So, here we are at Blogging: Chapter Three … or is that Four? Either way, I’m not sure that you’re meant to admit when you’ve had blogging fails. But the truth is that most bloggers will have had things go wrong. Look around the internet and you’ll see that there are plenty of people who’ve abandoned their fledgling blogs.
Here at Soothing Sense, I want to keep things real and take you on my blogging journey. So as I relaunch my blog in its latest incarnation, I thought I would share with you a bit about my story so far, what I have learned and what I would like to achieve in this new chapter.
My blogging story to date
I apparently first joined WordPress in June 2010 although I have no memory of this at all! At the time, I was working for a company that required me to blog as part of my job. Perhaps that’s the explanation?! The company I was working for got me to write about everything from vacuum cleaners to hair straighteners, hard drives to business funding. It was a great introduction to WordPress … and a lot of random products! But it wasn’t until October 2015 that I started my very own blog.
I created Soothing Sense Version 1.1 using WordPress.com and I blogged intensively for around a month, putting up a few posts each week. To be honest, the posting schedule was a tad unrealistic. But I enjoyed creating my little home on the internet and slowly people began to visit.
The first readers
When you start blogging, it is basically like talking to yourself. That was okay with me. I had a couple of lovely readers who left heart-warming comments but generally-speaking I was happy being left to find my feet. After about three weeks though one of my posts got shared by someone with quite a substantial following and suddenly my site was attracting readers in the hundreds rather than single figures!
Of course, in internet terms, it wasn’t that many people and the traffic quickly died down. But I was terrified that so many people were visiting my little site from all over the world. Then I got my first troll. Again, in internet terms it was nothing out of the ordinary. But it was enough to make me want to retreat.
A second attempt
At the end of 2015 WordPress emailed me with my blogging stats. It came in a document with animated fireworks and I began to feel a sense of pride for what I had achieved in a relatively short amount of time.
I resolved to start blogging again. But it wasn’t about the numbers. I missed having a creative outlet and being able to visit this online space that was exactly what I wanted when I was feeling low.
In January 2016, I started a new blog writing about my resolutions for the year. This felt safe in that I never had any visitors! But it wasn’t long before I became bored of my posting schedule. After around three months, I took that site offline too and I began working behind the scenes on a new variation of Soothing Sense.
Move to self-hosting
At this point, I took the plunge towards WordPress.org and bought myself a couple of domain names. The website I began to create was much less personal than my original site and not especially blog-like. I felt torn between creating something I thought would be useful for other people and indulging in something that was just for me.
I learned a lot during this time, primarily about customising themes. The technical challenge of WordPress.org was fulfilling but it was a steep learning curve. I found myself slightly overwhelmed by how much there is to worry about when you manage a website yourself. Before I knew it I was lost in a seemingly never-ending task list with no prospect of ever getting my site live!
In spite of the challenges, I finally got my website to work in the way I wanted. I still had content to write but the basic bones of the functionality were in place. And then in the final push to get it ready before I made it live, disaster struck. I managed to mess up my code and lost everything!
Of course, it was a good lesson in the importance of back-ups and the time I had spent on the website hadn’t been wasted since I had learned so much. But I found it really hard to motivate myself to start again. It had begun to feel like work rather than fun.
I resolved to get a blog live again in 2017 and set myself a timetable. The first deadline came and went without me having done anything blog-related at all. Then just as I was beginning to think that my love of blogging had gone for good, a friend asked me for some help creating a website for her business. Before I knew it, I was busy working on my own blog again and here, finally, my site has found its way back onto the web! So what have I learned along the way? Apart from the importance of back-ups.
Blogging top tips
Here are my top tips for anyone who is thinking of giving blogging a go … and some reminders to myself as I embark on the latest step of my journey!
1. Write about what you love
If you are going to sustain your blog over a period of time then you have to write about what you love. You may not be sure if other people will be interested in it but in a way it’s best not to worry about this too much. People love content made by people who are passionate about what they are doing so start from that basis!
2. Think ahead
When you’re creating a blog, you want to avoid as many problems for yourself down the line as you can. So think carefully about how you want to structure the website, where you want to host it, what theme is going to work best and what functionality you feel you may need now and in the future.
The other thing I would recommend is have somewhere to keep lists of future blog ideas and content alterations you may want to make in the future. For example, if I am writing a post and it gives me an idea for another article then I jot down my idea and the name of the post I am currently writing so I know to go back to it and put in an internal link.
3. Avoid perfectionism
Remember you don’t have to learn everything at once or do it all to perfection. You might think you need to master Google Analytics right now or work out how to tweak that little imperfection with your theme. But the problem with perfectionism is that it can hold you back. If I waited until every aspect of my blog was exactly as I wanted it before launching then it would never see the light of day! The other thing is that if you try to do everything at once then you are likely to burn out, which leads us to my next tip!
4. Pace yourself
When I get into the blogging zone then I can find it hard to stop, especially when I’m working on technical things. From photography to coding, there is so much to learn around blogging. So it’s important to be realistic about the pace at which you can achieve things. This is especially important if you are juggling other things like, you know, a day job! The truth is you need time to relax too and your blog will still be there tomorrow … makes a note to self to listen to my own advice!
Pace your financial investment too. You don’t need to spend any money to get started. And even once you decide to move over to self-hosting then it only needs to cost you a small amount each month.
5. Sometimes blogging is tough … Keep going!
You will have bad days. Theme customisation can drive you crazy sometimes. It can feel as though you have wasted hours searching the web for an answer to your question! Putting yourself out into the world can be scary too. And don’t even get me started on the security nightmares that can come with managing a blog! Then there are the creative challenges. The times when you’re out of ideas or where you have too many ideas and not enough time to write your article to perfection!
When things are getting tough then think seriously about doing something different for a bit. Go for a walk, spend time with friends, keep your blog maintenance to a minimum. It is amazing how a little time out can give you perspective.
Finally, if you are finding things tough remember why you started blogging and acknowledge how far you have come. The chances are that when you started, you were amazed just to get a blog post up and have one reader visit your site! Of course, as you go along, your ambitions and standards change. But go back to basics for a bit and keep things ticking over. The other stuff can wait!
The future of my blog
Having reflected on my story so far, it’s time to think about what next. I am delighted to have relaunched Soothing Sense and it’s my favourite version yet! Moving forward, the main thing I want to do is to build up my content.
Having said that, I need to ensure that my blogging schedule is realistic! I have so many ideas for posts – literally hundreds! But there are lots of other things competing for my time. So I am going to commit to just one post a week at the moment with a view to making sure my blog is still active in September 2018!
Now, of course, I will be reviewing all my life goals in the New Year but it feels appropriate to set some mini goals for the next four months. So here are some specific targets. I’ll update you at Christmas!
- Post one blog a week
- Post an inspirational quote every day
- Tweet three times a week
And that’s it. Honestly, it’s enough for now and, as we have learned, the key to sustainability is pacing yourself! Plus I want to ensure that the quality of what I am posting stays high so it seems sensible to ensure I have enough time to make my content as good as it can be!
I’d love to hear about your blogging journeys and your top tips for success. Let me know below and follow Soothing Sense on Twitter to find out the next stages of my blogging chapter!