may feel scary, but just start. There’s no one else in the world that has your perspective, your take on things– only you can offer that! You’ll learn the technical stuff and best practices as you go, so start putting posts out there and have fun with it!” -Abby, Just a Girl and Her Blog
“This is a hard question because so much of the joy that I have experienced along the way came from finally learning or overcoming my trouble spots along the way. There were times early on blogging that I was so frustrated that I almost quit blogging because I had so much to learn about the technical (platform, photography, social media, etc..) side of blogging. Sometimes I felt that there was just too much to learn and almost gave up. But because I just kept at it and tried to learn as much as I could, I was finally able to overcome my frustrations and improve over time. While I would have loved to have known all of this technical stuff ahead of time, the greatest joy for me was the realization that I improved and overcame these things because I worked hard to learn and I never gave up. For me, the best part of my blogging journey has been the journey within myself (personally, technically and creatively), which pours over to the readers and the blog itself.” – Cyndy, The Creativity Exchange
“BECOME A PHOTO NINJA. Invest in a good camera, tripod, and lenses and become A PHOTO NINJA. Also, style the heck out of it. I look at some of my first posts and cringe at the photography! I had no idea that I was going to stick with blogging or that it would become what it has, so I did not think about those things. I wish I would have because even those early projects are archived. Being a photo ninja is key.” – Kristin, Bliss at Home
“When I first started out, I was painfully ignorant as to how much work goes into blogging. You need to have writing, photography and marketing skills on top of your creativity, and it can often feel overwhelming. But happily, the amazing community of bloggers has helped to make it all manageable—not to mention the time of my life!! So, what do I wish I had known way back when? That it’s more than okay to ask for help, and to start building those relationships from the get-go. Creativity is a team sport after all!!” – Carrie, Dream Green DIY
“There is so much I would have done differently, had I known my blog would become so much more to me than just a casual hobby. Mainly I would have immediately bought my blog domain name, and started it on a platform I owned.” – Cassie, Hi Sugarplum!
“Can I cheat and name a few things?! I wish someone told me to just drop the digital point and shoot camera and invest in a good DSLR camera right away. Along those lines, I wish I would have made my pictures larger when I first started blogging. I look back at old posts and cringe! I also wish I knew to post consistently, as this would have helped me grow my blog faster in the beginning. Third, something I still need to be reminded of: blogging and instagram is not real life. Remember to nurture real life friendships and don’t fall prey to the comparison game! It’s the thief of joy. Finally, cliche and cheesy but oh-so-true, I wish I would have known what an amazing community of women I’d meet through this crazy thing called blogging. I never knew how dramatically my life would change because of the friendships and opportunities pressing “publish” on my first blog post would bring.” – Michaela, Michaela Noelle Designs
“I wish I would’ve started on WordPress. There’s a lot more options on that platform and now it feels like such a big job to switch over.” – Megan, Honey We’re Home
“Do what you love and be confident in what you’re doing. There are so many amazing blogs out there you can definitely feel pressured to try and do it all, but if you focus on YOUR strengths and write about what YOU know and love, that will come through to your readers and it will help you find your voice. If you blog for yourself, you will love what you do.” – Tammy, Pink Peppermint Design
I’d love to hear if you’ve had thoughts of starting a blog. I have learned so much in the first year not only about blogging, but about myself as well. The best thing I ever did was press publish.
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