My blog is officially one-year-old as of a couple of weeks ago and I have been blogging much longer than that but this blog has only been active for one year. When I first starting blogging I had no idea what blogging really was and I thought just like most people that all you had to do in order to grow is write and publish. I was forgetting about all the marketing you have to do so you can get more eyes to your blog because you are nothing without your readers. You build skills that you never thought you would need because most people don’t need them for everyday life but it’s necessary for blogging. In my first year of blogging, I learned a lot of lessons and even made some mistakes but that is okay because these failures are what made me a better blogger. Your first year of blogging can be your most challenging one because you are still figuring everything out and aren’t quite a pro yet! In this post, I am going to talk about things I learned in my first year that helped me get more readers and be a better blogger.
Don’t be afraid to show your personality- If you ever were to get on a new blogger’s site you may notice a lot of them are very uptight and show very little personality. Many of them try to get every grammatical error possible and they write like it’s a college essay. I know that’s how I was when I first started until I realized you don’t need to put that kind of pressure on yourself. Grammar is important for a blog because you want people to understand what you are saying but it’s less important than it is in a college paper and a lot of the time people won’t even notice that you forgot a period. Technically there are no rules against your posts like an essay but I would advise against it because blog posts are less formal and should be written like we are having a conversation. Some people will get bored if it’s too formal and it’s all about connections because if you can’t connect with your readers you will have no blog! Blogs thrive on personality because if someone wanted to read a formal essay they would not go to a less formal blog site so don’t be afraid to show people the real you!
Most bloggers are nice– I thought about starting a blog long before I actually started one and it’s mainly because I envisioned myself getting a lot of haters but that never happened and only occasionally get them so I was worrying for nothing.. There will always be that one person that once nothing except to see you fail but in my experience, most people aren’t like that and are very kind. I usually block haters to protect my mental health because I don’t have time to deal with people who clearly only want to remind me of how horrible I am. You don’t need those kinds of people in your life so unless someone is threatening you and legal action needs to be made there is no reason to engage. If you have a problem with haters you can always create a comment policy on your blog that lets people know what types of comments you approve and what ones you don’t so there is no confusion as to why a response was deleted. I created a comment policy on my blog not because I have a problem with trolls but to make it clear what types of things are appropriate and what ones aren’t.
Respond to all comments-I have gone to so many sites where I see creators approve a bunch of comments but reply to none of them! I know it can be hard to respond to all comments if you get a lot but you should make effort to give everyone a response not just some people. My blog doesn’t get hundreds of comments day because I am not that big yet but I still get a lot and understand how hard answering comments can be. I am not always the best at answering comments in the most timely manner but I try to answer all of them and if I don’t I probably didn’t see it or it violated my comment. Sometimes if I am tight for time I approve comments but don’t answer them right away or save the in moderation if it’s a more thoughtful comment that I don’t want to forget about. You don’t want to give that impression that your the blogger that never responds because then you will have the hardest time getting people to comment and engage with your posts. Some comments don’t need a full response and that is okay but you should at least like comments to show that you took the time to read it.
It does get easier– Some pro bloggers strongly believe that you have to write every single day to improve your blog and your writing even if you don’t publish them. I don’t think that you have to do that and I personally don’t think that you should because that can lead to burnout. You can do too much of a good thing and we all need a break from blogging occasionally to create quality content because if we wrote constantly we would begin to hate it or have no life. The more you post you create the better you will get at it and you don’t have to write every single day to be a better blogger because the post you write today will be better than the one you did last week. When I started blogging it took me days to write five hundred words which may sound like a lot to someone who may not write often but for a blogger that is a short post because now I can write well over one thousand in just a few hours. It’s hard in the beginning and you may not be very good at it but you will get better with practice!
Plan ahead- When I started blogging I was kind of forced to write blog posts ahead of time because I really struggled with and it took me a few days to write one short. Now it’s advisable to plan ahead of time but if I wanted to I could write posts the same day I posted them because I don’t struggle as much and can create a post in a few hours. I still like to plan posts ahead of time even though I probably could do everything the day of because you always have to account for writer’s block or Internet issues which wouldn’t be a problem if you scheduled your posts days in advance. You can’t control if the Internet is going to go out in the middle of a post but if you plan ahead of time and it’s scheduled it will still post!
Comment on smaller blogs-Some pro bloggers will say to comment on big blogs that have hundreds of thousands of followers to increase engagement and I would that is only a good idea if they are active. Many big blogs are not active and are extremely lacking when it comes to answering comments because there are too many and one person couldn’t possibly answer them all. Small blogs generally are more engaging because we don’t get hundreds of comments a day like many bigger blogs do and there is a better chance you will come across a new blog or gain a new reader when there are less comments to go through. No one has the time to go through hundreds of comments to find maybe one blog that they would like! You will not increase your engagement if no one is responding back to your comment and it’s basically getting thrown in with all the other hundreds of other comments that no one ever reads. Some bigger blogs are run by a team of people that are responsive to comments but in my experience, smaller blogs get more attention.
Take time to think about the name- When I launched my first blog four years ago I named it Life With Spina Bifida which makes sense because that is the name of my disability but I never liked that name so it was not a permanent choice. I always thought the name was too plain and common but at the time that was all I could think of so I stuck with it for a while After about a year or two I changed it to Embracing Disabled Life which was a good idea because helping people embrace their disabilities is what this blog is all about but the name sounded stupid and I was embarrassed to even associate myself with a blog that had such a stupid name. I was then forced to come up with a new name for my blog because I didn’t have that is now my current name which I didn’t love at first but it has grown on me. There is nothing wrong with changing the name of your blog but don’t do what I did and keep changing it because you didn’t think it through and picked something you hated just as much as the last. Changing your domain is not usually that expensive but it will cost you every time you do and also affect your da scores so you don’t want to change it too often. I wish I would have taken more time to think about my blog name because it is what represents your brand I would be much farther in my journey if I would have just stuck to one name!
Have the proper legal statements-I know a lot of bloggers who follow all the rules and have built some pretty impressive blogs but I also know of some bloggers who are doing things very wrong and illegal. Some bloggers don’t disclose sponsored posts properly or have even a disclaimer on their blog that would legally protect them from any sort of lawsuit. Do you want to be sued? You will probably be fine your entire blogging career and won’t face any sort of lawsuit but there will be that one time when someone thinks you gave bad harmful advice and will want to sue for it. The only way you can protect yourself if this were to happen is to have legal statements such as privacy policies and disclaimers that clearly state how you use reader’s information or that you are not a doctor. If you are not a lawyer creating these legal statements can be difficult for some bloggers because it’s not something we have a lot of knowledge in but it is necessary. If you are struggling you can always look it up because there are tons of resources or ask another blogger who has one to help you.
Check your spam- Make sure you check your spam because I have had some legitimate comments go into my spam folder for whatever reason. Most of the messages that go to spam are actually spam but occasionally I will have a legimate comment in my spam folder for whatever reason!
Blogging is a lot of learning and you can never truly know everything because there will always be someone who has more experience than you that can help you improve. The first year of blogging is the most challenging because you don’t have a community to help you through all of life’s biggest challenges. Mistakes will be made that first year and you will continue to make them because it’s all about learning new things every single day. The most important thing is that you don’t dwell on your failures but move past them because we all make decisions that weren’t that smart in the beginning. As a blogger, you have to learn a lot of skills that most people will never need to learn so forgive yourself if you don’t know something and make an error. Four years later I still ask bloggers who have more experience than I do for help on my website when I am stuck because you can’t know it all. There are so many lessons you can learn in your first year of blogging because you pick up so many skills and these are only a small fraction but there are many more! What did you learn in your first year of blogging?
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