I started my blog waaaay back in June of 2008 so I’ve been blogging for almost 7 years now. In that time, I’ve had a number of different blogs, both WordPress and self hosted. I’m by no means an expert on blogging, I don’t have the prettiest blog, the cleverest blog, I’m not the funniest blogger, I’m not the most popular blogger and I’m by no means a great writer. But over the years, I’ve watched blogs come and go, I’ve watched blogs fail and some succeed. I’ve had some great blogging successes and failures. I’ve made some terrible mistakes and I’ve learned from those mistakes. I’ve watched my own blog evolution, from a white on black WordPress hosted blog that played music (GAH -ALL the mistakes right there) with really long blog names through to what is now The Blessed Barrenness.
So what do I attest my staying power too?
It’s really quite simple…. having a unique/interesting story to share and commitment.
My blog has evolved. The reasons I blog today are different to what they were 7 years ago, they’re different to what they were even two years ago. But when I started out, I was trapped in the black hole of infertility with recurrent pregnancy loss, I felt alone and isolated during the loneliest days of my life. Blogging started out as a cathartic exercise for me, a way to purge some of my hurt and anger and it’s very evident in the style of my writing in my archives going back to 2008 and the better part of 2009. But then somehow, other people, women mostly, struggling with infertility started stopping by regularly and leaving comments and I started to develop a sense of community, a sense of belonging somewhere, I felt I could purge and have others read my words and either find comfort in my words or offer support to me. I’ll never forget the first time I got more than 20 views on a post. I was ecstatic. It was the most exciting day of my blogging life.
After Ava’s placement my blog morphed again as I became more knowledgeable on the topic of adoption and my blog became a way for me to share about the challenges of raising a mixed race, adopted child and the challenges we faced. The more I wrote, the more people contacted me, for help on their own adoption journey’s or just to say my blog had touched them and taught them something about a topic they knew nothing about and I became even more inspired to write and to share my story, my experience.
So how would I describe my blog now? It’s a little bit lifestyle, a little bit health & fitness, a little bit parenting, a little bit adoption. It’s a little bit of all the things I love but it is the essence of me. And I believe that that has been the key to my blogging success (and success being relative because being a successful blogger means different things to different people).
Yesterday, there was an interesting discussion over on the Face Book group South African Bloggers, about the reasons why bloggers originally started their blogs. One of the questions asked was if any of us had started our blogs for the freebies from PR companies.
And this is where I’d like to share my opinion and experience.
It’s true, I get a lot of cool stuff, I get invited to some amazing events and my family and I have had some great experiences and outings because of my blogging but had that been my angle from the very beginning of my blogging journey, I believe, I would have failed.
I’m not just a blog writer, I love to read blogs too but here’s the thing, I’ve unfollowed so many blogs in the last few months, for one reason only, because the blogs stopped being personal, they stopped being filled with interesting stories and shared experiences or opinions and started being walking billboards and product reviews for products that were completely irrelevant. In other words, the angle that first attracted me to the blog lost it’s appeal and the blog became boring for me.
The other point I think it’s important to remember is that nobody registers a blog an immediately gets hobbles of free shit dropped in their laps. it takes months, years even, to hone your skill as a blogger, to find your blogging identity, to create your own personal brand and most importantly, to develop a readership that warrants PR agencies seeing your content and your stats as worthy of freebies. Remember, nothing in life is free, and that is certainly true when it comes to blogging too, there is an expectation that you will share about your freebie in some form or other, whether it be in a blog post, on your Face Book page, or Instagram. The relationship between PR and blogger is meant to be mutually beneficial, we each get something out of the relationship.
I remember the first time my blog surpassed 100 views in a day, I was ecstatic, but it didn’t just happen, I wrote, I networked, I read other blogs, I interacted and over time, my blog grew from just 20 views in a day to what it is today.
Like I said, by no means the biggest, best, cleverest or funniest blog, but you know what? My blog, it is a passion of mine. I like to talk, I like to write, I love to read and to share and that’s where I believe my blogging “success” has come from.
So here are my tips for starting a blog:
- Be self hosted, the cost is minimal but you will benefit so much more from a .co.za or .com address.
- Spend some money & time on design, this really helps in your own personal brand development.
- Keep it simple – don’t over complicate your blog with a million different widgets and badges
- Find your angle and your niche and don’t lose sight of it.
- Don’t allow your space to become a walking advert and be careful about what you review and accept because it can damage your credibility.
- If you want to be taken seriously, use Google analytics for your stats.
- Share your stats openly.
- Write regularly.
- Engage with other bloggers, build a community or at the very least, be an active part of a community
- Develop a complete “experience” – have a Face Book fan page, a Twitter account and an Instagram following, blogging is not one dimensional, for me it is a blend of all of these various forms of social media together.
I’d love to hear from others bloggers on this topic? I’ve seen too many times people thinking they can either get rich or supplement their income with a blog, or at the very least, score a ton of free shit and really, that is simply the furthest thing from the truth.