12 things I’ve learned in my first year of blogging

first year blogging allisontait.comIt’s hard to believe, but it’s nearly a year to the day that I nervously pressed publish on my first Fibro post. Since that day, I’ve pushed that button 267 times and will celebrate my first Blogoversary on January 27 (Thursday). Hang some streamers people, this is huge! The good news is that I’ve decided to give, not receive, on the big day, so make sure you pop by for your chance to unwrap the gift. It’s a good ‘un, I promise.

In the meantime, I thought I’d kick off the Fibrofest celebrations with a handy list of things I’ve learned in my first year of blogging. A 12-step program, if you like.

1. The first post is the hardest.
There’s nothing quite like writing 500 heart-felt words and dispatching them into cyberspace for the first time… The silence echoed around here for quite a while.

2. Blogging is addictive.
As my family will testify, blogging takes on a life of its own – and can eat into your own life. Β Hence, I didn’t get an iPhone for Christmas. Handle with care.

3. Posting every day is not as easy as it sounds.
Blogging experts will tell you that you must post frequently and consistently in order to find an audience. What they don’t mention is that posting every day and not writing about what you had for dinner can sometimes be very difficult. I think it’s a matter of finding your own rhythm and posting to it.

4. Blogging is not writing.
I won’t go over this again, given my 700 word essay on the subject. But it’s really not.

5. She who has the most followers may not have the most friends.
In my early days of blogging, I used to frequent blog hops regularly. Until I realised that a lot of the people on blog hops were only blogging on blog hops and it seemed that the number of faces in their follower box was more important than the content on their page. Blog hops can be enormous fun, but now I choose them carefully, going to three regularly. Why these? The people involved in them are actively engaged and I’ve met some fab bloggers through each of them.

6. There’s lots of good advice out there – you just have to ask.
One thing I love about blogging is how damn helpful other bloggers are. So many people have answered my dumb questions along the way that I can’t name them all, but I appreciate every one. If you’re on Twitter, #blogchat (Monday, 11am AEDST) is a fantastic place to learn lots of good stuff – there’s a lot of technical babble some weeks, but there’s also access to a lot of people who know a lot of stuff. It’s worth popping in to see what they’re talking about.

7. Even if you build it, they won’t come unless you tell them it’s there.
Building a blog takes a lot of time and energy. Probably about twice as much as you think. And the importance of networking (commenting on other blogs), Twitter and Facebook cannot be underestimated. Not only will these things help bring people to your blog, but they’ll help you discover other blogs and bloggers. Which is more than half the fun.

8. Good bloggers have good balance.
Refer to point two. About halfway through the first 12 months, I realised that it was probably time to let go a bit. When your children are tugging at your skirt, telling you that you spend too much time on the computer, it’s time to let go (note to The Builder: it never really got to this point, it’s just poetic license…). It was at this point that I finally got the hang of scheduling my blog posts. Don’t ask me why these things take me so long to learn… they just do.

9. Don’t get too personal.
I’m not sure if it’s my journalistic background, but while the Fibro is a personal blog, I try not to get too personal. No pics, no names. I guess if I had to put my feelings into words, I’d say that this blog is a story about our lives, not the story of our lives. Every blogger is different and that’s why every blog is different. But a little bit of distance works for me.

10. What’s your price?
At some point nearly every blogger will be approached by a PR company or sent a press release or asked by a friend to ‘mention’ their product. Which means that every blogger needs to have some idea of why they’ve started their blog and what they will do when this occasion arises. Whether you want to be the next dooce.com and make your fortune, or whether you want to place an ‘ad-free zone’ badge on your sidebar is totally up to you. But it’s a good idea to think about it.

11. Pretty is as pretty does.
Anyone who visited the Fibro in its earliest days may have recollections of my first blog header, which consisted of a photo of our roofline, fully showcasing the Pink in the Pink Fibro. Fortunately, my sister B Β came to my aid and fancied me up a bit to the point you see now. But I have hankerings for a makeover, so watch this space. Basically, the best blogs are gorgeous, inviting, well-laid out places to be. I’d like to renovate the Fibro to that level.

12. Lists of 12 are hard to come up with!
When I first started out, every single post I wrote was the same – 400-600 words, pic, comments. Effective enough, but boring. Once I started researching this blogging business, however, I realised the importance of mixing up post types. I’ll never be one for a Wordless Wednesday image only post (only because I have no photography skills), but I do my best to keep things interesting. No matter how you format it though, the key is to focus on producing the best content you can.

12 things I learned in my second year of blogging

Three things I learned in my third year of blogging

Four things I learned in my fourth year of blogging

 

 

Comments 77

  1. Such an interesting post, Allison. I completely relate to #2. It took me a while to work out #4. #6 is so very true. As for #11, Katrina Chambers just waved her magic wand for me and I love her work. And I’m still pondering #12! J x

  2. Your list is fantastic – and congrats on your first 12 months. I’m in my third year but still learning about this stuff every day. I think that’s the appeal of blogging, it’s so dynamic and no day is ever the same.

  3. @Jane – it was your makeover that inspired me. I have reno envy!

    @Ms Styling You – you are a venerable elder in the blogging field. πŸ™‚ I think you’re right about the appeal of blogging. I love something that offers something new all the time!

  4. I was crazy excited to see this post! I spent the best part of this afternoon working on the setup of my blog (a process I began last November…) and although the whole thing feels a bit overwhelming, it makes me feel soooooo much better to see that so many of the things you’ve listed are things I’ve been wondering about. A thousand thank yous!

  5. What a great, helpful post. Def lots of food for thought here.

    I def think it takes a really good while to find what works for you. What I blog about has changed quite a bit over the time I’ve been doing it. Some days I think I’m still finding my feet and what works for me. I always like to think along the lines of “Blog like no one’s reading” in a way, because you have to blog for yourself. Some people will relate, some won’t.

    And I agree about the privacy thing. There’s a lot of personal stuff I wouldn’t write about and I don’t do photos of fam either – except the few I have ok’d! No kids or Hubby tho!

    Great post.

  6. Really interesting post Allison! No, I’m not much of one for the personal either – but that’s probably just my nature rather than my journalistic integrity πŸ™‚

    And I couldn’t write a list of 12 either (all mine have to be divisible by 5…oooo I’m a quirky one!!)

    xxxCate

  7. I used to blog but i found i struggled with boundaries between entertaining and too personal and I also felt that was starting to write for others, not for myself. And i got lazy :D.
    Great pointers here though. I often consider starting a new one but um yeah.

  8. Ahhh thank you Allison! This is a terrific list and especially helpful for such a babe-in-the-woods blogger as myself! I don’t think I’m even close to grasping the essence of blogging or if I’m doing the right or wrong things with my blog. Your list sure gives me incentive and lots to think about though. Well done on a whole year of blogging and 267 posts, Wow that is huge :o)

  9. That list was fantastic, thank you.

    I am completely in agreement about point number 9. I am just not the type of person who can share every detail of my life on the internet. I think it is important to remember the old adage of not putting anything on the net that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of the paper….But maybe that’s just me.

    Hope you had a great weekend.

    Take care.

  10. Lots of good advice here and lots of things I wish I’d known when I started blogging 2 years ago. I kind of stumbled along for a while (well, about 18 months) and I’m only just starting to really feel like I have a blog that is beginning to take on a style that I am happy with. I’m obviously a slow learner.

    Can’t wait for your bloggiversary party. See you Thursday. πŸ™‚

  11. So true, all of them, where we start out is not where we end up blogging. I totally agree with the friends/followers thing, quality is better than quantity. Appreciate the mention too πŸ™‚ Jen

  12. I schedule my posts. I just have to learn the fine at of patience. Some days, in the wee morning hours, I write 2 or 3 posts and the smile knowing I’m good for 3 days. But then, I post them all that day and at least two of them don’t get any views.

  13. Lots of good tips…I have to think about the to personal one…I blog about our families journey. Really imagining only our close friends and family would be reading it but now a few people we don’t know have subscribed…maybe its time to rethink how much I out out there…

  14. Doesn’t the first year go so fast. Great points of advice and insight into the hows, whats and whys of your experience. Yes, its addictive and I too have had to watch that not neglecting the kiddos on a few occasions!! Looking forward to celebrating your 1st b/day this week.

  15. I think you nailed it. I got so caught up in blogging before – I was obsessed. I had to take a step back and now it has become fun again. But thanks for the reminder, I’m sure we could all use it.

  16. I remember that roof line…

    A year! How about that….

    Al, you know I love yur blog – for a whole stack of reasons – the main one is its consistency – a reflection of yourself, I suspect. xx

  17. I am struggling to find my blogging rhythm. My builder has already started complaining that I am having too much screen time and it’s only been 6 weeks. I never realised blogging would involve so much building and networking – I thought the hard part would be the writing.
    Thank you for this list. Your blog has become my morning newspaper, enjoyed every morning over a coffee.

  18. Happpy bloggy birthday. I don’t know when I started to blog, I just did. For me, it’s part of my recovery from a mental health breakdown a year ago – writing about your life is therapy. But it’s also a way of keeping a living diary for my kids.
    I don’t write anything I don’t want my parents or kids or potentail employers to read; but I write enough to find it catharctic. If others read it, and even better, relate to it enough to comment, that’s a bonus.

  19. Excellent lessons learned in a year! I wonder, still, about the posting every day thing? I think that’s too much, though I believe that writing every day is wise.

    Congrats and keep it up!

    (get that phone if you want it!)…

  20. I’m so glad I stopped by today for a visit! Thank you for sharing your experience…I just started blogging about 5 months ago so this is all new to me. I could not agree more with other bloggers being so willing to help. I’m trying to figure out the direction I want by to take my blog and this list helps tremendously (I even printed it). Thanks again…Amy @ mommetime

  21. I am in awe that you post so regularly. I’ve gotten to a point where I realise, for instance, it’s
    Australia Day and I want to do a post, but honestly just feel like recycling last years because nothing much as changed.

    You have a lovely blog. You are a lovely person. Thank you for putting so much effort into it, I for one, really appreciate it.

  22. Really great points, well written & yes, i like that you point out blogging is not writing. I only got back into regular blogging a year ago, so glad i did!! Sure some do it for the comments, the followers, i don’t care, sadly, i do it to show my husband what his children are up to as he’s living interstate & overseas for 3 years (one year down, 2 to go!!) I don’t name names either, but i do use my own images, it’s a business blog too. Happy 2011 of blogging to you, love Posie

  23. Congratulations on your blogoversary! Lots of great advice, but not sure I agree with number 3 as I am often put off blogs that post every day as I can’t keep up with them and just feel inundated. I like blogs that I have to wait for and are a delight when a new post pops up in my reader πŸ™‚

  24. Congrats on the one year. Loved the list and it was a valuable reminder to me about some of the things I’ve been neglecting in my blogging. I just can’t get on board with blogging every day though. I know some people do but I’m a big believer in finding my rhythm like you said and just doing it when I can. It’s been great to meet you online this year.

  25. Thanks. So much great advice for a newbie blogger like me (20 days old today! Woo Hoo).

    But I have to admit that, for me, blogging is all about writing. I come alive when writing my blog. I love it. Maybe I am not doing it right??

    xx

  26. Al, as I’ve said many times, I’m in awe about how you can blog every day and keep your posts vibrant, snappy and relevant! I try to post a writing blog every two weeks…and well, am failing big time.
    Happy First Bloggy Birthday! Keep it up.
    Lisa xx

  27. And the excitement was building. That was one hook!

    Love your list (and you know I love a list of ‘how to’s’!)

    Loved your comment on my blog today!

    Speaking of consistency… forgot to write last night, will have to whip up a masterpiece after the kids are in bed between folding piles of washing. Hmmm..looking forward to that one.

    Whoops I am in comment mode not on email…

  28. Just popped in to practice! I am somewhat new to blogging (few months) & getting the hang of it. just recently learned how to post a comment on someone’s blogsite.
    So, to say something relevant here:
    I admire your consistency – & the fact you will have completed your first year in a few days-
    Inspiring.
    Thank you.
    Wayne

  29. Thanks so much for stopping by my newbie blog and commenting Allison.

    Yes, I am finding that even though I LOVE the writing, there is so much more to blogging (most of it I don’t know yet!!).

    At the moment, I find it is about 10% writing….90% learning curve the size of Mount Everest!

    So glad that lovely people such as yourself are so willing to help us newbies out.

    xx

  30. As a newcomer to the world of blogging, I found this post really helpful, so thank you for sharing these words of experience! I hope my blog makes it to 12 months as well πŸ™‚

  31. Great great great post. I wish i had ready it a while back. I started my first blog over 8 years ago (ok, i stopped for a few years in between), it would have been good to read it then.

  32. Congratulations on a landmark..a Year of Blogging.
    Well-done..and as others have mentioned, a tribute to your posts of interest & influence along with regularity.
    I am very much a newbie blogger and am taking as many tips as I can onboard.
    Your list of 12 couldnt have come at a better time.
    Happy Blogoversary.

    And thank you for visiting my blog. Very touched by that..XX

  33. Thought I’d come out of lurking to wish you a very happy bloggy birthday and just stop by and say hi… i stop in every now and then to get my fix of all things pink fibro. Your posts are always a great read, for some reason it makes me feel closer to home to hear the words of good aussie writers like you.

    Great list, thanks for sharing your 12 step program & bloggy wisdom. Thank goodness we all blog for different reasons or the the world would be a very boring place! For me blogging is just about keeping the family & friends updated while living OS & have to admit that lately I’ve joined in a bit of blog hopping with things like Wordless Wed’s & Maxabella’s things I’m grateful for, just to remind me to ”stop and smell the roses”. And I reckon that’s the great thing about blogs, you can be all you want to be, big or small but at the same time join in on such an inspirational community of very talented people – from fantastic writers like you, wonderfully clever crafters & photographers, or just ordinary every day people like me …such a great mixed bunch of people sharing their lives.

    So cheers to you on your bloggy birthday, thanks for all your wonderful posts and here’s to another great year ahead. Alison…oh and I think you should celebrate by giving yourself a little pressie…perhaps that iphone you didn’t get for Christmas! x

  34. Great list. Has it really been a year already? The first post I read of yours was the orange curtain of the camper van one. Or maybe it was the suitcase one. Whatever, I was hooked.

  35. Happy Anniversary Allison. I love your blog and couldn’t agree more with your wise words. And wondering what the next 365 days will bring to the Pink Fibro. xx

  36. Thanks for the tips! I need all the help that I can get as a virgin blogger. I’m finding this whole business very addictive and think I really need to start walking AWAY from the computer…..I do love a good honeymoon period though x

  37. I am an old new blogger who appreciates any tips I can get …or should I say absorb at my age . I do believe I have broken many of the rules of the art , but I have done for a good part of my life . Ah well! Thanks for the tips that have the potential to change my habits .

  38. Great advice!…not sure how I ended up on this page but I’m glad I did. You’re right that blogging gets addicting. The more comments I get the more motivated I am to pump out another…and I am guilty of kids bugging me to get off the internet, I ‘work’ here too so it’s a difficult balance. Thanks for posting

  39. Thanks for the tips! I’m trying to get in some kind of groove to make my blogging more consistant. Any advice on posting when you don’t feel like there’s anything (relavent to your blog) to write about?

  40. Hi Lucinda, my only advice is to start writing. Often I find that I write my best posts when I think I have nothing to say. The trick is to sit down and begin writing something and to see what evolves. πŸ™‚

  41. thank you allison. your post is very helpful. I liked how you wrote….”a blog is a story about our lives, not the story of our lives” its a delicate balance I am finding. Thanks!

  42. Thanks so much this has been a great read considering I only started blogging in December 2010 I have been trying to do a bit of research on what other people think about this whole blogging ordeal. You have been a great help! Cheers πŸ™‚

  43. Very helpful. How do I find my niche? I keep looking for other blogs by old bitter demented crumugeons, but they don’t seem to be on the web?

  44. A classic blogger definition! This should be a must read for all bloggers when we start because there’s things you don’t think of when you decide to hit that first publish post button. Thank you so much for sharing on my hop and great job on continuing past your “crowning moment” of 1 year!

  45. I just had to check through the 60+ comments to see if I’d already left you a comment on this one before, because I clearly remember reading your tips, and they’ve stuck with me! I’m rewinding with you through the rewind that was formally known as your rewind, and now resides at the rewind home of your lovely sister who you rewinded it to. Right then..

  46. Phew! My finger is sore from scrolling through all the comments here. There are many additional tips in the comments section. One of the joys of comments! Thanks for Rewinding x

  47. great post. i seem to get stuck on number 8… but it is a process isn’t it. There are seasons in our lives. Sometimes I blog a lot and sometimes I blog a little and that’s the beauty of blogging. You can tailor it to suit yourself!

  48. Really great list. I don’t know that I would add anything to that.
    Other than the fact that once you’ve posted it, it’s on the internet forever. So think before you post! x

  49. Rewinding the weekend to find you. Phew! made it to the bottom! Lots of lovely comments. Your comment that, “this blog is a story about our lives, not the story of our lives” resonated with me too. Finding the right balance between disclosure and privacy is a challenge that I’m working my way through and this comment has already echoed in my inner ear a few times since I first read it. Thanks!

  50. As someone who is at about the same point in my blogging career as yourself, I identify with sooo many of the points you raised.
    I noticed the same thing about Blog Hops and dropped doing most of them as well, except for a select few that have the engagement you mention. Since discovering the Rewind I’ve actually recommended it to other bloggers in various forums πŸ™‚
    As for posting every day, I’ve never aspired to it and quite frankly, you get to a point that you follow/read so many blogs I don’t think I would be compelled to ready anyone every day.
    But I have developed a loose posting schedule that works for me and keep me relatively organized.
    Always a pleasure visiting the Fibro

  51. This is such a lovely (and true) list that I’m going to send my advanced blogging students to it. I’ve got our first advanced blogging class on Saturday and my students have been blogging between 6-12 months (some somewhat inconsistently it must be said!) and I think they’ll relate very nicely to this list! – so thank you!

  52. Pingback: Bookish links I enjoyed this past week #6 | This Adventure called Writing

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