I’ve been blogging consistently for over a year now. When I began my blog (which has changed websites twice), I wanted it to be secret. I never intended to share it with anyone, it was just a project that I did for myself when my son was an infant. I had a lot of trauma from my pregnancy and my son’s early days, and blogging gave me an outlet to work through it.
Due to a blogging competition I was nominated for, my blog ended up being outed on my personal Facebook profile. It was quite the experience and it gave me the confidence boost I needed in order to begin blogging long-term and publicly. I gained a lot of support early on because of that competition, met a lot of influential bloggers and learned so much along the way.
Here are some of the things I learned, but wish I would have known sooner.
#1 Blogging will change you.
I went from having a reasonably quiet, timid demeanor about many hot topics online, to defending myself and others who were like me that were getting bullied and harassed on a regular basis. After over a year of blogging, I can honestly say I am a different person than I was when I started. I’m more confident and more vocal, for better and for worse.
#2 You’ll have to step outside your comfort zone.
If you want to do well with blogging, you’ll likely have to step outside your comfort zone. Most audiences love reading about intimate topics, not surface level content. The goal in my writing is for the person reading to be saying “Me too!” or to develop an understanding of something complex, like a mental health topic.
Talking about topics with transparency and honesty of that caliber can be extremely uncomfortable, but I’ve found it is highly rewarding. Knowing that you have the ability to help someone merely by writing about your struggles, in my experience, makes them easier to bear.
#3 You will need to learn different skills.
Ever heard of marketing? SEO? HTML?
If you want to get serious about your blog, you’ll either need to become moderately proficient in these topics or hire them out. I recommend learning them yourself so that you can do the bare bones basics in case you find yourself in a time or money crunch and need something fixed ASAP or can’t afford help for an extended period of time.
Youtube, Pinterest, Udemy and blog’s like Anne’s (she has a great series on SEO) are great resources for learning about these topics. WordPress also has a plugin called Yoast to help you with SEO, which is what I use on my blog.
#4 You will need to cover yourself legally.
Blogging for fun is one thing, but if you are making money or concerned about you content being stolen, you’ll need to take some steps to protect yourself legally.
It is good practice to put up a copyright notice on your blog so that people know (and have been warned) that your content is protected. You’d be surprised how many people think it is okay to cut and paste whole blog posts to their own website and expect you to be fine with it because “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.
If you are bringing in money from blogging, you’ll need to disclose that on a page and put up notices on posts that contain affiliate links. Keep all of your receipts and papers from transactions you’ve made in connection with your blog and any information on products you’ve been given. Avoid any appearance of “tricking” people for monetary gain and keep up with the latest FTC guidelines to protect yourself and your blog.
#5 You will make friends.
When I started blogging, I was pretty lonely. My husband and I had moved two hours away from my hometown not long before I got pregnant, and I’d had to put my last semester at my university on hold because of pregnancy complications. My husband’s friends and family were around, but I didn’t have many good friends at the time.
Having just had a newborn with some hectic first few months, I was sleep deprived, stressed and pretty isolated. Within a few months, I’d found quite a few friends and mentors in the blogging world. Making friends is crucial in blogging because they will help you build an audience, encourage you, and commiserate with you when your laptop crashing or you lose a post in draft. I’m grateful for all the people I’ve met since my blog began!
#6 You will develop your own way of dealing with trolls.
Can I just say, trolls drive me insane! This is undoubtedly one of the ways in which blogging has changed me for the worst. I’ve become more cranky, less patient, and less gracious due to the amount of rude, vile, discussing troll comments I’ve gotten.
I’ve revised my comment section and comment policy three times since I started. At this point in time, all of the comments on my blog have to be moderated before they are posted because I don’t want my comment section to be detrimental to those who have mental health problems or for my regular visitors to deal with harassment. My mindset has changed from an all-inclusive blog on the internet to a highly protected haven for the community I have built there.
Occasionally I let a troll comment through, if only so I can throw some shade back via sassy GIFs. 😉
#7 It might change your life.
Blogging has changed me as a person, but it has also changed the trajectory of my life. My blog put me back in touch with people I thought I’d lost forever, people I never thought I’d be friends with from days gone by, and occasionally points out people who were never my friends to begin with.
My blog was the first semblance of me starting self-care for myself. Without it, I have no doubt that I’d be less healthy and happy. I started learning to deal with stress by creating through my blog.
Perhaps the biggest way it has changed my life is that it made me realize that the things I thought were unattainable or that I wasn’t good at were really just things I needed to spend more time practicing on.
I go forward in each day knowing that I have support, encouragement, and confidence because of blogging. I wonder what I would have said had someone told me that over a year ago.