I can’t believe I’ve been blogging for a solid year. When I launched Mile in My Glasses last year, I was so excited. So nervous. And so naive. I had no idea of the number of hours I would pour into this site. The number of sleepless nights, distracted days, where all I’d be thinking about was upcoming content and worrying about dead links (the struggle).
This little blog of mine hands down is my favourite thing that I’ve ever done. Ever. Every single minute that I’ve spent working, writing, editing and planning has been enjoyed, regardless of whether I was correcting one of the many mistakes I’ve made (or will continue to make over the coming years, I’m sure) or crafting posts and pictures that I was mind-numbingly excited about.
To celebrate the anniversary of this little internet space, I thought that doing a blogger-guru-esque wrap-up of 6 mistakes that I’ve made, and learnt from, this year would be quite useful. Not just for me, to look back on and smile at, but for prospective or new bloggers who might come across this post, so your learning curve doesn’t have to be as steep as mine was. (P.S. If you’re a fellow blogger, please leave your site info in the comments below! I’d love to do a commenting spree and chit chat with y’all over on your blogs too!)
P.S. This post originally was going to be about 10 of my biggest lessons, but I seem to have gotten tunnel vision while writing it and ended up passing 1,500 words just for 5 of them.. #whoops. If you guys want a part 2, let me know and I’ll follow it up – but for now, here are 6 of my most important lessons learnt during my first year of blogging!
Following in the Footsteps of Others
Blogging is a pretty new job. Meaning, there’s no hard and fast rules to the craft or any strict regime for you to follow for success. Instead, there’s just established bloggers sharing their tips and tricks through posts in a bid to help us up-and-coming chaps in our journeys (these posts are awesome, by the way, and should be consumed at mass).
One bad thing, though, is reading so many of these that you start morphing yourself into some cookie cutter version of the 10 bloggers you just read about. You are not them. You are you. And that is the magic of blogging.
It’s easy to read between the lines, see what worked for someone and assume that it should, and would, work for you too. But that’s missing the point. The point of learning from others is to know in general how it all works, to take their advice and add it to what you do already – not to ditch everything you’re doing and start doing exactly what they did in hopes of becoming a replica. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt about blogging, it’s that the community thrives on individuality and that flat lays are essentially a language of their own.
Restricting Myself Based on Niche
One thing you’ll hear a lot about with blogging also, are niches. Niches are great because they give you a topic to excel in. And that’s fantastic, honestly. At least for the beginning, anyway. Mile in My Glasses started as a travel blog, with a more direct niche in Thrifty Travel.
Juggling a full-time job with a blog soon taught me that I could and would never be able to travel as much as everybody else, especially not when I have a yearly employment holiday allowance (that gets used up quicker than I’d like to admit!). Eventually, I learned that blogging, for me, isn’t all about the niche. I love that I started in travel, but I love and found freedom even more by expanding into my other passions. I’m not just a travel blog now, I’m a lifestyle and travel blog. I write about fashion, food, health, books – basically anything and everything that makes my heart flutter – and that translates well on the page, I think.
What I’m trying to say is, find a niche. Make sure it’s something you love with your whole heart. But when you’re building your house, don’t let your ceiling be made out of concrete. Make it out of glass – or cling film, something you can smash when you’re feeling claustrophobic and in need of pouring your passions into many more glasses than just one. You are more than one thing, so let your blog be more than one, too.
Pre-planning Your Blog Design
Right now, my boyfriend, Scott is judging me to an extreme degree. Partly because this is something he has been saying to me since before Mile in My Glasses even went live, but mostly because he just so happens to be my – brilliant, talented and very, very much appreciated – web designer. Which means for every stutter of a widget and alteration of a font, it was him I was asking to do the work for me.
I dived into this world head-first, and with so little research done that I had absolutely no idea what I wanted my space on the internet to look like. I looked at the other blogs, but I could never find exactly what I wanted: I could never find what made me, me (#cuetheviolins).
I found my individual style by modifying an existing theme. From changing fonts to introducing new widgets and even swapping out bits of code, it took us a while to find what my ideal Internet space would look like. If I had done the proper planning beforehand, I probably would have saved us (Scott) a tonne of time. Which is something he likes to remind me time, and time, again. If you’re paying for your web designer, don’t make the same mistake I did!
Check out sites like Theme Forest, or Pipdig’s other designs. Kotryna Bass does some awesomely beautiful blog designs, too.
Trying to Do it All at Once
Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Pinterest. So many social platforms, so little time. And so many people saying you need to be a pro with all of them (Spoiler: you don’t. Or not to begin with, anyway). A great piece of advice I got was to focus on one platform at a time. I know that piece of advice sounds just like common sense, but I was so flabbergasted trying to do each and everything that I needed to be told that to really understand it.
Most bloggers find that they get their best referral traffic from Pinterest because that network is an honest beast. It just so happens to be my favourite, too. If you check out my Pinterest, I have a board on there called “The Bloggers Guide to Success” where I re-pin not just mine, but other people’s guides to all the how’s and to’s you’ll want to know as a blogger when it comes to everything from content creation to monetising for profit.
Another important network to get yourself into as well is Instagram. With hundreds of millions of monthly users, Instagram is great for sharing the visuals of what makes your blog unique – and can boost your engagement significantly.
Being Scared to Network
Before we get our business cards printed and work on our elevator pitches, I don’t mean network in the most traditional sense. The blogging community is so vast and inclusive – there are bloggers all over the globe and that’s a fantastic thing. A lot of people worry about oversaturation, but being in this community I’ve only ever gotten vibes of the more the merrier.
So why would you want to isolate yourself on your journey? Comment on other blogs! Chat with other bloggers. Collaborate! We aren’t a competition, we’re a community. Everyone is the same here, cut from the same creative cloth and snapping, filtering and hashtagging every step of the way together. Leave comments, tell people what you love about their posts – what you find inspiring about their content. Reach out and spread the love. This is networking in its best, most authentic blogger way.
(+) Being Scared to Reach Out
Similar to my last point, where you definitely should be making use of other blogger’s comment sections for networking and communication – the same can be said with reaching out to companies. The general idea that a lot of people have is that once you start your blog, companies will slowly flock to you one by one. I’m pretty sure that isn’t true for anybody.
Companies will approach you, most definitely. But don’t wait or rely on them – go out there and make your own magic happen! Get contacting companies you want to work with. Reach out to them on social – or to their PR/Social Managers per the e-mail addresses on their sites. Be friendly, be approachable – don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, one of the best things about bloggers is that we all have different personalities. Show what makes you shine!
This is a great way to tread water into working with companies, too. By initiating – you can see what works for yourself, and get to grips with the process as a whole. You’ll be a pro in no time! (I realise that the topic of contacting companies is something quite intimidating, so if you want me to expand on this in another blog post, I will happily. Or, if you’d prefer, feel free to contact me using this form here and I’ll try and help you out as soon as I can!).
Not Repurposing Content
This one was a BIG learning curve for me. As a blogger, you write your content – you publish it, promote it and then … Move on? That’s great and all, but one thing I’ve found SUPER useful for regaining buzz or bringing an audience back in on some of my favourite posts, was to repurpose them. Jazz them up again if you want, update their Pinterest artwork or swap out some links – maybe even change a paragraph or two if the times have changed. Whatever you want, just repurpose it and push it out again!
A chunky archive is great and all, but the number of people who will go searching through it to find your best content? Probably not a huge lot. Bring those posts that you love back to the forefront! Maybe advertise one per month, heck maybe even one per week! You do you. But please, don’t feel bad if you work on a post, push it out and it doesn’t get the reception it deserves – just bring it back to life a few weeks or months down the line.
WOW! This was a chunk of a blog post, wasn’t it? Weighing in at almost 2,000 words it turns out I learnt a lot more during my first year than I thought I did! Ha!