I often compare blogging to golfing. It may be a hobby, or it may be more than that. It may be fun and and it may be exactly how you want to spend your whole weekend. But with both, you're going to end up spending a lot of time, a good chunk of money, and beating yourself up with frustration.
Unlike golfing, blogging isn't something that the general public accepts as a hobby. With narrowed eyes they ask "Where are you trying to go with that?" or "Are you making any money?" And then as bloggers we scramble to monetize and grow a huge audience and generally rob ourselves of the joy of it.
But then something happens - we write a post we're proud of, we have an inspiring conversation with another blogger - and we remember why we do this. Because we love it.
Don't start blogging if you're not interested in blogging.
Don't start blogging if you're looking to make a bunch of money.
Don't start blogging if you don't have anything to say. But then again, everyone has something to say.
I get a lot (a lot) of questions about blogging. I do not (do not) consider myself an expert in any way, but if y'all are going to keep asking, then I figure you want to hear the answer.
So, a few questions and answers I get often about blogging:
Why and when did you start blogging?
In 2008, I started a tiny little personal blog called Peacoat Papers to supplement the greeting cards I was designing. I was reading a lot of blogs by then, and I thought you had to have a point to blogging. I also wanted to make and sell these cards, so I figured it was a two-in-one deal. Quickly (like, within months), I realized that I didn't really have a huge passion for selling the cards. What I loved about blogging was the writing.
My audience was really small, and I was terrified of any sort of promotional efforts. I had no twitter account, no facebook page. I was very shy about posting. Finally, after a year, I realized that blogging could be the culmination of everything I loved: writing, entertaining, pretty pictures, social media. I decided to stop standing on the sidelines. In early 2010, I launched Hollywood Housewife.
What platform do you use?
I have written fairly extensively about my love for Typepad. It's not perfect, but it just works for me. I found Typepad originally when I was reading a friend's blog that I thought looked so much better than the blogspot blogs I was seeing at the time.
Typepad isn't free, but it's not expensive. I pay roughly $15/month. If you're just starting out, I always recommend that you buy your domain name first (a domain name is your sites URL, so mine is www.hollywoodhousewife.com), which is done separately from whatever platform you choose. Then you can always point your domain name towards wherever you host your blog. Buying domain names is very inexpensive, and it gives you some freedom if you decide to start with a free platform such as blogger.
How do you come up with your content?
I am thinking about my blog all the time. If there's a recipe I want to try, I take pictures as I go. If my husband says something funny, I frame it in my head as a post. This is good and bad, looking at your life this way. Good because I am frequently motivated to try new things with the excuse that I can turn it into a post, and bad because who wants to be thinking in anecdotes all day? It's probably not the most inspiring answer, but it's the truth.
I come up with my content by looking for it.
How do you grow your audience?
In my experience, there is no huge trick to growing your audience. The organic ways are to post consistently, respond to and engage with your readers, promote yourself using popular social media, and, most importantly, create good content that is shared.
Gimmicky things like giveaways have not grown an audience for me. I may get a spike in traffic from that day, but they are not people who stick around as regular readers. Therefore, I aim my giveaways at my regular readers, meaning I don't promote the heck out of them so that random people who've never visited HH enter and ruin your chances.
The two things that have grown my readership the most are mentions from other bloggers and posts that got a lot of shares. I cannot tell you how many people message me and say, "I found you through so-and-so." People value the opinions of the bloggers they read, so often when I'm recommended, that person will come back again or subscribe. This is also a huge reason that I like Friday Links. I like sharing the blogs or posts I've found, and I like paying it forward. The internet is one giant circle.
Those are the most basic basics. I could honestly talk about blogging all day. I'll be back soon with part II. If you have questions you want me to answer on this topic, please leave them in the comments and I'll either answer them there or include them in the next post.
photo by fevi yu via flickr