Writing is something I love doing, and after a big, involuntary, miserable career shuffle I had to take a good hard look at what I was doing with my life. I don’t want to spend fifty years of my life doing something I don’t enjoy. That’s over half a lifetime. Yet so many people so it. So many of us get up each day filled with a deep fatigue, and a profound loathing of life because we spend 40 hours a week doing something unfulfilling. It’s just not for me. It’s not for anyone, really, but figuring out what you will enjoy and then actually doing it is hard. Sometimes it’s easier to stay unhappy.
This blog is something I want to build into a living over time. And I know it will take time. But I have already learnt so much that will help me on my way, and I want to share that knowledge so that it might help someone else on their blogging journey.
What I learnt in my first month of blogging:
The platform you choose needs to be right for you
I was always a Blogger girl. There are still a couple of my old Blogger blogs floating around on the outskirts of the blogosphere somewhere full of my rambling. Blogger served me very well for years, and it was hard to move on, but I had to. Many hours of reading through websites and blogs, and fiddling my way through trials of different platforms, led me to WordPress.
Two of my other Blogs of the Past (very neglected) were on wordpress.com, and I started this blog on there too, but found it doesn’t have the flexibility I want. So I looked to self hosted WordPress. At first it seemed really scary and complicated, but there are loads of tutorials out there which helped me through it. Parting with money for something I wasn’t sure I was going to keep up was difficult. It wasn’t much though, I pay £1.19 a month for hosting with 1&1 which hardly breaks the bank.
WordPress works for me, but it’s important that you do your research and find what suits your style, ideas and skill level. I love the flexibility with layouts, and the infinite combination of widgets you can use to personalise the site. Layout is one of my Big Things that I get hung up on. This time round I tried not to overthink it, and it’s been fairly easy as I found a highly customisable layout called Button. All I did before I launched the site with fiddle with the colours and add some widgets, then I was good to go. For now, it suits me fine. I will probably change it in the future, but that’s okay because WordPress makes it super easy.
The blogging community is amazing
Until now I’ve not really engaged with the blogging community. I suppose I kinda assumed everyone just floated around on their own little blogging island, doing their thing. How wrong was I?! On twitter there are dozens of groups for bloggers to chat and share ideas and blog posts. And those are just the ones I’ve found!
Some groups will retweet your blog posts if you tag them in the tweet. Others run weekly chats for bloggers to engage with each other. Some will do both, and more. I’ve been to quite a few twitter chats now, and I love them. They’re so much fun! My favourite ones so far have been GRLPOWR CHAT, tbhchat, and LateNightBloggers. For anyone unfamiliar with the concept, it’s hosted by a fellow blogger who will ask questions relating to a topic. Everyone then replies with their answers, which creates discussion, and people like and tweet on each other’s answers. I highly recommend it as a way of finding people with similar interests. I’ve also found a load of great blogs this way.
Social media is soooooooo important
A lot of my pageviews do still come from my friends on Facebook, but I’m increasing those from other sites. It’s fun trying new things and figuring out how this all works. There are so many tips and tricks out there. Some claim to be magic, but thus far I am not a believer. I think it really does all come with time, experience and persistence. The key to building a good following is to not give up. People will engage more over time, and one day I’ll look back to now and say to myself “wow, I’m glad I kept at it”.
I love blogging
When I started this journey I wasn’t quite sure if I would enjoy it. I love writing, and I have very much enjoyed the thought splurging I’ve done in the past, but this is different. My writing is for a wider audience now, and I need to be more savvy if I’m to build a following. Especially if I want to someday be a full time blogger.
It’s been a month now and I’ve kept it up consistently, which is a huge achievement for me. It hasn’t felt like a chore at all. In fact, it’s been nice to have something to look forward to doing when I come home rather than watching Netflix all the time. That’s not to say my relationship with Netflix is over – far from it. It’s just nice to have something I enjoy that is actually productive, and could lead somewhere if I keep it up.
But is is hard work
Sometimes it does feel like I’ve taken on a lot. It helps that I enjoy it so much, but I do worry about not having time for it all the time. I have sacrificed evenings with my housemates to sit in my room and blog. My desk is my work area, and I know I won’t work unless I stay in my assigned corner. It would help if I had the discipline to work in the living room, but I know myself well enough to know that I definitely do not.
Writing with a future income in the back of my mind is different to writing sporadic personal posts. I would say it’s actually more enjoyable for the most part as I get to see more people enjoying what I write. This way I get to be more creative too. Instead of filling pages with no direction, I’ve got a schedule plan. I’ve got seasonal post ideas, I’m building my own brand, I’ve got hundreds of thoughts about the future whizzing around my brain. The future feels exciting. The hard work feels worth it already just because of the enjoyment I get from it. And I’ve not made a single penny yet.