Tuesday, 5 May 2015

L Is For Lessons Blogging Has Taught Me

Day 12 of my A to Z Challenge. L is for Lessons Blogging Has Taught Me.
If you don't know how this works, I've posted the link back to the rules of the challenge at the end of this, along with a link to yesterday's post. If you want to read my full alphabet, just keep following the links. Each day has a link back to yesterday's post.

Since starting my blog back in February I feel like I have learned so much. When I first started my blog, I didn’t plan on it being a long term thing (read more about that here: http://myrandommusings.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/why-i-started-blogging.html) Once I fell in love with blogging, and wanted to keep doing it I knew I had a lot to learn, and fast!  What I’m about to share with you is a list of 10 things I’ve learned since that time (and wish I'd known when I first started out).

1.That Twitter is your new best friend.
Previous to blogging, I’d never really bothered with Twitter (I prefer Facebook to keep in touch with friends). Twitter is brilliant for promoting your blog, because it’s so easy to find like minded people. Where on Facebook, you can’t go around adding random strangers just because they blog (unless you want your account suspending of course), that’s exactly how Twitter works (I will be going into this in a lot more detail on “T” day of the challenge so stay tuned!).

2.That blogging is a social thing.
I always imagined blogging to be sitting alone at your computer writing posts for your blog. I mean it is that, but it’s so much more. At the very least you interact with your readers, replying to comments etc. I have met loads of great new people now that I blog.

3.There is a real community feel to blogging.
Carrying on from the above points, bloggers have their own community on Twitter. I always imagined that bloggers are in competition with each other, so there would be a lot of back biting and bitchiness (I mean you wouldn’t see Asda saying how great Tesco’s latest offer is right?) This so isn’t true. I can’t stress enough how wrong I was on this point. From what I’ve seen so far, bloggers support each other and cross promote each other. They retweet links to each other’s blogs, they comment on each other’s blogs and they interact with each other. I’ve also seen a lot of blog posts from established bloggers giving advice on everything from improving the look of your blog, through to getting more traffic.

4.You have to put yourself out there.
In the first few weeks of blogging seriously, I naively thought that I would write posts, post them and people would read them. In theory, that’s how it works, but there’s a little more to it. Unless you want your blog to only be read by your own friends and family, you have to promote your blog through social media. Take a deep breath and just do it. What’s the worst thing that can happen?

5.That bloggers like interacting with readers and other bloggers. 
Before I started my blog, I did occasionally read other people’s blogs. So many times, I wanted to comment on what I had read and always thought along the lines of “No, it’s cheeky” or “Why would they care about my opinion?” It’s not cheeky, and bloggers do want your opinion. I love getting comments on my blog. The writer/reader relationship is definitely a two way street and its great hearing your reader’s thoughts and opinions on topics you care about.

6.That being a blogger is about more than writing your own blog.
If you write a blog, chances are you want people to read it. So do other bloggers. You can’t expect people to come and read your blog if you aren’t willing to do the same for others. I don’t mean you have to read every blog post you come across, but find some blogs that interest you (see here for some great blogs if you need inspiration on where to look http://myrandommusings.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/k-is-for-killer-blogs.html), read them regularly, and leave comments. Follow the bloggers that interest you on social media.

7.That blogging is time consuming.
If you immerse yourself in the blogging world, it is time consuming. I post at least once a day, but everyone is different, and there are no hard and fast rules on how regular to post. Work with the time you have. Remember though, it’s not just about the time it takes to write a post. There’s also scheduling tweets, answering tweets, replying to comments on your blog, replying to emails, and reading and commenting on other people’s blogs. I feel like I now have a second (unpaid) full time job. But I love blogging, so it doesn’t feel like work, and I wouldn't change it at all!

8.To be confident in my writing.
I’ve also learned a lot about myself through blogging. I think it’s made me more confident as a writer. I used to write something, re-read it and then the doubts crept in, and I would edit it to the point that it was totally ruined. I now write, re-read and only edit typos, or parts that don’t make any sense. I am confident enough to publish posts written in my voice without removing the passion from them by over editing, until they sound like form writing. I know there will still be people out there who don't like my choice of topic, or the way I write, but that's ok. I've made my peace with it.

9.That SEO is important.
Obviously, nothing beats good content. But good content is only half the battle – it’s kind of pointless writing brilliant posts, if no one can find them. Aside from promoting posts on social media, SEO (search engine optimisation) is another brilliant way to direct traffic to your blog posts. I’m no expert on this, but what I have learned is this; you need key words in your title. If someone Googles a topic you are writing about, you want to be found! So for example, if you wrote a post about how cute the new royal baby is, you wouldn’t call it “How Cute Is That Baby?” because it’s unlikely anyone would be searching for that. Call it something along the lines of “The Royal Baby: Britain’s Cutest New Princess”, because reader’s are much more likely to be using Royal Baby or New Princess as their search terms. Also, if you are using images, make sure the alt tag is a real representation of the image. For example, if you use an image of a rose, don’t label it as just a rose, try something like “Valentine’s Day Red Rose” to allow your image to be more searchable.

10.You will never please everyone - and that's ok.
Like real life, you will never please everyone with your blog. People all have different tastes in what they would like to read about and the style it is written in (wouldn’t life be boring if this wasn’t the case). Find your voice and use it. Primarily, you must write for you. Posts about things you are passionate about sound so much more real than if you are writing about things you don’t care about just to generate traffic, and in my opinion, this is more likely to lose you readers than gain them.

What would you add to this list?

Follow me on Twitter @randommusings29 and feel free to comment :)

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  1. I have just read this and gosh it is so useful - thank you! I didn't even think about the SEO thing, Will definitely keep it in mind now when I name my posts. Also I used to do the same thing when I started blogging, like be afraid to write comments incase the writer thought, who are you?? Lol. Now I just comment away! xx

    1. I find since I name posts with SEO in mind I do get a lot more traffic through search engines, so it's worth thinking about. Haha yeah that was so me, but I know I like reading my comments and I think every blogger probably does. Thank you :)

  2. Great points. I am still figuring things out and definitely need to do some. It is so time consuming, though. At the moment I'm doing what I can whilst trying to eek out a little more time elsewhere


    1. It really is time consuming! I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started blogging, but I try not to take it too seriously (to the point where I'm stressing over it), after all it is meant to be fun!

  3. What a fabulous list! Especially the SEO — that's something that I'm still getting to grips with!! Blogging is absolutely addictive, that's for sure! When I began, I had not idea of the community surrounding blogging and the friendships I'd make through my blog. It's amazing isn't it?! A whole different world! x Thanks for linking up to #TwinklyTuesday x

    Caro | www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

    1. I'm starting to get to grips with SEO, but it's still very much a learning curve for me. For at least the first few weeks of blogging, I decided for some reason I can't fathom now to put the date I posted in the post title - who the hell is going to Google that lol! Every blogger I've spoken to has been so welcoming, it truly is amazing! Thanks for hosting :)

  4. I'd say that you have a good grasp on things for barely four months of blogging! About the only thing I'd add is that if you want to or have to take time away from your blog, don't be gone too long! The longer you are gone the more readers you will lose. If you are gone to long they will develop other habits in your absence. It's always best if you need a break for some reason to give your readers somewhat of an explanation and a time frame for when they can expect you back.

    1. Thank you :) Yes that's a good one - I agree your readers would be more likely to come back if they have a timeframe and at least some idea of what's happening, otherwise it looks like you just got bored of your blog!

  5. Love this! And all so true! I didn't imagine blogging to be the way it is. And it's a pleasant surprise. Although as number 7 points out very time consuming. I've been thinking of doing a similar post but decided ill wait until I've reached my year mark. :) thanks for linking up with us on the #bigfatlinky hope to see you there next week.

    1. Thank you :) The more I learn, the more I love it. Can't wait to read your post - after a year there'll be so much more stuff you'll have discovered. Thanks for hosting and I will definitely be by next week :)

  6. Great post with some important lessons we could all do with remembering! Thanks for linking up to #Thelist

    1. Thank you, and thanks for hosting :)

  7. You are spot on about so many of these points. I do love blogging very much for the social aspect (I'm totally awful at Twitter though). Blogging is definitely harder than non-bloggers think it is. It takes a lot of time, organization, and dedication to keep a blog running. Congratulations on starting up this year by the way...you seem to really be doing a wonderful job. I'm so glad you came and visited me. We seem to have a lot in common. I'm planning on adding your blog to my Feedly feed so that I can continue to get to know you (and mildly blog stalk you). :) Elle @ Erratic Project Junkie

    1. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started out - I'm so glad I did it though! Thank you so much and stalk away lol :)