Can you believe that it’s been almost two years since I’ve started this blog?! I sure as hell can’t. It’s the first time that I carry out a project like that without quitting after a few months (
weeks, AHEM). Sure, I’ve had my ups and downs. I’ve taken countless breaks, I’ve thought about quitting more than I care to admit, I’ve wanted to change everything and start all over… but I’ve also moved to self-hosted, 60x my pageviews, and met incredible people through this little hobby of mine.
To celebrate my upcoming blog’s second anniversary, I thought I would share with you 6 lessons I’ve learned in the past two years as a blogger.
It’s not just about the numbers.
When I started blogging, I was obsessed with my stats. (And I still care about them more than I would like to admit…) I would check my analytics several times a day and smile with glee whenever I saw that I had one more visitor. Of course, it’s normal to care about your stats as a blogger. Sadly, in this industry, numbers are an indicator of success. But in the past year, I’ve started realizing that there is more to blogging than numbers. It’s about friends, creating a sense of community, and engagement. I would much rather have less followers but have them comment and like all of my posts than having 30,000 followers who barely engage with my content. And while numbers can indicate success, we shouldn’t let ourselves get fooled by them. How many times have we heard of people who buy their followers? Blogging is about more than numbers. Blogging is about creating a community and creating content that resonates with your audience.
Blogging is a lot of work…
When I first started, I thought that I could simply write anything and that people would naturally come to my blog. HA. If only that was the only things that a blogger has to do… People often don’t realize just how much work blogging is. Yes, writing is part of the job. But you can’t just write anything. (Actually, yes you can. It all depends on what you’re hoping to do with your blog.) You need to write content that resonates with your audience, content that goes with your editorial line (or your blog’s purpose. Call it as you want.) Then there’s the taking pictures part. You have to take pictures, edit them, create graphics for social media… But it doesn’t stop there. You have to promote your posts, be active on social media, interact with your followers and other bloggers, have an email list, create freebies so people will want to sign up to said list (by the way, you can sign up for mine here)… And that’s just the beginning. There is so much work that goes behind the scenes, that people who are not bloggers simply cannot see. Most people don’t take bloggers seriously because “everyone can be a blogger”, but that’s so behind the truth. It needs a lot of hard work and motivation, and yes sometimes it can be frustrating.
…but it’s so worth it.
In the end, I wouldn’t change it for the world. My world went upside down when I started blogging. I met incredible people through this community, people I probably never would have met otherwise. I made friends that understand what I’m going through, that can relate to my frustrations and who I can always rely on to help me with my blogging questions. But blogging has also helped me as a person. It has been a creative outlet, a way to help college students from all over the world cope with the same things I go through. Just knowing that I have people who care enough about what I have to say, that I can help them… there’s no way to describe it. It has helped me build confidence.
Believe it or not, it has also helped me in my professional life. I’m a communications major, and when came the time to find an internship this fall, I put my blog on my resumé. I’m pretty sure that this mention alone is what helped me score 16 interviews out of the 20 internships I applied for (though you could also blame my good grades… 😉 ). And even now, I use the knowledge I’ve learned through blogging in my professional life as a marketing intern on a daily basis. You wouldn’t believe how many times I use my blogging knowledge to do my job!
You shouldn’t be afraid to share your blog.
One of the things I found the hardest as a blogger is sharing it to the people around me in real life. I was so afraid people would judge me, so I kept it mostly to myself. It wasn’t until this summer that I started telling people I care about. Once I started telling people, I couldn’t believe how supportive people were about it! (Andy and Mi, if you’re reading this, shout out to you for being so awesome!) My friends thought it was awesome and now read my blog on a regular basis (or at least I think they do… haha). My sister thought it was pretty cool and that it was a great idea, as I want to work in media/marketing. Some people won’t understand. My mom thought it was pretty stupid when she found out that I was spending money on this (I wanted to move to self-hosted and had to purchase hosting and a domain.). And that’s okay. The only reason why they don’t understand it is because they don’t know how much it matters to you (or how much work goes behind it). Now that my mom knows that my blog is read by thousands of people, that it helped score interviews, she thinks it’s pretty cool. So don’t be afraid to share your blog with the people you care about! If they really care about you, they’ll support you no matter what. And you shouldn’t be ashamed of being a blogger! Be proud of what you have accomplished! Not everyone can be a blogger, contrary to popular opinion.
It’s okay to take a break.
We’ve established now blogging isn’t easy. Sometimes, it can feel like a little too much. With a part-time job and being a full-time college student, blogging can feel a little overwhelming. I’ve learned the hard way that it’s okay to take a break. If you’re feeling uninspired, if you have too much on your plate, it’s okay to take a step back and refill your energy so you can come back stronger than ever. Your readers will understand (they’re human beings too!).
You do you.
With so many blogs out there, it’s easy to fall in with everyone else. You see these big, successful bloggers do something and it works great for them, so of course you want to do it too so it brings you success too. But one thing that I’ve learned is that no one likes a copycat. Give credit where it’s due. Take inspiration, don’t copy. It’s actually okay to stand from the crowd! It’s great, even! I would much rather be the one starting a trend than just be one more person following one. So don’t be afraid to be authentic and use your voice.
You’ll be bombarded with blogging tips from everywhere, and frankly, sometimes it can all get a little confusing. Try things out, but don’t worry if something that worked great for another blogger doesn’t work for you. You do you. Everyone is different, and different strategies will work for different people.
If you care about it, you shouldn’t be afraid to invest in it.
At first, I didn’t want to spend money on my blog. I thought it was just a hobby, so why should I be spending money on it? And yet, I was expecting great success with my free blog. But then I had a conversation with other bloggers, and I realized: just because it’s a hobby doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be spending money on it. If I was practicing a sport, I would have to buy equipment. Well, it was the same principle with blogging. I needed attire to be able to do it properly. And I’ve realized that spending on it only made me a better blogger. Spending money on hosting, my domain, BoardBooster, blogging courses, etc. only helped me gain more knowledge. It helped get me where I am, it helped me become more successful, and let’s be honest, it makes my job a lot easier. So if you care about your blog, don’t be afraid to invest in it. It’s okay to spend money on courses and equipment. That money is never totally lost anyway. You can (and will!) gain from spending money in the long run. I can promise you.
What are the lessons you have learned about blogging so far?