Photo via The Everygirl
I've received so many emails from some amazing readers lately asking for blogging advice, many of them who are just starting out, or are thinking about starting a blog but are still on the fence. I LOVE getting these emails, so I'm going to start doing more and more blogging posts.
I thought back to when I was first starting out, and the things I would go back and tell myself if I could do it all over. Here are the top 5 things I wish I had known when I was a new blogger.
1. Don't be afraid to be yourself. That's the only thing that makes you unique.
When I first started the blogging journey, I really struggled with writing my content. I had always been a good writer. (I was Journalism major for crying out loud!) But for some reason, my first few posts were unbearably hard to write.
How would I figure out my "voice"? What should my "online personality" be? This was harder than expected. I would scour other blogs I loved, and figure out why I liked them, and then try to mimic that in my copy, forcing myself to write what I thought was "funny" or "cool". I also tried several really terrible things to try to develop said "online personality". For example, at one point I thought it would be really cool to not use ANY capital letters in my copy.
so i would write every sentence like this. isn't this terribly painful to read? no wonder my mother was the only one reading. and then thankfully, my roommate, kaianne, told me that it looked like something only a 13 year old hipster would do. and then i decided to write like a normal, college educated adult.
How did I find my groove? Well, I write like I speak. If you've ever met me in person, you know this. My writing is very "me" because it is me. My biggest piece of advance in finding your voice is writing the way that you talk, and I'm pretty sure it will get easier for you, too!
There are well over 200 million blogs that exist on the web (there's way more now, this is kind of an old stat). There will always be someone with better photos, better design, stickier content, than you. The only thing that makes you truly unique, is yourself. So let your personality shine through.
2. Be prepared to re-evaluate the time you spend on everything.
Estimate the amount of time you think you'll need to spend blogging, and quadruple it. Then double that number, and multiply it by three.
That's how much you will spend on your blog.
That being said, although it was a sharp change in the way I had been previously spending my time, it also changed my life in a really, really good way.
It gave me a sense of responsibility, a passion, and a direction. When I started this site, I was kind of "in between hobbies" if you will. I grew up riding horses, dancing, and singing all through high school, until I went to college. Where my hobbies consisted mostly of consuming adult beverages and pizza. After I graduated, I really was lacking a sense of purpose. That's what it gave me.
So, if you're thinking of starting a blog, understand that although it might look easy from the outside, every piece of content you consume has taken hours and hours of work. You're going to want to stay home and work on your blog instead of going out on Friday night. You're going to get stressed out and decide to reschedule date night with your boyfriend because you feel like you have to finish this one blog thing right now. It's a really hard balance that you're going to have to learn to juggle, but it's worth it.
Do not underestimate the value of aesthetics
I know, I know. Our mothers told us to never judge a book by it's cover. But in the blog world, it's true. If your site isn't pretty, people don't want to read it. Unfortunately people value the quality of the photos much higher than the quality of the writing (sad day).
If you're planning to have original photography on your site, you need a DSLR. No, there is no way around it. But the good news is that you can find some really cheap used ones on Amazon that work just as great as new ones! Your lens is also crucial. Go ahead and throw that kit lens that comes with your camera in the garbage. I (and pretty much everyone else I know) swear by a 50mm lens. It's super affordable and makes a huge difference. Learning about photography (and I'm definitely still learning a lot) has been one of my favorite things about blogging so far.
Your blog design is just as important. Not a techy? There are a ton of amazing pre-made designs out there that you can buy at a really affordable price. Check out the one's from my friend, Blair! I learned the hard way. My first logo was one I designed on my first trial run of Photoshop, and believe me, IT SHOWED.
Networking is an extremely under-valued tool
If you haven't read my post on networking, check it out here! Success is really all in the numbers. And by that, I mean, the number of supportive, collaborative, and creative people you surround yourself with.
You need the supporters, who are there to cheer you on when you don't believe in yourself. You need the collaborators, and fellow creators to partner with to create amazing content, and to learn from one another.
In high school, you were only as good as the crew you ran with, in a terrible, cliquey way. In blogging, it's kind of the same, but in a really really awesome way. If I hadn't gotten involved in the blogging community and befriended so many incredible people, I know I would not have had such an incredible journey thus far! (Really though, way more on that in this post.)
You are good enough. get over it.
Understand that a great website is not built overnight. It takes time, lot's and lot's of time. But that's what makes it so much fun. Don't get so focused on the end result that you forget to enjoy the journey. If you aren't loving every second of what you're doing, why are you doing it anyway? Where you are right now is good enough, whether you're finalizing your first post, or celebrating the dream partnership you just landed–it is enough. Enjoy every bit of it!
And don't get caught up in what that tiny voice in the back of your head thinks! If only you could have seen the atrocious things I wore in college. Like, hands down, could have been voted worst dressed in my sorority's pledge class. If you would have told any of my friends that I would start a style blog two years later, they'd tell you to put down the margaritas.
My point is, you are the only one who stands in your way of achieving what you want. I know the panic that sometimes washes over you right before you hit the publish button. What if people think you're stupid? What if they don't like what you have to say?
Who cares! Remember, you are doing this for yourself. That's all that matters. You are good enough.
What other blogging questions do you have? I'd eventually like to start a little "blog tips" section of GG, so keep those questions coming!