One year ago today, I hit publish on this website’s very first post. It has been a very nice and insightful year and I can’t wait to see what year two has in store. Despite how much I already knew, I still learned A LOT in my first year of blogging.
Going in, because of the work I do, I already had a lot of experience with blogging, running a website, and all things technical, but there were some things I’ve learned in the past year that I did not expect.
Whether you are in your 1st year, your 3rd year, or your 8th year, I hope you can take something away from my experience.
5 Things I’ve Learned In My First Year of Blogging
1. If you build it, they will NOT come
Getting people on your website is hard work. If you simply build a website, write posts, and take pretty pictures, people will not magically show up. There’s a lot of time that needs to be spent promoting…Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…so many places to promote….
This is one thing I didn’t have a firm grasp on when I started, just how time consuming it actually is. Then, along with promotion, there is SEO to work on to help Google bring people to your site. It’s a never-ending task and one that I had not wrapped my head around until I was actually in the trenches.
Takeaway for you: Spend time daily on the social platforms you do best at each day. I’m still working on this, so it’s a takeaway for me too. Also, set up all of your social media accounts right from the start. I had all of mine started except Facebook and looking back, I wish I had started it right at the beginning (click here to join my Facebook page…shameless plug!)
2. Blogging takes time…a lot of time…
…for me, anyways. The type of posts I do require photography, photo editing, nice images, and so on. There’s a little perfectionism at play here, but the amount of time it takes me to produce a post is well…very long (fellow bloggers, tell me I’m not alone on this one!). Then there is work, kids, and other commitments that can sometimes put the blog on the back burner. But that is OK!
Takeaway for you: Carve out a little time each day to work on your blog, even if all you can do is 15 minutes. If it’s just a small amount of time you have, spend that time scheduling some tweets, pinning, or fixing up your sidebar. And don’t forget to share your fellow bloggers’ posts too! It all adds up over time and you’ll feel good that you at least did something. And try not to feel any guilt when you can’t fit any blog stuff in on certain days.
3. A blog is a constant work in progress
How your blog looks on day 1 may not be what it looks like 3 months in or a year in. You will learn as you go. Take for example the images in my blog posts. When I first started, I was only taking horizontal pictures (compare my Crumbly Coconut Fudge Recipe to my Pumpkin Spice Waffles Recipe to see what I’m talking about). After some experimenting, I realized that vertical images look better on my blog and is ideal for recipes. So I changed it. Going back and re-shooting the images for those few early posts is on my to-do list, but that is the great thing about having your own blog. It’s YOURS, you control the look, the feel, the tone, and how you want to present it to the world. Every day I think of something I want to update or add, or remove and I love that. (OK, not always when it’s a big technical task, but you get what I’m saying, right?)
Takeaway for you: Make your blog look how YOU want it to look. Try something out and if it doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to change it. Don’t compare yourself to others and don’t make your site look the same as every other blog. Blogs are a dime a dozen these days, so get happy with yours, and do what YOU want to do with your blog.
4. I sat on the fence too long
My very first post spoke a little about how I had been wanting to start this blog many years ago but I waited…and waited…and ended up going down a different path. I wish I had started sooner because I really enjoy this little space I’ve created. Once you do it, I know you’ll feel the same.
Takeaway for you: If you aren’t sure about starting a blog, JUST DO IT. No reason to wait. You may come to regret the time you spent on the fence.
5. Your readers are gold, treat them that way
You spent a lot of time on step #1 and now people are coming to your site, and reading, and commenting…what you do now is very important.
Those page views you’ve been working on improving? Those numbers you feel happy about when they go up? Those social media numbers you have been working so hard on? There is a person behind every single digit. Someone clicked over to your site from their Google search, or a Facebook post, or a Pinterest pin. They read your post, they commented on it. Here’s a recent comment I received on my Lentil Sweet Potato Chili recipe:
“This is seriously an amazing recipe, thank you so much for sharing! I added more chili powder (that’s just my preference), but this recipe is seriously perfect!”
Amazing, right? Each time I receive a comment like this, I am in disbelief. Someone made my recipe for their family. Someone LOVED my recipe. Now why would I not respond to a comment like that? I’ll never be too busy to respond to a kind comment.
Have you ever commented on a post and all you got were *crickets*? It won’t make you want to comment on that blog again if the blogger doesn’t engage with you, right? If you engage with your readers, you create an inviting space where they will want to return again and again…and again. This is a great thing.
Takeaway for you: It’s simple. Just reply to your comments. Someone took time out of their day to visit your site, read your words, and spent some of their own precious time to type out a comment…to YOU. Unless you are a blogger who receives an unmanageable amount of comments a day, there is no reason why you can’t respond. And this also applies to social media. If someone takes a minute out of their day to tell you they liked your post, or to congratulate you on an achievement, or even to share one of your posts with their followers, take a few seconds to respond or thank them! Don’t ignore, not cool. Treat your readers like they are gold. Because they are. Without them, you would have no numbers.
These are just a few of the things I’ve learned in my first year of blogging and I’m sure there will be more lessons learned in years 2, 3, 4, 5…I can’t wait.
What did you learn in your first year of blogging? What is the one thing you would want to share most with someone just starting out? Are you on the fence about starting your own blog?