Absolutely Prabulous, my Fourth Child is Three Years Old!
November is a mad month for me and my fam. Two nephews’ birthdays, parents’ anniversary, two of my kids have birthdays three days apart (hail my legendary family planning skills NOT) and the day after the second of those birthdays, my blog has its birthday (or blogiversary as it’s known). Now nature and biology are what they are; I couldn’t do an awful lot about my kids’ dates of birth once the baby-making deed was done. But quite why I chose to launch my blog the same week in which I am drowning in birthday organisation and my kitchen is covered in flour,sugar and eggs, I will never know. Excuse me while I sit down.
Anyway, I Thought I’d Write a Blogiversary Post…
Now I’ve never written one of these before as it didn’t dawn on me to do so and frankly I wouldn’t think I have much to say. However, I’ve noticed blogiversary posts here and there and it got me thinking that it would be a good idea to get a few thoughts down. I mean surely I’ve learned something right? So here you go, these are just fifteen of the many things I’ve learned in three years of blogging!
1) Almost Every Blogger Goes Through Blog Angst and Eventually Comes out the Other Side (one way or another)
Blog angst? I could write the book on it. Trying to do it all: write great content, build that Faceberk/Twatter/Instaglam following, read a dozen posts on just one linky and comment my bits off to support my fellow bloggers (and maybe pick up a new follower) get published on other sites in the hope of traffic and backlink benefit, work with brands offering nice-to-have products and ambassadeurship opportunities, writing sponsored posts that don’t make me feel like I’m selling my soul, earning an income SOMEHOW out of the whole damned gig. I could go on! I’ve written about the whole blog/family/life balance thing in Confessions of a Guilty Blogger and I Love Blogging but I’ve Made a Decision. What’s more, recently I read a cracking one by Squished Blueberries on this issue. I still go through phases (frequent phases ha ha) of wondering what I’m doing but I think I’m more at peace now than I ever have been with my blog (my close blogging friends will probably laugh reading that bit). I think more or less bloggers can be split into four categories:
Some bloggers lose themselves down a rabbit hole and give up altogether.
Some make their peace upon recognising the enormity of effort required and settle for doing what they can when they can.
Some decide what they want from blogging from the start and go after that.
Some have a laid back approach to the whole thing but end up being unexpectedly successful.
2) It’s okay to Write What People Want to Read but Don’t Forget to Write for Yourself Too
Now I know the super league élite will shake their heads at this. Obviously, if your game plan from the word go is to build a highly-monetised blog with incredible monthly stats, this doesn’t apply. That game plan involves writing specific content in a calculated stye. But I honestly believe it’s so important to write posts for you, posts that are straight from the heart whether they’re sensitive or controversial, content that says what you really feel rather than soulless words you’re typing just to be seen to have typed them, posts you simply have to share no matter if it’s only you and your mum reading them. As the Glorious Life said recently (in a post about blogging) the one thing that you have is you. Nobody can write what’s in your heart like you can, because it’s in your heart. Nuff said.
3) It’s Fab to Win a Blog Award but Life Doesn’t Change Much and You Still Have to do the Laundry
A tongue in cheek one here! Winning my BiBs award was the biggest highlight of this year. I still smile about it. It was also an interesting lesson…I went through a lot of doubt wondering if every post I wrote had to be amazing after that. I wouldn’t say I had any more brand approaches than those I was already receiving. And rather annoyingly I still need to do mum things. Pfft.
4) You Learn SO Much as a Blogger…but You’ll Never Know Everything
I often think I don’t know much about blogging, yet repeatedly there are examples of just how much I’ve learned in the last three years. From building my site to how to get Faceberk to stop pulling the wrong images to SEO best practice to cross-posting to duplicate content penalties to photoshop to THIS! (<p> </p>) to plugins to DA’s to putting the right person at the front of a tweet to getting grips with YouTube to hashtags to the correct social media images sizes…the list goes on. Yet despite knowing a crazy amount of stuff and being quite fluent in blog speak, it’s impossible to know everything. I can still spend hours trying to figure something technical out which once figured out, will then change some time later due to Google changing its rules or Faceberk messing around yet abloodygain with its algorithm or Instagram deciding it no longer allows this, that or the other.
5) Not Everybody Understands Reciprocity and at Some Point You Probably Will Experience a Bloggers Behaving Badly Incident
Yeah…I’ll let than one hang there in the air for a while and perhaps elaborate on that in the future. For the time being I’ll just say, be kind. Good karma is…well exactly that. Good. Sharing someone else’s post doesn’t take long and it makes them SO happy. Pay it forward. The blogosphere is big enough; there is room for all of us. And when another blogger does you a kind deed, be it sharing a post with a big write up or just a simple RT, thank you goes a long way. I know we all get busy doing life and sometimes the day/week gets away from us. But thank you takes seconds. Just saying.
6) Content Will Aways Win over Design but a Shiny Looking Blog Doesn’t Hurt!
Okay, we know it. You can have the sexiest best designed blog everrrr. But if you’re not writing engaging/useful/moving/informative/relateable (pick your adjective of choice depending on what you’re all about) content that people want to read, then it really doesn’t matter how nice your blog looks, that reader ain’t staying. However, just throwing in my AbPrab tuppence worth here, it doesn’t hurt to have a well designed blog that is easy on the eye. (Ignore the design of mine, it’s driving me nuts after three years and I need a change!) I’ll be honest, superficial as this may make me sound, I’ve immediately clicked away from blogs the layout/colour/fonts of which gave me a headache. If your site is easy to navigate and half decent, it MAY just be the difference between that person staying on your blog a wee bit longer to see what else you have to say and clicking away. Simples. Talking of content:
7) You Can Spend Days Labouring over a Post You Think is the Best Thing Ever and it Bombs, Then Bash one out in Minutes and it Goes Viral
Go figure. This is why I’m not sure scheduling posts actually works for me. I find they are the ones that are too thought out and almost a bit soulless. The ones I write after a whimsical idea work best. So I’ve decided not to put the same level of meticulousness into every post I write, as I used to. I’ve actually made myself let posts go out recently that are 90% ok instead of endlessly reworking them as I used to. Hubster once told me the saying:
Better an imperfect plan executed today than a perfect plan put off til tomorrow.
I kind of agree even though the perfectionist in me wanted to rip her own ears off when he first said it. He also said something else which has turned out be proven right time and time again. In fact, this very post has been one of those examples because I almost scrapped it thinking it would just come across as self-aggrandising rather than helpful (and am just adding this bit a week after original publication as so many people have described is a really useful tips post):
Don’t second guess whether you should publish a post because it’s ‘not good enough’. It’s not actually up to you to decide what people do and don’t want to read. It’s up to them. So just write the damned post!
In fact, this also ties in with something else he pointed out (number 8). Honestly, I might want to wring his neck sometimes but the man doth speak sense:
8) You Need to Learn What to Write for Human Eyes and What to Write for Google Eyes
Love it! Epiphanyyyyyyyy. (Can you hear me singing that?) Believe it or not, not every post needs to be a masterpiece. No I’m not at all encouraging churning out post after post at the expense of quality. However, it is in fact alright to write some posts with enormous attention to detail on all fronts while publishing others in which you have invested very little time, (purely to score brownie points off those Google bots who have a thing for regular posting).
9) Blogging Can Help You Find a Sense of Purpose
I love my kids but SAHM motherhood can make you lose yourself in a parenting wilderness of permanently sticky floors and endless birthday parties. Launching AbPrab helped me find a huge part of me again that had somehow got lost along the way with all the nappy changing, packed lunches and homework. It has also ignited in me a dream I never knew I actually had…to write for newspapers or magazines or I don’t know SOMETHING that I’d never ever have thought to do if it weren’t for AbPrab.
10) Your Blog Goals Can Change and That is Just Fine.
I can’t imagine there are many bloggers whose outlook hasn’t slightly shifted or indeed fully metamorphosed since they started out. I’m mulling over my own goals a fair bit at present and I may change my mind next week (I’m a Pisces after all) but I think I’m leaning away from heavy monetisation of my blogette. I’ll still carry on deriving some income from it but I think I may instead pursue paid content writing.
11) Getting on the HuffPost is Nice for Your Media Kit but…That’s About It.
I hesitated to include this as I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble. I see posts from ecstatic bloggers excitedly announcing they’ve got on to the Huff – and yes I did that too and I’ll be honest there is still something nice about seeing my name and bio under that hallowed Huff header – but sadly, it is well documented that it does nothing to drive traffic to one’s site. I guess the exception might be if they feature you on their front page as a pick of the day/week. Once I realised that was the case for me, I stopped contributing regularly and just picked the occasional post to send to them. I then decided to submit more often when I remembered I do get the benefit of the powerful Huff backlink which helps DA score. Except guess what? Rumour has it this is no longer the case because of changes made to the HuffPost platform and follow link policy. No more link juice baby.
12) Blogging Gives You a Legitimate Excuse to Make Friends Online Without Feeling like a Weirdo!
And if you’re a blogger you don’t need me to explain that one. At. All. Seriously, the camaraderie I am blessed to have with Cuddle Fairy, Island Living 365, Just Saying Mum, Life Love and Dirty Dishes, Life with Baby Kicks, Mum Muddling Through, Motherhood the Real Deal and Mess Stress and Fancy Dress some of whom I speak to often, many of whom I go to with blog queries and all of whom make me laugh. Then there are those friendships with those I don’t speak to as regularly but adore such as Beauty Baby & Me (Fi is so good for my ego!), Mess and Merlot (Charlie = total honey), Mumbelievable (sickenly beautiful with the coolest blog name to boot), Muma on the Edge and This Mum’s Life both of whom are riotously funny. I can’t possibly name everyone but I am so grateful for all my blog mates. And yes, I’m fully aware that Google isn’t going to like me link-packing this paragraph but sometimes you’ve just got to give your friends a shout out. #rebel
13) Blog Success is Subjective (and some of it is smoke and mirrors)
Crazy monthly traffic? Collabs with amazing brands? High engagement? Awards? High Klout/Tots scores? A DA above 40? We all see blog success differently. And sometimes all is not what it may seem. None of us really knows what is going on behind the
scene screen with a blogger. I’ve been lucky (and totally bemused I might add) to be described in high terms by my fellow bloggers and often go to cafes/ladies’ nights out and meet total strangers who recognise me and talk effusively about the blog. I’m taken aback and think really? But I’m not earning large, I’m not working with a huge amount of brands, my DA is in the respectable bracket but not high high. Meanwhile other bloggers look at me (I”m told) in terms of the award and other finalist place or the not too shabby looking blog design or…or…whatever it is that makes them think I’m in some blog super league because honestly I’ve no idea what they’re looking at!! Ultimately I’m too close to it anyway but I’m convinced it’s all relative and what one perceives as a successful blog can just be a case of smoke and mirrors.
14) Do What Suits YOU First Because Nobody’s Paying as Much Attention to Your Blog as You Are.
I know. GASP! It’s truuuuuuue. (Well alright not if you’re a super uber mega league blogger whose every post people are hanging on for.) I’m not being unkind; I just mean when we are too close to something, we think everyone notices what we see. Fact is, unless you’re on an official deadline (linky hosting, guest posting or publishing a sponsored post) nobody will even notice if you don’t publish that post today, or tweet 30 times on Wednesday or Instagram the hell out of your whole week. And if they notice, they’re hardly going to hold it against you. Fair enough, I’ve been caught out by subscribers wondering if they missed an email from me (mental note to self, send out next email to my subscriber list). I freely admit, I need to take my own advice here as I get into the flow writing and stay up blogging when I should just go the hell to bed or shut the laptop and hug my kids on the sofa in front of a film already! But I’ve become aware of it and am working on it.
When all is said done, you just have to do what works for you, your family, your sanity… As Louise of Squished Blueberries put it so eloquently in her fab post Some Thoughts about Life and Blogging
I will never write a post because I feel like I should, because everyone else is writing those kind of posts, because I think it’s what other people want to read, because people might search for it on google, or because someone has given me a free pack of ham.
15) Fight Your Fear and Do Things You Didn’t Think You’d Ever Do
Vlogging is my big one. Seriously, if I can put my aversion to seeing and hearing myself to one side, then anyone can!
Oh…looky look..talking of vlogging…
I know I’ll remember ten more things tomorrow but I bashed this post out super fast as I’m trying not to over think all my posts to death! The other reason is that it’s now time for my linky with Becky to go live, I need to talk to another blogger regarding something and I still haven’t made dinner and my kids are starving. (And tonight’s delectation is baked beans on toast because Mum’s been too busy blogging…what was that about balance?)