8 Things I’ve Learned from Starting a Blog

Being an experienced blogger, it was nice to have a refresher course on some of the best practices for creating an effective blog. It's back to blogging 101 with the best tips for creating an effective blog. #ozofsalt #bloggingbasics #bloglife

Its been 2 years since I began blogging. In some ways it feels like forever ago and other ways it feels like I just started.

This post is for all who have thought of or are thinking about starting a blog. Or if you’re just curious!

8 Things I’ve Learned from Starting a Blog

1. Attend Industry Conferences

I attended BlogHer in 2016, but haven’t done much else until attending the Mom 2.0 Summit this week. I realized at this conference I’ve been living on an island trying to figure things out on my own. It is much, MUCH more efficient to network and create personal relationships with others in the community to collectively learn from. I didn’t realize the impact that blogger communities have, through networking and sharing ideas/resources to help support each other’s growth. These are communities I’d never find if I didn’t attend the industry conferences. I’m kicking myself for not attending earlier on. I plan to regularly attend the ALT and Mom2.0 conferences going forward.

2. Stay Authentic

Authenticity is a buzz word these days, as our society needs it more than ever. Our culture is craving honesty, and we can tell when someone is being phony. It can be quite confusing and difficult to stay authentic when we’re inundated with perfection everywhere in the media (including social). When we witness others succeed in ways we admire, the natural instinct is to emulate them. But trying to be anything other than what we are will almost certainly lead to disappointment. We also need to take off our armor and be seen, in order to be authentic. This is scary. Are you ready for that? As Brene Brown said in her speech at the conference, “You can’t love what you can’t see. You need to be ready to show yourself.” It’s not a choice in the blogger world. You’ve got to sink or swim.

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3. You Will Be Judged

I have to admit, I wasn’t ready for this part. My feelings were hurt more times than I can count because of my blog. I didn’t realize how much validation I needed when I started! I carried my camera around everywhere and took a lot of pictures because I wasn’t sure in the beginning, what I wanted to capture. People said I was showing off, people were critical, people told me I changed. “What exactly is a lifestyle blogger?” was a routine question. There were judgements made by friends who I felt side swiped me out of nowhere. But you know what? It passed. The dust settled and now I don’t care to hear anyone’s opinion of me unless they matter.

4. Force Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

When have you grown without discomfort? In reflection about my blog, I noticed I would step out of my comfort zone only to retreat back in a bit later. I have learned that to really see growth, I need to be constantly stepping out of my safe space and challenging myself to get what I want. I realize when I got scared I would run back to the safety of “I’m so busy with the kids” or, “I need to catch up on accounting for my husband’s business” or even, “Is blogging really for me?” until I built up the courage to come out again.

During our conference at Hour with Her by Dove, we practiced sitting in discomfort and rewriting our stories.

5. Use WordPress.org and not WordPress.com

I hear over and over from people how they set up their whole blog with WordPress.com until they realized the limitations, at which point they switched over to a self hosted WordPress.org account which takes almost as much time to transfer to as it was to set up the blog in the first place. What’s even more confusing is that I’d expect the WordPress.org to be more limiting than .com! The company should make this more clear, no? Anyway, if you start on WordPress, remember there are two platforms; start with the one that is more dynamic. Blue Host was a sponsor at the conference and seemed pretty supportive of bloggers.

6. Pinterest is a Must to Generate Blog Traffic

Almost every blogger I met at the Mom 2.0 Summit this week who is making a living in blogging said that Pinterest generates at least 50% of their site’s page views. Guess who hasn’t been active on Pinterest? It’s number 1 on my list of to-do’s now. I’d love your support on the platform by clicking the Pinterest link above and hitting follow!

7. Instagram and Blog Traffic are Key for Brand Sponsorships

It is important to be on as many social media channels as possible, but it will be overwhelming if you tackle all of them at once. Know though, the brands will be looking at the numbers before they invest in you. And from what I heard at the conference, both Instagram and your website are the most important platforms for them to gauge your success (Youtube too if you vlog). Many of the influencer networks require a minimum page view count before they will accept you, hence the importance of point 6 above!

Click the picture to follow me on Instagram! This is where I mostly hang out and interact.

8. Be Consistent

I burned myself out publishing a blog post 2-3 times a week when I started. More recently I’ve been posting intermittently, trying to focus on quality, not quantity. Instead, I’ve been “mini blogging” on Instagram consistently, once a day. Influencer space is so crowded, if we aren’t consistent with posting content, the reality is that we will be drowned out by others who do. I plan to post on my blog more often going forward!

I mixed some heavy and light points in here. Point 1, networking, is key! It’s such an important life skill we all need to practice more often. Points 2 and 4 apply to life too, right? I would have loved to have received this information when I began. Some of it I had heard, but I didn’t pay attention to it’s importance.

So, what do you think about starting a blog? Was this information helpful to you? I hope this guides you in your journey. Please leave a comment with your thoughts!

“Flavor Your Life with an Ounce of Salt.” A lifestyle blog by Jen Oliak.

8 Things I\'ve Learned from Starting a Blog