When I started blogging again seven months ago, I leaped into it with a lighthearted manner. I was no stranger to blogging. In fact, I had been blogging — off and on — since I was about thirteen years old. I knew the basic ins and outs of blogging thanks to my personal experience as a blogger, as well as a few courses I took in college. I knew how to create effective content that could potentially be successful, use hashtags to capture the most quality engagement, and the basics of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). But what I didn’t know was that there was still a lot that I didn’t know. In fact, I am still learning.
What I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging
- Community matters
- Good visuals are paramount
- Social media is an extension
- Scheduling posts can be a lifesaver
- The learning never stops
For any blogger, community is important. In fact, it is probably the most important thing. What I learned is that people are not going to actively seek out your blog, because the truth of the matter is, they don’t know that it exists. They don’t know it exists until you engage with other bloggers. In fact, the greatest support system that you will find is from other bloggers.
This is why it is so important that you read and comment on other blogs in your niche. It is important because of two reasons: One, people are attracted to people who they can relate to. The same rule applies to bloggers and blogs. Bloggers are attracted to other bloggers who write about things in their niche or area of expertise. And two, blogging isn’t just about writing and putting out content. It is the give and share of information. It is the passing on of knowledge. It is the conversation that takes place even after the blog is written. I am talking about the comment section, the place where community engagement happens.
Good visuals are paramount
I learned that it is essential to add at least one (preferably two or even three) images in each blog post. The reason is simple: in today’s technologically advanced world, people like pictures. People don’t want to stare at a screen with just words. They want to look at pictures.
I’ve also found that while a good picture is essential, there are other things you can do to make your blog post stand out and look pretty. If you are using WordPress, like I am, you probably know that every post consists of a series of blocks. Each block can be customized with a background color and a font color. Use that to make certain elements in your blog post stand out. Besides the capability of adding color, you can also embed social media links and profiles, quotes, and videos to help bring your blog post to life.
We no longer live in a world in which people have the attention span to read a black and white article. We have to get their attention with color, images, and content that seems to jump out of the screen. There is simply so much competing information on the Internet, so we have to tell the reader from the get-go that they need to read this one.
Social media is an extension
I used to think blogging was a one-and-done operation. You wrote a post, you edited it, and then you shared it on your social media platforms. But I am here to tell you that it is not enough to simply share on social media.
You have to create an engaged presence on the different social media platforms that is an extension of your brand. For example, I use Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to promote my writing. I don’t just share. I have created a social media strategy for each of these platforms. The information presented has to be tailored to fit the demographics. For example, LinkedIn targets business professionals. Therefore, I create content that is related to career, work environments, and self-improvement. Instagram is a very visual platform, so I create content that is beautiful, but at the same time thought provoking. The goal on Instagram is not to just get likes, but comments, ‘super saves,’ and conversions.
When used effectively, I have found that social media can be an extension to the message that you ultimately want to say. I have asked questions on Twitter related to topics on my blog as a way to not just get the community talking but to hear what they have to say. I have created additional information on Instagram that is not available on my blog as a way to motivate and inspire.
Therefore, use social media to expand upon your message. Use social media to become an expert in your niche.
Scheduling posts can be a lifesaver
I am a writer, who has never done well by planning content. In the Nanowrimo world, I am a pantser because I don’t plan, but instead write whenever inspiration strikes. But then I discovered that I can schedule blog posts on WordPress. At first, I just dismissed it as just another feature that I didn’t think I needed. I soon found out how wrong I was. I found out that scheduling posts can be a lifesaver.
By scheduling blog posts at 9:00 AM every day, I am able to set a goal for myself. I am able to plan when the post has to get written so that it is ready for publication at a certain time. I am then able to carve out the time that I need in the day to create my social media posts on Canva and then subsequently post them at certain times throughout the time. Scheduling my blog posts hasn’t restricted my creativity. On the other hand, it has given me more time back to devote to the community. It has allowed me the ability to extend conversation in the blog comments and on the various social media platforms that I am a part of.
The learning never stops
What I like most about blogging is that there is still so much to learn. Granted, I have learned a lot about blogging and social media within the past seven months. But there is still so much that I need to learn to try to create the best content possible. With blogging, you can’t just take a course or two and expect to be an expect. With blogging, much of the knowledge comes from trial and error. Once one thing is mastered, then there is still something else that you must learn. For example, as I continue blogging, I am excited to learn more about email subscriptions, media kits, guest posting, and Google analytics, amongst others.
I have learned so much about blogging since I started blogging. I have learned that blogging is a process that is not just a medium for expression but a way to create connections between people. I don’t regret not having known about these things, because it has all been a process. But I am hoping that if you decide to start a blog then you are able to use this to not just get a head start in blogging, but to be an effective blogger.