Have you seen those ads on TV? The ones that tell you it’s possible to set up your own website in under an hour? What those ads don’t tell you is that if you’re creating a website so that you can blog, you’ve got a whole lot more to learn. Here are a few things I’ve learned that I wish someone had told me before I started on this journey.
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Mindset and Learning Skills Bloggers Need
- You can create your website and you can write a few posts, but you may never feel really ready to launch your site. The desire to have everything “perfect” can cause you to hesitate and put it off. At some point, however, you simply need to push the button and let your site go live. Otherwise, you’ll find reason after reason wh y you’re not ready – you don’t know enough or you don’t have everything you need. Guess what! You’ll never know enough and you’ll never be truly ready. Do it anyway. And console yourself with the knowledge for a while no one knows your blog is out there so no one is reading it anyway. This gives you the freedom to launch and keep working to improve your skills and your blog while it’s live but virtually unnoticed. That knowledge can be very liberating.
- You’re going to feel like everyone around you has it all figured out. The truth is that while some folks do, some don’t. You may feel like a fraud and an imposter and wonder when you’re going to figure it all out too. All I can say to that one is that when you figure it out, be sure to let me know.
- It’s hard (or impossible) not to obsess over every page view and social media follower. Once you’re posting regularly you’ll be curious (okay, you’ll be obsessed like you won’t believe!) as to how many people are actually visiting your blog and reading your work. The problem with this is that it sets you up for a roller coaster of emotions – elation one day, despondency the next. Check your stats regularly but not daily. And don’t go tie your self-worth or success to your traffic.
- You are never too old to learn new skills – which is a good thing because you’re going to need to learn LOTS of new skills. In fact, if you don’t like learning new things, you might want to reconsider what you’re doing online.
- The more something scares you, the prouder you’ll be when you master it. All of those new things you’re learning…some of them will be out of your comfort zone. Some of them may make you want to throw in the towel or hire someone to do them for you. But when you finally figure them out you’ll be ready to do a happy dance (which is good because you’ve been sitting all day anyway).
- You can’t get a big reward without taking a big risk. Whether the risk is financial or whether you’ve just put yourself out there, it’s risky to do something new. But nothing good was ever attained in the comfort zone.
- You can work your tail off and still fail. This one can be a bitter pill to swallow. We’ve been conditioned to believe that if we work hard enough, we can do anything. Well…maybe that’s true. But whether you succeed or fail you’ll at least have given it your best shot which is something lots of people never do.
- You’ll end up working more hours than you ever did when you worked for someone else. But if you enjoy what you’re doing, it doesn’t always feel like work. Besides, when you’re working for yourself you know you’ve got a great boss who won’t fire you.
- Figuring out what you want to do when you “grow up” is tough. There are so many choices – both traditional and non-traditional – that you can get paralysis analysis just thinking about it and considering the options.
- Just because you write something doesn’t mean everyone will love it. Get used to it.
- Writing is a lot like putting your panty hose on in public. I know this one dates me (does anyone even wear panty hose any more?). The very act of writing means struggling and tugging to get things just right – and in the process you may end up revealing and showing things that you didn’t mean to.
- You can spend a fortune if you’re not careful. There are lots of people who want to sell you courses and books. Be discriminating and don’t buy everything you see (don’t ask me how I know this). One resource I’ve purchased several times now is the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit. It’s packed with resources and is an awesome value for your money. It’s only open a couple of times a year so it’s worth grabbing when it’s available (and it is available today through Oct 9, 2017).
- There are lots of “experts” out there.
- The more skills you gain the more you’ll figure out you need. Take it one step at a time and try not to get overwhelmed.
- You can spend all your time trying to learn new things – and finish all those shiny courses and books you’ve bought. At some point you have to set things aside and focus on your blog
Social Media Lessons
- Social media drives us all crazy! Each platform has its own rules and algorithms. About the time you think you’ve got it figured out, it changes.
- There are lots of Facebook groups for bloggers. Not all of them are good places to hang out. Some of them have lots of drama and end up sucking the energy out of you.
- It’s possible to set up a Facebook shop so that you can sell affiliate products or original products you’ve created.
- You can’t be everywhere at once. Pick one or two platforms to focus on. Master those before you start adding others.
- Analyze which Pinterest or Facebook groups actually help get your posts shared. After all, that’s part of the reason you’ve joined those groups, right? Not all groups will be a good fit for your posts and that’s okay. If you join a group and it doesn’t work for you, move on.
- Make pinning your posts easy. No one is going to work too hard to share your stuff if you make it difficult for them to do so.
- There are lots of paid social media schedulers but starting with a free Hootsuite account is a good beginning. Hootsuite allows you to have up to three profiles you can schedule posts to.
- Take screen shots of any photos you use from free photo sites. This way you’ve got something to prove that you used a photo legally.
- Make it easy for readers to leave comments on your blog. This is a pet peeve of mine! I’ll visit a blog and can’t figure out how to leave a comment OR I’ve got to set up some whole new account to do so. I’m like everyone else – if it’s too hard to comment then I’m gone.
- Your scheduler in your blog dashboard will need to be adjusted if you live in an area with Daylight Savings Time. I learned this the hard way after having several posts that didn’t launch on time. The first time I co-hosted the Over the Moon link party I had this problem. Here I was trying to be a good hostess (and not have my co-hostesses figure out just how little I knew) my post didn’t publish on time. I was mortified! I was also pulling my hair out in frustration because I didn’t know what was wrong. It wasn’t until I went into Quick Edit after launching a post by hand that I noticed the clock was reading an hour off. Then it hit me, “We haven’t fallen back yet.” I had to adjust the UTC to account for the difference. Now I’ve just got to remember to change the darn setting every time we begin or end DST.
- Get used to the fact that other people don’t have a clue what you’re doing – or why. In fact, most people will probably think you’re just playing solitaire on the computer all day. They won’t understand (or care) that it takes huge amounts of time to do all the tasks that a blog requires. If you need a lot of external validation blogging may not be for you.
- You need to find a blogging buddy, a mentor or a group because you WILL need someone or some place to ask questions and get advice. You’ll probably want to join several and hang around the periphery until you figure out what friendly group best fits your needs and where you feel comfortable. I’ve seen some pretty snarky things in groups so move on if a group doesn’t feel right. You’re a blogger – you don’t have time for nonsense and time wasting. I’ve found two groups that feed my soul, answer my questions, and feel like family: The Society of Women Winning Online and the Inspired Blogger’s University. Both are paid groups with courses available for members. More importantly, when no one else understands what I do and why, I can find company in these groups.
If you’re a blogger, what do you wish you’d known before you started out? And if you’re not a blogger, have you ever considered it?
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