Five Things I've Learned About Blogging
I hear the words: 'I think I might start a blog' all the time. And mostly, people qualify it with: 'But I'd never keep it up' or something equally as self deprecating. But here's a little truth for you all: if you wanna start a blog, you can start a blog. It's easy. Keeping it up consistently and growing it to be a 'success' could be a little trickier. But just starting one, and writing posts? EASY.
When I started, I knew nothing. Right now I don't know too much more, but I have a pretty good intuition for what I should be listening to and what I shouldn't. I know what, and how, I like to write. Yeah, I know a few technical things and have a solid understanding of why SEO is important....sort of.....but mostly, I know where I am and where I want to be.
I wanted to write this post because over the past three/four years, I've learned a few things about blogging. And about journalism, writing and whether there's a difference between the two. I've made oh-so many mistakes, and I'm still making them but I feel like I've got to a place where I know what I want out of this blog in an abstract sense at least.
You don't have to be a full time blogger
I read a post recently by Leah at The Sweetest Way about how she doesn't want to travel the world for a living, and it struck a chord. Because I don't want that either. Being a 'travel blogger' is not my ideal life, although I thought it would be when I first started. I don't want to be beholden to travel brands or tourist boards, and have to bash out 1500 words at their behest just so I can enjoy a four day trip with people I don't know very well and may or may not want to travel with. If that sounds ungrateful, I don't mean it to be. I just like my freedom.
I want to be location independent. And by and large, I am. That's not to say that I want to up sticks and move to Chiang Mai, or that I want to desert my London home base. It just means that I like working from home, or a cafe when I want to. And I like the fact I don't have to check with Jean and Sarah that they aren't both off that week in September before getting holiday signed off as if I am a child asking for a sick note from my mum.
Office life looks different to everyone
I find office life infantilising, which I've spoken about before. Loads of people don't find this, and I know I am in the minority but still -- that's how I feel. I don't have an issue with authority either, I just value my time and don't believe that I need to have my bum on a seat for a set amount of hours to prove my worth. Also, I think in this day and age we really don't need to be stuck in a nine to five role unless we want to.
That being said, I like a little routine and I enjoy working in a traditional 'office' setup -- a desk and computer as opposed to a laptop in the park -- and relish sitting down to work at 8am and stopping for a lunchtime walk with my dog.
There are no rules
The biggest lesson I've learned is that there are no rules. There are a LOT of people out there who want to tell you how they did it, and what you SHOULD be doing and why you SHOULDN'T do XYZ and why you simply MUST buy that course. By and large, they want you to buy that course because they get a chunky affiliate commission for it, not because that's how they got to where they are. Trust me on that.
But there are also people out there who will help you, and absolutely can transform your blog and set you on the right path. Those people offer bespoke advice, one on one help and don't operate from a patronising place. Melyssa Griffin is amazing, as is Jen Carrington and Sara Tasker will transform your Instagram. They also offer stacks of free advice on their respective blogs.
Content is KING
This is something you will be told over and over again. But it's amazing how often I see people at the start of their blogging journey worrying about the finite details of SEO, site design or how often they are posting on social media. I was one too, so no judgement!
It honestly doesn't matter how slick your site looks, or how epic your social media strategy is if your content is crap. Work on your writing, write often and write about whatever your want. Because honestly, all the other stuff will come with time.
I'm not suggesting you do nothing but write for the next four years and ignore everything else. But I do think that SEO happens a little more naturally when your writing is already strong, as opposed to writing 500 words of crap and shoving a keyword and solid meta title in.
I'm no expert, but I promise that if your content is strong, you'll attract the RIGHT reader who'll stay with your blog and engage. Caroline Hirons blog is a great example of this -- her site design is clunky, and her pictures are crap. But her content is AMAZING and it's so useful and relevant she attracts hundreds of thousands of loyal readers. Just look at her comments.
It's not a numbers game
This one will probably have you the most frustrated. But don't focus on your traffic or any numbers until you are happy that you are writing authentically and in a bit of a 'groove.'
The reason I say this, is because it's super easy to start tracking your numbers (often incorrectly) and become obsessed with them. I had about 50 people reading my blog for a year or so.......and then I stopped caring, stopped looking and making changes based on the numbers and started writing what I wanted to write. I started following my intuition and took down all ads and affiliate crap. And then I looked again about 6 months later and my traffic had TRIPLED. Not from 50 to 150, I had a few more readers than that ;)
And suddenly I started being contacted daily, and people started noticing me and I became an overnight success. JOKES! No honestly, I did start to get noticed and I'm now very happy with my small-medium sized blog. I don't NEED to grow my numbers to hundreds of thousands, because my income isn't traffic dependent. But if I want to go on a press trip, or approach a tourist board when I travel -- my numbers are good enough to support that.
Bear in mind that it's no longer just about having a domain authority of X or X unique monthly views. You need to remember that engagement is key too. Different brands will expect different things depending on what their end goals are, so don't second guess and don't try to fake your way to meaningless numbers. Essentially the only thing you are doing when you chase this is feeding your ego. Which is never helpful!
Although, I do get a kick out of sending my newsletter to 3,000 people instead of three........;)
If you're already subscribed to my monthly newsletter then you'll know I've decided to start a coaching business.
I've mentored and coached a few bloggers on an informal basis, and have loved it (I think they did too....but I'm gonna speak for them and say they did!) so it feels like a natural progression to turn it into a facet of my business.
Who is it for
If you are a new blogger, or perhaps haven't even started your blog just yet this is for you. I can help you set up your blog on a practical level, and guide you through the technical aspects of the blogosphere.
There are so many courses out there offering to take you from zero to successful blogger, but they are 100% prescriptive and offer precious little in the way of bespoke advice. I will help you with whatever you need, whether it's picking a name, theme and hosting provider.....or a content or social media strategy.
What you can expect
I can offer a face to face catch up if you're London based, so we can natter over a cuppa and some cake or a simple Skype session. You WILL get a personal plan suited to whatever you want to achieve and unlimited email advice too.
I'm hoping to launch this next month, but it will initially be for subscribers only, so pop your email address in the form below if you are keen.
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