Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging {A Guest-Post}

I know Jana in real life. I think I have said that about a gillion times, but it's just because I am so proud to know her and be friends with her outside of the blogosphere.

I knew she'd be perfect for my very first guest post :) 
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Hey there, you most splendiferous Growing Gracie readers, you! I’m Jana and I blog over at Life Could Be a Dream. I’m a big fan of miss Tanika--we were buds in back in college before we became wives, mommas, and bloggers.



See? We were so cool back then. Maybe. :)

Anyway, before I get too nostalgic, on with my post! Let’s talk about blogging--it’s our favorite topic, is it not?  I never really thought I would be calling myself a “blogger”. I think there is a difference between having a blog and being a “blogger”. If you have a blog, you might use it so family and friends can keep tabs on you and see what’s going on in your life, or you might use a blog as a sort of online journal, as I did when I first started Life Could Be a
Dream. If you’re a “blogger” you do things a little differently--there is a whole world of sponsoring, SEO, linkups, giveaways, and social media craziness that goes along with being a blogger vs. just having a blog.

When I got my first follower that I didn’t actually know in real life, it opened up the world of blogging to me. I started following blogs of people I didn’t know and delving into the community. As a rookie blogger, I made a lot of “mistakes”--I’ll tell you why I say “mistakes” in a minute. There are a lot of things I wish I knew when I first started blogging. Hopefully, those of you that are new(er) at this can benefit from my experiences, and those of you who have been there and done that can laugh along as you remember when you were cast in the role of a newbie blogger.

1. There is no right or wrong way to blog. Back to that “mistakes” thing. Sure, in the world of blogging there are things that are considered the norm, such as accepting sponsorships, how to run your giveaways, using other forms of social media, etc. There was a time when my blog was smaller that I would look at bigger blogs and see that they were doing something differently than I was, which made me feel as if I was doing something wrong. Often, I would change the way I was doing things to be in compliance with those bigger blogs. But I will tell you this second, that is the recipe for misery. Blog the way YOU want to blog. Do what works for YOU. Don’t want to do sponsorships or advertisements on your blog? Don’t! You think giveaways are hokey and lame? Don’t do ‘em! Blog how you want to blog, and let others do the same. Your blog is your own creative space. Keep it that way.

2. It’s okay to reach out to other bloggers! In life, I tend to operate under the impression that everyone else is way cooler than I am. It’s just a thing I do, who knows why. Because of that, I often feel very intimidated when it comes to reaching out to people I don’t know (thanks to blogging, I’ve gotten much better at it!). I used to think that if I emailed another blogger to ask a question or propose a collaboration on something, they would be bothered that I would have the audacity to think that a lowly blogger such as myself had the right to speak to them. Pretty silly right? I have found that for the most part (I’m talking like, 98% of the time here) other bloggers are happy to help and are thrilled to pieces when you reach out to them. We’re all just trying to make names for ourselves in this blogging world, so it feels nice when someone takes enough notice of you to initiate contact. Go ahead, fluff someone’s ego--tweet or email another blogger. Get to know them! There are a lot of amazing people in blogland. Don’t be afraid to connect with them!

3. Comment on other blogs and put yourself out there! This goes hand in hand with #2. If you want to grow your readership and your friendships, it doesn’t pay to read other blogger’s posts, shut your laptop and walk away. Comment, baby, comment! I personally take notice of the people who comment on my posts. If I haven’t seen a comment from you before, chances are I will be clicking on your profile to check out your blog. If I like what I see, I’ll probably follow you! I would imagine a lot of other bloggers are the same way. And when you comment, don’t just say things like, “Great post!” or “I’m a new follower, follow me back!” Ick. Write heartfelt comments people. Your efforts will be appreciated, I promise.

Along with commenting, join linkups. Pick one or two that you like. But don’t just link up your post and walk away. Click on other blogs and leave a comment! Let people know that you found them from the linkup and you liked what you saw. If you want people to reach out to you, you have got to reach out to them.

4. Growing readership takes time. With a few exceptions (and I’m going to borrow a term from Tanika here and call them “Unicorn Bloggers”) most blogs don’t explode with popularity overnight. Or even in the course of a week. Or a month. Or a year. Mine is no exception. It takes time to build readership. Don’t be frustrated by the numbers on your followers widget. Focus on your passion and your content. Readers will come with time, and effort to build relationships on your part. I’ve heard it put this way (and I love it!): Would you rather have 1,000 followers or 500 actual readers? Followers don’t always read, and readers don’t always follow.

5. PicMonkey is the bomb.com. We all love to see pretty pictures in a blog post, no? At this point in my blogging career, I do not have Photoshop. Let’s be real. It’s freakin expensive, and my blog isn’t big enough (nor do we have the finances!) for me to justify purchasing it. Yet. Someday guys, someday. In the meantime, PicMonkey is awesome! There are so many things you can do with a photo in PicMonkey! I edit all of my photos, make my collages, buttons, prints, etc. If you’ve never used it, I recommend it. I have the premium version (it’s like, $5 a month and well worth it). Try it out!

6. You can schedule posts in advance. You all probably know this already, but I didn’t know for the longest time that there is a way to schedule posts. Would have been great if I had known that up front! Could have saved me a lot of time. If you’re not sure how to do it, here’s how:


There you have it. Just a few things I wish someone could have mentioned to me when I started this whole thing! Thanks for letting me commandeer your blog, Tanika! Have a beautiful day, you lovelies!


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I just love her!! Look back on the blog tomorrow for a giveaway!!
xoxo

5 comments:

  1. I've been wondering about how to schedule a post for a while now! Thanks so much. Also, Adobe gives a free download of Photoshop the Cs2 version right on their website. I haven't tried the newest version, but from what I've heard it's not that different. Here's the link: https://www.adobe.com/cfusion/entitlement/index.cfm?e=cs2_downloads

    Patricia
    The DIY Frenchie

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    Replies
    1. Are you talking about Photoshop Elements? We use this at work and it is pretty much the same.

      And, Unicorn Bloggers. I love it!

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  2. These are great tips. I'm not some big blogger, but I totally agree with Jana, a lot of these things have worked so well for me. I wish I had known how to schedule posts when I first started blogging too, it made a huge difference.

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  3. I love this girl & agree with EVERYTHING.. wishing I knew before I started bloggin! Especially about PicMonkey!

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Thanks for taking the time to say something back! :) One sided conversations are never any fun! :) Thanks for reading!