Ever wondered what it’s like to start a blog? I thought that it might be fun to tell you a little about my experience. I can hardly believe that 500 days have passed since I started this little blog. Back then I had no idea what to expect. I’ve always loved to write, and hoped that it would provide a nice creative outlet for my thoughts and ideas. However, the whole process of starting a blog, and subsequently growing it, has certainly been more than I bargained for.
When I was just getting started, I used to love reading about other people’s experiences and hearing their advice. For that reason I wanted to share my own story.
At this stage I’m by no means an expert. Far from it in fact! But I’ve come a long way since that first time I hit publish.
So here are my honest thoughts on what it’s really like to start a blog. No doubt everyone’s experience is a bit different, but this is what it’s been like for me.
By the way, I also initially vowed not to blog about blogging, but there you go 🙂
It’s not always easy to find the time to blog (especially when you have kids and/or a job)
This has perhaps been the biggest hurdle for me to overcome. In an ideal world, I’d love to post at least two or three times a week. In reality, I’m lucky if I manage to post on a weekly basis right now.
It’s just not that easy to find the time (and often a quiet spot!) to sit and write when I’m mostly either taking care of my two young daughters or working at my day job.
And of course, there’s much more to it than just the writing. Firstly, blogging is a very visual medium, and I’ve found that using good quality images is crucial. For example, even though I love fashion and want it to be a more central part of the blog, most of my outfits end up on Instagram rather than the blog, because it’s so much easier to snap a quick selfie on my phone.
Aside from the pictures, there are many, many other blog-related jobs which take up more time than I could possibly have imagined.
Blogging really is a time suck.
After the kids are in bed, we’ve eaten dinner and straightened up the house, the thought of burying my head in the computer to write a post or edit some photos is sometimes more than I can bear.
When you read about the experience of new bloggers, you’ll very often hear them lament about how time consuming it can all become. How it really can become a full time job. And now I understand that first hand. I’m hoping that it might become a little easier once the girls are in school and I’m not in a constant frantic/sleep-deprived/disorganized state!
Writing is just a very small part of it
The main reason I decided to start blogging is because I enjoy writing so much. Not only that, but as an introvert, I can usually express myself much better in writing than in person (so awkward!).
But I didn’t properly consider the fact that I might need to promote my blog in order for people to find it. I naively imagined that I would write about the things that interested me in life, hit publish, and that somehow people would just stumble across my little corner of the internet. Hmmm… not quite how it goes!
Now that I’ve been doing this for more than a year, I’ve come to realize that promotion is probably THE most time-consuming element of running a blog (that is of course, if you’re trying to grow your audience). I’ve had to push myself out of my comfort zone and get a lot more social on social media. Networking and self-promotion doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me, so it’s been quite the challenge 🙂
I could write a whole separate post on social media, and how much work goes into utilizing channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for your blog, but needless to say it takes up a lot of time.
So while your content is certainly the bread and butter of your blog, there are A TON of other behind the scenes tasks you might not even consider.
The initial learning curve is very steep…
How many of you non-bloggers have heard of WordPress, or Bluehost or MailChimp? Do you know a widget from a plugin? Do you know how affiliate marketing works? Nope, I didn’t either before I started on this journey.
The process of setting up a blog can be quite daunting to begin with. There’s just so much to learn! At some point I may decide to invest in a blogging course (you’d be amazed at how many there are!) but up until now, everything I know about blogging is self-taught. It’s involved hours upon hours of reading and research. And I’ve learned a lot from my (many) mistakes along the way.
My one piece of advice in this area would be to pace yourself. I tried to do way too much early on and almost gave up on the blog as a result.
There such is a lot to learn when starting a blog – not only the intricacies of your blogging platform, but also mastering basic design skills, affiliate links, ad networks, mailing lists and so on. But if you take it one step at a time, you’ll get there!
…but there are endless opportunities to develop new skills
One of the things that I love about blogging is that it offers so many opportunities for personal development. When I look back over the past 500 days, I feel really proud of my accomplishments, but it’s really only the tip of the iceberg. I have a long, long list of things that I still want to tackle.
For example, I’ve been starting to learn the basics of SEO (search engine optimization), but it’s been a slow process. Of course whole careers are built around SEO. It’s a complex field and continually evolving. But I certainly know a whole lot more about it now than I ever would have otherwise.
Blogging has also given me the push I needed to learn photography (something I’d wanted to do for years). Not only should it help to improve the quality of my pictures here on the blog, but I can also annoy my kids my taking EVEN more photos of them, haha.
Who knows… perhaps one day all of these new skills might open the door for new opportunities. Either way, I’m just delighted to be using my brain for something new.
The blogging community is pretty amazing
One of the things that’s perhaps surprised me most since starting this venture is how supportive the blogging community can be. I’m not typically a skeptical person, but I imagined that there would be a lot more in the way of competitiveness.
In reality, I’ve found the opposite to be true. I’m sure that there are exceptions, but in my experience, bloggers tend to help and lift each other up. Bloggers don’t hesitate to like, comment on and share each other’s content. I think it’s because we’re all on the same journey and understand just how hard it can be make a success of our blogs.
I’ve met some fantastic people since starting a blog. Some I’d consider to be mentors, and others friends.
If you’re starting out as a blogger, I would definitely recommend joining some blogging communities on Facebook. These groups are great if you have questions about any aspects of blogging, want to network or are generally looking to commiserate about the hardships of being a blogger 😉
Some of my own personal favorite groups are:
Any final takeaways? Overall, I’ve found the experience of starting a blog to be immensely rewarding. It’s been a long while since I felt truly challenged and had the opportunity to be creative, but all that’s changed now.
There’s a lot more to blogging than I ever would have imagined, but given the choice, I’d definitely do it again!
Are you thinking about starting a blog? Or are you already blogging? I’d love to hear about your own experience.