I published my first blog post one year ago to the day!
Initially, I thought I would be exploring writing for myself. I wasn’t very concerned about the reach of the blog. I told some of my family and friends about it but didn’t really “advertise” beyond my small circle. I was also pretty preoccupied with the more technical behind-the-scenes aspects of maintaining a blog, like the ever mysterious Google Analytics.
I was aware early on that I didn’t seem to have a blogging tribe. I’m not a fashion, beauty, travel, food, or mommy blogger. I’m not selling courses or books. I write about my experiences, observations, silly things that make me laugh, random thoughts… I had made a few attempts to connect with other bloggers and gain a greater understanding of the blogosphere by joining the popular blogging networks. My efforts didn’t pan though out so I went back to tweaking the blog and sort of forgot all about networking.
I had noticed that the nicer looking blogs tended to be on WordPress, not Blogger, which I had chosen because it was easy to set up. I wanted my blog to be more functional and to better reflect my personality so nine posts in, I jumped ship. As I enjoyed playing around with my blog design and becoming familiar with WordPress, I realised that I was blogging in a tiny bubble. Sure, it was nice to receive feedback from friends and family, but I couldn’t turn to them for blogging advice.
I had a Facebook profile with no posts and no friends. I used Facebook to login to other websites. Out of the blue, I remembered that I had read about Facebook groups for bloggers. I began doing searches for “blogging” on Facebook and suddenly found myself in the midst of quite a supportive community. I still haven’t found my particular tribe of bloggers, but regardless of niche, most of us have the same basic questions, challenges, and wins. I was so elated, I began joining Facebook groups with wild abandon! Now, a word of caution.
I soon discovered that all blogging groups are not created equal. I left one group after the long list of requirements for engaging in its threads resulted in little to no engagement on my blog. Another group’s rules were so complex and the tone so severe that I thought they’d be off with my head if I did the wrong thing. Other groups were moderated so willy-nilly that the purpose of the group was lost in the melee. Choose your blogging groups wisely.
And then there’s the Facebook page. From what I’ve read, and from what other bloggers have told me, Facebook pages don’t get a whole lot of traffic unless you pay for advertisements. I’m on a budget and have no intention of paying to boost my page or posts. That’s a-okay because I only created the page in order to convert my Instagram to a business account.
You know those images of bloggers surrounded by a sea of white as they sip coffee from impossibly adorable mugs, or those expertly composed flat-lays with perfect lighting? Yeah, that ain’t my Instagram. I appreciate those beautifully themed accounts but that isn’t me or my life. That’s not to say that I ignore the advice of the Instagram gurus who approve and applaud such accounts. I have attempted to better represent my blog by cleaning up my profile and streamlining the images towards the kinds of themes I write about. I’ve also done my share of research on hashtags. When I was on Instagram a few years ago, it was much easier to build a following. Now, it’s very important to find your community in order to thrive. Hashtags are a great way to do just that. Instagram pods/booster groups are also fantastic for connecting with other bloggers on this platform. Again, a word of caution.
You see, pods only work at their greatest potential if every member of the pod is committed to the pod. Some people are eager to join but you never hear from them after they’ve asked to be included. Some people join the pod but you never see them again. Some people want to be in the pod but they don’t want to actually follow its rules. Some people leave the pod without saying anything. Some people give 100%, others not so much. However, if you get past those negatives, pods are a wonderful way to bond with other bloggers. I’ve met some truly delightful folks this way and I appreciate every one of them.
Onto the follow-to-unfollow method for growing followers. I think it’s dumb and it’s sad. I unfollow any account that unfollows me after I’ve followed. Your content will never be that special to me. It’s so easy to tell which accounts are using bots to like, comment, and follow too. I’m also wary of accounts that appear to be curating images from other sources without properly crediting the rightful owners. I treat those accounts the same way I treat spam!
Once upon a time, I had almost 1,800 followers on my personal Pinterest. I was curating stuff I loved. I created two food boards, and like an uncontrollable virus, food pins eclipsed everything else on my feed! When I decided to convert to a business account (just in case), I decided to audit what I was curating. I got rid of many boards and in so doing, got rid of over 1,500 followers.
I have since reworked my profile to include a variety of blog-centric boards because that’s what I’m interested in at the moment. I don’t think I’ll be using Pinterest to drive traffic to the blog because it has never generated that much traffic anyway. I experimented with pinnable graphics but I don’t like them in my posts so I deleted the board that I had dedicated to the blog. Maybe I’ll come up with a new Pinterest strategy in the coming months.
It had been almost two years since I’d navigated StumbleUpon. Yes, it caused a huge spike in views. And yes, it simultaneously increased my bounce rate. The site was always crashing or never loading so I eventually deleted my account. I was able to surpass the views I received from StumbleUpon by promoting my blog in other ways.
I have no idea what I’m doing here again. Twitter to me, is like that lover you’re still hanging around even though you’ve left the relationship in your mind and spirit. I haven’t worked out what I’m going to do other than tweet the links to my blog posts. I’ve locked the account until I figure it out.
I’m there. That’s it.
There’s an overwhelming amount of advice and information on what bloggers should and shouldn’t do. Much of this information is contradictory or repetitive. My advice to the newbies, like myself, who might be a tad frustrated and disheartened is to enjoy every minute of what you do on your blog. There’s really no other reason to be doing it. Find your way. Find your voice. I don’t have it all figured out and from what I’ve read nobody does. The landscape changes so quickly even the experts are playing catch up sometimes.
The name of the game is community. Find your tribe. If you’re struggling to get followers to your blog or its related social media; if nobody’s reading your posts; if you’re struggling to be seen in the sea of blogs, drop your link in the comments. Say a little about yourself and why you blog.
As we march into 2017, I encourage you to share the love. We can get further individually if we move forward together. You don’t have to go it alone.
Here’s to another year of blogging!