With 2018 here and flying by fast, it made me realize “Wow it’s been 1 ½ years since I started my blog!” Where does the time go? Time flies when you are working hard and having fun. I always like to check in now and then and let you know what’s going on in my life. So, I figured with the new year starting, I’d share 14 lessons I have learned after 18 months of blogging.
Since starting this blog Impurrfectlife in summer of 2016, it’s been quite the journey. I had a milestone birthday this week and if someone would have told me 5 years ago, I’d have my own website and I’d say “Who me?!” Now that I’ve been blogging for a little while, I’ll share the lessons I’ve learned so far on this journey. I’m sure I’ll have many more lessons to add in the future. So those of you that are new, get a pen and take notes!
Blogging is more than just writing. It’s a lot of work!
I’m a hard worker and knew that blogging would take work but I had no idea the extent of the work involved. Wow! I know you may have heard this before, but there’s a reason 99.99% of bloggers repeat this same sentiment. First, let me say that I blog however do have help on the back-end on the tech side. That is a blessing being 18 months in with blogging. There is a lot of work involved. What do I mean? It’s more than just writing content and coming up with brainstorm topics to write about. There are so many things to think about.
I had to do my homework and research and see what was mandatory and necessary. What would I write about? What would be my niche? How about my mission statement? Also, I had to consider a logo and a name for the blog. Then, I had to think about what I had to do legally to make sure to follow FTC rules as well as make sure I had things in place like privacy, terms and conditions and disclaimers on my blog. Also, if working with an affiliate program I needed to have proper disclosures. Then there are things to consider like how to protect images, content, etc. How do I create pinnable images? and cover photos? I had to learn about terms like SEO and keywords. I’m still learning!
Additionally, on top of that I had to learn better time management and social sharing. Like many people I started a blog while working a full-time 9 to 5 job and dealing with a long commute. It can be exhausting, so managing time was essential. However even with that, I was sleep deprived often because I could only find time to write and share on social after work hours, late night or early morning communing to work. Blogging involves lots of research, time management, social engagement and interaction with readers outside of writing. Whew!
Focusing on numbers is not everything
The second lesson I have come to learn the hard way is numbers and likes are not everything. Coming into the world of blogging and seeing other successful bloggers is intimidating. Reading on other forums about bloggers with 100,000 monthly readers and 500,000 followers on Instagram and YouTube is overwhelming. However, listening to an audio clip by serial entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, gave me perspective. To paraphrase “Likes doesn’t mean a thing if it doesn’t translate to genuine engagement and conversion to sales.”
Also, what I learned by following community forums is that social media followers can be bought. I never knew this, but it’s true. People starting out with a blog or business to promote can buy followers. This really gave me a new perspective and I felt better about myself. Buying followers is not authentic traffic and are automated bots. In the long haul it’s not long-lasting.
This is not to say numbers don’t matter to a blogger, but what I have come to understand is that when I focus on putting energy into the quality and content, the numbers will come. I shouldn’t compare one bloggers numbers and success to mine. We all have our own journey. I don’t need to get down on myself or envy another person’s numbers because quite frankly you have no idea what it took for them to get those numbers.
I’ve learned that I’d rather have organic natural followers that stand the test of time over buying followers. It may be a slow and long road to growth in numbers but that’s okay. I want followers and supporters that stand the test of time. It’s about building a genuine community in the long haul.
Expanding social media presence is necessary
If you know me personally, you know a couple of years ago I was not keen on having a social media presence at all. I liked my anonymity. So, what changed my mind? Learning from the mistakes of other bloggers.
When I started my blog, I was obsessed with trying to find as much information as I could about “Mistakes to avoid” or “Things I wish I knew when I started a blog”. One of the reoccurring things that would come up is that other experienced bloggers regretted staying anonymous when starting their blog and not using a variety of social platforms. So, I bit the bullet and started building a social media presence.
What I also discovered is that my readers don’t have access to all social platforms. Just because Facebook and Instagram are two of the most popular platforms, doesn’t mean your readers necessarily use those platforms. Some folks prefer Bloglovin or only Twitter.
I had to learn that I need to diversify my reach to have my content seen by as many people as possible. It sounds like common sense I know but 18 months ago this was all new to me. I’m a little older and wiser now so, I’ve learned from others mistakes and continue to grow and diversity my social media channels.
My creativity is put on display
One of the joys of blogging has been the ability ability to share my creativity. So, whether that means writing content, creating pins and sharing my art, I’ve been able to put my creativity on display for the world to see. Blogging has provided a great opportunity to let my work be seen by so many more people compared to word of mouth in person. The internet is definitely a powerful medium of sharing content and work worldwide. It’s been fulfilling to know people are inspired by my writing and art.
Strength in vulnerability
Starting this blog came from a vulnerable time in my life. It was actually my husband’s idea for me to try blogging as a way to share my feelings dealing with pet loss. My thoughts were “Perhaps other people can relate to what I’m feeling. There’s got to be other people who feel like I do.”
And after 18 months of blogging, I’ve come to realize I was right! There are so many people who can identify with exactly what I’ve gone through and that’s validating and healing for me. Out of my vulnerability came strength.
Silent followers are watching
I have a growing number of followers on my social media channels. I can see that. My numbers are growing slowly but still growing none the less. However, one thing I often forget are those followers that are silent. What do I mean? I’ve come to learn that there are readers of my blog out there that haven’t signed up for my mailing list or clicked the “follow” button on my social media but find time in their day to check out my blog. These silent followers find me because of a guest post I’ve done for another company or see what I’m up to because of my engagement on social media or because of a comment I made on another person’s blog.
It makes me feel great to read a message or get a comment from a fan that says “I don’t comment online but I’ve been following your blog for a while and I really can relate to your experience” or “I don’t follow your blog all the time but you really helped my friend.”
These personal testimonies really make me happy and help me to remember that just because no one may comment, doesn’t mean people aren’t watching. So, it’s important to keep going and posting even when you think people aren’t watching. I’m helping make a difference in people’s lives.
Fellow bloggers give more than just tips
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned thus far is that bloggers give more than just good blogging advice. One of my favorite blogging communities is the BlogPaws Community. After suffering the loss of my pet Dusty, I found a tremendous amount of support to my experience in the BlogPaws community. Interacting with other pet bloggers and bloggers of other niches, provided a great supportive network. Not only have my blogging peers given great tips and advice concerning blogging, they have shared their own personal testimonies as to their own similar experiences with their pets.
Sharing that experience with me provided validation and healing I didn’t expect. I always hoped I could provide that for others however had zero expectation of that coming back to me. Having a great support network was an unexpected blessing I am very grateful for.
Getting a new kind of education
Along with support in the blogosphere, I am learning along the way. I am getting quite the education online these days. By interacting online and socializing with other bloggers, I’ve been able to learn so much information about issues facing pets and current trends in the blogging community.
Before starting my blog, I did not have any knowledge about wobbly cats, pet message therapy or adoption challenges faced by certain dog breeds. After blogging for a while I have come to understand that there are so many other aspects and issues I am completely ignorant about . That’s okay because I’m a work in progress and continue to learn and grow in the blogosphere community. I’m older and wiser now because of my time spend engaging with other bloggers. This in invaluable because it’ll only make me a better pet parent the third time around when the time comes.
Similar views – “Pets are family!”
You can call me the crazy cat lady if you want but be warned I’m not the only one. If there is one lesson I have learned thus far is I am not alone when it comes to pampering my pets and treating them like family.
I could share stories about how my cat would be so chatty. Or how I would talk to her like she could understand me. And yet, my blogging peers and community of readers understand exactly what I mean. I know they can relate because they literally share the same views. Our pets are treated like family members. They aren’t just animals. That makes me feel great because I know I’m not the only one who valued their pet and treated them like family.
There is healing in sharing
Blogging started as a way to get my feelings and thoughts to paper so to speak. It was in this time that people commenting would also share their similar experiences and emotions. I could relate to their human experience and vice versa. There is healing in validation and understanding. You can call it therapy. I call it healing in sharing. It’s a great reminder that we are not alone in our experiences in this world. Someone else in the world has gone through the same experience and survived to tell about it.
Growth, collaboration and money-making opportunities
Eighteen months ago, I had heard of blogging however never paid much attention to why bloggers blog or how they turn that into a living and make money. It was not until I started thinking about leaving my day job and doing research online about blogging in general, that I seriously looked into monetizing my blog.
I mean 30 years ago was there even such a thing called a professional paid blogger? Not to my knowledge. However, seeing how the world has changed so much and there are in fact different ways to making money, I became intrigued. I saw a whole new perspective I had not before.
As long as one has the right mindset and attitude, there is always an opportunity to make income, collaborate with companies and grow. This year I definitely have it as a priority to continue to break out of my shell more and actively pursue new opportunities. I’ve learned in blogging, you have to create your own opportunities. No one is going to just hand you over the keys to the castle. You have to build what you want for yourself in order to make things happen and see success. Nothing comes for free in this world. You have to help create your own destiny one step at a time.
It costs money!
Oh yes! It costs money to have a blog. Sure, you’ve seen people say “You can earn money with a blog.” But the flip side is it actually costs money to start and maintain a blog. After a year and a half of blogging I’ve learned that anything of quality does take two things time and money.
My blog is fairly new and yet I still have expenses. Yes! What costs are involved? As a blogger I’ve personally spend money on expenses including blog hosting fees, Post Office Box mail fees, Facebook ad /boosting fees, gifts for giveaways and postage fees for mailing prizes to winners in my giveaways. And that’s just little ‘ole me.
Other big time bloggers that are more seasoned than myself may or may not tell you there are other expenses like monthly/annual fees for services like upgraded features in email and marketing services like Mailchimp, or design software like Canva. Also, although there are free WordPress design themes for your blog, there are plenty of other beautiful themes available for bloggers at a price. Other additional expenses can be things like plugin software, audio/visual equipment (DSLR cameras to take great images/video recorders/microphones for podcasts) and costs for training classes /conferences for bloggers to attend.
So, blogging isn’t cheap. As a newbie and a person with a limited budget, I just have learned to make the most of what I do have access to. I’ll tell you YouTube and interacting with other experienced bloggers is a blessing (and free). I’m attending the school of hard knocks. I’ve learned to just make do with the tools I have and forget the rest. With expense in mind, I’ve just learned to adapt. I use my own creativity and free resources the best I can.
Don’t neglect your health
If you have followed me a while now you know I definitely go up and down with weight and staying consistent with fitness activities. Admittedly I have my good moments and not so good moments. Blogging over the last year and a half has reminded me to not only get rest when I feel like I’m burnout or exhausted, I also need to move.
Sitting for long periods of time, especially since leaving my 9 to 5 job, is not a good thing and is counterproductive to being active. When you are in a zone and writing content it’s easy to let hours escape you. But I learned the hard way that getting exercise a few times a week is essential. Not only is it good for cardio and general health, exercising will help with brain memory function and your muscles. Sitting too much at the computer would at times leave me sore or my shoulders hunched over and fatigued. Sitting all day does not promote good posture. And need I tell you, that leads to extra pounds on the scale!
I learned from my mistake and created a routine for myself to get up every hour and stretch. I’ve made a commitment to exercise at least 3 days a week and increase frequency as the year goes on. Whenever I am exercising and stay hydrated I do better throughout my day and my body responds well without the aches and pains of sitting all day at the computer. I even sleep like a log at night and wake up more refreshed. So, I say all this to say, don’t neglect your own health and rest time.
Always remember why you started
Last but not least, I remember why I started this blog in the first place. It was to honor my cat Dusty’s memory and also leave a legacy behind for others. I wanted to turn my pain into purpose and help another pet parents find healing after pet loss. That’s my mission and why I blog. My “Why” hasn’t changed in 18 months and I don’t see it changing anytime soon.
Always remember why you started in the first place!
So those are my 14 lessons learned after 18 months of blogging. I look forward to learning more lessons in the next 18 months. Can you relate to any of these? Is there anything else you would add? Comment and share your most valuable lesson learned since starting a blog below. Don’t forget to share this post with a friend!
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