Today on the blog I want to discuss some of the lessons I have learned since I started blogging. I have been blogging pretty consistently since 2011 when I started my first blog The Happy Arkansan (which was not titled as such at the time.) I have learned so much from this process, but today I want to share just 10 of those lessons. I hope that these lessons resonate with you in some way and I would love for us to all learn more about this blogging thing together. Don't forget to comment some of your favorite blogging lessons below after you finish reading.
Blogging Lesson #1. if You Build it they may not come
This is one of the biggest lessons I have learned, and one I have talked about on the blog before--just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come. I think this is something that we tell new bloggers so they feel more confident when their numbers aren't where they would like them to be. At the same time, there are ways to change that, and it starts with putting yourself out there. My favorite way to market my blog besides Pinterest, of course, is through Facebook Groups. Facebook groups are an excellent way to get your blog in front of tons of people. If you need help understanding Facebook groups, check out my post about the subject here.
Building an audience takes time, patience, and a little bit of grit. Don't just build great content--advertise that content. Make a daily, weekly, and monthly advertisement checklist of things you need to do to get your blogs name out there. You should be spending just as much time advertising as you do writing your post. That is how you build a great audience.
Blogging Lesson #2. Done is better than perfect
This is a lesson from one of my biz favorites, Lindsey Hazel of Hazel Haven. Lindsey mentions this lesson a lot across her various social media networks and blog. This lesson rings so true. Bloggers often get caught up in perfection. We don't want to release our new product until all the kinks are worked out. We don't want to share our latest opt-in until everything is lined up on the page just right. Sometimes it's better to get something done than to make sure it's all pretty and perfect. Yes, perfect would be nice, but don't let it stop you from getting done.
The other day I was watching one of Melyssa Griffin's Instagram stories and she stated "It doesn't have to be perfect to be powerful." This lesson coupled with Done Is Better Than Perfect should ring true in your business. You can make a huge impact on people every single day with an imperfect blog, lead magnet, or anything else.
When I started blogging I made so many mistakes, but I was still able to grow my blog The Happy Arkansan into something that resonates with a ton of people. You can do the same thing.
Blogging Lesson #3. Stop the obsession with Busy
A million items on your to-do list doesn't make you productive, y'all. Instead of being busy, get productive and make sure that all the items on your to-do list are worth your while. Write your to-do list, but take a second to look back through your list and make sure that your items are actually important. Work smarter not harder and make sure that you are actually being productive as you are ticking things off your to do list.
For example, I am perfectly capable of spending time on as many social media networks as I want, but I focus my attention on Pinterest and Facebook Groups because I know that those two things work for my brand. Don't focus too much on building social media networks that don't give you a return on your investment. Instead pick a couple of networks that you know you can rock it on. At first, it's okay to test the water, but if it becomes too much of a headache, do a little bit of social media downsizing.
Before you start your experiments don't forget to install Google Analytics on your blog. This is a quick fix that will help you determine what is and is not working on your blog. Don't get obsessed with the analytics, but look to them as you are trying to determine what's working, what you need to automate, and what you need to get rid of in your business.
Blogging Lesson #4. Show Up For Your Readers When They Need You
About a year and a half ago I had a meeting with Bri of XXO Bri where I discussed some of the things I wanted to accomplish with my blog The Happy Arkansan. She taught me many lessons that day but one of the lessons that stuck the most was "Show up for your readers when they need you." This is such a simple thought, but it is a great thing to consider when you are blogging. You want to make sure that you are providing your readers with all the things they need from you--when they need it most.
So, if you are a college blogger come in clutch with some tips for finals week in November and April. If you are a finance blogger, don't forget to add some content about surviving tax season during March/April. If you are a fitness blogger, share some of your favorite workouts at the end of December and all of January for the workout resolution crowd.
All of these ideas are simple and easy ways to show up and show out for your readers when they need you most. Plus, SEO will help you out and reward you overtime as those important seasons come up again and you get increased search traffic to those posts.
Blogging Lesson #5. It's Okay To Take a break
When you are creating online for long periods of time it's only natural that occasionally you will need a break. I used to feel awful about these mental health breaks, but then I began to realize that they were necessary and crucial to my well-being as an online creator. Taking breaks is natural and necessary to creating an online life you can be proud of. There are a few things you can do to soften the blow of mental health and health breaks you need to take though:
- Get contributors or guest posters: If you know you will need a break, get some guest posters or contributors in your niche to help you fill your content calendar with tons of great content. That way all you have to do is edit, add some pictures, and do a bit of promotion. Editing is a lot easier than writing so get those guest posts in.
- Stockpile Posts: When you feel creative, and I mean really creative, stockpile your posts. It's okay to have a few pre-written posts for when you feel not so hot. In fact, this is definitely an encouraged behavior.
- Make sure you need a break: Sometimes we just get lazy and we don't feel like starting the process of writing. There will be some time when you TRULY need a break so don't waste those opportunities because you took a "I didn't feel like sitting up and typing at my computer for a little while," breaks. You should be able to tell the kind of break you are trying to have. Set a timer for 10 minutes and will yourself to start the writing and/or brainstorming process. if it still doesn't come, take a break for a few hours and see if the will is back. If you continually come back to the writing process and words still don't come it may be time to take a true break.
Blogging Lesson #6. Asking is the best way to get something
Not to sound cliche here, but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Crazy how that works isn't it? If you want something be it an interview, a sponsored opportunity, or comments on your blog posts--ask. Get up and put yourself out there. Asking is an easy way to get the answer you want. Asking also opens you up to rejection, but that's okay because rejection is okay. Everyone gets rejected every once and a while. It's about how you get up and keep working past the rejection that matters.
When I think back to the first giveaways I started on The Happy Arkansan I was still unsure about the entire process. On my way to sharing giveaways I received a lot of rejections, more than I can count. On the other hand I also received a lot of acceptances and I was able to singlehandedly build multiple, successful group giveaways just by reaching out to small businesses and bloggers. I was also able to single-handedly organize multiple small scale giveaways. If I hadn't asked those experiences wouldn't have happened.
Rejection is scary, but acceptance is sweet. Sometimes you have to compromise and be okay with those rejections to get to those acceptances.
Blogging Lesson #7. Generosity goes a long way
I am a generous content creator. I have talked about the fact that I try and go above and beyond before on the blog when I shared posts like my post all about blog uplevels. People love people who go out of their way for them when it comes to providing knowledge or just writing a sponsored post. I like to share more with my readers as often as I possibly can. This blog post is even an example of this as I am writing out all my thoughts and providing a video version too. Be giving, share that gift with the world, and you will soon get that back.
Figure out ways to go above and beyond for the people who read your content. What can you do to provide that extra bit of knowledge? Produce that video, record that audio version, create that checklist. Sometimes it's as simple as adding an extra 15 minutes to writing your content so that you can provide one more thing.
Blogging Lesson #8. My opinions are worth sharing
I grew up in a small town. When I say small, I mean small. I had 55 people in my graduating class small. The town had about 700 people in it small. I am growing my audience on both blogs and now my hometown can fit inside just my Pinterest followers for The Happy Arkansan over 10 times. To me, that is crazy. I grew up in a town so small there was no way I could possibly know more than 1,000 people and now I have an audience on just one social platform that is ten times the size that my hometown was growing up. If that doesn't blow your mind, I don't know what will.
Through blogging I have learned that there is an audience of people who care about my rambles, rants, and my informative blogging content. I have found that I can create a place on the internet where I can obsess about blogging, college, and even monograms. When I first started blogging I wasn't sure who would ever care about my content but now I know that I have an audience online.
The internet doesn't care that I came from a town so small that people only travel through it because they are on the interstate. The internet doesn't care that I graduated with a class so small we could all fit on one school bus comfortably. With hard work and some Google searches I found my people on the internet.
Blogging Lesson #9. Focus is a necessary evil
Up until February I didn't want to niche my blog. I wanted to post every single thing I wanted to publish under one name--The Happy Arkansan. I had watched all the content from my favorite bloggers telling me to niche my blog and I just didn't want to listen to them. The thought of creating a niche for my blog scared me and I didn't want to have to keep up with too much online. Then one weekend I decided that either my college content was bringing down my blogging content or vice versa. I decided I needed to expand my reach so I decided to create a separate blog for my blogging content since my college content was larger and pretty well established as The Happy Arkansan.
After separating my blogs I got more offers for both types of content. I was able to reach different sets of people and build an audience for both content types I like to create. I think that overall making the move to separate the two was the best move I could have made for both blogs.
Focus is scary. Creating two blogs, two new brands, two new of anything is scary. If it just takes a little separation to be able to achieve things beyond your wildest dreams why wouldn't you? Take the plunge and separate things as best you can.
Blogging Lesson #10. Consistency is more important than virality
Last week we talked about this topic but it rings so true. Everyone wants to be an overnight success, but virality is not the best way to get there. Virality comes and goes. Most viral stars you see today keep their fame and fortune for an internet minute. Do you remember Kenneth Bone from last year's political cycle? Everyone was so excited that he was a breath of fresh air in this political climate. Then people dug around in his personal life, found out he wasn't as cool as people thought, and then he was basically tossed out like yesterday's trash in the coming weeks after his quick climb to internet fame.
Virality is similar. People will love your content until they don't anymore and then you are just stuck online with nothing to show for that other than a brief high on your Google Analytics. There are ways to prevent that and get the most from your time as a viral sensation that I talk about in last week's post but don't count on virality. Instead, try to get consistent readers to your blog day in and day out. Once you have a consistent reader base you can think about all the other things like creating viral posts.
In this video I go a bit deeper in explaining each of these 10 lessons. I wanted to add a little something extra so that y'all could feel my emotions and this would go past a list that just droned on. I am passionate about these lessons and I hope you enjoy them in video form as well.