What I’ve Learned Blogging

A year ago I started this blog.  I had no clue what I was doing or what I hoped to accomplish.  Honestly, I still don’t think don’t have a clue about either of those but today I’d like to share with you tips/ideas/pointers that I have picked up over the last year.

This could get long so I highlighted the topics for easy scanning!  You may not agree with everything I have here and that’s a-okay.  I’m just sharing some of my observations from the past year.

Blogging takes time.  I had no clue the amount of time you could waste blogging.  From writing your own posts to reading others.  It usually takes me ~30 minutes to write a blog post.  Some take more time, some take less.  I usually post 5 days a week.  That’s 150 minutes each week of just writing.  (That 150 minutes doesn’t include project time, photographing time, etc.)  I try to write most of my posts on Sundays (our lazy day).  Writing on the week-end frees up my week to go to that pesky 9-5 job and fulfill my other life duties…like cleaning the bathroom and having real life friends. 

Commenting.  Do you like comments?  Me too.  I’m a comment whore.  (Can I type that here?  Sure.  It’s my blog.  Mwahahaha.)  I’d guess that 99.999% of bloggers like comments.  All bloggers like knowing that people are reading what they are putting out there.  Why else would you blog?  Posting things that you don’t want anyone to read is called journaling.  Big difference.  If you want people to comment on your blog, you need to comment on others.  I personally like reading other blogs so commenting is no big deal.  Do you want to grow your blog?  Other bloggers are going to help you out along the way!

I also try very hard to go through my comments each day and read the blogs of those who comment here.  If you are going to take the time to read my nonsense, I think it’s respectful for me to do the same.  I’ve found some great blogs by doing this!  I don’t always have the time but this is something that I try really hard to do. 

Find your niche.  I did a lot of Googling last winter when I started this thing.  A lot of the tips about blogging said to “find your niche”…that group of bloggers that is similar to you.  Great.  Super. But how do I do that?  Who are they and where are they?

I started with the bigger blogs that I related to (Young House Love, Nuestra Vida Dulce, etc) and clicked on their comments.  I then read through the blogs of their commenters.  Slowly I found bloggers similar to myself…20/30 somethings fixing up their homes.  I’d comment on their posts and they’d comment on mine.  I refer to them as my blog buddies.  You learn a lot about people who write about their lives multiple times per week.

Who’s in my niche?  Go through my comments.  The same names pop up every day.  Your niche won’t form over night but give it time!

Content.  I feel like this often gets left out of the “I want to grow my blog but don’t know how.” posts.  To me, content is the most important tool to growing your blog.  You can have the fanciest blog design and all of the money in the world but I’m not going to read your blog if your posts are crap.  The end.

What is good content?  I think good content comes from being passionate about something.  Posting what you truly love.  Posting about your hobbies and what makes your life unique.  

It’s best to have pretty photos of things you are blogging about.  Do you need a super fancy camera? No. A point and shoot will get you there. Do you need Photoshop? No.  Picnik is a free, easier to use version.

Be yourself.  I think half of you read this blog because of my lack of filter.  I like that.  I get irritated when bloggers try to imitate other bloggers.  I mean, I get it.  If it works for them, maybe it will work for me.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it will.  Be yourself.  Tell me what you like.  Tell me what you don’t like.  Be sincere.  I don’t write things like “Awww, shucks.  You all are too kind.  I’m tickled pink.”  That’s not me.  Phrases like those annoy me.  If they are you, that’s awesome.  Write them.  If you wouldn’t tell your best friend “Holla at a girlfriend” then don’t write it.

Link Parties are your friend.  A common question I had early on was “Why is no one reading my blog?”.  Because no one know it exists.  (And your posts are crap…go back.  It’s funny.)  You have to put yourself out there.  Link parties are one of the best tools to accomplish this.  You post the link to your blog post, others read it.  Go through the other link party submissions and comment on their posts.  Cross your fingers that you have a great project and the host of the party features it.

Social Media is fun.  Have you checked out my facebook page?  It’s kind of lame but it’s there.  Do you follow me on the twitter?  Social media is a great way to share what your blogging about.  It’s also a great way to find out what’s happening in blogland (it really is it’s own little land).

Google Reader is a must.  Do you know about Google Reader?  Organize yours now.  You will thank me.  Why?  You now have about 1 million and 12 blogs that you want to get through on a regular basis.  Instead of typing in each and every web address…you just keep on clicking through your Google Reader.    I have my Google Reader organized by primary (my favorites), secondary (those next in line), tertiary (mainly just read these when I have extra time), and link party sites. Organization is key to managing your blogging time.

Windows Live Writer is super helpful.  I use Blogger.  I really like Blogger.  I know nothing about html coding.  Blogger does it for me.  Blogger’s downfall?  It takes FOREVER to load photos.  It’s super quick and easy in Live Writer.  The download is available for free on-line.  Fancy.

How much money have you spent growing your blog?  $5 for on-line photo storage.  That is it.  I think it’s easy to get trapped into thinking that you need to spend $100 on a fancy blog design and multiple hundreds on blogging courses.  Not true. Google is your friend.  Blogger is your friend.  Writing about what you love is your friend.

Some of you may argue that I spend money on projects for the blog.  That is true but these are projects that I would do if I didn’t have a blog.  I would decorate my home and tackle sewing projects even if I wasn’t blabbing about it.  I did all of this before I started blogging.

How much money do you make blogging?  This is a question I had early on.  One I could not find an answer to.  No one likes to talk how much money they make but this isn’t how I make my living.  If it was, I’d be in trouble. Big trouble.  Will I tell you my day job salary?  Heck no.  Will I tell you what I make blogging?  Sure.

I make ~$50 each month from BlogHer ads.  Some months more, some months less.  (This goes back to content.  The better the content, the more people read.  The more people read, the more money I make.) Having said that, I don’t try to make money here.  I have the ads because it doesn’t make sense not to.  I installed the code once and that’s all I have to do to receive a check each month.  No brainer.

I have, however, received a bunch of free things over this past year from this blog.  I like free things.  I’m not going to lie.  I didn’t realize how much free stuff there was out there for bloggers.  Again, not enough for me to quit my job and stay home in my pajamas all day but not too shabby for a hobby.  I’ll take it!

Do you have other questions?  I’d love to answer them! I’m obviously not holding back this week…wowsers…