Writing has always been one of my biggest hobbies. Ever since I can remember I’ve always loved creating fictional worlds and characters, and truly losing myself in the flow of putting words down on a page. For many years I was absolutely convinced that I’d one day be a successful author or journalist and would make some magical career out of writing that would have me sorted for life.
Nowadays, my dreams of writing a novel are long gone, although I do still have the same plot in my head that I’ve had since I was 15 so maybe one day I’ll get round to finishing it. My writing style has developed into something more suitable for entertaining and informing and is strongly rooted in non-fiction. Which for the most part I am ok with.
I started taking this blog seriously to try and help myself develop my writing and to give myself a reason outside of work to channel my creativity into a productive hobby. In the six short months where I’ve been posting content semi-regularly, I’ve learnt quite a lot about both myself and about just how complicated this blogging malarky actually can be! So, I thought I’d share my findings with any new bloggers out there so they know they’re not alone!
Planning is your new best friend
Originally, my approach to blogging included sitting down and writing about the first thing that came into my head. In my eyes, this was a fool proof plan and there was absolutely no way I would run out of things to write about. After all, I frequently get told by my Mum that I talk way too much.
I was very wrong.
It’s all well and good having the intention to write, but time and time again I find myself sitting at my laptop and staring at a blank Word document waiting for inspiration to strike. I’m slowly moving away from this approach, due to the selective writer’s block that only seems to appear when I’m actually motivated to blog (or I have an impending deadline for content production at work), and moving towards more of a planning strategy.
I’ve not quite reached the stage of having a content calendar just yet – after all, I’m still in the early stages of figuring out what my niche is and how I’m going to grow my blog. However, I have started writing down any ideas on my phone as quick notes, so whenever I do feel like writing but don’t have an immediate idea of what exactly it is that I want to write about, I have a library of prompts to get me started.
There’s no harm in taking photos of everything
I’m an Instagram fiend – I love taking pictures and I love social media, so it’s only natural that Instagram is my favourite platform. I’m the kind of person who will take a lot of photos of things, regardless of where I am I just love to snap away.
I’ve found that having this bank of images is quite useful when it comes to blogging. One of the hardest things I’ve found is associating imagery with your blog content, especially for posts that don’t exactly have an easy way of being represented visually. In an ideal world, I would have the time to style and photograph flatlays galore to associate with these kinds of posts, but working 9-5 and having a social life on a weekend, unfortunately, eats into a lot of my production time. Instead, I’ve found that using existing images that I’ve taken instead of stock images (or no image at all) not only makes my posts more visually appealing, but it is also helping me to establish my visual brand.
Also – including images in blog posts is incredibly important, as I have recently found out, because it makes your content more ‘pinnable’ and so the more images that you can include the better to drive that Pinterest traffic to your blog!
Sharing is the best thing you can do
Although I have yet to truly ‘share’ my post across social media, due to work colleagues and family members snooping on something I’ve not found complete confidence with just yet, I’ve learnt that traffic is not going to appear organically no matter how hard your SEO might be working.
Yes, I am writing this blog for my own personal development but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t love people to enjoy what I have to say about the world. For every article I’ve read about starting a blog, there’s been at least 10 highlighting the importance of promotion of your blog via social media. From previous experience working on blogs for clients and drawing comparisons with my own traffic, I’d say that I completely agree with all of these posts. Sharing your content is the best thing you can do for your blog. Not only is it completely free, it has the potential to reach huge audiences with very little effort on your part.
I currently share all my posts on Pinterest and via Bloglovin’, and even these simple changes have made a difference to the level of engagement and traffic I get to my blog and would whole-heartedly recommend that all new bloggers start doing the same ASAP.
Hosting and domain names might as well be a foreign language
So many bloggers stress the importance of purchasing your own domain name from the get-go, and many argue that making sure that your blog is hosted correctly away from wordpress.com is one of the best things you can do for your blog. However, I completely understand that trying to wrap your head around all this information while you’re still trying to figure out where you fit in can seem overwhelming – it could even cause you to throw in the towel before you’ve had a chance to begin.
If like me, you’re unsure about driving head first into a hosting/domain name payment initially I would say there’s absolutely no harm in waiting. Not everyone can afford such a big expenditure every month, especially if they are unsure how long they will keep blogging for. I’ve purposefully held off on purchasing my domain name until I was a) sure I was happy with my online brand name and b) confident that I wasn’t going to give up on blogging soon after purchasing these (and I really hope I haven’t just jinxed myself there).
Personally, I would say for at least the first few months hold off on any monetary expenditure on your blog until you are sure that you can both afford the outgoings and can see yourself continuing writing content long enough to justify it. If you’re serious about becoming a blogger and serious about getting paid for your work, then maybe it might be wise to avoid a free blog such as WordPress or Tumblr and jump straight into the more serious stuff. But, for those of you like myself who are just writing for fun initially, I would say that there’s no harm in holding off on this until you are comfortable and confident. After all, there’s no right or wrong way to building your blogging presence online.
These are just four of the things I’ve learnt within my first 6 months of blogging. I’m sure that there’s bound to be many more lessons to come, and this is a post I’m probably going to end up re-writing many a time as my blogging journey continues.
What things have other newbie bloggers learnt since starting their blog? Let me know in the comments!