It's no secret that when this blog first started I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. Not even the foggiest wisp of a glimmer of a plan. I didn't follow or even read any blogs, and had barely stumbled across a craft blog or two before proclaiming "I could totally do that!" Like so many other stay at home moms, things around the house were getting a bit dull, and it began to feel like I was losing myself. There was a desperate need for something that could be "mine" and I had always been pretty darn crafty. So why not give it a try?
Most of you won't remember this, but when I originally started blogging, the plan was to make 365 craft projects over the course of a year. Yeah, I know. It still makes me cringe a little when I think about it. There's no explanation for my special brand of lunacy. Saying that I tend to be overly ambitious is kinda an understatement, but if I'm going to learn something new I'm jumping in blindly and with both feet.
Needless to say there have been lots of changes around here, and I have done tons of research since those early days. I've learned so much over the last two years, and am still learning things every day that highlight my glaring inadequacies as a blogger. So this is a list of a few of the things I wish I had known before I started blogging. Hopefully someone else will be able to learn from my mistakes.
There are definitely plenty to choose from!
1. The pictures you share are just as important as the words that you type. Be honest, how many times have you scrolled through a post looking at the pictures and not reading anything but the title and captions. You don't have to have a fancy camera, but spend some time learning how to use an editing program like Picmonkey, ipiccy, or Photoshop. It's fun and completely worth it.
2. Choose your blog's name carefully. I thought I had done my research, but I've learned of a few blogs with names very similar to mine. It makes me feel bad they might think I copied them even though I'd never knew they existed. Also, keep it short. You'll be typing it A LOT.
3. Html isn't as scary as you think. Learning only a few easy tricks will make a big difference!
4. Stick to your theme. Choose something that represents your personality and stick to it. Have you ever noticed how most of the things on my blog are shades of green, pink, and teal? Nothing is more distracting than seeing 200 different colors and patterns on a single page. (Unless of course you're fabric shopping)
5. Make a posting schedule, but be realistic about it. I am so terrible at this! I sit and plan out a post for every single day, and by day three I've fallen off the wagon. Posting only once or twice a week doesn't make your projects any less awesome!
6. Quality vs. Quantity. You've probably seen this mentioned before but it's true. I love you, but no one wants to read about how you unclogged your toilet this morning. Unless of course your sharing cleaning tips. Then you might be ok...maybe.
7. There are always more projects you want to try than you'll ever actually have the time to make. That's just the reality of being a creative person, but it can be extremely overwhelming at times. Thanks a lot Pinterest! So find a way to pair it down to things you'll actually love or use. You don't need to make something just because everyone else is doing it.
8. Blogging isn't a competition. At least it's not supposed to be. There is room for everybody.
9. Those bloggers that you love and secretly stalk a little are really nice! Don't be afraid to ask them questions. Even the ones that you think are perfect probably have goldfish crackers lost in their couch cushions too. They might not admit it, but they do.
10. Getting traffic to your site is more important than counting your followers. I know in the beginning we all watch the number and get really excited when it starts to rise, but if no one is visiting who's going to follow along? Join linky parties, add keywords, sign up for guest posts, and comment as much as you can.
11. Try to use at least one internal link in each of your posts. Internal links help new visitors find more of your awesomeness.
More posts viewed = a better first impression = more followers!
More posts viewed = a better first impression = more followers!
12. Try to use at least one external link in each of your posts. Don't force it, but if you used someone's tutorial, or just adore a certain blogger spread the word! Others will probably enjoy them just as much as you do and thank you for sharing.
13. Social Media is important and even a bit overwhelming. I've warmed up to it very slowly, but now I wish I had started from the beginning. Lately, I've practically been begging for a device that supports instagram. Pictures would be my favorite way to network!
14. There are tons of numbers to figure out. Unique visits, bounce rates, page views, load times, picture resolution, image sizes, visit duration, etc. Sign up for Google Analytics and get a little confused. It'll be a big help . . . eventually.
15. Keywords are important if you want to get your post to the top of the search results. Use a program like Google's Keyword Tool to see what people are searching for. Adding keywords to your title, post body, and alt text can help you get more traffic to your site.
16. Leave comments. Lots of comments! I bet you knew this one was somewhere on the list. Set a number of how many you'd like to leave each day, and make em' good. None of that "cute", "good job", "so pretty" single word type stuff. This should be a real and relevant comment. You know, something you actually had to think about.
17. Make it easy for people to contact you and for heaven's sake make sure you aren't a no-reply blogger! Even if you've changed it before, check your settings again. When I switched over to the Google + profile, it undid all my edits. Nothing is more annoying than trying reply to a commenter's question when you have no way to get in touch.
18. Check for broken links every once in awhile and make sure you fix them. Having too many will hurt your pages chances with the search engine robots. I started with this checker, but there are many others you can try.
19. Have a life outside of blogging! It's far too easy to get sucked into what you "need' to do for your blog and forget to go out and have some fun with your family. Get away from the computer and get those kids outside. Maybe they'll burn off enough energy to take a nap so you can get more done. Hey, A mom can dream right?
20. Linky Parties will get you noticed, but they can also take over. You don't have to be part of every single party out there. Pick a few of your favorites, and build a relationship with those bloggers. Remember that the larger blogs get more visitors, but the smaller sites are more likely to feature your projects. Try to participate in a nice assortment of both.
21. Your biggest supporters might not be your family. My dad and grandparents don't even have internet, and my husband tries, but just doesn't always "get it". That's ok. Make friends with other bloggers who will know exactly what you're going through.
22. What your write is permanent, and people might not always like what you have to say.
23. Be yourself. Pretending to be something you're not will drive you crazy, and it won't make you any real friends anyway.
24. Some days you will feel like quitting. You'll get frustrated and think no one is listening and it's just not worth it. We all do it. A lot! Take a week or two and re-evaluate why you're blogging and what you want to get out of it. Chances are you just need a break.
25. Don't do it if you don't love it! Writing just a single post is a lot of work, and putting together a tutorial takes even longer. Make sure you know what you're getting into before you begin, and don't feel bad if blogging just isn't for you. Maybe you could start an etsy shop or a sewing circle instead as a way to unleash your creativity.
I know there are plenty that I've missed, but this post could go on for ages.
What do you wish you had know before you started blogging?