6 Things I Learned in My First Year of Running a Personal Blog

female typing on laptop
Photo Credit: Andrew Neel

If you asked me a year ago what my hopes were for my blog I would’ve answered “I hope to inspire people to eat and live well.”  If you asked me how I would achieve this I would’ve answered, “…well, that’s something I’m just going to have to figure out!”

Wellness1st.net has been quite a learning experience. As a full time non-profit communications professional, I have experience writing, editing and developing branded materials for others, but as I set out on my personal blogging journey, I quickly learned that starting from scratch was a whole new ball game.

Take for example building a website, at work I have an IT team to lean on for technical support. When it came time to develop my blog, all I had was Google. For months I sank time and energy into Googling everything and anything around building a website, templates, plug-ins, widgets, and on and on.  Yes, pre-set blog platforms do exist but it was important for me to own my content and this essentially meant building a site on my own (or paying someone a hefty chuck of change to do so).

And so the blogging journey began, and now one year in, I share with you my top 6 learnings.

6 Things I Learned in my First Year of Personal Blogging

1 – If you’re not a “techy”, familiarize yourself with tech/web terminology.

I can’t express how important this is. Going into this I had some knowledge but there were so many unfamiliar terms. New to blogging? Stop skimming and actually look up the unfamiliar terms because skimming through will lead to so much confusion. Better yet, reach out to a friend that may work in the field and ask them for examples or resources that could help. Over the course of my research I developed a list of helpful go-to resources, you can access this list in the Resources Section.

2 – Stay true to YOU even in moments of doubt.

I’ve been passionate about wellness and healthy eating for a long time and I knew starting a blog would help me test what areas of wellness I wanted to focus sharing on. Going into it, I had so many ideas I wanted to share. The reality is that it’s impossible to tap into everything you want to do (at least at first).  As I began to research various wellness sites for inspiration, I came across so many different niche groups. The yogis, the healthy eaters, the runners, the dog lovers, the beach goers… so much content everywhere! I started to question, was a blog all about dog-loving mommas really about wellness? The answer, to the creator of the blog it sure was and could be.

I learned quickly that opinions and feedback were all over the internet and it was important to stay grounded and true to myself. This included reviewing my goals, what I wanted for myself and readers, and circling back to my original mission of my blog.

3 – Quality over quantity.

A large part of my research is listening to experienced bloggers talk about their online journey. Time and time again I’ve heard many advise, “quality over quantity.” Working in communications, I understood the importance of quality work but, more often than not, I see so many make the mistake of putting out a number of rushed posts just to get things out, as opposed to taking their time to write one or two solid posts that readers can actually connect to.

Readers know when you genuinely care about what you’re sharing. Be true to the quality of your work and others time, invest your energy in publishing work that means something to you (even if it means sacrificing less posts). People will enjoy what they’re reading/seeing, leading to higher retention and engagement.

4 – Get to know your audience.

To grow your blog and online community you really need to understand how various online communication platforms work. You also have to understand who your audience is, what they’re looking for, what peaks their interest, and how your content fits in. This information does not come easily at first.  Anytime you publish content, someone in cyberspace can connect with it. It’s important to research how your audience is engaging with the content in order to support future blog posts and content development. Great tools for this are the insight pages within social media channels and Google Analytics.

5 – Take breaks (lots of them).

Creating and running a blog or online business is exciting but if you’re not careful with how you prioritize your time a takeover* can occur. My definition…

 *Takeover:  to become mentally and physically exhausted, and neglect the important real life moments.

 You may think to yourself “…yea, that’s not me, that won’t happen.”  I kid you not folks, this can and does happen. I use this tip loudly when chatting with online go-getters… take breaks often and don’t let online life takeover!

6 – Respect your brand; know when to collab and when to say no.

What is a collab? A collab is a collaboration between two or more creators/influences for the purpose of sharing particularly framed content. This content can be for the purpose of promoting something (i.e. a product or person), or for the purpose of supporting growth. For example, two online influence might collab in order to get more engagement and/or followers to each other’s accounts.

The important thing to keep in mind, just like the offline world, the individuals you see yourself with online represent you and your online community. If you are asked to collab, consider the following before jumping to the opportunity:

  • Do I know this individual/company and how well?
  • Do I believe in what they believe in?
  • How will this benefit my audience?
  • Do I have to buy or pay for anything? If so, what and why?
  • Are the benefits two-way?
  • Is my time worth investing?
  • Is there opportunity to build a relationship?
  • How will the collab content be created and reviewed? What processes are involved?
  • What does my gut instinct tell me?

In a nutshell…

The last year has been challenging but also really fun! Starting from scratch was nerve-racking and downright scary but if you’ve been thinking of starting a blog or channel where you can share your passion(s) I have two words for you…. DO IT!

I can go on about keeping true to you, doing research, not drawing comparisons, and living life outside the web-bubble, but the reality is you won’t really know exactly what you want and how to grow until you try it yourself. I hope the few tips I’ve shared in today’s blog have inspired you to think a little deeper and discover a little more.

Stay tuned for more motivational posts! Interested in hearing more? Be sure to leave a comment below or connect with me on social media!

Helping you put wellness 1st,

Fay

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