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.  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  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.

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