A little over a year ago, I wrote a post called Things Blogging Has Taught Me. I re-read it the other day…and guess what? It’s still true. All of it. But it’s been another 14 months, and guess what? I’m still learning! So I thought I’d share a little bit more with you today.
First, let’s quickly recap the lessons from Part 1:
- Blogging is hard. But I make time and put in the effort because I love it.
- You could easily drown in the sea of social media if you let yourself. So I choose a few of my favorite social media outlets and focus on those.
- You will get jealous of other bloggers. But that doesn’t mean what you’re doing isn’t awesome. In fact, someone out there might just be jealous of you.
- You don’t have to do everything other bloggers are doing or like all the foods everyone else seems to like. And there’s no reason to pretend you do.
- No one can make you feel inferior unless you let them. Stop comparing yourself to others!
- You don’t have to blog multiple times per day, or even every day, to be successful. Just be consistent.
- Numbers don’t have to matter. I blog because I want to and it doesn’t matter if one person or one million people read each post.
- The blogging community is the most inspirational and motivational community I’ve ever been a part of. It can change your life for the better.
- You can make good friends through blogging. Some of my closest friends are ones I’ve never met!
- After all your hard work, you will have something you can call your own…and something you can, and should, be proud of.
To read more details about the lessons above, click here.
Ok, so moving on to Part 2. What else has blogging taught me over the past year?
It’s ok to be excited about giveaways, but don’t do them all the time. Giveaways are fun. People like getting free stuff. But please don’t turn your blog into the giveaway of the week club, or they lose their excitement! Be selective and choose giveaways you think your readers will enjoy most.
Think really hard about how many sponsored posts you’re going to write. I know a lot of people will disagree with me on this one, but to me there’s nothing more annoying than when one of my favorite blogs turns into nothing but a place for sponsored post after sponsored post. Sponsored posts are a way for bloggers to make money. And especially in the beginning, it’s really hard to turn down offers to write a quick post and make a little (or a lot) of money. I’m not saying you should never write them. I occasionally write them. But I turn down WAY more than I accept. And it’s hard. But I know how annoying I find it…and I don’t want to do that to my readers. It’s a personal choice every blogger has to make, but in my opinion, if you do choose to write one, you should THINK about what you’re promoting. Don’t just jump on something for the money. Ask yourself whether it fits into the message you’re trying to promote with your blog, whether it represents you well as a person, whether you’ll still be proud you wrote about it if you look back a year later.
On that note:
- Be honest with your readers. If you’re writing a sponsored post, tell them. Don’t try to hide it. If you get something for free, tell them. Get familiar with the FTC disclosure guidelines for bloggers and follow them.
Make a media kit. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I’ve seen some amazing ones that were made using powerpoint. Just put something together that shows your reach. How many pageviews you get per month, how many followers you have on the various social media sites, what kind of services you provide, etc so that when a company requests it, all you have to do is update to your latest numbers and send! Install google analytics to help track pageviews, unique views etc. On that same note, though, don’t spend hours obsessing over the numbers. See part 1 of this post for more on that.
Be mindful of the comparison trap and don’t let yourself fall into it. One of my favorite quotes, as it relates to blogging, is “Don’t compare your behind the scenes to someone else’s highlight reel.” Remember that even though it may seem like your favorite bloggers live a perfect life, have it all together, eat perfectly and have endless amounts of energy, it’s just not true. What you see on most (not all) blogs is the best of the best. The best recipes, the best workouts, the best days. You don’t always see the mistakes, the failed recipes, the stressful days, the sleepless nights and the anxiety that makes those bloggers normal people, just like you. So don’t ever let someone else make you feel like your best isn’t good enough, or that you’re doing things the wrong way. Live YOUR life the way YOU want to. Do the things that make YOU happy. Be the best YOU.
It’s not all about you. Spread the love. One of my favorite parts about reading blogs is that they introduce me to even more blogs! If you read a good post, share it! Tweet it, share it on facebook, email it to a friend. There are way too many blogs out there for one person to read them all. But by sharing posts you enjoy, you’re helping other people find the good posts and you’re giving pageviews to the blogger who wrote the good post. Win-win! The most boring people to follow on Twitter are the ones who do nothing but tweet links to their own posts 87 times a day. There are tools out there (like Buffer and Hootsuite) that can help you schedule tweets filled with posts/news articles/ etc that you’ve enjoyed if you can’t be on twitter all day.
On that note:
- Interact with your readers/followers/fans: Twitter and FB get boring really fast if all you do is tweet post after post (whether they are yours or other peoples). Take some time each day/week to interact with people. Have a conversation on twitter, post a question on your FB page, respond to the comments people leave on your blog, give someone some motivation or encouragement on instagram. You get the idea.
- Make it easy for people to share your posts: Please, please, please do this! There are widgets and plugin’s galore that you can set up to make it SO easy for someone to share your post. Do it, and it’s 1,000 times more likely that someone will share your post. If they have to hunt for your twitter handle, they’ll most likely consider it too much work and won’t share, even if they really like the post. Set it up so all they have to do is click a button and the title of the post, plus your twitter handle, will populate on its own…and all they have to do is customize the tweet if they want to. Use a Pinterest widget to make it easy for people to pin the images in your posts as well!
- Thank the people that spread the love for you: If someone shares your post/RTs it/posts it to FB and tags you, say thank you! If someone links to one of your posts or recipes in one of their posts, go read their post and thank them! I realize that for some bloggers that this happens to hundreds of times a day, that it’s not feasible to thank everyone…but do the best you can. People appreciate it when you notice that they’re helping you out by sharing.
Finally, and probably the most important lessons I’ve learned this year:
Find a blogging mentor. There are so many bloggers out there, that you can almost always find one that’s been doing it longer than you, one that does it better than you, one who knows more than you. Find them. Connect with them. Ask them questions!!! Find someone who will give you honest answers to your questions, because believe me you’ll have them. And you’ll have questions about things that are considered almost “taboo” to talk about in the blog world, like how much to charge for articles and ads, how many pageviews you’re getting, etc. Find someone you trust that you can ask these questions. Their advice will be invaluable.
DO NOT undervalue yourself! I’m still struggling with this one myself…but it’s so, so important. You have to think highly enough of yourself to realize that your time is important. If a company is asking you to promote their product, you should be getting something out of it as well. It shouldn’t just be free advertising for them. The type/amount of value is something you’ll have to decide for yourself. Sometimes I do promote things for free, if it’s a company I truly believe in and support. Sometimes I consider free product to be worth enough for me to dedicate my time. Other times, monetary compensation is necessary for the amount of time and effort I will need to put into a post/social media campaign to give the company what they’re asking for. Do your research, set your rates, and don’t let anyone tell you that your time isn’t valuable or isn’t worth something!
Let’s chat! If you’re a blogger, what’s a lesson you’ve learned lately?