Hey guys! Today I wanted to talk about something that has been on my mind a bit: blogging advice. There is so much of it out there and I know everyone has different things that work best for them when it comes to blogging. I don't consider myself an expert by any means, but I have been at this whole blogging thing for two years now, Foreign Room being one-and-a-half of those two years.
I never really thought I would be one to give others advice, but WOW, I have come a long way (Pssst! And am SO close to 200 followers on Bloglovin'!)! People (outside of my family) actually read my blog! And comment! And care about what's going on in my life! And care if I post here or not! When you start the journey of blogging, it can be a lonely thing, but is so worth it when people start to take notice of what you do and decide to stick around.
To be at a point where I am actually feeling pretty confident in all this is amazing. It takes a lot of work to get here, but I am so happy with where I am and want to share a little of that love with those of you who are just starting out in all this.
Here are some things that I have learned from others along the way, figured out myself, and maybe wish people told me when I was just starting out. Of course, these are tips for bloggers who are looking to build a strong community around their blog and maybe even earn a bit of a living doing so. For those of you who blog solely for your own pleasure, keep on keepin' on!
So, here goes...
+ Be genuine and be yourself.
If you only take away one thing from this post, I hope it is this: If you are not genuine, people will notice, and if you are not yourself, what is the point? Be yourself, be sincere, and people will notice. And guess what? They will come back. The internet is a big place full of people who will like you just the way you are. Of course, not everyone will like you, but there will always be people who do, so be yourself for them and to heck with the rest.
+ Connect with others.
This is what blogging is all about! Follow others on social media, reply to Tweets, comment on other blogs, don't be afraid to e-mail people to ask questions or simply say 'hi'. These are all great things you should be doing if you want to get to know others and build blogging friendships! And, hey, these are the people who will become regular readers of your blog, which is awesome.
+ Invest in a clean, streamlined design.
I'm gonna be really honest here: I cannot stand blog designs that are sloppy and look like a beginner put them together. Design and coding is not everyone's strong suit, I get that, but there are plenty of great (inexpensive) blog designers out there and even fairly cheap pre-made templates to choose from. If you are hesitant to invest the money into your blog, don't be! You are investing in yourself and your success, which is priceless.
+ Focus on community, not numbers.
I cannot tell you how long I agonized and obsessed over the stats page of my Blogger dashboard. It was unhealthy and I knew that it wasn't helping me be a better blogger, so I just stopped looking. I focused on writing, being sincere, and creating content I was proud of. People took notice and comments started coming, friendships formed, and new opportunities were presented to me. A community was forming, forming without me even keeping track of page views and visits (all that stuff is so confusing to me anyway). To me, the "success"of posts is now measured in comments. I am still giddy with excitement whenever I get a new comment on a post because it is an opportunity to build friendships and expand this community!
+ Proofread, proofread, proofread.
We all make mistakes here and there, but some writers continuously make errors that become down right annoying or distracting. It is truly one of my pet peeves! Please take the time to proofread and edit your writing so that you can share your very best! It really will only make you better in the long run.
+ Set goals.
Setting goals in all areas of life is the best way to ensure that you are moving forward with what you want. Blogging is something that I feel especially needs goals! Whether you make weekly, monthly, or yearly goals (or all of the above!), it is a great way to motivate yourself to keep growing and learning. Plus, it always feels great to know that you have accomplished something you want!
+ Reply to comments (& return the love back!)
Remember all that talk about building a community? This is how you do it. Reply to comments that others sweetly take the time to leave on your posts, show them that they are heard and cared for. Then, do your best to visit the blogs of those who have reached out to you, especially if you notice particular people continuously commenting. Boom. A friendship is now made, a friendship that holds endless possibilities! Also, honestly, if you are a smaller blog and people leave comments, but you never reply to any of them, it makes you look bad/snobbish/insincere. We don't want any of that!
+ Utilize a monthly editorial calendar.
This is something that has overall dramatically improved my blogging! I use a small, paperback monthly calendar that I got from Sugar Paper's line for Target at the beginning of the year, and simply put, I love it. It helps me to plan ahead, set monthly blogging goals, make notes, keep track of post ideas, and record social media stats from each month so that I can clearly see my growth. I highly recommend doing something similar for yourself to make things easier and also help keep yourself on track for meeting your goals!
+ Do your best not to compare yourself to other bloggers.
I'm not gonna lie, this can be tough to do, especially when you are just starting out. Blogging is hard and it is even harder to look all around Blogland and see others who already seem so "successful" or "put together." It is difficult to have confidence when you see all that! But, if you are going to give this blogging thing your all, you have to focus only on yourself and do your best to encourage others!
+ Don't let blogging get in the way of living your real life.
Sometimes a day or two (or three) will go by and you have not put any blog posts together. That's okay. You are out living your real life, one that doesn't always need to be narrated online. Readers get it. If you aren't feeling inspired or don't have the time to write a post, don't worry. We would all much rather you come back when you have something you can say wholeheartedly instead of just a slopped together post for the sake of having a post. Go live your life, guilt free! This is, after all, just the internet.
And there you have it! I often still think of myself as a beginning blogger since I know that I have so much more to learn, but I think I have experienced enough to share a bit of what I have learned (mostly through trial & error). I hope that this was helpful to all of you in someway!
What do you think of this advice? Do you agree? What would you add?
Also, thank you to those of you who come back to my blog time and time again! It really means the world to me! :)