What blogging everyday has taught me
Ah, blogging tips – I know they are everywhere but it’s that time of year again… resolutions time!
Officially I failed at all 3 of my resolutions!
However, I like to think I’ve learnt quite a bit by at least attempting to do them. I’m not a person who is scared to make mistakes. Yes I like to win and do my best, but I’m often so quick to jump in to something that I’ve grown to expect a few bumps and bruises along the way. So, far from lamenting the fact that I didn’t manage to blog everyday in 2014, I’m celebrating what I have learnt! Oh, and while these are blogging tips, I’d say that many of the points would ring true for anything you are trying to achieve from cooking to starting your own business.
Blogging Tips: 10 things I’ve learnt about blogging daily
1. How to be myself
During the first 6 months of 2014 I did blog every day and during that time there was many a day when I hadn’t a single clue what I was going to write about. I feel like I have really exercised that creative muscle and opened my mind up to many different possibilities from Vlogging to fashion to life coaching.
I forced myself to sit and write when I really didn’t want to, and I found things that I love and I have learnt to be myself. For that reason alone one of my biggest blogging tips for those still finding your blog legs and unique voice, is to blog everyday. By forcing myself to write everyday I had no choice but to be myself!
2. You don’t have to write everyday to be a top blogger
Now, I totally stand by what I said in this article about Daily Blogging and the power of frequency, and the amount you blog depends on you and your blog’s personality, but even The Londoner misses a day here and there.
Tim Ferris has blogged 3 times in December and he has over a 1 million subscribers! Granted he’s got a couple of successful books but he’s all about productivity and maximum return, so I’m inclined to follow his model of quality over quantity. From a SEO/traffic point of view, the posts that do the best are high quality, well thought out posts, that are long (apparently the ideal length for SEO is 2000 – 2,400 words! This is just shy of 2,300…!) and useful.
This won’t work for me all the time because the nature of my blog is very different to that of Tim Ferris, and sometimes a short piece with a few pictures is what my audience wants, but you get the picture. It can take me a full day to write a post like this one, which I thoroughly enjoyed and got great feedback! But, unless I want to work all the hours god sent, and have no work/life balance, I need to be a bit more focused about when, how and what I share.
Also, when I first wrote about daily blogging, back in February, I noticed that my traffic had pretty much doubled in January, and I put this down to blogging everyday. I can now tell you that I don’t think it was that and more due to the fact that my top SEO keyword “mummy tummy” does particularly well in January…! While I’m perfectly happy with my stats, I would say that don’t necessarily expect a huge leap in traffic just because you’re blogging everyday!
So another of my blogging tips is not to put pressure on myself to publish everyday but focus on writing what I’m really interested in even (or especially!) if it takes a few days to write (like this post!).
3. I need a deadline
I need some sort of schedule or it will not happen. Blogging daily was my deadline, so while some of my oober talented blogger friends have already written and scheduled their posts for the next month, I write my post on the day it’s due. If there’s no due date, well, it ain’t gunna happen! Once I broke my own deadline 6 months in, I found it increasingly difficult to publish daily. So, with point 2 in mind, I need a deadline to stick to such as Monday, Wednesday, Friday!
4. It’s the act of writing every day that’s important
This is where routine comes in. Babies love routine. Bloggers love routine. If you have a set time when you must sit and write every day, you’re laughing. If you don’t prioritise and respect that time, you’re not laughing. You’re sobbing at 9pm into an empty word document, wishing you could just sit and watch TV or go to bed. When you do something every day you build up momentum, you enjoy it and then it’s not a chore. Break the habit and you’re kinda back to square one. I’ve lived it!
The hardest part of the whole year was coming home from Portugal after almost 2 weeks off. I had scheduled posts so I only missed about a day or 2, however, I didn’t write during that time and it took me nearly a month to get my momentum back. Having said that, and despite my best efforts to carve time for this everyday (see my post 10 tips to get focused for my weekly schedule), this is still a work in progress! But it’s good to know what you need to work on, right?!
Excerpt from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
5. I’ve learnt new skills
How to edit a video (this one was fun!), how to make pretty pictures, how to run a linky (I now run two with my lovely pals Aby and Zaz) and how to edit audio for a podcast… these are just a few of the things I’ve learnt in a bid to come up with new content. And it’s been fun!
I’ve also learnt how to switch off. On Tuesdays and Fridays I have Reuben all day, and for the most part I won’t look at my phone or computer unless he’s taking a nap. I might share the odd thing but I’ve learnt that the Internet won’t fall apart if I don’t answer that email NOW. Having said that, I have the luxury of having 2 and half childfree days every week and I’m terrible at multi-tasking. So, massive kudos to those mums and dads trying to run a business/blog with little ones in toe. It ain’t easy.
6. Some stuff is sh*t
And that’s OK. Not even your mum or partner is going to read every post you publish if you’re blogging everyday. Equally some stuff is going to be amazing but you don’t know it yet…I say if it’s in your head, write it and hit publish. You never know what will strike a chord! And learn from the stuff that didn’t work so well.
For me going forward, I hope I have the discipline to write everyday and not let “Perfect be the Enemy of Good” but it’s also OK to not publish everything if I don’t think it makes the grade!
It’s important for research but also for relaxation. I’ve read from some of my blogging idols recently that they read between 3 and 12 books a week. A WEEK!! I read about a book a month, and surely didn’t read all the books on my 2014 reading list. I am also yet to finish my first fiction book of 2014. How very sad that is!
Since this realisation, and as part of making new rituals, I’ve been making myself read everyday and in December I’ve read 2 books and I’m about to finish another (a fiction!). This alone has inspired what I think will be a really ace idea for 2015!! Which is important for No.9 below. So for the third year in a row, my 2015 resolution is to read more but this time I’m totally upping the anti!
8. Don’t get bogged down with making money (unless you have to in order to survive)
Prior to meeting Mike I got a first class degree in Civil Engineering and had a budding career as a researcher at Newcastle University, managing huge, global research projects and flying all over the world to speak at conferences and chair sessions. But I wanted more. I wanted to be my own boss and be in control. So I started a business with my best friend, Alex. And for 3 years we had the time of our lives. We weren’t earning the big bucks and at times we weren’t earning anything but it was awesome!!
Then I fell pregnant and Alex and I were both ready to move on. I started this blog because I had to; I needed my own project and a reason to get fired up again. Almost 3 years later and I still feel that. I bloody love blogging! But it comes with guilt; Guilt that I am not earning as much as I could. So I bust my ass every day to bring home the bacon.
I’ve worked with some wonderful people and brands and I’ve felt undervalued by others (Katie sums it up nicely here). It was causing me to get disenchanted with the whole process and lose faith in myself and the reason I blog. Yes, I want to make money, who doesn’t when they work 40+ hours a week? I want to help provide for my family. However, I am building a job that I love, a personal brand and that takes time and patience and oodles of self-belief. I am in an incredibly lucky situation where I can work the way I do because I have a hugely supportive husband. Choosing to take a step back from chasing the dollar was one of the best decisions for me in terms of self-worth and valuing what I do.
I will be working with brands next year but only the ones who value this blog and our community (and obviously only work with the brands I love but that’s my rule anyway). I’ll also be following my buddy Vicki’s going Pro tips carefully too!
9. Write what you love
Literally. I’ve learnt that my favourite posts to write are also the ones that get the best reaction and engagement. This is most pertinent when it comes to working with brands. I get invited to events or review products all the time, and whether it’s paid or not, if I don’t feel that passion, I can’t do it because then I’d have to write a passionless article. It’s not good for my soul and no one wants to read it. More and more I’ve learnt this year that it really pays to live life, enjoy myself, not to put crazy expectations on myself and write what I love!
10. Blogging is hard work!
…and it takes a LOT of time (Aby sums it up well here). We have so many things to juggle:
- community building;
- reading and commenting on other blogs;
- twitter, facebook, instagram, pinterest, Google plus, etc;
- speaking to brands;
- going to events;
- taking photos, making videos, creating audio;
- planning and writing posts;
- editing photos or videos or audio;
- reading and researching; and,
- the list goes on and on.
For the most part, we do it all for free, and that’s cool because we love it! But I think we all hope it will start to pay off at some point. But obviously you have to do the money bit with integrity, meaning I have had to turn some paid work down. That’s hard!
Oh and you also have to do loads of living life so you’ve got stuff to talk about too… but the reward you get from writing that post that hits the spot makes it worth every second!
This time last year I was a solitary blogger who wasn’t sure what I wanted from my blog or life. I set myself a challenge to blog everyday and while I didn’t quite manage it (I’d say more than 300 but less than 365), I have learnt so much about myself and what really matters!
Forcing myself to be creative and to write everyday was wonderful for finding my voice and my passions. It’s been an interesting experiment that has taught me many new skills, including a better understanding of how to get the best out of myself! I’ve learnt to respect and value what I do and appreciate how far I’ve come. I also realise I’ve a lot to learn but that’s the fun bit!
I have made so many new and wonderfully supportive friends this year (you know who you are), I’ve won an award, interviewed celebrities, been to press events, made money, been given some really cool things, grown my Facebook community from less than 1000 to almost 5000, and fallen in love with writing and learning and sharing. I blog because I love it.
I believe it makes me a better mum as I’m constantly challenging myself. And, I love connecting with the Mums’ Days community. I never for one moment thought that an awesome group of intelligent, thoughtful, kind women would connect via a blog I created. What an honour! Ultimately it’s the reason I get out of bed in the morning (that and Reuben’s cuddles/jumps on my head).
I am a blogger as much as I am a Mother and I would never ever stop doing this unless I really had to!
What do you think?! Can you take any blogging tips from this?
I know so many of you blog daily and my lessons most certainly won’t be yours, so please do share your tips and tricks too!