On Christmas Eve just passed I quietly celebrated a little milestone – 9 years of blogging! My start in blogging all happened quite accidentally; while I am a Melbourne girl now, I was born and bred a Sydneysider and 9 years ago, on a very normal and uneventful evening when I was back in Sydney catching up with friends, one of them suggested that I should start a blog so that they could keep up with my new life in Melbourne. Thinking that it sounded like a great idea, I jumped right in a couple of days later with my first blogspot.com blog. It’s fair to say that I had absolutely no idea how that decision would change the course of my life!
9 years on and the social media environment has changed enormously! As I look back over that time, these are some of the things that stand out as key lessons and moments that have shaped the course of my blogging journey the most:
Find your tribe.
I’ve made amazing friends online, people who I now love to hang out with offline, as much as online. I experimented lots with connecting with bloggers and I think it’s a lot easier to make those connections now when we have so many avenues to connect through. Spending the time getting to know other bloggers, commenting on their sites and sharing their posts is such an important part of the blogging experience – it might take a little while, but you will find your tribe and once you do, it’s amazing!
Give, give, give.
Content is everywhere and people are drowning in links trying to find the good stuff. So, if you find the good stuff, share it! (and don’t forget to make it easy for people to share the good stuff that you create!)
Likewise, bloggers can get amazing experiences and products sent to them so if there’s a way for you to pass it on to your readers, do that; give so that they know that you love them not to get them to love you.
Brands are looking for Influencers to work with
When I started blogging things like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram didn’t exist so as brands started working online it was all about bloggers. In 2015 everyone has an audience and so while brands still love bloggers, they are more interested in “influencers” – people who drive their community to action and engagement, often across multiple platforms. Take the time to work out what topics you are, or could be, influential on and cultivate that content.
You have to invest in yourself.
When I started my first blog I learnt to code, and designed the whole thing myself. It was really empowering but ridiculously time consuming. At the time a custom design would have cost me about $150 but that seemed like a lot of money to spend on a hobby. Mistake. Spend the money to get it right, and to educate yourself about your niche – especially if you want to monteize. The BEST stuff I’ve ever learnt has come from spending money on a course or conference where I have been able to learn from people who are experts in their field.
Blogging is a long game
For most people building a following is something that happens over time – don’t get caught up in the “vanity metrics” of pageviews and Facebook fans but invest your time in building meaningful connections with the people who already love your blog. This is where the magic happens… I love this quote from Brian Clark:
Spend the time getting your brand right. Read blogs like The Story Of Telling and think about what your readers are looking for and how you position yourself to really connect with them as a brand as well as person. Good branding helps people identify with you and your message from the get go!
Go to blogger events, organise your own meet up – there is a LOT to be said for connecting with people in person. I have gotten SO much out of meeting up with fellow bloggers and readers over the year; it’s been one of my favourite things to do and I can’t recommend it highly enough!
You can’t be everywhere
You can’t be on every social network, your own blog and lead a fulfilling and productive life. It’s just too much – pick one or two things and focus your energy there. For instance, I started on Pinterest but have let it go – I still pin things but I don’t focus my energy in that space, and that’s OK. Is there something you could let go of too?
Never stop learning
I have been blogging for 9 years and professionally blogging for the past 5 of those and I still invest in learning every day and imagine I always will. Find out who the experts are in your niche and in the areas that you want to grow in and pay attention to what they are saying and doing – you can learn so much just by watching!