Start a blog, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
Well… it was, and it is. Fun, exciting, and satisfying. But there were a lot of things “they” didn’t mention.
Blogging is *so* popular. In July 2018, on just blogs connected with WordPress, there were nearly 80 million posts. (Source) And in the vast world that is the blogosphere, it is *tough* for any individual blog to get noticed, let alone become popular and successful.
Since starting The Biblio Blonde this spring, I’ve been fortunate enough to read many good posts on how to grow your blog, tips for gaining followers and viewers, and advice for how and what to post. And though I’ve learned a lot in a short time, I’m always thirsty for more. Meanwhile, there are new bloggers starting up every day that are looking for those same resources.
As a “newish” blogger who hasn’t exactly hit the big time (yet?), but is still working… here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned so far.
Lesson 1: You have to hustle for followers. I think some people have the perception that if you want to start a blog, you set it up, post a few entries, and sit back and let people read and love your work. I’m here to tell you… no.
With all the content out there, chances that an audience will find your work is pretty slim. So *you* have to go searching for your followers! You can do this by promoting your blog to family and friends, then asking them to share it. That won’t get you thousands of followers, but it’s a starting point. You can also “build your platform” by promoting your work through social media. Many bloggers are active on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. Interacting with other bloggers is also a great idea… we love to follow and support one another!
Audiences don’t build overnight, and mine is still nowhere near the size I’d like. But if you keep writing good content, promoting your work, and joining in the blogging community (more on that later), it will eventually happen!
Lesson 2: There’s a lot more to it than you think! Waaaay back when blogging was a new thing (not quite the Stone Age, but a while ago), it was, in many cases, a way to keep a simple online journal. Well, friends… this ain’t your grandma’s blogging world! (Truth? My dear grandma wouldn’t have had the slightest idea what a blog was. But I digress…)
Building and maintaining a blog, if you want to grow any sort of an audience, is much more than writing a few posts. A savvy blogger is a researcher, a writer, a visual designer, a publicist, a networking professional, and more. In fact, the term “blogger” has evolved so much from its beginning, and covers so much more. Everyone will have pieces of this work that they enjoy more than others, but it’s all necessary for building your blog.
The downside of this is that you can end up spending a *lot* more time on it than you bargained for. Some people set out intending for blogging to become a full time job… for others, it just accidentally turns into one. Even though there is a lot to do for a successful blog, you can overdo it and get burned out very quickly if you don’t set some limits for yourself.
Lesson 3: Community is key! The *act* of blogging can be pretty solitary. It’s not like working in an office and always having someone to chat with. Most of the time, you’re on your own, writing. But believe it or not, that doesn’t mean you’re really blogging by yourself.
When you get started as a blogger, one of the first things you should do is connect with other bloggers. Follow their blogs, and connect with them on social media. Read their work, learn from them, ask them questions. Offer support to them, and most others will likely do the same for you. The blogging community is fantastic about being open to building relationships, and I have received so much advice and support from people I’ve happened to connect with on WordPress, Instagram, or Twitter. One of my biggest surprises was the sheer size of Twitter’s writing and blogging community!
A cautionary note that I feel I have to add: These relationships are two way streets. Don’t follow people on social media just to build your numbers, and then unfollow them. Don’t promote your own blog to others but never read or comment on theirs. It’s give and take.
When you connect with other bloggers, it enriches your blogging life like you wouldn’t believe. And when you’re having a hard day, or need ideas, or even feel like you were crazy to start this project in the first place… your blogging friends, and that community you’ve built with them, will be one of your best resources!
So those are my small tidbits of wisdom… what lessons would you add? Leave your thoughts in the comments!!