It’s been a full year (plus some days, because #harvey) since I started this little blog of mine! It’s hard to believe. I’ve run several blogs in the past, but none that I devoted nearly this much time to. This blog is my passion project. My blood, sweat, and tears. It contains so much of me, and it has taught me so much.
Today, I thought I’d remenisce a little bit on the blog, and look back at my first year of blogging. I want to look at what I’ve learned, what worked, and what didn’t. Stick around! It’s bound to be an interesting post.
I learned how to set up a website from scratch.
When I decided to start a blog, one of the very first things I knew I had to do was set up a cohesive and well branded site. I wanted it to look professional from day one, despite the fact that I had no idea what I was doing. It was intimidating. And, it drove me to tears. It was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. But, I did it! And I actually get a lot of compliments on it.
If you’re just getting started, purchasing a premium theme is definitely the way to go. My blog uses Tweak Me V2 by NoseGraze, and I’m very happy with the options it’s given me! I topped it off with a branding kit from Etsy and couldn’t be happier.
Want to build your own website? This blog post takes you through the entire process, step by step!
I learned that less is really more when it comes to expert advice.
In the early days, I was the blogger that was all about research. I know it did me well in the beginning. I learned how to actually start a blog successfully. For example: Who know you were actually supposed to start your blog with more than one post?
In the planning stage, doing a lot of reading was actually really helpful. But then, I went overboard. I researched everything and bought all the classes. While it sounds like that’s super helpful, it actually stressed me out. It took the joy out of blogging for me, and I got into a rut for awhile.
Advice like niching down, starting a group, participating in all of the promo threads and Instagram “pods.” It all stressed me out, and I honestly started noticing that none of it was helping.
My views were down. So was my engagement. I wasn’t growing like I had been, and I certainly wasn’t enjoying myself anymore. Something had to change.
I decided it was time to ignore all of the expert advice for awhile. Some of it is relevant, but I had become addicted to reading other people’s advice, and I’d forgotten to make my blog nad social media my own.
If you’re just getting started, my best advice is to remember that less really is more. Invest in one really high quality course, and stick with that until you know exactly what else it is that you need to learn.
I really suggest Building a Framework for new bloggers, because it really takes you through everything you need to get started. Plus, Abby (from Just a Girl and Her Blog) is really amazing, and really knows what she’s talking about!
I learned how to really love Instagram.
I was super late to the Instagram game. Like, really late. For the longest time, I thought it was just an app that people used to put fake filters on their pictures and act like photographers. Obviously, I didn’t understand it. I finally got my first account set up when I decided to grow my knitting business. It was marketed to photographers, who spend a lot of time on Instagram, so I thought it was time.
I worked hard on that account, and spent 2 years building it up. But, I didn’t really understand it, and I didn’t really try to.
When I started my blog, I started a new account, and started experimenting. I didn’t know how to use this platform for anything but showing off pictures of knit goods.
How was I supposed to get engagement? What do bloggers even talk about? How do I know who to follow?
Starting my blog opened up a whole new world for me on Instagram, and I learned to love it. I still have a lot to learn, but it is definitely my favorite platform these days!
Come follow me! I’m always looking for new people to talk to there!
I learned that I am passionate about a lot of things, and that I love to share.
Like I said above, listening to the expert advice didn’t work for me. I tried to “niche down” (for those of you not in the blogging industry already, that means narrow down your topic), and I got so bored. I tried to make it work for a few months, but I really felt like I was saying the same things over and over.
Finally, I decided to branch out, and it was like a breath of fresh air. Suddenly, I was inspired again. I was excited to write. I was able to fill up pages of notes on post ideas I wanted to publish. Eventually, I even had to change my posting schedule so that I could put out more blog posts to keep up with my ideas.
People often ask me after visiting my blog how I come up with so many blog post ideas. The answer is that I write what I’m passionate about. Sometimes, that’s a business tip, which is what I’d chosen for a niche. But other times, it might be a DIY tutorial, planner pictures, some research I’ve recently done on essential oils, or a product I love.
Allowing myself to expand on the topics I include in this blog made such a difference for me. It made this blog turn from a business endevour to a true passion project. I wake up excited to write and connect with others, and that’s exactly what I envisioned when I started this site.
I learned that I still have a lot to learn.
I’ve also learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like a blogging pro. When I started, I thought, “if I can make it to a full year, I’ll really know what I’m doing.” Well, here I am, a full year in, and I still don’t really know. I feel like I’ll always be learning something, and that actually excites me. Now, instead of feeling like a pro, I’m just excited for what this next year will teach me!
Have you thought about starting a blog? It truly has been the best experience I’ve had in a long time! Just remember: If you can’t get something out of your head, it’s probably there for a reason.