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A blog post about… well… blogging & a whole lot of my opinions…

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.

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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:

  1. Be self hosted, the cost is minimal but you will benefit so much more from a .co.za or .com address.
  2. Spend some money & time on design, this really helps in your own personal brand development.
  3. Keep it simple – don’t over complicate your blog with a million different widgets and badges
  4. Find your angle and your niche and don’t lose sight of it.
  5. 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.
  6. If you want to be taken seriously, use Google analytics for your stats.
  7. Share your stats openly.
  8. Write regularly.
  9. Engage with other bloggers, build a community or at the very least, be an active part of a community
  10. 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.

 

 

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17 Comments

  • Reply Sam Wright

    I originally started that topic on the Facebook group because I noted another blogger had commented that that was why she decided to start her blog.

    Much like you I started both my blogs because of a passion and need to share. One has morphed into a small business but the focus is still there. It’s interesting how there seems to be a change in the mindset of new bloggers. I worry that it dilutes the market and ultimately effects those of us just trying to share.

    March 20, 2015 at 10:20 am
  • Reply Cindy

    I absolutely agree with this 100%. I’ve seen so many bloggers loose sight of who they are in favour of an “opportunity”. Don’t get me wrong – I welcome opportunities to work with PR and brands, because I work damn hard at my blog and so why not. But when every single post is about a review, a giveaway or something to do with something other than the writer then I get so bored. I don’t even read them anymore.

    March 20, 2015 at 11:10 am
    • Reply Sharon

      I’ve started unfollowing blogs that are just giant walking billboards.

      March 20, 2015 at 11:16 am
      • Reply Cindy

        I feel so bad doing that , especially when I like the blogger behind the screen.

        March 20, 2015 at 11:21 am
        • Reply Sharon

          But you can still like them and interact/follow on social media?

          March 20, 2015 at 11:31 am
          • Cindy

            Oh good point! *Blonde moment of note*

            March 20, 2015 at 11:33 am
  • Reply Dave

    Solid tips there! I think it’s time for me to move on from .wordpress.com – it’s so limiting!

    March 20, 2015 at 11:21 am
    • Reply Sharon

      It is very limiting and a .com address gives you so much more freedom with design.

      March 20, 2015 at 11:28 am
  • Reply faz

    So would you classify a successful blogger as someone who remains true to their passion and expresses this in each post?I find that I’m struggling with whether to write factual details on ‘how to’ things in order to help people. And then on the other hand there’s my personality and emotion that demands to be released via writing .At the moment I’m just going with the flow on each post.But thanks for the knowledge share

    March 20, 2015 at 1:25 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I think it really depends what your definition is of a successful blogger. For each of us it would be different. For me it’s about growing my readership. Staying true to myself and sharing bits of myself and things I love. For someone else it may be completely different.
      I think at the end of the day, it’s your blog and should reflect who you are and blog what you want but there is also a danger in that too. I’ve seen, from my own experience of blogging and from others blogs, a blog that just because one giant advert after another, will quickly become boring.

      March 20, 2015 at 1:41 pm
  • Reply wobbly02

    From a non blogger who loves reading blogs thanks for sharing and dont change the way you write I love reading your blog and the way you write it – I have referred friends to your blog that were also going through some adoption issues and she was thrilled when she read your blog (she had adopted a little girl from China and also was getting lots of questions about the way they looked so “different”)

    March 20, 2015 at 3:34 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Aw! Thanks so much!!!

      March 23, 2015 at 9:16 am
  • Reply laurakim

    I agree with this. I think one of the worst reasons to start blogging is for the “free” stuff. Its almost the same as selling your soul to a big corporate because your blog will never really be yours.

    March 21, 2015 at 7:30 am
  • Reply March Roundup and Linky | South African Mom Blogs

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