My First Year of Blogging

I published my first blog post one year ago to the day!

Initially, I thought I would be exploring writing for myself. I wasn’t very concerned about the reach of the blog. I told some of my family and friends about it, but didn’t really “advertise” beyond my small circle. I was also pretty preoccupied with the more technical behind-the-scenes aspects of maintaining a blog, like the ever mysterious Google Analytics.

 

Let it rain champagne!

 

I was aware early on that I didn’t seem to have a blogging tribe. I’m not a fashion, beauty, travel, food, or mommy blogger. I’m not selling courses or books. I write about my experiences, observations, silly things that make me laugh, random thoughts… I had made a few attempts to connect with other bloggers and gain a greater understanding of the blogosphere by joining the popular blogging networks. My efforts didn’t pan though out so I went back to tweaking the blog and sort of forgot all about networking.

I had noticed that the nicer looking blogs tended to be on WordPress not Blogger, which I had chosen because it was easy to set up. I wanted my blog to be more functional and to better reflect my personality so nine posts in, I jumped ship. As I enjoyed playing around with my blog design and becoming familiar with WordPress, I realised that I was blogging in a tiny bubble. Sure, it was nice to receive feedback from friends and family, but I couldn’t turn to them for blogging advice.

 

Facebook

I had a Facebook profile with no posts and no friends. I used Facebook to login to other websites. Out of the blue, I remembered that I had read about Facebook groups for bloggers. I began doing searches for “blogging” on Facebook and suddenly found myself in the midst of quite a supportive community. I still haven’t found my particular tribe of bloggers, but regardless of niche, most of us have the same basic questions, challenges, and wins. I was so elated, I began joining Facebook groups with wild abandon! Now, a word of caution.

I soon discovered that all blogging groups are not created equal. I left one group after the long list of requirements for engaging in its threads resulted in little to no engagement on my blog. Another group’s rules were so complex and the tone so severe that I thought they’d be off with my head if I did the wrong thing. Other groups were moderated so willy-nilly that the purpose of the group was lost in the melee. Choose your blogging groups wisely.

And then there’s the Facebook page. From what I’ve read, and from what other bloggers have told me, Facebook pages don’t get a whole lot of traffic unless you pay for advertisements. I’m on a budget and have no intention of paying to boost my page or posts. That’s a-okay because I only created the page in order to convert my Instagram to a business account.

 

Instagram

You know those images of bloggers surrounded by a sea of white as they sip coffee from impossibly adorable mugs, or those expertly composed flat-lays with perfect lighting? Yeah, that ain’t my Instagram. I appreciate those beautifully themed accounts but that isn’t me or my life. That’s not to say that I ignore the advice of the Instagram gurus who approve and applaud such accounts. I have attempted to better represent my blog by cleaning up my profile and streamlining the images towards the kinds of themes I write about.  I’ve also done my share of research on hashtags. When I was on Instagram a few years ago, it was much easier to build a following. Now, it’s very important to find your community in order to thrive. Hashtags are a great way to do just that. Instagram pods/booster groups are also fantastic for connecting with other bloggers on this platform. Again, a word of caution.

You see, pods only work at their greatest potential if every member of the pod is committed to the pod. Some people are eager to join but you never hear from them after they’ve asked to be included. Some people join the pod but you never see them again. Some people want to be in the pod but they don’t want to actually follow its rules. Some people leave the pod without saying anything. Some people give 100%, others not so much. However, if you get past those negatives, pods are a wonderful way to bond with other bloggers. I’ve met some truly delightful folks this way and I appreciate every one of them.

Onto the follow-to-unfollow method for growing followers. I think it’s dumb and it’s sad. I unfollow any account that unfollows me after I’ve followed. Your content will never be that special to me. It’s so easy to tell which accounts are using bots to like, comment, and follow too. I’m also wary of accounts that appear to be curating images from other sources without properly crediting the rightful owners. I treat those accounts the same way I treat spam!

 

Pinterest

Once upon a time I had almost 1,800 followers on my personal Pinterest. I was curating stuff I loved. I created two food boards, and like an uncontrollable virus, food pins eclipsed everything else on my feed! When I decided to convert to a business account (just in case), I decided to audit what I was curating. I got rid of many boards and in so doing, got rid of over 1,500 followers.

I have since reworked my profile to include a variety of blog-centric boards because that’s what I’m interested in at the moment. I don’t think I’ll be using Pinterest to drive traffic to the blog because it has never generated that much traffic anyway. I experimented with pinnable graphics but I don’t like them in my posts so I deleted the board that I had dedicated to the blog. Maybe I’ll come up with a new Pinterest strategy in the coming months.

 

StumbleUpon

It had been almost two years since I’d navigated StumbleUpon. Yes, it caused a huge spike in views. And yes, it simultaneously increased my bounce rate. The site was always crashing or never loading so I eventually deleted my account. I was able to surpass the views I received from StumbleUpon by promoting my blog in other ways.

 

Twitter

I have no idea what I’m doing here again. Twitter to me, is like that lover you’re still hanging around even though you’ve left the relationship in your mind and spirit. I haven’t worked out what I’m going to do other than tweet the links to my blog posts. I’ve locked the account till I figure it out.

 

Reddit

I’m there. That’s it.

 

Some days, I feel like I could run the blogging world:

 

 

On other days, I know nothing:

 

 

There’s an overwhelming amount of advice and information on what bloggers should and shouldn’t do. Much of this information is contradictory or repetitive. My advice to the newbies, like myself, who might be a tad frustrated and disheartened is to enjoy every minute of what you do on your blog. There’s really no other reason to be doing it. Find your way. Find your voice. I don’t have it all figured out and from what I’ve read nobody does. The landscape changes so quickly even the experts are playing catch up sometimes.

The name of the game is community. Find your tribe. If you’re struggling to get followers to your blog or its related social media; if nobody’s reading your posts; if you’re struggling to be seen in the sea of blogs, drop your link in the comments. Say a little about yourself and why you blog.

As we march into 2017, I encourage you to share the love. We can get further individually if we move forward together. You don’t have to go it alone.

Here’s to another year of blogging. *cheers*

 

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30 Comments

  1. 2nd June 2017 / 12:57 am

    This has given me a little bit of hope as a blogger. Struggling to keep up with everything while following blogging advice from experts made me really depressed and I almost stopped blogging. But reading this made me realise that I just need to be me and remember what works for another might not work for me. 🙂

    • 2nd June 2017 / 9:51 am

      As long as you enjoy blogging, it will make you happy, regardless of what the “gurus” say, whether or not you become Internet famous. Do it for you. Do what feels good to you. Don’t compare your journey with anybody else’s. So happy that you found this post helpful. 🙂

  2. 31st January 2017 / 1:41 pm

    Melissa,

    I feel like this post read my mind! I’ve been struggling with how to define my niche… and find myself wondering why I have to force everything to fit into some marketing term in order for people to connect with the message. I’m so happy to see there are more bloggers out there who are in the same boat! So thank you so much for posting with such honesty!

    I’m more of a Pinterest and IG girl myself, the other platforms just don’t feel like what I enjoy. I’m learning to be okay with that, too. I come from an academic background like yourself, so it can be hard to distance myself from believing in rules and regulations. But I’ve found that things work out so much better for my peace of mind when I do.

    I started thetruthpractice.com as a platform to promote my self-published romantic-comedy last April. And then I totally fell off with posting because I didn’t feel like I had a message for anyone. I’ve since been inspired to begin again, and I’m loving the process. Thanks for reminding me what it’s all about 🙂

    • 31st January 2017 / 2:23 pm

      Everly, if I had a prize for the longest comment ever on this blog, you’d win it! *champagne* Thanks so much for reading and for your thoughtful input. It feels so good to know that I’m not the only one. I’ll check out your blog and connect with you on Instagram!

  3. 17th January 2017 / 4:02 pm

    Happy anniversary! I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s struggling with getting engagement from social media. It feels like most people within the blogging community receive a great amount of traffic from these websites, but I don’t, like, at all. I also don’t have a “niche” at all, so that’s cool!

    • 17th January 2017 / 8:09 pm

      Thanks so much! Us folks with no niche need to stick together. Will follow your blog now! 🙂

  4. 17th January 2017 / 9:38 am

    Happy anniversary! Really encouraging to read that I’m not the only one who has struggled! Well done on keeping going! 🙂

    • 17th January 2017 / 9:51 am

      Thanks, Vicky! We’re in this together. Keep moving forward.

  5. sarahii
    6th January 2017 / 10:33 am

    This is really great. I always hear people driving high traffic using pinterest, but I just can’t do it! Also I would faint if I had 1800 followers . I am trying to build my Instagram following as well. I just started my blog in Aug. And all the corresponding socisl media has been slowly growing. It’s kind of fun, too.

    • 6th January 2017 / 12:42 pm

      Thanks for reading! It’s great fun learning what works and what doesn’t. I created a Pinterest Marketing board for resources that might answer my Pinterest questions. Haven’t found the answer yet.

  6. 4th January 2017 / 11:21 am

    You and I are alike when it comes to blogging 🙂 But I haven’t been blogging since I decided to build websites for others. Funny but everytime I’ve been asked by clients about SEO, I suggest blogging to them. Thank you about the pods thing.. I am the one who join pods (only one, though) and ignored it. I think I will be active again. Happy first year of blogging!

    • 4th January 2017 / 6:18 pm

      Thank you and thanks for reading. Wishing continued success in your business!

  7. 3rd January 2017 / 5:24 pm

    Hey Melissa, congrats on your anniversary! I enjoyed reading this post and I love that last paragraph. I laughed about the Twitter and Reddit parts because that’s exactly what I do!
    I started working on my blog this last summer, then stopped for a while. Decided to get back and be more active 3 months ago and here I am :). Still confused, overwhelmed, and a little lost. I really hope I settle into a productive routine soon instead of spending time on reading blogging tips and tricks (the same info over and over again!) and trying to be active on ALL social media platforms.
    I love writing about beauty: diy treatments, trends, makeup reviews, beauty tips in general- http://365beautytips.com/ .
    The beginning can be so frustrating, but the feedback I get from other bloggers makes things so much better :). I’m thankful for all those readers who took the time to comment or just read my posts, and I hope my audience grows and I have a happy 1 year anniversary.
    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement!

    • 3rd January 2017 / 6:20 pm

      The support from fellow bloggers really helps. I’m trying to find my routine too. I’m experimenting to see if I can schedule posts on certain days or if I should just stick with posting whenever I feel like it.

  8. 3rd January 2017 / 3:32 pm

    Congratulations on your Blogerversary – I started my blog https://emptynestfulltum.com 6 months ago, when my Youngest was due to go to Uni, and, I guess I felt a bit useless, like the job I had been doing for 25 years, just disappeared (parenthood) – the blog was to document that ‘next’ stage, becoming me again… plus I love the distraction

    • 3rd January 2017 / 6:22 pm

      Thanks so much. I love the name of your blog, and I hope that it blossoms into so much more. Will check it out now.

  9. 3rd January 2017 / 12:32 pm

    Hi Melissa! I love this post. I just started my blog 6 months ago & felt overwhelmed so many times since then. I completely agree with “I know nothing…head slap” because I definitely have those days too. Plus, there is SO much information out there & you get pulled in every direction and next thing you know, you haven’t achieved anything on your “To-Do List” for the entire day! Thanks again for sharing your journey!

    ~Jessica | http://www.petitestylescript.com/

    • 3rd January 2017 / 12:36 pm

      Yes! What’s even worse is sometimes I spend time following the suggestions I read, but the results never materialise. We just have to figure it out I guess. Thanks so much for reading.

  10. 3rd January 2017 / 11:48 am

    YES. I feel you on all of these. I had no idea blogging was such a complex circle if people, boards and tricks. So much is smoke and mirrors. I am a writer by heart too, and feel lost in not having a clique. I don’t use fancy cameras, I don’t put my kids on display, I don’t share my daily life. I am a mom blogger, but don’t fit into those circles. I write observations. I write about life as the big picture. Thanks for this post, its made me remember it is okay, to not be part of the pack.

    • 3rd January 2017 / 11:55 am

      We are on the same page, Yvette. I do meet bloggers like us from time to time so I know we’re out there. We just have to organise our tribe. Thanks so much for reading and for commenting so passionately.

  11. 3rd January 2017 / 11:27 am

    Love this! Congrats on your blogging anniversary! 🙂

  12. 2nd January 2017 / 11:57 am

    Sounds like you learned a lot! Good to know about StumbleUpon. I’ve been thinking about using it but it seems overwhelming to me when I’ve barely gotten to the point where FB, IG, Pinterest, etc. are becoming easier for me to use.

    • 2nd January 2017 / 12:32 pm

      Thanks for reading! I focus on one social media at a time. I try to read as much as I can in order to get the most out of them, but sometimes, I have to stop myself. It is overwhelming! I’m not adding any new social media till I completely figure out how I’m using the ones I have to promote the blog.

  13. 2nd January 2017 / 11:56 am

    I can really relate to everything in your post.

    I started http://www.fromthepennyjar.com as a way to motivate myself to be more financially responsible. I write about small ways of earning extra cash and saving a few Pounds here and there… nothing too technical or hardcore. I also write about everyday life.

    • 2nd January 2017 / 12:35 pm

      Thanks for reading! Blogs are a great way to stay accountable, to remind ourselves that we said we were going to accomplish something. I’m going to check out your blog now.

  14. 2nd January 2017 / 11:25 am

    I love WP! Super easy to use and blogging can be fun if you’re doing it because you love it. It’s so easy to get distracted by other’s blogs. Congratulations on year one, keep doing YOU!

    • 2nd January 2017 / 11:55 am

      You’re so right. Thank you!

  15. 31st December 2016 / 9:40 pm

    That’s so funny that you had an “off with her head” experience with a blogging group. I had a similar experience. It was almost like they were yelling the rules. Lol.

    I’m still trying to grow http://thetasteteam.com in my unique style and voice, and figure out social media. I’m coming out of my shell in 2017!! I blog because food and adventure are my hobbies and writing is my passion! I blog because people need to know about local businesses and hidden gems that normally wouldn’t get the spotlight. I blog because I want to create my own terms in business and life.

    I agree, we’re stronger together (sorry about the political phrase, lol). I think you’re doing great. You’ll be fine.

    • 1st January 2017 / 9:49 am

      Danielle, your comment is the beginning of what could be an awesome blog post for you! I agree with being true to ourselves in everything that we do. We can learn from others but ultimately we have to do what feels right to us. I’m sure that thetasteteam will grow from strength to strength in 2017!

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