5 Things I Wish I'd Known When I Started BloggingApril 06, 2015
The other night I had drinks with a girlfriend who is thinking about starting a blog. The day before she shot me an email asking for some newbie blogging advice and the novel I sent her in return prompted her to politely ask if maybe we could just meet for drinks and talk through my suggestions.
I think it's safe to say that I overwhelmed her.
my personal blogger mantra, immortalized in gold foil.
The truth is, there are so many things that I wish I'd known before I started my blog - so many lessons learned the hard way, through trial and error and thanks to the advice of other bloggers. After a round (or 4) of cocktails, it became clear to me that there were really 5 key thing that I thought she should know if she decided to pursue blogging. Wanna know what they are?
Good, because lucky for you, I'm writing them down!
1. Consider Privacy Before Your First Post
So here's the deal - we, as bloggers, are putting our private lives out there for the public to see. That's the name of the game right? Of course it is, but before you begin blogging you must consider what private information you are willing to divulge to the entire world. Even if you have a small following, your life instantly becomes accessible via Google, saved forever thanks to a screen cap and your photos are just a copy and paste away from belonging to someone else.
Each of us handles security in a different way - some of us share our last name, some of us don't, some of us share our children's faces and some of us choose not to, some of us disclose our home town, others keep that private - whatever you decide is best for you is perfect, but you must consider it from the start. Why? Well, if you choose to disclose your last name early on in your blogging career but then decide that you'd prefer your full name not be public, it will be nearly impossible to track down all of the instances that your dropped your last name in a post. Every "Merry Christmas from the Smiths!" will be buried deep in years worth of posts and the battle becomes a lost cause or a constant source of stress. I've noticed that many bloggers (including myself) reevaluate their privacy policies when they add a baby to the mix, but why not evaluate what you are comfortable sharing from the start, saving yourself the hassle of establishing new boundaries once your announce a pregnancy.
2. Photos Are King
Maine Living Room detail shot published in 2013 + Maine Living Room detail shot published 2015
I look back on some of my earlier posts and cringe at the photos. Honestly, if some of my images popped up on my Reader, I wouldn't have clicked on the link. It has taken me forever to learn that one clean, crisp image is better than a dozen iPhone photos. If you have professional photos occasionally taken of your family, ask your photog to snag a quick pic or two of you solo to use as your About image/Instagram profile photo/Button graphic etc. You can easily grab a great high res photo using a DSLR or by asking a friend to grab a shot on her fancy camera. I've taken a blog head shot or two and working with friends can make being the photographer's subject so much less awkward! I edit all of my photos on my iPhone using the Afterlight app but many bloggers love PicMonkey for adding text, making collages and editing their images.
3. Brand Your Blog
Speaking of photos, it's important that the style of imagery that you cultivate for your blog be the same style that you use for your Instagram, Twitter and Facebook photos. Consider it your "look". If you prefer a dreamy quality to your photos or a crisp white shot, keep that style for all of your social media outlets. Your readers will identify and look for your Brand - so provide it! I also recommend using your blog name as your Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest handles and setting up a Facebook page for your blog. Doing so can ensure that your full name is not displayed for the public (if that is one of your privacy rules) and reinforces your brand multiple times a day.
Consider your social media platforms another way in which your followers, readers and audience can get to know facets of your life. I tend to Instagram small details of my day, where my blog posts are broader in topic. I think those (sometimes very tedious) day to day details are more relatable than the lofty posts I penned on my Post Baby Boobs (come on, ya'll know you love those posts!).
4. Find Your Voice
The kindest compliment I can ever receive about my blog is when someone remarks that reading my posts is just like having a conversation with me in person. I want my blog to be a complete reflection of my individual voice. Penning a blog should be a way for you to express your true self on whatever your chosen platform of the day is. Are you wildly sarcastic (yes), do you sometimes say bad words (uh huh), do you talk in run on sentences (guilty)? Then, in my opinion, that is how you should write. Find the topics that inspire you - you'll know what they are because your words will be easy to find - and follow that path. If a blogging genre doesn't fit who you are then, by all means, don't force it simply for the sake of blogging. A perfect example would be any attempt I make at being a fashion blogger. It's just so wrong. You can literally see it in the photos. I'm uncomfortable, I'm not being myself and I'm trying to be a "blogger". On the other hand, when I wear my
mom Old Navy boyfriend jeans and write about my recent machine washable clothing purchases, I feel like I'm being true to myself and my readers. Find your voice, your niche and your style and rock it. There is a reader for every blog (see what I did there? like that old saying "a lid for every pot". clever, huh?).
I think most people would be shocked at the time commitment that is blogging. Shooting and editing photos, drafting and polishing posts, reading and supporting other bloggers and marketing your work can and will take hours out of your day. Readers expect consistency and, in my experience, building a following requires dedication to your .blogspot. If you are thinking of launching a blog, I would highly suggest drafting a handful of posts to get your first week rolling - just until you get into the groove. After almost two years, I can honestly say that blogging has just become part of my daily routine. It's what I do at the end of the day, after the baby has been put to bed and while terrible reality TV blares in the background. And you thought blogging was glamorous!
So there it is. My best advice for a hopeful blogger (who is probably too exhausted to start a blog after reading all of that).