Time flies when you’re having fun. It seems hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for over 5 years now (on my lifestyle blog BeingTazim.com). I’ve learnt a lot over the years and I’m still learning more and tweaking things as I keep going. Back in the day, not a lot of people knew what a blog was—I often got asked if it was like an online diary (like Livejournal), or a hobby fangirl site (I used to make fangirl websites for my favourite musicians back in the late 90s/early 2000s).
People still seem baffled that one can earn money from blogging, that it can be part of a bigger business strategy and that it creates something of value for readers and clients. So, I’m here to clear the confusion a bit. Not everyone considers their blog a business or part of a larger business. There are more ways to make money from your blog than with adsense ads. While blogs can be personal in nature, more and more consumers trust the recommendations and advice of bloggers.
I have so many memories (mostly good) about my 5 years of blogging:
Writing blog posts while sitting in front of the TV with my former partner, being excited about packages arriving from sponsors—then remembering that it means I’ll have to write about the products, promote my blog posts and dispose of the packaging materials, photographing my food before I eat it, writing in hashtags every time I post on Twitter, chatting with fellow bloggers in Facebook groups. . .
I’m still learning new things and lessons as I go, but I wanted to share a few things with you.
This list could go on (and on), but here are 10 things that I’ve learnt from 5 years of blogging:
- Be selective
In my first year of blogging, I started getting offers to try out/review lots of different products, invitations to join blogging challenges, round-ups and giveaway link-ups, and also sent a lot of press releases in the hopes that I’d post the information (for free). It quickly got overwhelming, and as a new blogger, it was hard for me to say no.Did everything I said yes to really benefit me in the long-run? Did every single product fit with my blog niche and topics I covered? Did I built relationships with brands that I posted press releases for? No, no and mostly no. I ended up spending a lot of time doing things that I knew deep down weren’t working or weren’t giving me enough value for the amount of effort I was putting in. Going all in on fewer projects helped make them more impactful.
- #s matter and don’t matter
- Blogger versus WordPress
I’m not going to go in to the details too much here, but you can find out more information here and here about why you should have a self-hosted blog with your own domain name. Is your blog part of your business website? It should be on the same site so it’s easy for your audience/clients to find your blog posts!If you have a website that you can’t modify (like a direct-sales or other site that you don’t maintain), create a self-hosted blog separately and tell whom ever updates your site to add a link to your blog. Of course, do whatever feels right for you, I’m just offering my (totally biased) opinion on what platform you should choose.
- Focus! No shiny object syndrome
Don’t get too distracted by shiny objects – just because blogger/entrepreneur A is doing something doesn’t mean you should.
Before you can evaluate what is and isn’t essential, you first need to explore your options, While Nonessentialists automatically react to the latest idea, jump on the latest opportunity, or respond to the latest e-mail, Essentialists choose to create the space to explore and ponder. – from Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Decide if each new strategy, idea or social media platform/way to promote your business and blog is right for you. Knowing you can’t do everything, what will the trade-off be if you decide to pursue something new? I’m not suggesting you should dismiss new things—try them out if you’d like to. Is this new thing something that will work for you and your blog? Evaluate what worked and what didn’t, what you enjoyed. Everyone says to make YouTube videos and post on LinkedIn—try doing so and see how you feel about it. Do what works for you and leave the rest.
- Go easy on the comparisons
No matter where you are on your business path, someone will be in front of you and someone will be behind you. It’s easy to say that you should never compare yourself to others, but let’s be realistic—it’s going to happen. There are two ways you can look at it when you’re comparing yourself to others—either you feel bad about yourself for not being at the same level (or good about yourself for being “ahead”) or you take inspiration from it and learn new ways to get further ahead.
- Learning is good—implementation is better
- Don’t be too precious about stuff
You know the saying done is better than perfect? Yeah, that comes in to play with blogging. Like with this post—I could spend hours (more) trying to make it the best blog post ever—something that will inspire the masses! But, really—it is what it is. I’ve learnt to accept that every single blog post will not be the best thing ever.
- Find your people
Those people who are in front of and behind you? They can also be right next to you. Being able to find your support team is so important when it comes to blogging. People who’ve done it before—converting your blog from Blogger to WordPress, going to a conference for the first time, writing and sending out pitch letters, contacting people about guest posting—can offer valuable insight so that you’re not always fumbling around in the dark.
- There’s no such thing as “free” stuff
Everything you say yes to takes up time. Time you could be spending on money-making activities, doing things you love and spending time with your friends and family. I’ve gotten better over the years about deciding whether or not to say yes to featuring a product on my blog, attending a media event, signing up for a business challenge, watching a webinar or training or taking another course.
- It’s your blog, but it’s also their blog
Of course you should like what you’re putting out there and standing behind, but remember that your blog is also about your readers. If no one is reading your blog posts, what are they for?
And here’s a bonus lesson:
You can’t be everything to everyone. Like the Everclear song says. If you know this reference, let’s be friends.
Focusing on a who you’re targeting is important when it comes to everything you put out on social media, in the copy you write on your website, and the posts you write. If you try to create content that is supposed to appeal to everyone, it may end up appealing to no one.
What have you learnt from blogging? Anything you can add to my list?