I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I published that first post almost two years ago. Since then my design has changed a good fifty times (at least it feels like 50), I’ve grown from no readers to hundreds, made some very close friends, learned a ton about graphic and web design and even earned money. It makes me wonder what this blog is going to be like in the next two years!
Looking back however, I can see a few things I would have done differently. Hindsight is 20/20 and all. If you just started blogging or want to start your own blog then these are for you!
I wish I had…1. Written some kind of mission statement.
I had no idea what I was doing when I started my blog. None. I simply started writing. I had no direction, no goal, no focus… and it took me a long time to figure it out. I jumped around niches, changed my writing styles and probably confused the mess out of the few loyal readers who stuck with me through all of it! A mission statement would have provided a lot more focus.2. Practiced for a couple of months.
This way visitors would have material to read from the beginning and I could have gotten my feet wet. I definitely wouldn’t have been so blind to how much time it takes to run a blog.3. Researched what it takes to grow a blog.
If you write it they won’t always come… I learned this the hard way. I had no idea that to grow a blog you need to find other blogs to read, comment, respond to comments, be part of directories, be active on Twitter (*gasp* I didn’t even have an account) and a host of other things. It would have been nice to know this from the start.4. Learned a few basic design essentials.
I have broken ALL of the following design rules: having a dark background with light text (big no no), the rule of thirds, having social media buttons and placing them in the top of your sidebar, share buttons for each post, streamlining categories and having an uncluttered sidebar… less is usually more when it comes to blog design.5. Scheduled posts and written more than one at a time.
I think I was six months into blogging before I discovered how to schedule posts. Before then I would decide to write a post in the morning and just wait for the words to come. Talk about getting frustrated! Once I started scheduling posts my content got much better and I was much happier.6. Started on WordPress.org first.
Like most people, I started on Blogger. I don’t necessarily have a problem with Blogger… it’s free, easy to use and enabled me to start publishing content immediately. But WordPress is better. You have to pay a yearly domain registration and a hosting fee once a month but most are $10 bucks and under… so it’s not expensive. Now that I’ve been on WordPress for awhile I can see it is more than worth a little money. It has so much more to offer even for bloggers just starting out.7. Hired a designer to set up my site.
I really wish I could show you some of the designs I started out with… they were awful. I remember one had a pink and white argyle background with a gold tinsel border… I got it from one of those free blog template sites. It was gaudy to say the least! Any hobby you start requires an initial investment of some kind and blogging is no different. I would have definitely invested a little money (not more than $150) into a nice design.8. Not played the follow me and I’ll follow you game.
Seriously. One of the worst mistakes I made was playing this game. I got excited seeing the number of “followers” rise and rise but it wasn’t real. Before I switched to WordPress and ditched Google Friend Connect I had almost 400 followers but only 20 or so of them actually read my blog. If I could go back I would have focused more on gaining readers instead of followers.9. Discovered Google Reader a lot sooner.
My blogger dashboard became overwhelming very quickly (especially after the “follow” game). At one point there were over 300 blogs I was trying to keep up with! I’m sure you could guess how effective that was. I started using Google Reader to subscribe to blogs after switching to WordPress… and I limited the number I kept up with to 25. If I ever decide to subscribe to more then I can categorize them into different folders. It’s much more organized! And now it’s even better because of the Next Button. Check out this post from The Sits Girls – Getting the Most out of Google Reader.10. Not agonized over my numbers.
I’ve spent countless evenings complaining about my numbers to my poor husband. I used to check my stats several times a day. I constantly compared myself to other bloggers. I was trying to find my worth in my blog. I finally realized there is so much more to me than my blog and if blogging wasn’t making me happy then I needed a knew hobby. We all want our hard work to pay off but your worth as a person should NEVER depend on how many page views you get.
If you are a blogger… what do you wish you had known?
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