Wednesday, January 15

Confessions of a Newbie Blogger - My Advice To The Next Rookie

Ooooooooouuuuuch! I peeled my face off the keyboard, wiped the drool off the side of my face, and slowly come back to waking reality. Then panic hit me and I scrambled to see if I'd mistakenly been pushing the publish button over and over again with my cheek. Oh thank goodness, no more stupid blunders after the last incident. (I mistakenly made my blog public two weeks earlier than I intended...*lopsided grin* don't ask). 
See, this THIS is the risk of jumping into the blog world head first...the crazy that comes with it.
...The sleepless nights, because you just thought of another GREAT blog post and you're afraid if you wait until morning you'll forget.
...The vacation day you spent in your bathrobe and possibly scared the mailman with your Patty & Selma hair, all because you couldn't tear yourself away from your laptop long enough for a shower. 
...The flights of elation, then depression, then back to elation while comparing other blogs and perusing reader comments. 
...The bags under your eyes from Pinterest stalking. Yes, that's right. I stalked every repin of my blog pictures for a full month before cooling it to a more "sane" level of "following".
...The friends that remove you from their Facebook newsfeed because all your posts somehow have something to do with your area of blogging. (Yipes, this is worst than having a new baby!)
In short...the cra-cra. 
If you have not experienced this, be proud that you are a level headed patient blogger.



Whether you are an experienced blogger, or an aspiring blogger, I hope you'll learn, laugh, and blog well because of my experience. At the very least, you'll realize you're sane by comparison!. That's right, this isn't just going to be a "how to", I'm laying it all out on the line and 'fessing up! Hmm, let's see just how much I spill. *wink*

Learning To Build a Better Blog (or at least make the curve)
This has not been the easiest first year for me, but I wouldn't trade it for the world! See, I'm really hard on myself, I'm critical, and I'm a bit of a people pleaser. No I'm not...I'm lying, I'm a HUGE people pleaser. Not always a great combination. So I spend a lot of time comparing my work to big name blogs and professional websites. I figured if I compared what I was doing to what the successful were doing, I might learn a thing or two without going to a blogging seminar (which in hindsight, I should have gone to!). Comparing can be your worst enemy or your best friend. Don't do what I do, compare to see how well I'm doing, then get depressed because so many do it better... Compare to see what methods and styles work best. What do you love in a blog? Then most likely your readers will love it too. Take those observed tips and run with them! I'm building my blog myself without any experience (and some coding help from my brother), so it is a long drawn out work-in-progress. Confession: Half the time I'm frustrated with my blog because I have a vision for what it could be but lack the skill to take it there...but I'm willing to work hard to gain the skills, and I fervently believe the effort will pay off! This applies to all my photography skills, my Photoshop skills, my blog design skills, my decorating skills, my writing skills...you get the idea. I may be new to all of these things, with no prior experience whatsoever, but hard work and Google can take you far!

If imitation is the best form of flattery, then I hope blogs like IHeart Organizing, and A Bowl Full of Lemons feel flattered! *lol* I pretty much stalked their blogs for the first 5 months of blogging. Confession: I still do that, if I've visited your blog, I probably checked to see who designed your site, where you were featured (so I could go get a feature too), and examined the element of some awesome function you've built into your blog. Don't hate me, I didn't even READ blogs before I started blogging, so I needed to learn what the blogging world was all about and what they loved...which leads me to the next lesson I learned...

Make Them Love You (or at least recognize you).
I keep having this strange day dream that I am looking out at a sea of DIY lovers and they are sparkly, and misty like an 80's glamour photo, and cheering! I am throwing my best Marilyn Monroe smile, crying "they love me, they really love me!". Ah, ain't day dreams lovely?
In this year of blogging I have learned that if you want readers, you have to find ways to reach out to them, or just get them to know you exist! I thought if I was a stickler and just produced great content (and no filler) they would come flocking! Huh, how could they know I had great content if they never discovered me in the first place?
Many bloggers choose to join link parties and blog hops (which makes me wonder if there is anyone besides other bloggers actually reading), others choose to use submission sites, still others wrangle features from big name blogs...well however you do it -do it frequently. I have reached out to fellow bloggers for features and interviews the past year, and in hindsight I should have done it waaaaay more! There is nothing more trying than producing your best posts for no one to read. Thankfully, old content can gain new readers.
I am learning how to put my work out there. The more they see you, the more likely you are to become their household name. I admit that it is a lot of extra work, but it is well worth the effort! Here are four features I received this week alone, including two projects never before seen on my blog!
    


Creating Great Content (or shocking, or attention grabbing)
That leads me to another thing I have learned. First, publishing at least a couple fantastic and creative posts in the first year is so helpful! It takes time for your great content to get out there (no matter how much you keep throwing it at people), but once it is out it just keeps gathering speed and it can become your claim to fame. When it does, you need to be prepared to ride that wave all the way to the bank. I've learned that people might come to see what all the hubbub is about, but will not stay if you don't have something that says "hello, you'll love me...do stay". 
Be sure you have at least two mind-blowingly fantastic ideas...they come for one, and you hook them with the other...they think "hey, this blog has great content, I should hang around or come back and see what else this gal can do"!
For me, it was the menu planner and chore system posts I published in the first week of blogging. Looking back I cringe at the photography, but in spite of my photo virgin ways, these two original ideas catapulted my new blog from a few hundred views per day to a few thousand per day, all inside of a two week period. 
I had other creative DIY posts, but some of them were not properly spaced out or adequately advertised. Now I am going back and pinning pictures from those posts, submitting them for features, and giving them a little more attention.



By the way, when you first start your blog, fill it with a few fantastic things before opening it up to the public. THAT is why my blog features more than one year of posts although I am only a year old. Before making it public, I took a week to pre-post 3 months worth of my best projects so people would have something to read and be willing to follow a brand new blogger! Yes, I tried to trap you. I regret nothing. 

Birds of a Feather (and all that jazz)
Oh mercy mercy. The hardest thing with getting your content out there if you're a loner, is...well... frankly breaking into a bbg (bloggy bestie group)! This year I am SO going to a blogger conference. Every time there is a blog convention, it is followed by 3 months of bloggers uniting right and left. All those smart bloggers, networking and what-not. Lets face it, sometimes who you know determines who knows you. Confession: I'm totally jealous of those fantastic new friendships...I want some awesome bloggy besties who stick together no matter what. *pout*  I swoon over their gorg spaces, and constantly swear they are my soul mates and kindred spirits...I may also wish I had their houses. *grin*
So instead of sitting at home by the phone wondering why no one has called to ask you to the dance, perhaps think about picking up your metaphorical phone yourself and start calling around. Bloggers are a pretty nice group, just busy out of their minds! Rub shoulders like your life depends on it, soon they will be your besties too.
After all, networking saves blogs lives *said in a serious TV voice*. Remember those interviews I said I should have done more of? An interview with Jen Jones got me an invitation to guest post on her blog, which made a particular post popular, which got me an invitation to share that post's tip in Good Housekeeping magazine (eeeep! I can't wait to tell you more! ). So not only is it great to know kindred spirits, it's good for blogging! 


One year of blogging may not make me an expert, but it makes me a little more exhausted and little less naive. I can at least pass off my rookie torch to the next newbie that passes my way. Let her burn bright my friend. And remember, it isn't the destination that counts (until you get there), it is the journey. And other random cliche sayings... *giggle* Just stay sane, this too shall pass, and afterwards it will be better than you can imagine!

But don't take it from me, how about taking it from a real pro? Ladies and gentlemen, I am so happy I "rubbed shoulders" with the incredible blogger that is next in this series...KariAnne @ Thistlewood Farms! She is our featured experienced blogger who is an authority on how to build a better blog. Visit her tomorrow as she shares her insights. 
And don't forget to visit each of these awesome bloggers and wonderful ladies in the series!

Join us Friday for the blogging resources link party, and the live chat via Facebook & Twitter, Friday 3-5pm EST. Get ready to ask us all your bloggy questions, and join in the fun by sharing your confessions! Finish the sentence "You know you are a blogger when..." #bloggingconfessions. 


  

14 comments:

  1. I love your honesty, Ursula! We've all done the stalking thing and the "wasting" our vacation on the computer... so glad to know I'm not alone! Thanks so much for organizing this and sharing. You are fabulous!

    Rachel

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    1. My pleasure Rachel! Thanks for sharing your experience...I love what we do, and I'm always inspired by you!

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  2. I've been following all you great ladies this week. Im glad I found all of you. Very inspiring and great information for a newbie. Thanx again for taking the time.

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    1. Thank you for following! We're glad we can be of help.

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  3. Awesome post,Ursula! I love your writing style!!Keep up great work and have a successful year of blogging!Thank You again for putting this great series together!Xoxo~

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  4. Hi Ursula,
    Your post is inspiring and so informative. Thank you for all of the insight and suggestions. I've been trying to get my blog off the ground but I am seriously technically challenged so I get frustrated easily. Your advice about posting a few months worth of posts before you go live is great. I'm actually trying to accumulate stories while I figure out the ins and outs of Wordpress. Silly question, I am also a homeschool mom, and like so many, if it's not pretty, I'm not making it. I'm dying to make printables, calendars, charts, lists of formulas for math with graphics. What is the best program to use?easiest to use? Also, was there a site or book or online class that has good instructions?
    I'm so happy I found your blog, I added you to my feedly immediately. I look forward to keeping up with your world.
    Cheers~
    Kathy Neblett
    Kathyneblett@me.com

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    1. Thank you Kathy! I will answer most of your questions via email, but I just wanted to let you know that many of us (dare I say most?) were/are also technologically challenged, so don't let that discourage you! If we can do it, then so can you! ;)

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  5. I love this! All of it. Even though my blog isn't in the home decorating/organizing arena (I guess I'm more of a dad blogger), it's still fun to read about the experiences that we all go through... thanks for sharing.

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    www.bradleycowan.com

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    1. Oh wow! I feel like I've just sighted a rare bird...the dad blogger. I have to tell you, I'm a little in awe of dad bloggers! :) Thanks for reading!

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    2. I love your site and this series was genius! Now that you've seen me... tell all your friends. ;)

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      www.bradleycowan.com

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  6. Hi Ursula! I found your blog a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to stop stalking you since! :) I love that you're so open with your experiences as a new blogger. I started blogging a few months back and I'm trying to soak up every bit of knowledge I can. I love the bit about making them love you. I'mat the point of trying to build some blogger relationships and put my blog out there. Thanks for the inspiration! I'll be joining the chat later today!

    Michelle

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    1. That's so sweet Michelle (yes I am all warm and fuzzy over a "stalking" statement)! I look forward to having you a part of the chat, it should be lots of fun, and hopefully (at least a little) informative. ;)

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  7. WOW!!! What amazing tips and you have a such a list accomplishments for your first year blogging!!! As a newbie myself, I laughed out loud over your intro...it is all so true. Thank you so much for this series, it is so helpful (but has sucked up my entire morning!!) :) Can't wait to see what you have up your sleeve next...

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