In April 2016 I started my blog as a part of my senior project in high school. I also started teaching myself about photography for this project. I knew I wanted to continue both blogging and taking photos far beyond graduating high school, but I wasn't quite sure how successful I'd be.
One year later, I think I've succeeded.
- I'm still blogging regularly, typically at least once a week.
- I've bought my own domain and upgraded my site theme.
- I've learned how to use Pinterest and have gotten a lot of traffic from it.
- I've been introduced to some really awesome bloggers who produce inspiring content and are always really supportive and kind!
- I've accumulated 30,000 all-time page views.
It's been a fun and slightly overwhelming year of blogging, and while I've still got a long way to go, I've learned a whole lot. Here's what I know:
The blogging community is super nice and welcoming
When I first started blogging I was kinda worried about trolls and hate comments (this is the internet after all), but I'm pleased to say I have never received a single ounce of hate or rudeness on my blog or social media. This is probably somewhat due to my blog still being small, but I truly believe that the blog-sphere in general is much more friendly than, say, Youtube or other platforms.
Sticking to a blogging schedule is hard
One year later, I'm still not on a consistent schedule. I make plans for myself about the number of posts per week, what days, and what type of content is published each day, but I rarely follow through. *Sigh.* When you're in college and pretty busy, blogging just kinda fills in the cracks.
You can still produce good content if you're not on a strict schedule
That being said, even if you don't achieve some arbitrary goal you've set about the number of posts per week, it doesn't mean you aren't making valuable content and your blog isn't progressing. For a while when I started college I looked at my blogging as sort of slacking off because I was only posting one blog post per week (and on random days). But then I stepped back and looked at it from a new perspective: I'm posting a blog every week. That is no small feat, especially when you're busy.
Good photos matter
I think when you have good, professional-looking photos (i.e. preferably not makeup lying on a checkered bedspread with flash) it gives people a big first impression about the professional level of your blog. If your photos look like a novice, they're gonna assume you're a novice. If you're photos look semi-good, they're gonna assume you know what you're doing even if you don't. Now, does "good photos" always mean flawless, bright-white flat lays on a granite background? Na. Those are definitely nice, but if you don't have time to do that every week, photos from your life work too! I carry my camera everywhere whenever my friends and I do fun things, and I often use the best photos I take of them and our adventures for my blog posts.
Pinterest is the goddess of all social media
My traffic went up amazingly when I started using Pinterest to promote my blog posts. I might write a post about this in the future, I dunno. But there are also about 25,000 online courses and guides that already exist in the blog-sphere if you're interested in looking. Basically, I design a pin in Canva for a Pinterest-applicable blog posts (the best posts for Pinterests are the lists and guides that clearly give something to the reader. We're not really talking about abstract ideas and metaphors here), upload the photos to my blog post, and get pinning! Pinterest is amazing because content constantly recycles. The feed isn't sorted by how old or new a pin is. What does this mean? Well, I'm still getting traffic on all of my posts, months after posting them. Some of my posts that had around 100-200 views when they were initially published now have over 2,000 views a few months later. And I didn't do anything except re-pin them.
On that note, social media in general is tough
While I have gotten increased traffic through Pinterest, I'm certainly not a Melyssa-Griffin-level Pinterest fairy (or anything close to it), and I've really struggled with the rest of my social media. How does one gain 1,000 followers on Instagram? How does one gain followers on Bloglovin'? How does one come up with enough witty things to tweet about?? Hopefully next year I will come to you with these answers.
Bloggers like bloggers who read and are genuine
The best way (I think) to gain genuine traffic, especially when you're first starting out, is to simply read and comment on other people's blog posts. First of all, it will give you an idea of what kinds of content is out there, maybe it'll inspire you, and you'll start building connections. Even if you leave a comment on a big blog in which the blogger maybe doesn't exchange or respond to comments, other people reading that blog will see your comment. And when you comment on most small or mid sized blogs, the blogger typically tries to return the favor. If you're genuine to them, they're more likely to be genuine to you.
IRL people will really like your blog
One of the things I was so worried about when going to college was that, if I kept working on my blog a lot and promoting it on social media like I wanted to, people I met in real life would seriously judge me. I know that my blog isn't super successful yet, and when people see you just trying to do something unusual rather than being super successful they often doubt you and judge your efforts. But is this what happened? Heck no! People I don't even know very well (but who follow me on Instagram) often tell me they love my blog, and all of my close friends are aggressively supportive. I'm sure there are people who judge what I'm doing, but they've never said it outright. So do I care? Nope.
You'll feel proud of this thing you've created
Even though I haven't achieved all of my wildest dreams, I'm hecka proud of my progress. If you're a blogger, you should be too. We're doing something unusual and kinda scary: creating our own little corner of the internet that is entirely our own. No boss, no instructions, no deadlines to keep you on track. Everything you've done is entirely yours, as is everything you're going to do in the future. You should be so proud of that. :)
How long have you all been blogging, and what have you learned in that time? Let me know!