What I Learnt From Blogging in 2015
On approaching this Christmas, I realised that I'd been regularly blogging for almost a whole year and what a year it has been! I started my blog in the hopes of capturing every precious moment of my baby growing up and he's now an active and thriving two year old. Of course, blogging became so much more than a personal diary to me and I started to meet bloggers, be nominated for awards (seriously!) and even work with successful brands. Though I've experienced alot of highs in my short blogging life, I've also encountered a few lows and today I want to share everything I've learnt since starting Hello Archie.
Scheduling is important.
When I started to take blogging seriously, I came up with an organised schedule of days I would aim to post; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I had a look at my site analytics and compiled a list of days I'd usually receive the most hits and also decided to avoid weekends to give myself a small break each week. I wasn't intending on being strict with myself but I thought a general outline would help organise posts, but somehow I found myself publishing a post on every one of these days, almost every single week. Even when the day before I was sure I had nothing to post, somehow inspiration would hit. I think I've missed maybe a handful of days this year and that's down to setting myself a simple schedule.
Don't be afraid to share your experiences.
When I started blogging, my posts were mainly about Archie's growth and monthly developments, but I then started to share my opinions and advice on subjects such as breastfeeding, sleep regressions and parenting. I was nervous at first, sharing experiences such as The Day I Sucked at Motherhood, but I learned quickly that being honest is important and something your readers will value. I want the parents who read my blog to relate and know that we all have bad days, not to think we have a perfect, pristine life. I've talked about nuclear-force poo's and about getting sick stuck in my hair and I've been met with an incredible response from the parenting community every single time.
Don't forget why you started.
It's only human to hit blogger's block occasionally, to feel drained of ideas and frustrated with the promotional side of blogging and to wonder why you're bothering in the first place. It's happened to me a number of times this year and actually resulted in my most popular post to date - Why You Suck at Blogging and Should Probably Quit. If you find yourself becoming overwhelmed with the pressures of blogging, take a step back and remember why you started. It's easy to get caught up in the slog of sponsored posts and making money and to forget why we love our blogs. If I could've told myself anything at the beginning of this journey, it would be "take a break, don't blog for a while if that's what it takes, and find your inspiration again". I've come back every time stronger and more enthusiastic about my blog.
Take the high road and be proud.
This year, I encountered my very first (and only, thankfully) troll; as my blog gained momentum, I received more and more negative comments and after investigation I discovered my troll and I wrote this post: Trollers Gonna Troll - How to Deal with Unfounded Negativity. It would've been really easy to out my troll, to express my disgust and to retaliate with nasty words but I didn't want my blog to become something negative. I debated writing this post for a long time and when I finally did, I was certain I wanted it to be a post that others could relate to and not a war of words. I received a huge positive response and the comments stopped instantly. Be proud of who you are and what you stand for, negative people are usually driven by jealousy.
Educate yourself on follow vs. no-follow links.
There came a point later this year where I started to gather interest for sponsored posts and reviews. At this point, I’d heard a bit about follow and nofollow links but I didn’t really understand it. It wasn’t until I had my first disastrous collaboration that I learned how important that information is, especially when you’re getting paid for posts. A writer wanted me to publish a post she’d written including a link to her clients website and I obliged. I never thought to discuss the kind of link that would be used and she never mentioned it.
Unfortunately, I then discovered how damaging paid follow links could potentially be and refused to use one, resulting in an unhappy client (though I didn’t mind, as unfortunately she didn’t seem very educated herself). If you’re being paid to publish a post, a follow link can have negative effects on you and the client by Google, so definitely do your research with this one!
Blogging has turned out to be so much more hard work than I ever realised but if you can stick to it, the benefits are so rewarding. I love having all of Archie's updates logged, having somewhere to share all of our days out, holidays and experiences, and of course, reviewing products and making money is a huge bonus that makes it all worthwhile. So, if you're considering starting your own blog, do it - the hard work will pay off and the knowledge you'll learn will be never-ending!