I started blogging four and a half years ago but I only started taking blogging seriously when I went self hosted three years ago – and more so when I changed my blog name, and felt like I’d come home nearly two years ago.
Here are a few things that I wish I’d known when I started blogging:
There is so much more to blogging than just writing
When I started blogging I wrote a couple of hundred words about our day, something on my mind or pretty much anything that I felt like writing about. Then I’d hit publish and forget about it. It’s not surprising that no-one really read my blog back then – I didn’t promote it, didn’t talk about it, didn’t publicise it. I was pretty anonymous, didn’t want my real life friends to read what I had to write and so I literally just published and walked away.
But, there is so much more to blogging than that – and I wish I’d known than from the start. If you want people to read what you write then you have to promote it, you have to tell everyone about it and you have to make it nice to read too – adding photos to every post and making them as appealing to readers as possible.
Blogging is addictive
But, one you start writing it’s really hard to stop – especially as people start to find your blog, start to read and start to comment. You have an audience and you want to write for them – as well as for yourself. At the start I spent probably half an hour writing a post whenever the mood took me – once a month, twice a month. But now, I spend at least some time each day working on my blog and more often than not I will plough hours and hours each day into writing, taking photos, promoting and all the behind the scenes admin too. But, I love it. It’s so addictive but enjoyable too.
Blogging can be a career
At the start I didn’t realise there were other bloggers or that bloggers could make money out of blogging or that it could lead to so many different avenues of self employment. Blogging opens doors for people and if I had known this from the start I would have approached it differently, looking at it as a job from the start and being professional from the start – writing things that would be good from a search engine perspective, taking better photos and creating an online portfolio of my work.
Instead, I wrote because I loved writing and had things to say. Seeing blogging as a job has only happened fairly recently really and I still don’t really see it as a job – I see it as a hobby that brings me so many amazing opportunities. I have never had a job that I love as much as blogging and so I find it hard to see it as a career. But it is a career for many and I wish I had known this from the beginning.
Your blog name is everything
When I started blogging my blog was called Red and Baby Led. Soon after, I went self hosted and changed the blog name to Redhead Babyled – a name I loved and that suited me perfect whilst the children were young but, as soon as they were out of the baby days I wanted something that could grow with me, something with longevity and no need to change it again in the future. This is where What the Redhead said came in.
If I’d known then what I know now I would have picked a better name from the start. one that wouldn’t need changing as our lifestyle or family age changed. I would always tell people now to pick a name that won’t pigeon hole you – try to steer away from things that shout ‘parenting blogger’ and instead have something that is more generic or more about you than the kids. Changing name wasn’t hard – Zoe did it for me – and my DA/stats were back to where they’d been previously within 3 months but it would have saved a lot of effort had I just picked a different name in the first place.
You should sign up to every social media platform with a relevant name
When you start blogging you should really make sure that related social media accounts are available – and grab them as soon as possible! Otherwise, years down the line you’ll end up like me, using Twitter and Instagram accounts that you used before you started blogging that are completely unrelated to blogging and now feel that you can’t possibly change the names as no-one will know who you are. So, I’ll be Genuine Placebo on Twitter and Instagram for a little bit longer!
Go self hosted asap but pick your hosting carefully
I went self hosted about 18 months after I started blogging and I wish I had done it from the start. Self hosted blogs often look more professional, let you start building your own DA and open up more opportunities to you. But you can always get a vanity URL which does exactly the same thing. I know many hugely successful bloggers who are still happy on Blogger.
For me, I love knowing I own my website – rather than it belonging to Blogger or WordPress. It’s mine and I can restore it if anything happens to my hosting company. On that note, make sure you pick your hosting company wisely. I was originally with Bluehost – until they held my blog to ransom and wanted me to pay $1500+ just to get my blog back online. I’m now with TSOhost after a lot of recommendations and couldn’t be happier – their customer service is fantastic.
There are so many other bloggers who are doing exactly the same thing
I had no idea that there were other bloggers, all writing about their lives and doing exactly the same thing as me. It was when I first joined Facebook blogging groups that I found the blogging community and I have never looked back. It’s incredible having so many people that you automatically have something in common with and from there I have built some incredible friendships. I don’t know what I did before I was part of the blogging community and I just wish I’d found it sooner.
The more you blog the busier you get
You write a post and a few people might see it and it might occasionally get found on Google. In a few years that post might get a broken link on it or a spammy comment. But, if you have written 2,000 posts more people will see them but you’ll get more broken links, more spammy comments and more to do behind the scenes. But, as you get more posts there’s also more for PRs to find, there’s more opportunity for a brand to come across your blog and there’s more for other websites to link back to.
All of this means that you tend to get more contact, more to reply to on social media, more emails, more comments to acknowledge. More everything. But, there are no more hours in the day. Just more to do. Blogging snowballs. You start writing and think that will be it but a couple of years later you have to-do lists as long as your arm, broken links coming out of your ears and just so much to do. But you love it – and you wonder what you possibly filled your days with before you started blogging.
People who don’t blog often don’t understand
I have one really good friend from before I started blogging who really does understand it. She knows it’s not all free stuff and constant deliveries of things I don’t have to pay for. She knows that every single thing that arrives at my door I have to spend hours using, photographing, writing about and promoting.
But, most people who don’t blog just see that free stuff. They question every aspect of your life – asking if you got your new car for free, if your extension will be free and if you actually pay for anything. They don’t understand – and after a while you give up trying to explain.
So, if you’re reading this thinking of starting a blog for the endless free stuff – walk away now. There’s no such thing as a free lunch – and the same goes for blogging. Nothing is free and often a £20 toy will take a whole day to use, photograph, write about and promote.
Blogging can change your life
When I first started writing, 1st April 2012, I had no idea, four and a half years later, my life would have changed so much. I’m sure we would still be the same people if I hadn’t started blogging but we wouldn’t have had as many amazing opportunities or the money to give the children so many things. We wouldn’t have as many people in our lives and we wouldn’t have as many options available to us in the future.
Blogging has literally changed my life and I am so glad I started writing. My life is so full, the children’s life is so busy but so happy and we have so much to look forward to. If you took blogging away from that we would all have so much free time but what would we do with it all? I have no idea. Blogging is pretty incredible really.