March 30, 2015

Important Lessons in Blogging

For a change of pace, I thought I would give you a look at the blogging side of my stay-at-home mom life.. The first year has brought many ups and downs with much trial and error. Having a pregnancy and new baby threw me for a loop. Really, I'm still learning about this big, complicated bloggy world. Isn't that how life normally goes? Just when you think you have a handle on things, you find  something knew to learn. It keeps things exciting. Even though I've been a writer, editor, publications manager, and professional communicator for years, blogging opened a whole new world I hadn't expected. Truly, I didn't know what all I was in for and didn't have all the preparation I thought I did.

Here are the top things I've learned about blogging.

Blogging takes lots of time
Sure, you can quickly write a post and put it up on your blog. But it's not likely to get many views and your readership won't grow. Decide if that matters to you or not.

If it does, you need to put time into writing, editing, and photos-- all with the same style and branding. Spend more time promoting your posts. Pin them, tweet them, Facebook them. Not just on your personal Facebook page, but on one dedicated to your blog. That Facebook page, Pinterest, and Twitter account also needs honing and love. None are a love 'em and leave 'em type of medium. More time needs to be put into networking and promoting your posts that way. Each post, between planning, writing, editing, photos, and promoting takes more time than you'd expect.

Networking
You won't get far in the blogging world without networking. Plus, it's just plain lonely without friends. Join groups and boards to meet other bloggers. Help and support them and in return they'll help and support you. It's about building a community. All those people are in the same boat as you. No one else understands why you must put in so much time for so little money to start. Or why you have to stay up until 1 a.m. to knock out the next blog post or plan future ones. They'll also be the ones to help you figure out why Google Analytics ate your stats and refuses to spit them back out. Blogging takes a village. Find your village.

Stick to It
Sticking with blogging when you are spending lots of time on it but not getting tangible results yet is difficult. It's down right discouraging. You have to do it anyway. When life happens, writing articles according to your schedule can easily get pushed to the side. It happens once, then twice, then before you know it you haven't blogged in months. At that point, you're back almost at square one and may not want to keep going. Pick it back up anyway. Better yet, push yourself so you never get to that point. Blogging is not easy. Networking, planning, and scheduling help you to keep going. Setting attainable goals is helpful so you can see your success as you go while staying motivated.

Plan Posts
Make your editorial calendar your new best friend. It is truly a life saver. You can plan out your articles in advance that way while balancing topics. Committing to posting a topic on a certain day helps hold you accountable. It's also great to battle writer's block as you can add ideas as you have them and when you're dry, you've already got yourself covered. You can also plan the photos you need for each post.

Schedule Time
With all the work a blog involves, scheduling time to do it all is beyond helpful. Find a schedule that works for you and get into a groove. Setting aside time, even if it's just 15 minutes at various points of the day, really helps you to get through all that needs to be done.

Focus on Content
Content is the backbone of a blog. If you don't have that, you don't have anything. Find your voice and your style. Focus on good writing and grammar. If you don't have that, your content won't matter. The old adage of writing what you know holds true. Just as important to writing is editing. Edit everything, then edit it again. When you think you're done editing, edit one more time. Look at other blogs in your niche so you know what topics are over done. If they've been done a million times, and you don't have anything new to add, a new angle, or a fresh voice, avoid it. 

Photos are equally important. Balance the number of photos to amount of copy. Watermark them. Work on having quality photos. All pictures should support, not detract from, your words.

Very importantly, don't steal content and give credit where credit is due. Be careful not to use copy-righted photos. They're not yours, leave them alone. If you do a round up, link back to the original sources. If you're going to share an article on your blog, make sure it's clear that it's not yours and link back. It's extra nice to let the author know you're sharing their work.

Learn
To bring it full circle, let's go back to learning. You can never know too much about blogging. Each of those social networking promotion platforms I mentioned take learning, as does writing original content, editing, managing a site, monetizing, taking good pictures, editing pictures, water marking, SEO, and so, so much more. Take advantage of that network you establish to ask them questions and to keep your eye out for new things to learn. Check out the Associated Press Stylebook (the editor's Bible) and a few good grammar books, such as Stunk and White's The Elements of Style and The Gregg Reference Manual. All of it makes for a better blog. And a better blogger.


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21 comments:

  1. Wouldn't it be lovely if we could just publish a post and it took off from there? Nope, that's just the beginning. Blogging isn't for the faint of heart!

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  2. I think networking is a huge part of this whole blogging thing! I think the more people you know, the more you can share.

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  3. I love my editorial calendar but have to admit i move things around more than i should LOL.

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  4. Hello Ms. M!

    These are great tips you shared...the one thing newbie bloggers have to keep in mind is that this takes time to build. If one is determined and willing to work hard, then it won't be long before theyr'e getting their name out there.

    Gladly passing this on! Have a great week!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, it takes so much time and effort to build, you just have to keep at it.

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  5. So many things to do but they are all so critical to blogging! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. Great tips here! I really need to work on a content calendar and scheduling.. a year into it and I am still a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl!

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  7. Wonderful tips! Networking is so important. I'm still working at it but it's a major part of it all!

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  8. Thank you for wonderful tips, I'm a new blogger and I'll apply this awesome tips.

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  9. Networking and content are big. Planning is very important also

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  10. You are an amazing blogger and I always love and appreciate your comments on my blog. You are right - it does take alot of time, but it is worth it. Thank you for sharing this! Keep writing!

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    1. Thank you so much!! You do a wonderful job yourself! :)

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  11. I think most people wouldn't believe how much time blogging takes... but it's worth it! Keep up the good work!

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  12. It does take a lot of time. And hopefully it pays off.

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  13. You are so right. I really liked your list a lot.

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  14. Great tips! I'm pinning this post to my blogging board! Thanks so much for the advice! :)
    My favorite part is when you stressed pushing through those tough times. I'm very new to the blogging world and have found this past week to be overwhelming...Do you have any suggestions for online blogging courses?? I really want to do one, but I don't know which ones are reputable and which are scams. I'd appreciate any advice you have. Thanks again!
    ~Heidi C.

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    1. Thank you! Welcome to blogging. :) I haven't taken any courses, I've just been using what I've learned on the job and in college mixed with my own research/trial and error/learning from others. While I haven't taken the courses, I've heard lots of good things about the Inspired Bloggers Network University. They've also got a great group (Inspired Bloggers Network) on FB that you can check out.

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  15. It's surprising how much time you spend networking, planning and promoting as opposed to writing as a blogger. I'm still getting used to that balance.

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  16. A very well written post and very informative too. I am a blogger and I sure need guidance from an expert like you. Keep writing dear!

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  17. Yes, it takes a lot more time than people think and can get very overwhelming. Taking time out is important and even cutting back on group activities might help too.

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  18. great tips, as i am still learning how to be a good blogger. thank you for share

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Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. As a busy mom, I'm not always able to respond to each one, though I read and appreciate them all.