What I wish I had known before starting a blog.
The Involuntary Housewife is celebrating a sort of mini anniversary next week. Y’all I have been sharing tests from Pinterest a couple times a week for a year and a half! I started this blog to avoid having to call everyone I knew every time something that turned out, or didn’t turn out. I hate talking on the phone and this seemed like a great alternative. My first readers were all related to me and it never occurred to me that at some point other people might read it to.
So much has changed since those first days, I’ve learned so much and at this sort of anniversary I wanted to share a few things that I wished I had known when I started.
Being social is a good thing. I’m an introverted hermit and still struggle with this a bit. The first several months I was blogging, I was all by myself. Now I belong to a local blogging group that meets once a month (although I have missed the last few meetings…I promise I’m going back!). I have some online groups that I belong to and am going to a conference in September. Getting to know other bloggers makes a huge difference. My husband doesn’t understand why I’m having a meltdown when Facebook changes the algorithm again so only 3 people saw my last post but my blogging groups get it!
Take Notes. When I first started blogging I worked from memory. My memory is sort of touch and go so if I didn’t sit down and write the post immediately I would wind up staring at the wall trying to remember what I did. Sometimes I will do several tests in a day and after so many, the details can blend together and get fuzzy so I use Evernote to make notes for everything I do. They have an app for my phone, my tablet and a web version so I can make notes no matter where I am. When a brilliant idea or phrase hits me, all I have to do is grab the closest electronic device and type it in.
Organization makes a difference. My first few posts were all over the place. I had 2 in one day, then nothing for a few days and then once a day for a few days. That’s not a schedule I could keep up with so I decided I needed to figure out what I could do to make it consistent. I sat down and came up with a schedule I could stick to every week and wrote it on a printable calendar. I’ve tried a couple of different systems and pencil and paper works best for me. It doesn’t matter as long as it works. Now I know what I want to post and when, any deadlines I have coming up (like my newsletter next week!) and when I need to do more testing to fill gaps in content.
Own your site. After a couple of months I decided this was something I was going to keep doing and decided I needed to make a change. The free sites are great BUT they can be shut down for any reason at all. The idea still gives me nightmares and once I realized I was going to stick with it, I made the jump. My first hosting company was a mess and after a month of not being able to get my site up and running I made the switch to Web Hosting Hub and have been thrilled with them. There are so many things I need to keep track of or worry about already, my hosting doesn’t need to be one of them.
Build an email list. This is something I’ve started working on in the last couple of months. If the worst should happen and my site disappears, my backup is corrupted and I have no other way to retrieve my content I want to be able to get in touch with my readers to let them know what’s going on. I use Mad Mimi for my newsletters, which are a fun way to keep in touch anyway. I offer an exclusive test every month and share a bit about what has been going on outside the blog. Not only does it keep me connected to my readers, it also gives me some peace of mind in case the worst ever happens. Since we’re talking about newsletters, the new one is going out next Tuesday and you can sign up for it here.
Be yourself. I’m not someone who can go in my kitchen and pull a tomato, a hot dog and some teriyaki sauce out of the fridge and turn it into a 5 course meal. I need a recipe, which I then skim and often forget to follow the directions. Sometimes it works and other times it turns into a sticky mess that flies all over me, the kitchen and the dogs. That’s OK, y’all know that if I can’t be an example I’ll settle for being a warning to others. I had an identity crisis a few months after I started my blog. I had more readers and got nervous, my entire tone changed, it was a constant struggle and I hate those posts. I finally got myself back together and I think we’re all happier for it.
In the end, blogging is a lot of hard work and requires a lot more than I ever expected. I’m still learning more every day and I still love doing it.
What are some things you wished you had known before you started something? Leave me a comment and tell me all about it.
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