The end of February marked my forth month blogging. Blogging isn’t what I thought – I’d love to share what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging.
When I started blogging, I wanted lots of things. First, I wanted a side income doing one of the things I love most – writing. I worked as a writer in my teenage years and in my twenties. I even had a magazine at one point. But I was compelled to start a mom blog. I wanted to offer the help and support I needed when I first became a mom. I wanted to share my talents and knowledge (knowledge is useless if it just stays with you). Lastly, I wanted to generate a side income. But blogging has been a bit of a “culture shock” and I want to share with you what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging.
It’s Hard To Gain a Following
Ugh. This is the most shocking thing to me yet. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be hard to get strangers to read my blog. But one thing I’ve been surprised to learn is that even your family and closest friends don’t email subscribe and follow you. (Enter shocked emoji here). I’m not sure exactly what I expected. I think I thought people I was close to would automatically support and follow the blog. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, about 97% of my email subscribers are strangers. I guess my point is that as a blogger, you work to win friends and family over too.
I’m not a fast writer. I take my time planning an editorial schedule and to create quality posts. But I have found the 80/20 rule is absolutely true. You spend 80% of your time promoting your post and 20% of your time writing it. You have to promote it constantly on all social media platforms. It doesn’t matter how good or helpful your content is – it’s really, really hard to gain a following. It can feel like you’re begging to get likes, comments, and shares. Can I say it? This is much harder than I thought.
Building Your Brand Is Important
When I first started my blog, I had absolutely no direction. It was a hodgepodge of fonts I liked and things I thought were cute. But I have found that to get a following, you really need to hone in on your blog’s voice. People begin to recognize your “look and feel.” What I didn’t realize, is that it needs to carry over on all your social media accounts. This means using the same font, the same layouts and even the same colors. It reminds people who you are. For example, since building my brand on Instagram, my followers have jumped from 850 to around 1200 in just a month.
The same goes for consistently posting blog posts. I have found that keeping to the same day and time for posts is very helpful for those who do follow the blog.
High Quality Photos Are A Must
Cell phones have pretty decent cameras these days, but it just doesn’t compare to shooting in RAW with a DSLR. I used to do photography as a side hustle about 10 years ago. But since becoming a mom, I think I’ve maybe only picked it up once. At first, I used my cell phone and just snapped a few photos. Who cares about the background, right? Wrong!
I’ve learned that your blog has to be aesthetically pleasing. Fact: people like pretty things! If it ain’t pretty, no one wants to look at it! I found myself having to invest in some backdrops, presets, props, and extra lighting equipment. I had to learn to master the flat lay. But I can also tell you it has directly affected my following. It does make a difference. If you don’t believe me, take a look at these two photos. The first one is from my very first month of blogging. The second one is from this month. What a difference 4 months makes.
See what I mean? I’ve come a long way. I’m excited to see how I will grow in the next 4 months.
This Is A Business
Blogs cost money. It’s hard to gain a following on a domain that reads http://www.wordpress.com/abeautifulmess. People don’t remember it. You have to invest in a domain, hosting, etc. And like I mentioned before, for good photos you need props, presets / editing software, backdrops, reflectors, tripods, and more. You need to find ways to help offset the costs of your blog. This means selling things like printables, e-courses, and other things.
Additionally, it means putting ads and affiliate links on your site. Furthermore, if you think it’s hard to gain a following, it’s even harder to get people to buy things! Did I mention how much time you invest in it? I have learned to be successful, you absolutely need to treat it like a business. It means dedication and investing your heart and soul in it.
There’s A Steep Learning Curve
That being said, you need to learn about the industry. I wish I had done more reading and learning before I launched my blog. There is so much I would do differently. Blogging has a steep learning curve. There are so many things to learn. Photography, wordpress, plug-ins, email campaigns, social media and their algorithms, SEO, blogger communities, and blog industry jargon. Honestly, it is a little more complicated than I realized. Duh, it’s a business. Yeah, I didn’t really know that. What can I say? We learn and sometimes the hard way.
You Have To Keep Your Dream Alive
I can’t tell you how many times I have already thought about quitting. It sounds silly, but the very first thing I mentioned was about how difficult it is to grow a following. Can I be honest? It’s depressing when no one is reading your blog. Or maybe more precisely, you don’t know if anyone is reading it. Again, it doesn’t matter how great your content is, if no one is reading it, it’s pointless. There are times when I’m ready to throw in the towel and then someone will say how much they enjoy reading My Beautiful Mess. In my mind I’m like, “subscribe then!” But I’d never say that! I have such a hard time asking for support.
I have followed Rachel Hollis for a long time. She is a well known blogger. Most people know her from her hit book, Girl, Wash Your Face. The sixth chapter in her book is entitled, No Is the Final Answer. Within the pages, she describes how many times she was rejected. She credits the secret of her success as refusing to accept the word “no.” I honestly don’t know if I have her will. I have a hard time bouncing back from disappointment. When you’re a blogger, there is no one motivating you to keep going. You have to remember your “why.” And as Rachel reminds us, you have to believe that no isn’t the final answer. Nobody gets to tell you how big your dreams can be, so go ahead…dream big!
This is what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what your dreams are and what you’ve learned on your journey.