Last month, I celebrated one year of blogging on The City and Us. I learned a lot about blogging (and myself!) in that year and wanted to share a few thoughts. Here are 7 things I learned in my first year of blogging (there are so many more, but I thought I’d start with this list)…
1. It’s more difficult than it seems to execute an idea.
Posts like How to Feel Settled in a New Place, Tips on Running, and Feeling Sad are my favorite ones to write. They’re personal and original, and I like to think I’m adding something to the conversation that’s slightly different from other bloggers. These posts also take the longest to write. I’ll get an idea, think about it for a few days (sometimes weeks), write a complete draft, have a couple people read over the draft for clarity and edits, rewrite and edit, take/find photos, and then, finally, I’ll publish the post. It can take a couple weeks to go from idea to published post. But these more in-depth posts are why I started blogging–to spark interest and talk about engaging topics and be authentic.
(I’d love to hear your thoughts on what topics you like reading about most. I want to write about interest and thought-provoking topics and ones that you love to read and talk about! Feel free to send me an email or leave a comment if you have some ideas.)
2. The little details are important.
When I first started blogging, I didn’t have a plan for seemingly small details like tags and categories. I made up tags for each post and chose general categories that many lifestyle bloggers use on their sites (food, fashion, travel, etc.). After six months or so, I had sooo many tags–many of which were totally random like zigzags, welcome, and Wednesdays. Categories and tags are useful ways for readers to navigate sites and find content that doesn’t appear on the first or second page, so they need to be organized and straightforward. While little details are so important, I’ve also learned…
3. It’s easy to get bogged down by the little things.
Even now–13 months in–I’m still tweaking the categories and editing and updating tags. I’ve spent hours editing tags, and it’s tedious. Writing thought-provoking posts, interviewing interesting people, exploring new neighborhoods in NYC, experimenting with new recipes and taking original pictures are the meat of any blog. Sometimes it’s best to leave the little details for later; carve out small chunks of time here and there to edit categories or update alt tags on photos and spend the majority of your time creating interesting content for your blog.
4. Inspiration isn’t just on the internet!
The time I spend away from my computer and phone is when I get the most interesting ideas for my blog–on the subway, running in the park, during conversation at the bar, buying lunch with colleagues, trying on new shoes, having coffee with Dan. Aside from the obvious places online to find inspiration–blogs, online magazines, Instagram–inspiration for fresh content is all around us. Time away from the computer is necessary.
5. Find people whose opinions you trust and get their input regularly.
A couple times a month, I shoot my sister an email and ask her to look over my site. In the email, I ask her some general questions like, I rearranged the top navigation bar, what do you think? or What are your thoughts on the ‘About’ page? and a few specific questions like, What did you think of that post on coconut cake? or Should I be doing [insert something that professional bloggers do well]? She gives me honest feedback and doesn’t hold back out of fear of hurting my feelings, which is absolutely necessary since I can get stuck on an idea or frustrated when things aren’t going as planned. She reminds me to take a deep breath and come back to reality.
6. Blogging takes so much time.
It’s challenging to describe the time commitment of blogging to someone who doesn’t blog or hasn’t tried writing a blog before. It takes so much time! Before I started, I thought, No problem! I’ll write after my 9-5 for about 15 minutes each day and post new stuff Monday through Friday. Ha. That’s just not how it’s worked for me over the past year. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes–emails, interviews, editing written content and photos, social media. It’s amazing and surprising how much time I spend on this little piece of the internet. And I love it!
7. It’s surprisingly difficult to stand out.
Growing a readership is something that I’m trying to figure out; standing out in the pool of hundreds of thousands of great blogs is really hard. Fashion and beauty blogs have huge potential to grow in readership as well as becoming a full-time job. It baffles me just how big some fashion blogs are and there are important lessons to learn from those blogs. And, honestly, it’s easy to slip into the mindset of posting solely about fashion and beauty topics because that’s what a lot of readers want to read and that’s one way to grow a blog. But it’s a slippery slope because I did not start blogging to write primarily about fashion and beauty. That’s not me and not the only thing I want to write about at the end of the day. What’s most important is that I’m true to myself and write about topics that inspire me.
Don’t get me wrong–I love fashion and beauty and have written several posts about those topics and will continue to write about them, but I like reading (and writing) personal perspectives, career challenges and successes, travel inspiration, offbeat wedding themes, secret restaurants–variety and depth are key (for me)!
Thoughts? Do you have a blog? What’s something surprising you’ve learned from blogging? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
I love blogging and I love knowing people come here to read something each day. Thanks so much for your support over the past year. xx