I think having this blog is like having children: I can't remember what I used to do with all of my free time before and I'm not sure I can picture my life without it now! This first year has flown by and I really had no clue what I expected to happen when I started writing one year ago. A lot in my life has changed since then. For you all who have been here from the beginning you already know! Break-up's, moves, my first 5k (and my first half marathon a few months later), new jobs, travel and most recently my Hashimoto's. I've been fortunate that my story seems to have resonated with so many other's and I wake up every morning looking forward to interacting with all of you, my friends, and thinking of new topics to share with you. I've had a few requests from other bloggers to give some advice on starting a blog so here are my top 10 tips that I learned in Year One.
Please keep in mind these tips are for those looking to actively grow their audience! If you blog just for fun then clearly these don't matter!
1. Blogger vs. Writer. I am always reluctant to say I am a blogger as people tend to take me less seriously as they equate blogging with something a 16 year old does on livejournal. If people ask I tell them I am a writer, because I am. I write articles on here that take time to research/write and go far beyond the 'this is what I ate today' type of post. Not that there is anything wrong with that if that's what you enjoy blogging about and what your readers are interested in, but I work hard to make this site a genuine source of information and inspiration.
2. Get out of your circle. When I first started blogging I read only other fitness bloggers. When I started checking out art/design blogs, home decor blogs and others I began to see that each 'genre' has a very different feel to how they post and what their layouts entail. I started grabbing the best ideas from the different worlds and I think that's helped to set me apart from traditional healthy living bloggers.
3. Appreciate your readers. If someone leaves a comment on my post I respond 99% of the time. It's the least I can do! I've stopped reading other bloggers if I continually left comments on their posts asking them questions and they never, ever, responded. If you want people to continue to read your blog you have to actively build relationships with them.
4. What would people think of your blog if the first post they saw was what you posted today? We all have times we don't feel like blogging. Just remember that brands/companies may be watching you and if you throw together a sloppy post last minute just to get something new up think about the impression that may give to people landing on your site for the first time. You never know who may be reading so always do your best to write your best. At the start of every month I come up with an editorial calendar that I fill daily topics in (that often get switched around) and try to have at least 3-4 posts done ahead of time at all times.
5. Take great photos. I need some serious work in this area still but I've found that this is the difference between a popular blog and one that is struggling to find an audience. Great pictures can't make up for terrible writing, but they can absolutely elevate your blog to the next level. Plus, brands don't typically work with writers who are unable to represent their products in a visually pleasing manner.
6. Treat your blog like a business. For the last year I have had a post go live every weekday morning at 4 a.m. except for 2 days. I always respond to business inquiries within a few hours and I keep detailed records of all product samples received, compensation, inquiries I've sent out and follow-up emails. I put at least 20 hours a week into the blog and did that for 6 months before I saw my first actual profit in return for services.
7. Be upfront with your readers. I know other bloggers will disagree with me on this, but if you have something significant happen in your life and try to hide it your readers will be able to tell something is up. I knew once my ex and I broke up that I would have to address it and did so the day after it happened, with my first video blog. The response from my readers was overwhelming and that post was the turning point for a huge increase in traffic for me. People appreciate raw honesty.
8. Pick one social media outlet to excel in. For me, it's twitter (almost 27,000 followers!) It's difficult to put maximum energy into each one out there so pick your favorite and own it.
9. Use Google Analytics. If you're not sure how to get started a quick internet search will turn up dozens of great tutorials. Thanks to GA I can see where most of my traffic is coming from, what time of day I receive the most visits and what keywords people are using to find my site (and I've had some crazy ones!)
10. Don't blog if you don't enjoy it. The main reason I stop reading blogs is when I can tell the author is just not into writing anymore. It sounds so simple but I'd rather see 1-2 thoughtful, enthusiastic blog posts a week from someone then daily posts that lack any sort of energy.
Final tips: If you want to build more traffic write something that's worth sharing. Is someone going to tweet or share on facebook a posts filled with your meals and pictures of your cat? Probably not. I do posts like these at least once or twice a week still as people like to see my life, as boring as it may be, but I try not to make those types of posts the focus of the blog.
Don't give up if things don't take off right away. You can click on the picture below to make it bigger but the first 3 months of blogging I averaged about 20 page views a day. I received maybe a comment a week and started to get pretty discouraged. I read somewhere that most people give up blogging in the first year so I made a promise to myself to at least get to the 1 year mark and if people were genuinely uninterested in me at that point I would re-evaluate things.
Top Posts of the Year:
Thank you all for an amazing first year. There have been times where I relied on your kind words and support more than you will ever know. Much love.