If you are not a blogger, this may be boring to you. I am sorry, I just thought it would be good to share some info. I’ve gotten some questions over the past couple months and I wanted to talk about those too.
Before I go into my little pearls of wisdom (that most of you already know, I’m sure) I just want to state that I am NO EXPERT!! This is just my experience and things I’ve picked up my first year. I have so many more things to learn and I can’t wait to pick up some new tips at Haven!!
In the beginning.
When I started this blog, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I wanted to share my passion for design and DIY. I honestly didn’t even know if anyone would bother reading my ramblings and follow my projects. After my first two weeks, I was hooked! I loved the blogging community instantly! It was fun to meet people and discuss projects. I would go to their blogs after they left a comment and introduce myself. I started following more blogs. I left comments on other blogs. I started building blogging relationships with readers and bloggers.
My first ‘official” post
Is my blog becoming a business?
About 2 1/2 months into my blogging journey, I was approached by a company to do a product review. I thought, wow, they want to send me something and have me share my honest opinion about it?? I happened to really like the product so I agreed. Then, brands started approaching me about advertising. I was excited at the chance to make some extra money through my blog, but being on wordpress.com there were really strict guidelines about advertising and how to work with brands and I was really limited. I had to say no to a lot of opportunities. That was a downer.
The first product review I did
I think wordpress.com was a great blogging platform to start on. It was very user-friendly and had a great community. When you start looking at your blog as a business though, it limits a lot of what you can do. If I had it to do again, I would have gone the Blogger route.
Growing and considering changes.
As my blog readership grew, more opportunities came my way. Around the 5 month mark, my sweet blogging friend Anneke from This, That, & Life asked me to be a part of a holiday link series. I was super excited, but again, still being on wordpress.com, I had limitations using the Linky Tools and I started asking my blogging friends about how to switch to a self-hosted site. There were so many plug-ins that wordpress.com did not allow and that was always a downer too.
First time Co-Hosting a Link Party
In March after 8 months of blogging I made the leap. Becoming a self-hosted site is something I wish I would have done sooner looking back. Being self-hosted is the best decision I have made and I do not regret it at all. If your blog becomes a business and you start to get steady income through it, being self-hosted gives you the freedom to run your blog the way you want to. You are in control of the advertising, sponsorships, etc. You can hold link parties and actually have the link ups show up on your page. Brands and businesses are more apt to work with you too if you are on a self-hosted site. Many bloggers I know have had great success staying on Blogger and don’t feel the need to switch. I just happened to start on wordpress.com and didn’t want to lose the subscribed followers I had. So, I transferred to wordpress.org. It’s very user-friendly and easy to transition to since it is similar to wordpress.com. You do have to get a website host like Dreamhost, Go Daddy, or Fat Cow. Depending on your website needs, pricing varies, but starting out you don’t pay that much because you are sharing a server with other websites. Also, if your website goes down, you are in charge of working with your host to get it up and going again. Those are all things to consider.
New website, new look
The only hiccup I had with my transfer to wordpress.org was I lost over 150 subscribed followers and I had no way of knowing who didn’t get transferred. So, if I stopped showing up in your wordpress.com reader that would be why. I’ve heard of this happening to a few other bloggers who made the same switch. WordPress couldn’t explain why it happened and if that was you I apologize!
After 1 year I still have so much more to learn.
I have to say that being able to work at something that is a passion and fits into my lifestyle is not a chore at all. I enjoy it! Every once in a while I take a break to recharge the batteries, but to be able to share inspiration and talk design is fun. To share our latest project and to see other projects around the blogosphere is something I enjoy. I feel blessed to have met some of the most down to earth friends through blogging too. That has to be one of the best parts for me. Being able to monetize this passion has also been a blessing! It helps with the projects we take on. Trust me, it helps. We basically have a whole house to remodel! I love working with brands and sharing products. All and all, blogging is a good fit for me and I am so glad I decided to start Bliss at Home. It combines all my loves: design, writing, and photography. With all that said, I still have a lot to learn about blogging!
To beat a dead horse.
My first year blogging tips
1. Blog what you love and be true to your voice. Don’t be afraid to fly your freak flag!! I let go of that fear early on! Be true to your niche or platform. People don’t want phony. People don’t gravitate towards someone trying to be something they’re not. Stick to your truth and your passions. If you want to blog about your cat all day long, do it! There’s a community for that. Let your personality show in your writing. You are sharing not only projects but who you are with the world!
2. Take great photos. This really is a no brainer! I am no photo expert! I am learning as I go, but I have always loved taking photos and am trying to grow my skills. If you don’t have a fancy camera, do the best with what you have. There are some great photo programs that can help you achieve more appealing photos if you aren’t a pro yet. Blogs are visual. You could have great content, but if your photos are terrible no one’s going to stick around long.
3. Network. I can not stress this enough. I enjoy meeting the real people behind the blogs I follow so this is not hard for me. I have the more the merrier mentality. I have met the greatest people through my blog! It’s even better when you get to meet them face to face! The blogging community is very nurturing. At least, that’s been my experience with it. I have asked sooo many questions to bloggers I adore. Everyone has always been kind and helpful. Plus, a lot of those relationships you build turn into wonderful things.
4. Stay grounded. I love my blog, but it is not the most important thing in the world. God, family, and helping others take precedence above work and play. Sometimes you just have to step away from the computer and the phone. Social media is so important when growing your blog, especially if it is a business. I refuse to let this rule my life though. Step away, turn the computer off. Enjoy your family! Sometimes all those comments, likes, questions, emails, etc. can get overwhelming! To help with this, I set hours for different things. I have a household to run and kids to enjoy. I want to be available and not be staring at a screen all day. I do a lot of writing after hours or early in the morning. Prioritize. Like anything else, do the most important things first.
5. Learn to say NO. Are you a people pleaser? If so, this might be hard. I have said no to a lot more things than I have said yes to. I do like an opportunity to make some money through my blog, but I am not going to compromise it by promoting something I don’t want to– no matter how much money it is for. I only work with brands and businesses I use or would use. I only share my honest opinions about products I review. I usually have a feel for the brand before I agree to a project and I do my research beforehand if it is something I am not familiar with.
6. Connect with Marketing Teams. If your blog is also a business, there are some really great marketing teams that pair advertisers with bloggers. You should definitely check them out. Most have guidelines for bloggers to apply. Some have pre-requisites, like having so many pageviews per month, etc. I am a member of Social Spark, Pollinate Media Group, Clever Girls Collective, Blogvertise, Blueprint Social, and Rivit Media. There are several others that you can check out too.
7. Be helpful. Be kind. Again, a no-brainer, right? If a reader asks you a direct question or advice answer it to the best of your ability. Share the love. Blogging is a community. I fall into the DIY/design niche so when I see a blog post I love by another blogger I share it. Pinterest is great for this! I also feature bloggers I like in a series. I am not a big time blogger, but I like to build up and encourage others. Some bloggers I feature are old pros, and others are newer to it than I am. As far as comments go, I take the try to respond to every comment approach. At times, this is a challenge! I just feel like if you take the time to comment on something I’ve blogged I should take the time to reply. I do my best with this, but fail sometimes. For me it is about connecting with readers and bloggers and I value every comment.
8. Use spell check! Please! I am laughing to myself, because I just sent a guest post to a blogging friend and I sent her the draft instead of the revised copy! Luckily, it was fixed in no time. I cringe when I read a blog post full of errors. It drives me nuts. I do my best to not have spelling or grammatical errors, but I’m sure a couple have fallen through the cracks. Just always use spell check at least. Especially, if you are submitting articles for editorial opportunities. This is so important when working with brands.
9. Take the good with the bad. Let’s face it. You can’t please everyone. Sometimes people are going to comment on something with a negative reaction. I’ve only had this happen a couple of times. There are going to be haters. It’s up to you whether you publish their comments or not. One time someone went off about the fact that I use goose down pillow inserts and how inhumane it is. I chose not to publish that comment only because I didn’t want a goose down debate on a post about IKEA. Or people think they are being helpful by pointing something out. I always find this one funny, especially when I already stated it in the post that they obviously didn’t read!
10. Don’t get down. I’ve had a couple of friends who blog express that they are down that things aren’t happening quick enough. Sometimes this is in regard to followers and sometimes this is in regard to business opportunities. I don’t think you should go into blogging expecting it to become income. It is work to make it a business. If you think you are going to start blogging and someone is going to pluck you out of obscurity and pay you–that is unrealistic. Now, if you are good at what you do, things like that can happen. It’s usually not overnight. My motives for blogging come from a love to share and inspire. I am a creative being and love to be a part of a creative community. My blog is a place that is just mine. I live in a house full of boys and it is nice to have my outlet. You can’t compare someone else’s blogging experience to your own. Would it be nice to be featured in a magazine or book and get paid by a company to write content for them? Of course! All I can say to this is if it’s not enjoyable you are not in the right place. If you love to blog, are consistent, and post good content good things will come. Hey, if this is your passion–dream big! Who knows where it will take you!
Well, I know that wasn’t earth-shattering, but maybe there are some nuggets of wisdom in there for the novice blogger. I still consider myself the new kid on the block sometimes.
Thanks for embracing me and my family and all our quirky ways!
Don’t miss out on a chance to win a gorgeous exotic skin tablecloth from JESSEd home. If you love glam, if you love texture, and something easy to clean this is perfect!!!
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