I Love reading about how other people started their blogs and the journey they have been on, as the hints and tips they have are so helpful. Although I haven’t been blogging for very long, I wanted to write my own account in case it may help someone else.
I had been reading blogs for ages but I didn’t know anyone else who did. None of my family members read them nor any of my colleagues. Yet, I loved them. To me blogs are like a magazine that is filled with all the things you want to read or learn about. Some blogs covered a particular topic – like personal finance – others covered lots of different topics. I didn’t have one particular topic I wanted to read about, it was more about whether I liked the style of the person writing it. I would often be known to throw in a comment or two, gleaned from a blog post I had read, into a conversation and people would look strangely at me and ask ‘where did you get the from?’. When I told them I’d read it in a blog, well that just opened a whole plethora of questions about blogs – what where they, who writes them, why did I read them – and no matter how I answered and tried to explain what I loved about them, it would always end in the same look of confusion and doubt on the persons face. Eventually, I stopped mentioning blogs although I did still throw in the information I had gained from them but when the dreaded question was asked as to where I had gotten it from, I started answering with ‘a friend’! It was just soooo much easier.
A few years ago I decided to dabble with a blog myself. I started on the free version of WordPress.com and kept it secret from everyone – including my family. I was sure they wouldn’t understand and I wasn’t sure whether it was something that I could really do. I was in awe of the bloggers I read. They were able to produce such interesting, funny or informative content all the time, some almost daily and I was not sure I could keep up. Needless to say, the blog failed and this was my own fault. I would secretly post something everyday for a week and then not be able to think of a single thing to write about the next week. Then I would write another post and then I wouldn’t. Sometimes I went for months without posting anything and I think there was a total of 3 restarts where I began a post with something along the lines of I’M BACK! Despite all this, I was very grateful to pick up a few followers, although I really don’t know how I did.
As time went on, I still read blogs avidly and I still harboured a desire to have a go myself. I sort of knew what I wanted to write about but I also knew that, if it was to stand any chance of being successful, I had to approach it seriously and devote as much spare time as I could to it. This meant that I had to be open about what I was planning on doing.
It was also around this time that a colleague of mine was going through a distressing situation with a rescue dog they had recently taken in. I had just read a blog post on this exact issue, written by someone who lived in the same town. I copied and pasted the text from the blog post and sent it to the colleague to see if it would help. She then asked for the details of the blog and has now become an avid reader of blogs herself. This made me want to start my own even more, I was sure I had some information that I could share that would help people.
It was the same colleague that inadvertently gave me the push to take action. She worked in an office with another colleague, one with whom we both shared a love of travel and would often pop in to see each other and discuss upcoming travel plans. I had recently booked a holiday and had called in to tell them where I was going and what a fantastic deal it had been. My colleague turned to me and said ‘You should start a blog’ and so I did. The funny thing is – they have no idea. This time I have told my family, as due to the fact I spend every spare minute on this blog, I think they would have noticed anyway haha, but I am not ready for people I work with to know what I am doing yet.
I did lots of research before starting, which I am really glad I did, as the blogging world is a minefield. Most people don’t realise exactly what they are getting themselves into and I am sure lots give up. I hope I manage to keep going as I really do love it.
Despite the research, these are the 5 things that still took me by surprise:
1. Blog Design
2. Social Media
4. Time Required
1. Blog Design
I had read about themes. I knew there were some free ones that came with WordPress and I knew you could purchase some. What wasn’t clear, to me at least, was that I would then spend hours and hours fiddling with pages, categories, sidebars and widgets. In fact, I’d never even heard of a widget before.
2. Social Media
I wasn’t a big social media user in the first place but knew that if I wanted followers (and after all, what is the point of having a blog if no-one is going to read it) I had to embrace it. Two things really surprised me, the first was the amount of time you can spend on social media and two, how much I LOVED it when I was using it for my blog. I set up separate ‘business’ accounts and followed people who were of interest to me from a blog/business perspective. How enlightening! I realised that the main reason I hadn’t really ‘liked’ social media in the first place was that I wasn’t really interested in what the people I was following had to say. Now I can’t get enough of it.
I didn’t realise how important images were to a blog. I had never heard of Canva let alone used it before. I have only had this blog for around 4 months but even now I cringe when I look back at my early images. It is tempting to go back and change them but I have decided not to. It is all part of this blog and my learning curve. I still have so much to still to learn.
4. Time Required
Everything you do on a blog takes a lot of time. You need time to plan what you are going to write about, you need time to research your idea, time to write the blog post, time to create your images (and not just one, you need at least one for your blog and one for each of your social media platforms, as they all require different sizes), time to post or schedule to social media, time to be active in social media, time to constantly tweak the design of your blog and time to look for guidance and help on things that you may be struggling to do.
That leads me quite nicely into the final ‘surprise’ which is support. The blogging and business community has to be the most supportive community around. No matter what your query or question, someone is more than happy to help you. When I first joined some of the Facebook groups I am now part of, I felt intimidated. I was a new blogger who didn’t really know what I was doing, other than what I wanted to blog. I have learned so much from some amazing people and now, occasionally, have the confidence to reach out and help others in the groups when they have come across the same stumbling block that I was helped out of.
I will enjoy looking back on this post in the future and I hope it may help someone who may be thinking of starting their own blog. I would highly recommend it. It has opened up a whole new world to me, one that I would never have found if I hadn’t taken the first step of starting this blog and one I don’t want to be without now.
That might sound a little deep to you, but if there are any bloggers out there who come across this blog post, I would love to hear how you feel about your blog.
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