Sure, it sounds super easy. You get to post cute pictures of yourself eating your avocado toast while you’re out at brunch. You get free products sent to you to review and post about. You get to attend events and then you go on Instagram Stories to show off what “amazing” stuff you got in your swag bag. However, there are many other things bloggers and influencers don’t tell you about. That’s why I wanted to share four lessons I learned my first year of blogging.
When I first started, I winged it. I had a couple ideas written down in a notebook, and I started banging out blog and social media posts. What I learned after a couple months of blogging is you need to be organized and have a plan. What I was missing was a content calendar and schedule.
As a result, I started using Planoly, an app that helps you manage your Instagram posts and stories. This app is super useful because it allows you to schedule your feed (stories and posts) weeks in advance. Another cool feature is that it allows you to create groups of hashtags that you can copy and paste to your captions. This app has helped me out a lot so far and I highly recommend it to anyone who needs help organizing their feed.
My content calendar for my blog is slightly different. I had to create something that would work for me and currently, that’s a spreadsheet where I lay out my posts weeks in advance and plan my outfits and make notes for myself. This is something I am still experimenting with but so far it’s helping keep me organized and on task. If I get any content ideas, I pull up this spreadsheet on my phone and jot down my ideas. That way if I get writer’s block down the road, I’ll have a plethora of ideas to work off of. I also schedule out blog posts on WordPress. This is helpful because I can finish a blog post a month in advance and just schedule it and not worry about it.
If you guys have any other suggestions about how to keep track of your content, I would love to hear what you do. My methods will probably evolve, but currently this is what’s working for me.
Last year, when I started blogging I read all sorts of articles to help me start my own blog venture. One of the main pieces of advice I got was to self-host your website (I used SiteGround for WordPress.org) and buy your own domain (I used NameCheap). The one piece of advice I didn’t read anywhere was to keep track of when these two expire. This might sound like common sense to some of you but to a noob like me, it wasn’t.
If you’ve been following along my blog journey, I’m sure you noticed I stopped writing for a while. Well, during this time my domain and hosting self-hosting account expired. I saw the emails stream in and I didn’t take action to renew them. Guess what happened next…
I lost all content because I didn’t renew it in time. I found this out because when I was ready to jump back into blogging I tried logging onto my WordPress page and the log-in failed consecutively. At this point, I knew something was wrong. I contacted SiteGround’s support team and they told me my files and backups had been erased because I didn’t renew in time. YES, COMPLETELY ERASED.
Please learn from my experience and always RENEW RENEW RENEW and SAVE SAVE SAVE. The lesson here is that since you are self-hosting your website, your files are all saved on another site. Take care of this account and make sure to renew it. This site can easily delete all your files if you don’t pay up so don’t put it off and stay on top of your payments. It’s not worth starting over from scratch. My smart ass didn’t save any of my work anywhere else either so it’s all gone. I plan on saving my posts on Google Docs or something so this never happens to me again. But most importantly, I am never missing another payment for domain or hosting renewal.
Yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard this one. Every article or podcast I’ve listened to about starting a blog always mentions this: Be consistent. This has been one of the hardest parts about blogging in my opinion because it’s been hard finding a good work-blog-life balance. I work full-time at a marketing company and blog on the side. I have a dog, a boyfriend, friends and family that all need my attention too. I’ve learned I have set time aside in my busy schedule to create content.
In order to do this, I have set realistic goals for myself. When I first started creating content, I was trying to write as much as I possibly could. This led to burn out and less creative posts. Now, I’m changing my strategy. I’m going to publish a blog post once a week (Thursdays, to be exact) and put my heart into them each week. I believe these posts will have higher value to my audience because I will not be rushing through them and will be able creating quality content. One day this number will increase, but for now I’m content with one blog post a week.
In terms of social media, I am going to try to up my game on Instagram because I feel like most of my audience comes from here. I’m going to try to post once a day to increase my readership and will post 2-3 times on Pinterest and Twitter. I’m hoping this tactic works! But if it doesn’t, I’ll re-evaluate it. You have to try new things, am I right? You live and you learn.
It’s so important to network. When I first started, I looked for all sorts of ways to meet other bloggers. I started by joining Facebook groups. These groups were great for sharing my blog posts, meeting new bloggers and increasing my engagement. I was even able to connect with other girls in San Diego!
This was great because I was able to find a community of bloggers in my city that could help me shoot content, attend events with and bounce ideas off of. Attending blogger meetups and networking events have also been great for meeting other marketing professionals in San Diego. I’ve been able to learn from these girls’ experiences and it’s been super helpful in kicking off my blog. I highly recommend meeting bloggers in your area to help up your game.
Although meeting people in person is great, I wouldn’t say networking stops there. It continues in your online presence. You have to engage with other people online, including your followers! This helps increase visits to your profile which has endless results. These people can convert as new followers or new subscribers to your blog. Also, the more you engage with people the more they will keep coming back to your profile. I make it a point to do this at least once a day.
Disclaimer: I’m still learning about marketing and social media and have based all this off my own experiences.