My little blog turns one today! What a quick year it’s been. Blogging isn’t something I’m new to but out with Tumblr, this has been the longest time I’ve stuck to a more personal style of blogging. I kick myself wondering if I didn’t give up between 2010-2013, where would my blog be now? But this time last year felt like the right time to start again. In my time blogging I’ve been ohhelloamy, typicialamy, floralthrills, amydahlia etc but now I’m glad I’ve got a domain name I actually LOVE. For years on Social Media, my handles have all been whatamydid – after one of my favourite song by my favourite band (except I dropped the Katie to Amy). For some reason during my time blogging, I just didn’t gravitate towards the name but now, it seems stupid. It’s a perfect fit. To be totally upfront and honest – blogging isn’t as much of a breeze as I thought. This last year as had it’s fair share of ups and downs and at times, blogging has had to take a back seat at times in my life. It’s also very different having a blog now to when I did back then because it’s verrrrrrry competitive now. Not to mention it’s big business. I thought to myself, what is the best way to mark my blogs birthday? So I’ve decided to compile the pros and cons I’ve found since starting my blog. I’ve also included a little section for those who maybe want to start blogging but unsure where to start and a list of resources to help. I’m no blogging expert but over the years, I’ve learned for myself what works and what doesn’t and I hope they are beneficial to you.
The Pro’s of Blogging
I LOVE it – Blogging becomes all consuming sometimes, almost to the point you can’t switch off from it but that’s how I know I love what I do. I love the feeling of brain storming ideas, upping my photography, learning new digital skills, interacting with like minded people and the comments/feedback I get from readers who have taken the time to read my post. For me, the engagement is what makes it.
It helped me land my job in Digital – In March 2016, I landed a massive promotion to a digital role on secondment to a partner organisation to my employer. In my interview feedback, they highlighted that a big bonus for securing the job was my blog. I mentioned it briefly and it caught the attention of the panel who were keen to know what my blog was about, my content, what digital tools I used (social media scheduling, GA) and what I’ve learned from having one. When I left, I remember being like ‘ugh I should not of brought that up’ mainly because weirdly, I’ve been very private with my past and current blogs but to hear it was something that helped me get to where I wanted to be professionally was an amazing confidence boost.
Getting opportunities to speak with like minded people and work with brands – I love that blogging has introduced me to so many people that share all the same passions as me. The twitter chats (which I’ve mentioned further below) are a great way to get chatting to and discovering other bloggers. Hearing from brands re collaborations is great to, despite this featuring in both the pros and cons section. To have a brand you like reach out and give you that recognition that they’ve taken the time to read your blog and feel your blog is a good fit for them is an amazing compliment. Although, you have to be very vary sometimes!
Time – Blogging is so time consuming and I used to laugh when full time bloggers would say it was hard work as to me, they were living the dream but I completely underestimated how time consuming it is. Working full time and running a blog is far from a breeze. You’ve got to draft posts, take photographs in good light which is HARD AF in Scotland in the winter, scheduling social media, reply to comments and emails etc. This might not seem like hard work but it is when you’re working a 9-5, running a home and fitting in a social life. It takes so much time commitment that it’s easy to see why people pack it in easily because it’s no walk in the park. Since becoming more organised as this year has gone by, I’ve shared some tips below that have made me more and more on the ball. I’ve also designed a blog checklist which you can download for free.
The change in blogging – I remember starting my tumblr account in 2009 and I was hooked. There was something about the platform I just loved. Around 2009, personal blogging was becoming more popular and i decided to take the plunge but tbh, at that point in my life, i wasn’t cut out for it. Despite now picking up blogging again, it’s very different to it was in the years I gave it a bash. It’s a whole entire industry with the option to monetise your website, collaborate with a host of different brands, receive some free goodies and the opportunity to try make it a lucrative career. My blog will always be a hobby. I enjoy it, it’s a form of escapism for me and if there’s a chance to make some dolla then that’s great but it’s not my expectation whatsoever. However, there are some bloggers who started right around the same time I did last year who grab sponsored posts and after sponsored post for freebies and no longer write their own content which is sooooo disappointing. I even had one brand who approach me to do a paid post but didn’t want me to disclose this to my readers I was – something I would never do. I wouldn’t want to deceive my readers for a small amount of money, I’d rather have my integrity. Before the week was out, some bloggers were promoting this brand on their blog .. with no mention of payment and I could see through it. It’s sad that some bloggers will grab every opportunity and mislead their readers. That’s one thing I’ve wizened up to.
Brand ‘collaborations’ – I remember the first email I got about a collaboration and I was so BUZZING that I don’t think that word does my excitement any justice. It turns out the brand wanted me to advertise their clothes on my blog and I thought great. They sent me a link to their website and none of their clothes were to my taste but it turned out, they wanted me to buy their items with a 20% discount. I politely declined because the truth was why would I spend money on products that don’t suit me, discount or no discount? And just what was in it for me? It’s a clever tactic but I feel so sad for the bloggers I still see to this day, being taken advantage of. They’ve parted with their money, in awe of getting recognition when the sad reality is they’re giving this organisation free promotion at their expense. My tip: read through any proposal you get, check out the company on google/social media and ask yourself – who is gaining more out of this arrangement?
I thought it would be good to add a little section for those who might be thinking of starting a blog but are stumped at where to start. Anybody can start a blog, it’s not rocket science but it’s good to do some research, work out what you want to achieve and have a strategy before jumping in head first in my honest opinion.
Read Other Blogs – Although I’m sure most people out there have been inspired by other bloggers to kick start their own, I can’t stress how much it’s important to read other blogs. It allows you to get more familiar with the different topics out there, others writing style, photography, layouts etc. You’ve got to get into the frame of mind of thinking, if I write this post idea I have, would it be something that I would read? If the answer is no, then don’t write something that you know wouldn’t interest you, never mind your readers.
Research The Right Platform – I use Blogger, just because I find it very user friendly and quite frankly, I’m a creature of habit – it’s all I’m used to using. However Blogger might not be for everyone for example you could have host your blog on WordPress, tumblr or even self host via sites like Wix etc. Make sure you familiarise yourself with the chosen platforms interface – learn to get to grips with it before you click publish.
Be Patient – If you go into blogging thinking you’re going to be a complete success from day one, then you’ll be disappointed. There’s a difference between gaining a social media following and having loyal readers. Blogging is a tough cookie to crack. It’s competitive, it’s fast paced and at times, very full on but if it’s a hobby you love, it’s worth it. If you’re in it for the freebies or expect to be making a hefty profit right away, you’ll be sorely let down. Not everyone will be a Zoella.
Interact – Get yourself on social media, get chatting to other bloggers, join blogger chats on twitter and most importantly HAVE FUN. There is no point blogging if you don’t want to engage with others, it totally defeats the purpose of blogging.
Test The Water – Before you buy a domain name, a theme and a snazzy camera, test the water first. All of these things are great to have and I definitely feel they’ve helped enhance my blog but they aren’t essential when starting out. Start posting, engaging with fellow bloggers and spread the word of your blog via social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook) or by commenting on other blogs.
Coming across great resources to make your blogging experience easier and more enjoyable is great. I’ve listed some key apps, tools and advice from other bloggers below that I’d recommend reading/looking into. Trust me – you might think you know it all but there’s something new to learn about growing your blog, becoming more efficient and staying engaged with your following.
Social Media Scheduling – Apps like HootSuite and Buffer are great for scheduling both Twitter and Instagram posts throughout the day. As someone who works full time, it’s hard to find the time throughout the day when your working and in and out of meetings to get tweeting your latest post or links to follow your social medias. Buffer is my personal preference as I just like the app so much – it’s very slick and efficient. Thanks to this app, I can crack on with my job while still getting exposure for my blog out there on the likes of Twitter. A must have!
Google Analytics – This piece of software is nothing short of amazing. It’s the most accurate when helping you measure your traffic, understand more about your audience and seeing which channels of promotion are most popular. If you’re not using GA or think it’s too complicated, there are great Youtube tutorials you can watch on how to work this hard to navigate but gives great results program and the best thing is, it’s free.
Advice from other successful bloggers – There are so many bloggers out there that really know their stuff when it comes to getting a blog off the ground and the good thing is, it’s all from experience they’ve learned along the way. Corrine’s blog contains great posts from everything to SEO boosting tips to reasons why she wouldn’t read your blog and everything within them is very, very helpful. Another great blogger is Becky who has a section on Blogging Tips that are very informative and extremely helpful! Another great resource is Pinterest which has a staggering amount of helpful advice, tips and tricks at your fingertips. I really couldn’t recommend these three resources enough!
Media Kit – If you’re a blogger who is keen to work with brands, then a media kit is something you should consider creating. I’m currently in the process of creating my own thanks to Lauren’s lovely post full of advice on what you need to get started, the kind of information it should include and why you should have one – it totally inspired me to get cracking and make my own.
I feel like I’ve manage to include just about everything I wanted to but in my year of blogging I’ve learned so many great skills, met some lovely people and even now, have the confidence in my content to let ‘real life people’ know about it which trust me, is DAUNTING. I hope you found this post helpful and if you have any tips or tricks you feel are important that I might have missed, then please do share your advice below or tweet/IG me at @whatamydid, my new and improved social media handle name. Thanks for reading if you’ve got this far!