Before I begin, I feel I should just clarify a few things. I am by no means a ‘pro’ or even particularly knowledgeable when it comes to blogging. These are simply a few observations that I’ve come to learn over the last two years or so.
I still define myself as a content writer (the day job) and a slightly needy, rambling introvert rather than an actual, bonafide blogger.
When I started my little blog in 2015, I had no clue about any of the behind the scenes, technical stuff. I just knew that 140 characters were not enough to waffle on about all of the things I wanted to share and that my friends were possibly fed up with my constant, lengthy Facebook posts.
I have been an avid reader of blogs for a fair few years and after being inspired by some of my favourite bloggers and friends, Thirtysomething Belle was born (that website was my first attempt at blogging before That British Betty came along and is no longer in use)
You will meet some amazing people
One thing that I had never banked on was the community that comes with blogging. The internet is the ideal place for a socially awkward loner like me. It allows me to interact without having to ‘people‘ too much!
The blogging community is vast and I have been lucky enough to make a handful of genuine, like-minded friends through various groups and blogger collaborations, both on and offline.
Developing and learning new skills
Some people may never take blogging seriously, instead associating it with 12 year olds showing off their latest Primark haul on YouTube. Don’t be fooled – there are also some amazingly talented adults in the bloggersphere!
Many of us underestimate the array of skills that are required to run a blog, as I did initially. These include editing (content and images) SEO, proof-reading, HTML, producing original copy, marketing and so much more.
These skills are naturally developed and enhanced throughout the blogging process, which can be especially helpful if you decide to pursue a career in writing or marketing in the future. Practice makes perfect and all that jazz!
Writing is theraputic
I have adored reading and writing for as long as I can remember. I spent my childhood with a book in my hand, my teenage years fawning over copies of Just Seventeen & More! Magazine and my adulthood reading novels, biographies and blogs.
As a teenager, I dreamed of working as an editor in a big, fancy publishing house, a la Jennifer Garners character in ’13 Going On 30′. Back then, we were lucky to even have a house phone, let alone the modern day advantages of mobile phones, the internet and social media. So unless I fancied taking my chances and moving to London or New York with just a prayer and a good dose of enthusiasm, it would always remain a simple daydream.
There is something incredibly soothing and therapeutic about writing. Sitting in front of the screen and putting all of the words that float around in your head into legitimate sentences – whether you’re writing a product review or a personal post – brings a great deal of satisfaction, provides a creative outlet and even allows for a little bit of escapism.
There is no such thing as a ‘freebie’
One thing I hear on a regular basis is: “Oh I bet you get loads of free stuff/ invited to events all the time! How can I set one up?!”
Sure, some of the perks that come with blogging are great. Meals to review, items of clothing, family days out etc. Recently, I got offered the chance to spend a long weekend in rural Spain in a beautiful 14 bedroom villa, in return for a blog post/review and social media promotion. I had to turn this down due to other commitments (which broke my heart a little bit…) and as awesome as it sounds, the reality would have meant me having to document every element of our trip and spend a good majority of my time working. Let’s be honest though; writing by the pool with a beer beats typing away with a cup of tea on my sofa! Maybe next time eh?
When you break down the process of writing, editing, publishing and promoting a blog post into an hourly rate, you’ll soon find that the time spent on just one piece is often well below the UK minimum wage. On top of the initial outlay of buying a domain, web hosting and other technical joys, blogging can soon become rather costly.
Building up relationships with PRs and networking takes time and effort; these ‘perks’ involve a lot more work than simply producing a 600 word blog post!
So why do it, you may ask? I adore writing and discovering new things. Some people spend their free time watching soaps or playing on the xbox – I spend mine writing. My blog will always be a hobby and I genuinely enjoy the thrill of not knowing what the next email may bring.
You are not a special snowflake
Harsh, I know. However much your blog is a priority in your life, it’s easy to forget that we are all just tiny fishes in a huge, global pond. Egos can become quickly inflated online and the truth is that your blog simply may not be very important to other people.
No matter how good your content is, there will always be someone bigger and better than you. Instead of getting disheartened, use this as a positive goal and inspiration to continuously improve yourself.
For me, I am fully aware that my blog pales into insignificance alongside lots of others. It may not make for a particularly riveting read, but the handful of people that do choose to interact and take interest in my ramblings make me happy. Blogging is self-indulgent by it’s very nature and this really isn’t a bad thing. Having your very own space to write about whatever you want is amazing; just remember that cyberspace is a huge place and competition is stiff!
You will want to quit at some point
Sometimes, we get writers block or even worse, lose passion for blogging. The latter is damaging as this can often come through in your posts – your writing may become purely functional and robotic and readers will soon see the difference.
One day, I will quit blogging for good. Whether that will be in a few months, years or even decades, I don’t know. I would much rather pull the plug on it than to continue to flog something that is past it’s sell by date. I often find that just taking a week or two away from it all can work wonders and help me come back with fresh ideas and renewed enthusiasm.
Blogging is like high school
Much like high school, you have ‘The Blogger Hierarchy‘.
There are the parenting bloggers, the beauty bloggers, the travel bloggers, the foodie bloggers, the celebrity bloggers, the lifestyle bloggers, the newbies, the professionals, the ones who post twice a day, the ones who post twice a year and plenty inbetween. Whatever bizarre topic you can think of, I promise you that there will already be several blogs dedicated to this!
The online groups are primarily supportive and helpful but on occasion, I do find myself reading posts in amusement, with the odd eye roll thrown in for good measure. I tend to shy away from getting too involved, for fear of treading on toes or being sucked in to childish conversations; I have more important priorities these days!
At the risk of getting myself ostracized from the blogging community forever, I do feel that some bloggers take themselves far too seriously *hides behind laptop*
One thing that I was sad to discover after just a short time of blogging is that the blogging world is not an even playing field. Behind the scenes, some bloggers will pay for fake followers and use questionable tactics to boost their statistics, Google rankings and PR relationships.
There’s also a fair bit of plagiarism going on which is not only frustrating, but just down right wrong. Two of my posts were stolen last year, practically word for word when they popped up on a fellow bloggers page. As disheartening as this may be, try to rise above it and realise that they lifted your content because it was worth reading in the first place! (and you know, karma is a fucker…)
A slight problem with the creative world is that an idea is never just yours. You could have an exciting, unique post all ready to go, then discover that it has already been done several times over.
For me, I think producing decent copy and having an organic audience beats this shady behaviour hands down. Sure, it may not make me money, gain a huge amount of followers nor make me very popular with said ‘influencers’ but I like knowing that my work is my own and that I adhere to a moral code.
Do any fellow bloggers agree or do you have a completely different perspective? I’d love to know what you think!