My very first blog post and tutorial happened here one year ago. It was a set of Easter finger puppets – a bunny, chick and lamb. Looking back my photography was embarrassing but one day I just decided that it was what I wanted to do and I did it.
While I’m hardly an expert in blogging, I have learned quite a few things in my year. I’ve seen other bloggers share their helpful advice and it tends to be more technical about social networking and whatnot, which is cool, but today I’m getting kind of emotional. After all, blogging is full of ups and downs that can bring you a lot of happiness or sadness. Here is what I have learned in one year of blogging:
1. Just because you love it, doesn’t mean it will get a fantastic reaction.
In all honesty some of the posts that have done the best here are ones that I just sort of threw together. Or maybe it was something I made out of total necessity and decided to go ahead and document the process for a post. Sometimes it upsets me that the projects I am most excited about (and maybe even work the hardest on) often go overlooked, but it is what it is. Put what you have out there, hope for the best but don’t take it personally if it doesn’t take off.
2. A lack of comments does not equal a lack of appreciation.
Sometimes I’ll go to a blog and see they have 72 comments on a post and I have to admit that a part of me gets a bit jealous, but the fact is, that 99% of the time when I visit other blogs I don’t leave a comment. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the post or the effort, I just don’t have anything spectacular to say and that’s okay. Be happy with the comments you get, try to interact with your readers who do comment and, again, don’t take it personally if you don’t get hundreds of comments a day.
I saw a sign that said that at the Burlap Bag blog and I thought it was absolutely amazing. But the thing is, it’s true. When you start blogging you’re putting yourself out there for good or ill to anyone with an internet connection. Some people will like you and some people won’t, but if you try to act like somebody else you’re going to run into problems. It is a facade that you’ll have to keep up through your entire blogging career and that seems awfully draining. Some days I’m funny and some days I’m all business and that is reflected in my posts, but it is who I am. I can’t turn on the funny just because it makes my content better and if I tried to it wouldn’t be genuine. Also – don’t feel like you have to fall into the blogging lingo. For example, I read a lot of blogs where they call the readers “lovlies”, “sweeties”, “darlings”, “girlfriends” and that’s cute but it isn’t me so I don’t do it.
4. Give credit where credit is due.
Did you see how I credited the Burlap Bag in #3? It’s a good practice and it’s the right thing to do to cite your sources for ideas and inspiration. If the source isn’t credited, do a little bit of research – most of the time it isn’t hard to find the original source. But if you don’t be sure to include that this was inspired by another and update if you ever find out.
Sometimes I come across a post on another blog that is just like mine. Sometimes they are older and sometimes they are newer. If seeing posts similar to yours, that were published before you, that in itself should teach you to be aware that just because content is similar to yours doesn’t mean it is ripped off.
5. But if your content is ripped off, don’t get upset about it but do what you can to stop it.
There is something so exciting about browsing Pinterest and seeing your content come up naturally! But what if they are your photos but they aren’t linking to your blog? Here’s is my suggestion. Don’t get upset. The first time I saw this I actually cried. I work hard to provide the best DIY projects I can and to see someone taking my photos and copying and putting their name to my work really chaps my hide.
I decided that I didn’t have to take it. From that point on I have begun emailing anyone I see using my content in a way that I feel is wrong. I inform them that I am aware that they are, in essence, stealing my content and that I expect for it to be removed within 24 hours. If they comply, I send an email thanking them. If they don’t I stress that further action will be taken. So far further action has been unnecessary. In my experience so far, these people want the attention for other people’s work but not the hassle.
6. Don’t compare your own success to others.
This is a really, really difficult one. Mostly because you put a lot of work and yourself into a personal blog and in the end, you want to be successful at it. When I see a blog that is younger than mine with far more interaction or more traffic I have to wonder what it is that they’re doing right that I’m doing wrong. There is no reason not to try to learn from their successes and scope out why their blog may be more successful. Do they have more consistent content? Is their blog easier to navigate? Does it look nicer? Take all of these things into consideration, but just like in high school, looking around at some of your peers, consider that maybe you’re just a late bloomer. Keep at it and maybe some day you’ll fill out that blouse and maybe you won’t.
7. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it.
If you’re blogging just for money or just for success there is a good chance that you’re going to be disappointed. Am I making money off of blogging? Yes, I am and I’m quite happy with the increase in income I have experienced but, for now at least, it doesn’t have the power to act as my sole source of income. The thing is, I love crafting so very, very much and I love that the blog gives me a reason to craft regularly. And there is something great about not feeling guilty for buying tub of glitter.
8. It’s a lot more work than you probably realize, but you gotta hang in there.
Not only do you have to write and publish your posts, you also have to get the word out there about them through submission sites and social networking, maintain and regularly improve your blog, set up and take photographs, purchase materials or gather information, brainstorm, keep a calendar of events, all sorts of good stuff.
Today I know the html code for a table like the back of my hand. Do you have any idea how long it took for me to even figure out that I needed an HTML table and then how long it took for me to find a resource and learn how to do it? Things that were difficult at first are now second nature to, you just have to hang in there.
9. Just like in dating, rejection is a part of the process.
Submit your posts and photos to any submission site for your genre but understand that they are going to reject you if your photo isn’t up to snuff. And just because you can’t see the flaws doesn’t mean that they aren’t there. Do your best to correct the problem and resubmit but if it doesn’t work out don’t make yourself sick over it. If you submit to a big site like Dollar Store Crafts, don’t be heading over there multiple times a day after you have submitted to see if they’ve posted it yet. First of all, it takes considerably longer than that, second of all, those sites get tons of submissions so simply applying doesn’t guarantee inclusion. Be happy when it happens and don’t sweat it when it doesn’t.
10. Blogging is cliquish. If you can’t deal with that don’t bother getting into it.
Just like high school, bloggers seem to run in circles and it appears that breaking into their cliques isn’t likely. I’ve run ads on successful blogs, only to find that my ad gets shoved to the bottom and my $50 pays for about 100 clicks that month. That sucks and I think that some bloggers are celebrities in their own minds. But the thing is there are new bloggers getting into this all of the time. If you click, get in touch, offer support. If somebody is too good for you know that in the long run you were probably too good for them. Just don’t go spouting off about how crappy that blogger is or constantly run your Facebook profile with updates about the system. It is what it is. Deal with it and move on because people will get sick of hearing it (even the ones that gave you a “you go girl” at the beginning of the whole mess).
11. You can drive yourself crazy checking your stats.
I’ve gotten 700 hits and it’s only 6am – awesome! Refresh. Wow, I’ve gotten another 100 hits in 20 minutes – way cool! Refresh. What? Only another 10 hits – WTF? Check your stats regularly because you need to know what is working and what isn’t but try not to continually keep up with it because it will. drive. you. insane.
12. It can be harsh, but the quality of your photography matters.
Unless you are trained or are a natural, taking good photographs can be frustrating. Do the best you can and take some time every week to play with your camera settings, lighting, read photography help books or websites. You don’t have to wait until you are a professional photographer to start a blog, but know that the better your photography the better your success. Isn’t that reason enough to work hard at it?
13. Have a few in the can.
I’ve learned that they key to consistent traffic is consistent content. I started my blog in February with one post. In March I only had 4 posts, largely due to having surgery and immediately after being out of town for a family emergency. There is no way I could see these things happening. As a result, my blog just sort of sat there. Later in June my grandfather died and I could only swing 7 posts, including one apologizing for the absence. What I have learned is that it is a good thing to work in advance. Currently I have 3 weeks written and scheduled and ready to go. Anything I work on this week will go into the queue for 4 weeks out. In fact, this post was written in January but set to publish today in February. So if tomorrow I get a call that my Mom is sick, when I immediately leave, just as I should, the blog won’t suffer for it.
If you’re out there considering starting your own blog, please, please don’t think that I’m trying to discourage it. Blogging is one of the best things I have done in my life and it makes me incredibly happy. I went into blogging with unrealistic expectations because I didn’t know better. I kept reading lists from bloggers about starting a blog and most went all Nike on me and said “Just Do It!”. In the end it has been one of the better decisions of my life. Maybe some of my thoughts and advice won’t even apply to you, but take what you will and feel free to leave your thoughts, tips and ideas for bloggers in the comments.
It’s been one year! Thanks so much for sticking with me :)Written by Allison Murray - Visit Website