If I Knew Then: What I’ve Learned About Blogging

imageJust over a year ago I started Suzie81 Speaks as an online journal. I had been experiencing a difficult time and as writing has always been therapeutic it was the perfect solution. I had no goals – the act of writing was simply enough. However, over a short space of time, this little space of the Internet grew beyond any expectations that I had ever imagined and I found that as I began to recover, my writing style and goals changed.

I’ve learned a lot, and if I could go back and do it again these are the things that I would do differently.

1. I would decide on a name that I was happy with at the very beginning. In my excitement about the prospect of starting the blog, I hastily chose the name ‘Suzie81’ – my name and the year that I was born. After a while I became really dissatisfied with my choice – it had no real reference to any of the content in the blog – but by this point everybody knew me as this name. When I later purchased my domain name, there were very few options that I could use and I ended up changing it to ‘Suzie81 Speaks’ so as not to confuse my followers.

2. I would create a set of profiles on other social media networks from the beginning. It took me about eight months to establish a Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook and Pinterest account, and I’ve always regretted not doing this sooner as these are now responsible for the majority of my views on my site. An important thing to know here is that none of them are linked to my personal pages on the same sites – I created a completely separate account for each, along with a new email address.

3. I would participate in link ups earlier. I participate in regular link ups on Twitter, particularly at the Sits Girls #sitssharefest on Saturdays and Rachel in the OC’s #MondayBlogs on Mondays. I’ve been able to meet hundreds of lovely people and it’s a great opportunity to share and read new posts.

4. I wouldn’t share the fact that I have a blog with many people in my personal life. I have lots of lovely friends who have been very supportive, but as the blog became more popular it has been used against me, which caused some issues. I have also found that as lots of people in my life now read my ramblings it prevents me from writing about certain issues that are very personal, which defeats the point of the blog in the first place.

5. I wouldn’t be as hasty to post something just for the sake of posting it. In my early blogging madness I posted everything I could think of. Looking back, I’ve had to revisit lots of things and delete them, simply because they have no meaning with what I thought I was trying to create.

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Here are some simple ‘Do’s’ and ‘Don’ts’ that may be useful if you are starting your blog.

1. Don’t expect too much. There are MILLIONS of blogs out there. You are not going to gain thousands of followers (unless your post goes viral) simply by pressing the publish button. Blogging takes LOTS of time and effort.

2. Don’t feel that your blog should have a niche. I follow lots of great blogs that do, but I prefer to cover lots of topics within my own.

3. Do take the time to visit lots of other blogs and follow them.

4. Don’t automatically expect (or even worse, request and plead for) a follow back. This is one of my biggest annoyances – I follow about 250, but I often receive messages saying ‘I’ve followed you, now you need to follow me.’ Why? Others shouldn’t be made to feel obliged or bullied into following you simply to return the favour.

5. Do leave comments on other blogs to let them know that you have enjoyed what you have read.

6. Don’t spam comment sections with links to your own posts. This happens to me a lot, and while I always try and share, tweet and reblog posts I get irritated when others end their comment with a link to their latest post, demanding that we ‘check it out.’

7. Do make the effort to reply to comments that have been left on your posts. I read and appreciate every single comment that is ever written, but until recently I have been poor at replying to some of them. This was because work became a priority and took over life somewhat, but I always make the effort to reply when I can.

8. Do remember that content is key. I love inspirational posters, but there are only so many that you can post before your audience may start to get bored. Make sure that your content is your own – if you have used somebody else’s and images, be sure to credit them.

9. Do be respectful at all times. One of the best things about the WordPress community is that the majority of people are unbelievably friendly and supportive.

10. Don’t expect everyone to agree with you. If you choose to write about a controversial subject, it is highly unlikely that all of your audience will support you in your arguments. Listen, respond and be respectful about it.

What about you guys? Any hints and tips that you have learned in your blogging endeavours?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog

 

Image credits:

guardianlv.com

http://www.petitemom.com

 

114 thoughts on “If I Knew Then: What I’ve Learned About Blogging

  1. Some really great tips here Suzie. I’ve only been blogging a little over a month. I’ve found that same issue you spoke about where I would just try and put out lots of posts. Since then I’ve cut it down quite a bit, posting only once a week, I try to treat my blog like a magazine, only publish stories that I am very proud of and have worked hard on. Also, like you said, it takes time to build an audience.

    Erik
    http://erikconover.com

  2. Wonderfully succinct info. I’m a teaching assistant in continuing education online WordPress classes; although the focus is in learning how to set up a hybrid website (blog and static pages), we get occasional questions about blog etiquette. I use my own blogging experience for responses, but that’s just my own experiences and one-dimensional. I’ll link to this post — your insights are perfect!

  3. Great topic Suzie. Very useful for a new blogger on WordPress and in general. This week I achieved my 15th blog mark and I can tell how much I have improved since April. I still have lots to learn but posts like yours shortens the learning curve. Have a great weekend.

  4. Hey, this is a really great post! I’m a new blogger, and your thoughts (especially about telling friends that I have a blog) really clarify some matters for me – Keep it up, your blog is great!

  5. I agree with all of your suggestions. I have recently started to struggle with the follow back issue. I want to give everyone the same kind consideration they give me by following my blog but at the same time, then I end up with so many in my reader that I often miss the ones I really like to read, like yours. My solution to avoid hurt feelings is to follow back immediately and give them a try. If I like them I keep them. About once a month I go through and cull the herd of the blogs I don’t have interest in. By then no one notices the unfollow.

    • I’m really selfish – I always click on their blogs and if I immediately like what I see, I’ll follow. If I don’t, I won’t… I feel the same way you do in that there’s only so many that I can follow without losing track. Yours was one of the first I ever followed and I’ve always enjoyed it!

  6. Wow, Suzie. I wish I had known all this because every point you hit upon applies to me and my blog! My greatest concern is that I be free to voice whatever is on my mind and so I too have kept the blog on the down low where friends and family are concerned. In fact, I started it because whenever I wrote about what was important to me on Facebook, for example, I alienated people I (thought) I knew well. I am not sure what you mean by linkups but will look into that. Great post.

    • Thanks Beth! I now make sure that I am careful with what I write because so many of my friends read it and even though I appreciate ther support I am concerned that if they share things on their own Facebook there will be people reading things that I don’t wish them to…

  7. Good post, Suzie. Great tips as well. Wish more people would read them. I’m trying to get back into blogging myself.

    Also it sucks that you’ve had to edit or be choosy about what you post because you know people who know you personally would read it. I think sometimes we have to just post what we really feel and just brush off anyone who can’t accept that’s how you feel. I mean, as long as you are being real, people need to accept that. Don’t censor yourself. Have a blessed day.

  8. It’s a tricky balance, thank you for the insights you’ve shared. I’ve just made a twitter because I kind of went a mad on it before and things got out of balance. Not in a Walter White sense, but in that it distracted me from the writing. Now I have one, because it’s about creating a platform, a space where I just talk about what interests me. I’m more positive than negative these days and on balance, much much happier.

  9. Good points about the blogettiquete! If I may supplement: one needs to realize that it is a global audience. To my mind, it is crucial to leave behind one’s geographical location in the ‘About Me’ section.

  10. I am one of those scared anonymous bloggers. I keep all of this out of my everyday life because it is scary enough for some of us to hit the publish button already, let alone with your friends and cousins waiting to critique your innermost thoughts. Nice post, very relevant and helpful.

  11. Thanks for the tips. I have kept my blog a secret from my family and friends. Only one person I know has figured me out, but we have reached a pact….what appears on the blog, stays on the blog!

      • Thanks for asking. I’m o.k. One day at a time. Some days are better than others and some days just plain SUCK! 🙂

      • I just wish I knew why they have always acted like this. I had so hoped it would change, and it did for a few weeks. Guess I’ll have to get really drunk in order to confront them….liquid courage ya know? On second thought, maybe not…

  12. Now I have only been blogging for a few months.

    Agreed on point 4, but I think that is a mistake early bloggers tend to make. I’m not starting a new blog just because of it. I happen to like my own blog.

    What I have recently come to realize is that I am the only me out here. I can’t do what other bloggers do I can only do what I do. (hope that makes sense.) I enjoy blogging much more since the change of direction. If others don’t like it – so be it, you can’t make everyone happy. You read your own blog much more than anyone else.

  13. Hey very nice tips! I have some doubts about social networks.. I think that maybe they can get you many readers.. but not long term ones.. what do you suggest me?

    • Building up a social media following has the same principles – I have known some people on my various sites for over a year and it takes a while to establish a relationship… Places like Twitter are extremely fickle and you’ll find your numbers decrease and then increase several times a day. It’s about the relationships, not the numbers…

  14. Excellent advice, many of them are useful to me.Fortunately, I didn’t make my blogging me known to too many people in my personal life. Even if I post mainly about travels, I always wanted to feel free to write what I want.
    And I’m still underestimating the power of other social media sites. I’m always thinking “I want to make my blog perfect first, and then reach out to other social media”, but this seems to be a wrong decision.
    Thank you again for your good advice!

  15. would reiterate your #1, that blogging takes time and effort. I gained followers through the WordPress writing and photo challenges, so don’t be afraid to engage in that activity, along with reading and commenting on others’ posts.

    • Hi Hannah! I am on holiday at the minute so posting is easy, but if I’m busy then the blog isn’t the priority. I can produce a post in approximately half an hour, so if I have time I’ll just sit down and write…

  16. This is a great post. I’m still learning about the “art of blogging,” they say you learn something new everyday, and the more I blog and read blogging tips, read other blogs, I’m finding this to be true.

  17. I appreciate this, thank you. Being a relatively ‘new’ blogger here myself I can see how I too have made similar, choices, assumptions, etc. and I was chuckling as I read this and shaking my head up and down. Sometimes the. simplicity of something IS the profundity of the experience

  18. Very good post! Please check out my blog at…

    Yeah, just kidding. I am with you on the follow back thing and responding to comments. I feel bad when I don’t respond quickly because I want to have that interaction.

  19. Nice post Suzie. I’m amazed how you’ve grown your following so much in only a little over a year. Great tips too. I never considered using Tumblr, Twitter or Pinterest. I didn’t want to stretch myself too thin after all, blogging is a hobby and juggling it with a 9-5 is hard enough.

    To add to your excellent recommendations, I would also encourage others to try and be original. The market is already flooded with self-help life coaches, travel blogs and beauty product reviews which offer little differentiation. There will always be room for a fresh voice in these areas, especially if you try to put your own spin on it. Injecting personality into your blog posts counts for a lot.

  20. Awesome posts and blog you have here, I liked this one very much, thank you for sharing it and letting us know about your genuine insights 🙂

    I’ll follow your blog from now on Suzie, nice work.

    Best regards,
    Pedro Calado

  21. Excellent list. The other thing for the new bloggers I would recommend is follow the Daily Post, participate in various writing, photo, etc challenges until they find something that truly fits them.

  22. Number 8 is priceless. Inspirational posters are like trolling the card aisle at Walgreen’s. It’s all been said – it’s WordPress not PosterPress ………….. and I like reading this here blog!

  23. Ooh, the keeping your blog fairly under wraps from all of your friends is a very good idea. I dread “Is that me you’re referring to!” questions. And keeping personal and blogging accounts separate.. The only other thing I can add is to join either a blogging forum or blogging groups on Face Book for friendly support and advice.

  24. Hi Suzie

    I love love all of your advice here. I can totally relate to it. It’s all about personal connection with people and being respectful. About not advising friends about your blog I can relate to this too. Friends from outside can be limiting and it’s best to keep it to the supportive people who follow you. Thank you for following me too, I hope to inspire you with my posts. Take care xx

  25. This is great advice! I have learned a lot since I’ve started blogging, but I think there is always something new to learn. It’s a never-ending journey of new thoughts, bloggers, and inspirations.

  26. Great post Suzie 🙂 Agree with not necessarily needing a niche, there are plenty of great blogs that don’t pigeonhole themselves into just one topic! xx

  27. A warning as well to be careful about what you post. I posted an honest account of the QA systems in education being careful to not to be critical of the school. School leaders found out and I was slapped across the wrists and asked to remove the posts on the (hollow) threat of disciplinary action. It won’t stop me writing these posts but I’ll do them under an assumed identity instead. I’m still angry about it weeks later!

    • I agree – I’m a teacher and I am lucky to work in an excellent school with staff and students that I have a good relationship with, but I am aware that I have to be very careful about what I post about my job. I wouldn’t be rude about my place of work, but I know that several people in upper management have read it..,

  28. My tip would be don’t feel guilty if you don’t post for a week. That’s just life. It takes over sometimes. If you feel pressure that you have to post it takes away the fun element and rubbish posts for the sake of it just don’t work. Also, there’s no need to apologise if you haven’t posted for a while, chances are no one has really noticed haha. Great tips as always!

  29. Pingback: Sare’s Specials – July edition | New Teacher Life

  30. Awesome tips! I think blogging is a lot of trial and error for newbies. It’s about finding what works for you and your blog. 🙂

  31. Some good thoughts about blogging here. And yes, it can be a double edged sword when people you know in real life start reading your blog because then there is that pressure to not write about things you don’t want them to read, while still wanting to or needing to write about them for your own personal reasons.
    Good luck and keep blogging. It seems like you really know what you are doing now.

  32. 1- I should really thank you, my best friend, for starting me out here.
    2- you know that your advice is always appreciated and listened to.
    C-or 3- You really should check out my blog a little more often as it’s completely your fault.

  33. Some very sound tips here, Suzie. I think a lot of us start a blog with no real sense of its purpose, beyond the immediate “share the stuff in my head.” Often, it takes on a life of its own, and develops into something completely unexpected.

    My advice to new bloggers is to write about what you know, what you’re passionate about, and use all the tools at your disposal to put your content in front of your audience. I also would encourage them to learn their way around the stats; it’s invaluable for helping to learn how people are finding a blog, how they are using it, and what content is of most interest.

  34. This is excellent advice!!! I may have missed it, but I would also add expect to have negative comments at some point. If you blog long enough you are bound to piss someone off at some point. Bloggers need to have some thick skin to deal with the criticisms that are sure to come. I truly enjoyed this post and the positivity that came along with it. Keep up the awesome posts.

  35. Suzie, you offer great advice. I wish I had known all those tips when I started too. I’ve lagged behind in some of the other social media platforms, because I was afraid of the learning curve. I do have a BulgingButtons facebook page, but my Twitter and Pinterest pages are my own personal pages. Now I wish they all were BulgingButtons (along with a dedicated email). I agree that the whole public v. private is an area that can lead to some issues. Maybe setting up those accounts strictly for the blog is a project for Fall Break?! Thanks for the outstanding post and encouragement.
    xo, BB

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