Good morning! How is your week going so far? I’ve managed to stay on track with the blog and not yet finish the half gallon of ice cream I bought on Monday, so things are okay over here.
Today I wanted to take a step back and type out my biggest takeaways from my first six months of blogging (technically I purchased my domain back in October, but I didn’t start posting regularly until December) as part of my continued effort to stop doing things just to do them. I’ll use this post to reflect on how I can improve; you might find it useful if you started blogging in the last 24 hours. Some items on the list are technical, while some are more general musings. Here goes 🙂
…Not to Worry About Choosing a Niche
Most of the articles I read aimed at bloggers who are just starting out advise them to choose a niche, like parenting or food, and stick to it. That approach makes perfect sense – knowing your target market allows you to plan posts that will appeal to them and earn you more views. But I also think it’s okay write about whatever you want and let your audience come to you, especially if earning money from blogging is not your ultimate goal. Chances are you’ll start to develop a consistent theme anyway (for instance, I don’t switch from providing useful information for twenty-something young professionals to wilderness survival tips), and it can be fun to read about an unfamiliar topic or a blogger’s personal life from time to time. For me, quality content beats content that feels forced every time.
…That Internet Friends Are The Best
The best and most unexpected part of starting a blog has been the relationships I’ve developed with people who were previously complete strangers. Meeting people on the Internet previously made my mind jump straight to the MTV show Catfish, but now reading the details of what my favorite bloggers ate the other day and opening their thoughtful comments on things I’ve written is my favorite part of blogging aside from writing itself. My Internet friends are funny, kind, and generally much better people than all the Ohio State fans I’m surrounded by in real life. Juuust kidding about that last one, kind of.
…That I Need to Start Self-Hosting My Site
WordPress.com offers free hosting when you sign up, or you can choose to have a third party host your WordPress site. This ‘hosting’ has to do with whose server space you’re occupying, which doesn’t necessarily affect the end result seen by the user. However, if you choose to have WordPress host your site, you can’t place ads or use affiliate links (you can read about the reasoning behind this policy here, if you’re interested). Wordpress also prevents you from using thousands of user-created plugins to customize your site to your exact liking. In order to monetize my blog and have the flexibility to add new features, I plan to make the switch the self-hosting soon.
…To Be Strategic With Social Media
I think if I had just worked a little harder on social media over the past several months, my blog would have many more views. But sometimes I have a problem deciding where I should even dive in. I knew I had to tell people I had a blog in order for them to read it, but didn’t realize just how much time it would take to actually try and build my following on social media instead of just using it to interact with friends (/stalk high school classmates). I recently decided to focus on one network a week and devote thirty minutes to learning about and using it each night, no distractions. I’ll probably get started on that tomorrow.
…To Develop a Schedule for Myself and My Readers
I used to have a goal of publishing two posts a week. I’d do a weekend recap on Sunday or Monday and then just finish the other one in the evenings at my convenience. Once I started trying to work in a third post, I realized I needed to plan ahead more in order to get everything done. Now I try to schedule posts for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 7 a.m. Knowing when I’m supposed to have posts go live helps me to plan out my week, and it benefits my readers because they know what to expect.
Questions of the day: Any beginning blogging tips you’d share? How awkward is it to take blog photos in coffee shops and other public locations?