It’s been a year. Together, we’ve managed to accrue 63 articles, 16,375 visits to the blog, and right at 1,200 followers. I’d say we’re doing pretty good! While I still don’t have this blogging thing figured out, I thought I would share 10 blogging truths I’ve discovered over the past 12 months.
1. To Compare Is To Despair
I am just like everyone else. Even though I know better, there are times when I look around at what others are doing and feel discouraged. There are so many bloggers, energetic, tireless bloggers with amazing, timely content and fabulous Instagram accounts and a Twitter presence, with marketable electronic products and podcasts and connections and 142, 891 likes on every Facebook post. And I am just over here like, “Am I going to get my laundry done today?”
Theodore Roosevelt is credited with wisely saying “comparison is the thief of joy.” When I compare my growth with someone else’s, it not only makes me feel like a flop, it also sucks all the joy out of working on the blog. Additionally, Romans 12:15 tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice. So if you are rejoicing because you have 142, 891 Facebook likes, then by golly, we are going to rejoice with you. Not everything is about us. Other people’s accomplishments are not a statement about what we are doing… or not doing or might even want to do. When we see what others are doing, we shouldn’t be comparing! We should be looking for ways that we can be an encouragement. Other people’s accomplishments, any accomplishment, are cause for celebration! So here’s a virtual high-five. Because every endeavor is tough, and we’re all just doing the best we can.
2. You’re Building It From Scratch
It’s easy to get in a hurry. Don’t. I have to constantly remind myself that building a blog (and an audience) from the ground up takes time. And that’s okay. I pray for my readers all the time. I thank the Lord that this is His project and not mine and for the readers that He is preparing and sending. Quite honestly, His connections are more important and lasting than any I could work up on my own. Quality of connection is important; quantity will come with time and hard work.
3. Friends and Family Do Not Equal a Ready-made Audience.
You start to think, “Well, I know Aunt Martha will…. And I can always count on Anne. Then there’s my college roommate…” No. No, no, no, no, no. This is a sure fire way to get your feelings hurt. Friends and family are not your ready-made audience. See #2 and don’t take it personally. It’s just the way it is. Allow everyone to make their own choices about their reading material, and you concentrate on cultivating that audience the Lord has prepared for you.
4. Sometimes the Picture Looks Great, but Everything Else is a Mess.
I’m just going to let the pictures do all the talking. The cooking gets messy… and sometimes chaotic. And food gets on the camera, and on the counters, and most definitely on me. And everyone is dying to eat, and I won’t let them because I need to take one more photo. I am not sure what I “learned” from this, but I just thought you needed to know it’s not perfect. Ever.
5. Your “Why” Really is Important
Over and over, I’ve heard that it is so important to get down the nitty gritty of why you want to blog in the first place. The reason needs to be bigger than imagined results and definitely bigger than ourselves. This here? This is truth. Just look at #1 and #2! If our why’s don’t reach beyond recognition and results, if we are not sold out to our bigger “why,” then we will throw this blog business to the curb after about 9 months. Be honest about your “why” and focus on your purpose.
6. It Doesn’t Have to be Groundbreaking
What kinds of kinds of topics are bloggable. I. Have. No. Idea. I do know, however, that not every blog post has to be poignant, important, life changing, or long to be good. Sometimes we share just because it’s interesting or happy. Those things are just as important in building a relationship as the serious moments.
7. Having My Picture Taken Is Still Weird But Nobody Really Cares
Nobody likes to have their picture taken. And worse than that is having to look at the picture afterwards… and choose one to be public. Yikes. I get all nit-picky about it. But the truth is no one really cares as much as I do. It’s true. Fat, skinny, whatever, I am just learning to be myself and hope that someone else will be inspired to feel comfortable with themselves too.
8. Social Media is a Hamster Wheel
Everyone agrees that a social media presence in necessary if you are really going to make a go of this thing. But getting traction on social media is undeniably HARD. And even harder is knowing which kind to use, and to top it all off, there are new kinds of social media popping up all the time. “Now I need to do Periscope? I just took 3 webinars about how to perfect Instagram! And what about all those articles I read from Facebook for Business? And then I need to remember to Tweet? And what about Google+? Can people find me on LinkedIn? Tumblr? And remember, every social media outlet is built on community, so I need to commenting, liking, and sharing too? Wait… microblogging might be the way to go?” And then I melt into a giant pile of “Why am I even doing this?”
In order to keep from pulling my hair out, I’ve learned to stay focused on my reason for being involved in the first place—to drive traffic to the blog! It doesn’t do any good to work, work, work to build a giant Twitter following if none of those followers ever visit your site. Think about how each media outlet is set up to communicate, consider if it matches your ultimate purpose, and then focus your energy on the things that actually work for your blog.
Someone told me a while ago that, at this stage in the game, Facebook would probably be my biggest driver of traffic. This has proven true. The next largest number of visits I get are from my actual subscribers. I get occasional visitors from Google+, and Twitter and Pinterest come in last (even though Twitter has been great for making connections with publishers, magazine editors, people with similar interests, etc.). I get virtually no hits from Instagram. But I do it because I like it. A good analytics plug-in on your blog will help you decipher where your traffic is coming from and to which social media outlet you should devote your energy.
9. Generosity Is Where It’s At
In the past year, I’ve had 3 friends start blogs and 3 contact me about how to start one. Instead of feeling territorial or like their endeavors might threaten mine, I share everything I know. Generosity pays off in the long run. Functioning in the blogosphere is like building both a social and business network at the same time. In order to build a network, you have to be generous. No one likes a grabby, selfish person in real life or on the internet. And if the truth be told, other people’s blogs aren’t going to steal your audience anyway. No two blogs are alike, and people visit different blogs for different reasons. So share your knowledge, give credit to others when it’s due, link frequently to other articles, and like and share what other bloggers are doing.
10. Sit At The Feet of Someone Who Can
During the past year, I have read some fantastic advice from other bloggers. And it has made all the difference. I have read a gillion articles, signed up for webinars; studied blogs of people I admire; I’ve even studied magazines. If you’re serious about this blogging this, there are an amazing number of resources out there. Don’t go it alone. Sit at the feet of someone who’s doing it well.
Oh. And #10 ½. Just be you. You’re fantastic just the way you are.