My initial attempt at blogging was…not successful. And while I wouldn’t call it a success, I wouldn’t call it a complete failure either. Why wouldn’t I call it a failure considering the blog is no longer up? Because I learned so much. I learned a lot about the mechanics of blogging and I also learned a lot about myself.
What I learned about me
The most important takeaway from my first blog is that I can do much more than I gave myself credit for. When I first bought my domain name and hosting, it was so exciting. After I bought everything I put it all where it should be (or so I thought), I typed in my domain name and got a big fat nothing. I called my web hosting company and the rep told me I had to point my DNS servers to my website. He might as well have said it in German. I mean, I had no idea. But, the service rep helped me out (a lot) and we got through it, I got through it.
I was out of my depth, but I was resourceful enough to find someone who knew what they were doing. At the end of the day, I was pretty proud of myself.
Getting over the hump of the initial setup was one thing. I spent the next days and weeks working on my blog and the lessons just kept coming. I quickly understood the importance of picking the right niche, having good content and marketing…ugh the marketing.
Choosing the right niche
When I first got the idea to be a blogger, all of my research directed me to pick a niche. Which makes sense. You really can’t speak to everyone, when you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one. You must choose a target audience. Picking a niche requires you to figure out what you love. It forces you to figure out what you are so interested in that you can’t stop talking about it. For me that was fashion. I love fashion, my major in college was buying and merchandising, for crying out loud. Apparently, my goal in life was to shop for a living. Ok, so fashion…great.
What I didn’t realize was how much of me that niche required. While I love fashion, I don’t love taking selfies and plastering myself all over Instagram. I’m a 42-year-old mom. It’s not my thing. I felt like being a fashion blogger not only required the marketing of my blog, it also required the marketing of myself in ways that I was not comfortable with.
How to avoid this:
Understand what you’re getting into. I mean fashion? Really? What could be more visual than that? I really should have seen that coming. Understand what your niche requires. Do your research, visit other blogs in your niche and really take the time to consider what those bloggers have to do to achieve that beautiful finished product.
Prepare your written content in advance
After months of research and about 1000 Pinterest pins, I finally I threw caution to the wind and started my blog with a now or never attitude. I was tired of the analysis paralysis and I just wanted to get started. In hindsight, I still wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared with enough content. Sure, I had an exhaustive list of potential blog posts but it was only a list.
If I had to do it over, I would have started with at least 10-15 blogs posts at the ready, that’s a minimum. Having blog posts ready for publishing can make a world of difference when you launch your blog. It gives the readers…well…something to read. You want to launch your blog with enough content so the reader can decide if they like your blog and writing style enough to come back. Having enough content on your blog will also lower your bounce rate. The bounce rate is how many visitors leave after only looking at one page on your blog. I made the mistake of not having enough content prepared ahead of time. I didn’t give my readers enough content to make a decision and I didn’t realize how the other aspects of blogging would pull me away from creating more content in a timely manner.
How To Avoid This
If I had to do it over I would absolutely prepare my blog posts ahead of time. I cannot stress this enough, write, write, write and then write some more. As a new blogger, it is easy to get overwhelmed with the list of 100 things you need to do to get a blog off the ground. If you are going to start a blog and you care about traffic and readership then prepare your content ahead of time. You can thank me later.
Out of that list of 100 things you need to do to get your blog off the ground, marketing would be at the top. Promoting a blog is a lot of work. There are so many options when it comes to social media. So when you’re starting out, it will take a while to figure which platform is best for you and your niche. I spent countless hours drowning in social media marketing. At the end of the day, I’m not sure what it accomplished and I felt completely burned out.
How to avoid this
The best way to avoid social media burnout is to pick one or two platforms to focus on. The avenue of approach will/should depend on your target market. For example, the audience I was targeting would have been primarily on Facebook, not so much on Instagram. I know, it’s always advisable to steer clear of sweeping generalizations but in my experience, that’s what I found. After 6 months of toggling between Facebook and Instagram, I found that Instagram did not translate into blog traffic for me. Understand your target audience and where to find them.
This time around I’m taking a different approach to my blog. After The Byline serves a lot of different purposes. It is:
✦Meant to be a way to document my life as a writer
✦A way for me to process information myself
✦An avenue to share what I have learned with others
✦Tool to sharpen my writing chops and further understand the mechanics of blogging
✦Finally, perhaps most importantly, it is a platform for my writing career
An Important Note:
When talking about blogging, writing (or starting anything new for that matter), it’s important to remember that everything takes time. Nothing happens overnight. The bloggers that you are looking up to and comparing yourself to? They also started with one blog post and no one reading their blog but their moms. As I grew to understand the process I realized that those ladies work hard to get where they are. Anyone building something from the ground up always does.