“Blogging is an art, same as any other method of self-expression. Some are better at it than others.” ~ Hugh Macleod
So I’ve been SERIOUSLY at this blogging thing for about three months now, and since I am one of those jump in and figure it out kind of people, I have sort of been “faking it ’til I make it” as I navigate this whole blogging subculture. I thought I was doing a pretty good job (and still do, kind of), but thanks to some really honest and helpful people out there —some I know, some I don’t — I have learned that I still have A LOT TO LEARN!
I thought I’d share some of the things I have learned thus far in my foray into the blogosphere in case you are A) A blogger; B) Someone interested in started a blog of your own; C) An RM regular who is just curious about what I’ve been up to; or D) Some poor schmuck who accidentally stumbled onto this site and is now stuck reading about my Lessons from the Blog. (You might as well stay, you might learn something and you might find that I’m sort of interesting and worth following on a regular basis).
So what I’ve learned:
- Thanks to the e-book I purchased from Melissa, The DIY Blog Critique Workbook, at MomComm my first lesson came right about the time I began to wonder if I should begin using affiliate marketing, blog for money, do guest posts and reviews, etc. Melissa had an answer. Her first rule (or activity) of thumb for the novice blogger is to have a mission statement or simply know your purpose for starting your blog — know why you’re blogging, who you’re blogging to, what you want to blog about, and what you want to accomplish in the process. It’s OK to want to make money for your blog, but if you start out, like me, wanting to document your journey as a mom, and you begin focusing on nonsense reviews and advertisements that don’t mean anything to you, then you are going to fail because you will sound fake and inauthentic. My Goal/Mission:Is to offer a platform for my writing, to inform and encourage others on their own journey. If I make money along the way and can do this for a living, fantastic, but that was never my main goal in the process, and I often need reminders from others about that when I start to sound as if I’m losing some RM authenticity.
- Beware of visual clutter. I am constantly researching ways to improve the look and content of my blog and I have read, and discussed incessantly with my friends, my husband, and my “blog consultant” ways to reduce the eye clutter on my blog, and make it as user-friendly as possible. I’ve been studying layouts, playing with a new one for myself (to be launched soon), and trying to create a visual blog that is true to who I am and true to what I want Renaissance Mom to represent. How am I doing with that?
- Your will lose your way at times. Whether it’s the excitement of having your application accepted for a blog network like BlogHer, The Clever Girls Collective, SITS Girls, or simply you got offered 20 bucks for checking out a product and writing a review, a lot of bloggers, myself included, veer off course and experiment when they’re starting off. That’s OK! It happens. You need to learn and figure things out, and there is no better way to do that then diving in a experimenting a little. Just make sure you don’t lose sight of who you are as a blogger and what you want your blog to become. If you are having trouble with this, go back to #1 and re-evaluate your goals and mission.
- Definitely connect with other bloggers —guest post, invite them to guest post on your blog, tweet, email, ask questions, etc. — but make sure you are familiar with what their mission is and that it aligns closely with your own. For instance, I love reading Natalie Hoage’s blog Mommy of a Monster & Twins because, well, I can relate, which is why I will be guest-posting about my Monster Mommy Moment on June 4 over on her site. I will, however, never be guest-posting on Wonderland, a highly recommended “gamer blog,” because frankly I know nothing about the subject except that my kids addiction to video games provide good fodder for a blog post.
- Always remember you are, in a sense, representing your blog and possible future brand. Just like parents tell their kids or an employer tells its employees, “Even when you’re not at home/work your actions still represent the family/company,” same goes for your blog. If you screw up, it reflects poorly on not only you, but also on anything and anyone you are associated with. Not that screwing up isn’t great material for a blogger, but when you, say …. try to win an iPad 3 on Memorial Day and you can earn additional entries by Tweeting, Facebooking, and Pinteresting the company’s advertisements for the day, that just might turn some of your followers (who are there primarily for your blog) off, and can have some so concerned that they, say …, send you a Tweet saying they think you’ve been hacked. Not a wise decision if you are blogging about your Renaissance, and are doing very little advertising on your site. Just saying … it could happen, so BEWARE!
There’s plenty more to learn as I venture further and further in to the Land of the Blog (wait until I share with you all I’ve learned since beginning my blog redesign), but I’m having an amazing time doing it, and hope that all my lessons are helping to bring you a high-quality sustainable blog. I’d love to know how you think I’m doing, so feel free to leave a comment below.