Today is the start of "The How-To's of Blogging Series". I am hosting this awesome series with Two Shades of Lovely so make sure and visit there blog as well. This entire week will be filled with posts on how to make you a "better" blogger, so make sure to come back because there will be a new topic everyday. You can find out who will be posting this week by clicking here.
Blogging Lessons Learned During My Hiatus
Blogging can be overwhelming when you're first starting out. Platforms, hosting, widgets, html coding...it can all be very frustrating and mind-numbing. Not to mention networking, social media, commenting, and before you know it you are spending hours trying to get your baby blog off the ground. I spent almost 3 years building my previous blog and everything was flowing along nicely until life got in the way. I ended up taking a break from my blog that started out as a short term hiatus and turned into a year long sabbatical.
During my time away I had the chance to reflect on why I started blogging in the first place and what I wanted to do differently when I came back. Towards the end of my posting on my (now shut down) first blog I was burned out. I was no longer posting for myself, I was no longer happy in what should have been my space. During my year long sabbatical, I learned some lessons about blogging that I want to share.
1. Blogging is a community. This was a big lesson for me. I was very much an island during my first run at blogging. The nature of my blog, foster care and adoption, meant that I needed to maintain confidentiality. I was limited in what I could share, both words and pictures had to be censored. I didn't feel a real connection with my readership because I didn't feel like I could be myself. This time around I am social, I am real, and I am happier. I have made quite a lot of friends in blogland that I know I can count on to cheer me up on a bad day or laugh with me over some dumb random PR pitch that appeared in my inbox. I count some of these women among my best friends. You hear people say "find your tribe" a lot these days and I'm grateful to have found mine.
2. Sometimes it's okay to be niche-less. I am a niche-less blogger. I call myself a parenting & lifestyle blogger because people like blogs to fit into nice boxes but the truth is, I blog about a lot of different things. I wondered back in the beginning if I could be successful as a niche-less blogger and I wondered if being niche-less would make it harder for me to grow my blog. I have found that if I am passionate about every post then the emotion shines through no matter if it's a humor post or a post about my journey through postpartum depression.
3. Social Media is not evil. But there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to use it. I did not bother with Twitter or Facebook until I started up my current blog. I really didn't get the appeal of Twitter. I really dove in with both feet this time around. I learned how to use both Twitter and Facebook as effective tools to grow my blog. There is proper etiquette for Twitter that so many new bloggers haven't learned yet. As a general rule, people don't like to be spammed. I try to make sure that I'm balancing self promotion with the promotion of others. If I'm following someone who is only spamming me with 20 links a day to their own material and not trying to interact with anyone then I am going to unfollow them. Please don't be a spammer.
4. Make your blog appealing. I'm talking about more than just a good design and header, although both of those are important too. I'm referring to the little things that are sometimes overlooked. For instance, please turn off your auto-play music. I love music, I just don't want it blaring at me the minute I open up your page. Please turn off your word verification for commenting. I beg you, turn it off. In the 4 + combined years I have been blogging I have only had a handful of spam comments and they were easily removed. If you are really concerned, set the comment moderation so you can approve comments before they are published. Please have an About page and a Contact Me page. Every blog should have those. Please make it easy for someone to follow you. Don't hide your follow buttons at the bottom of your sidebar. Your social media and follow buttons should be one of the very first things that people see.
5. Don't get bogged down in the numbers. I know we all love followers, and comments, and pageviews. Those things are great and it's hard not to let your self worth and self esteem as a blogger hinge on those numbers. It's important not to lose sight of why you blog, once you do it's very easy for things to spin out of control. I rarely look at my stats anymore, not because I don't care about my pageviews but because I realize how much more there is to blogging than the numbers. The relationships and friendships that I've formed are more important. My integrity and staying true to myself is more important. I've turned down some very lucrative opportunities because they were not a good fit for me or my blog. Don't just jump at every chance that comes your way. I promise you, once your blog starts to grow you will receive plenty of offers and opportunities.
6. Remember the Internet is forever. Be careful what you post about other people. Always double check your facts, don't post gossip and rumors, don't steal other people's work, and don't say anything about someone that you wouldn't want them to read. You never know who is reading your blog as I learned the hard way in my first blog. I posted something that I really should not have posted and it came back to bite me on the bootie in a big way. I have set personal boundaries for what I share on my blog now. I'm careful not to tell stories that aren't mine to tell. I don't bash my husband, my in-laws, my family, or anyone else in our lives that might one day see my words. I never blog with an angry heart, it only leads to regrets later.
Those are just a few of the lessons that I learned during my year long sabbatical from blogging. I came back a much happier, much better blogger. I learned from the mistakes I made the first time and I'm enjoying my blog so much more this time around!
Delilah's Bio- Mommy to 5, wife to 1, warden to a psychotic dog! I’m a self-confessed socially awkward, southern girl with sass. You can call me Delilah! I share my sometimes-successful attempts at domestication, motherhood, and life in general on my blog, Confessions of a Semi-Domesticated Mama. I might not be the next June Cleaver but I am a happy mama who finds joy among the chaos- that’s my superpower. Welcome to my Semi-Domesticated Life. I hope you brought wine.
GIVEAWAY COMING! Dana from Wonder Forest has been so kind to offer all of you a FREE copy of her very own e-book for bloggers "Blog Wonderful". Stayed tuned for the giveaway at the end of the series!!
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