Hello Everyone! Somehow it’s been over 6 months since I started this little blog! Throughout the last few months I’ve thought about so many things I wish I knew before I started my blog that I thought I’d share them with you. These may be helpful to any of you that are thinking about starting a blog. Or, if you are a blogger yourself you may think “yep, wish I knew that too”.
+ Getting readers/traffic is WORK
Readers aren’t just going to come across your blog. I knew it would take work to get readers but I honestly thought if enough time went by, people would just find my blog. In retrospect, most people don’t just stumble upon blogs, they are usually directed to them in some shape or form. Most of my readers come from Instagram, Pintrest or link ups. If I don’t engage in those channels, my readers drop. Even after a few months of consistent views, the one week that I’ve been out on family matters and didn’t engage, my views dropped significantly. Even though posts were still going up, my views went down since I wasn’t promoting them.
+ WordPress.com & WordPress.org are different
Yeah, I am on idiot and many seasoned bloggers are going to roll their eyes at me. But, perhaps this will help someone out there.
Even though I had been thinking about a blog for years, when I finally decided to do it I was so eager to get set up that I rushed through everything. I just knew some of the bigger bloggers used WordPress so I wanted to go in with the big guns too. It didn’t even cross my mind that there could potentially be two options. I stupidly set up my blog on wordpress.com and realized the very next day I really wanted to be on wordpress.org. Read about the difference between the two here. However, since I had just bought my domain name, it was locked for 60 days so I couldn’t transfer over for two months. When it was finally unlocked, it was a pain in the butt to transfer. Mind you I know nothing about websites, hosting, coding or even the right lingo for all this stuff.
+ Posts are Time Consuming
Another obvious one, but let me expand. Since I have been following tons of blogs for years I already knew blogging was time consuming. What I didn’t account for it how much time goes into a post that isn’t writing time. Most people think of a blogging as mostly a writing exercise. However, writing is actually the easiest part of the whole process. Once you have the writing down, you need pictures which are a whole other beast themselves. I was foolishly under the impression that I would just grab a few products, set them on my dining table and somehow get magazine worthy shots. WRONG. The first time I tried taking pictures for the blog they turned out so poorly that I almost gave up.
For good shots you need very specific light, great props and other random trinkets to make it work (like tape to prevent lipsticks from rolling off your balcony). Therefore, for each post, I need to plan ahead to ensure the right light, prepare the products & props, haul them over to the balcony where I get the best light and then at least 30min-1 hour of taking pics. For every shot I use on the blog I probably have 50 outtakes. Sometimes, when I go look at the pictures on the laptop I don’t like any of them and have to scrap them.
But it’s not over. Then you need to edit the pictures, size them properly for the blog, and if you are really going for it, edit graphics. After that there is the time linking products mentioned on the blog and promoting the post on social media.
I certainly have a much higher appreciation for other bloggers now that I am attempting to do it myself.
+ Social Media can be Overwhelming
I was already an Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat & Pinterest user. What could be so hard about incorporating the blog? Umm well, again -> Time. Other than creating content which I have discussed above, using social media to promote a blog takes a lot of time. Do you have the perfect Instagram shot? Is it the best time of the day to post? Is your pic Pinterest worthy? Do you have a clever caption?
The first couple of weeks of the blog I read countless bloggings tips about using social media to promote your blog. And don’t get me wrong, they were all great tips and advice. But, when you are just starting out, is it realistic for you to create content, manage a site and actively engage in five social media channels? Probably not. I say, pick one or two outlets at first and go from there.
I realized I couldn’t do all of them. Or at least not very well. Since I use Instagram the most I figured I could stick with that. I also knew Pinterest could get me a lot of traffic on the long run so I also use that. Even though, I have twitter and Snapchat accounts, I use them less frequently than the others. I don’t use Facebook for the blog at all. That is just what I can manage now. I can always start incorporating the others in the future.
+ It Costs Money
Ok, it doesn’t have to cost money. Yes, you can use a free service for your blog, a free template that comes with a logo, etc. But, if you want full control of your blog, a more customized layout, a unique logo, an actual blog email, you are probably going to have to pay something. I spent money to purchase my domain, for hosting, logo design and template. I also knew I needed something better than my iPhone pictures so I bought a camera and a few props like the marble board I use for most of my pictures.
And, depending on your topic, you may need to spend money on items to blog about. I mostly blog about beauty products so I often buy items specifically to review on the blog. Of course you don’t have to spend money, but it would get pretty old if I just blogged over and over again about the same items I already own. So, unless your blog gets popular enough for companies to send you stuff for free, you may need to make a little investment at first.
+ It often feels like you are talking to an empty room
This has been the hardest one for me. It’s something I didn’t really consider before I started blogging because I’ve always on the other side (reading other blogs). I know people are reading my posts. I can see it in my stats. But, for the most part I don’t know who all of you are. I don’t know if you made it through the entire post, if you liked it, if you want more of certain types of posts, etc. The fact is, over 95% of my readers don’t comment (which is totally understandable, I never commented on blogs myself) so sometimes it feels lonely.
+ Getting pretty shots of yourself is HARD
For years I saw pictures of bloggers happily strolling down the street, smiling at the camera with beautiful backdrops, applying their make up, etc. and not once did I wonder: who is behind the camera actually taking the shots? For any readers that aren’t bloggers themselves, have you ever thought of that? It really never crossed my mind until I wanted some shots of myself and I didn’t have a personal photographer handy.
The way I see it, you have a few options here:
1. Hire a professional – But this costs money so it’s unlikely an expense you want to bear when just starting out.
2. Get someone in your personal circle to take the shots – This is hit or miss. My husband has very little patience for taking pictures and he isn’t a photographer. I love him and all but he sucks as a photographer. I’ll walk all the way down the sidewalk to attempt a fake candid shot walking towards him and he’ll take two pictures. Of course my eyes are half closed in one and I look like crap in the other. My sister has a better eye for pictures and knows she needs to take 50 shots to get one good one. But she doesn’t live with me and she’s not at my disposal to take pictures whenever I want. If you have a patient significant other, count yourself as lucky.
3. Get a stand for your camera and hope for the best. I haven’t done this myself, I don’t think I could go set up shop somewhere in public with a camera stand and take pictures. I’d need a little more courage for that.
Now every time I see non-selfie pictures of other bloggers I wonder who is taking the shots. And I certainly appreciate their effort even more.
Alright, there you have it, 7 things I wish I knew before I started my blog. For all the bloggers out there, any other things you wish you knew?
Have a great rest of the week!