Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Things I wish I had known before I started blogging

The recent fall out and gossiping over a certain site got me thinking about all the things I wished I had known about before I started blogging.  My blog is by no means perfect and from my first initial post, to the ones I post today, I do feel like I have learnt a lot, but I obviously don't know everything there is know.  

Blogging for me is a constant learning curve and I pick things up from new bloggers just as much as those who have been doing it a lot longer than I have and I suspect many people do the same thing. 

That said, I do see things on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and so one which make me think "Oh yeah" and "If only I knew that when I started out as a mere newbie blogger", so with that I thought I would list some of those valuable insights, tricks of the trade, secrets or whatever you want to call them in my first year of blogging and I would be really interested to hear your thoughts and comments too.

It is okay to miss posting daily!

When I started blogging I would be constantly writing one after another to ensure that I had at least 7 posts a week or one for everyday if you will. 

Sometimes I would really have to burn the midnight oil to juggle being a wife, work full time, spend time with the Hubby and friends, not to mention all the chores that need doing at home or in the office.  In the first few months I put a lot of pressure on myself to be consistent and whilst it is good to have a schedule that everyone comes to know, there are times when life just gets in the way and you have to learn to deal with that because it is inevitable that there will be days that you simply do not have the time to post.  


If this happens, what should you do?  Well never feel you have to apologise, we are all human and non of us are perfect, life is too short to worry about it and it isn't as though you have just abandoned your blog, people will understand. Don't stress about it, write your next post at the next available opportunity and continue with life as normal, it is unlikely people will click that unfollow button because they haven't heard from you in one whole day.

It's not about the 'free' stuff!

I have for the last ten or so years always had a platform online where I share my views on the products I use and those profiles are still open and online on sites such as Ciao and DooYoo. For me blogging was the next step up because I felt life had become quite sterile on both sites, though I am still fairly active on one of the sites.  I didn't start blogging to get those free things, infact I never knew PR companies sent things out to bloggers until I was contacted.

Anyway, as PR Samples is one of those topics which pops up on twitter every now and again with moans, whinging and gripes that so and so gets lots of samples whilst others don't, some don't declare it properly, others do and so on. I hold my hands up and say that frankly this doesn't interest me one iota, I couldn't care less who gets what, it is their view I am interested in and whether or not I need it in my life.   Take the last lot of Benefit products which got sent out, now I had flagged Big Easy as a product I thought I would love after reading about it online, turns out after reading 5 or so reviews from bloggers I like, that I don't think it is for my skin tone and I therefore haven't bought it, but do I think less of Benefit because they didn't send the product to me? Not at all.  Would I stop using Benefit products because I didn't get sent something? Not at all.  

Relationships with PR's

For me this is really really important because I have been lucky enough to receive some absolutely brilliant products and I am always grateful for those opportunities and I do take my time to properly use those products and blog about them. I have also met some fabulous PR representatives who take have made a real effort to form a relationship, naturally there have been some awful ones which I am sure is par for the course.  

However, despite those relationships, I am not one of those people and nor will I ever be, someone who gets a product and writes about it three days later claiming it is the next wonder product.  Sorry that isn't me, how can I tell you if a shampoo is amazing after using it twice? I can't it is that simple, it takes a good few weeks for your hair to get used to using the shampoo and over that time there will be certain changes which take effect and I will want to write about them and include them in my review.  

All of this takes time and a lot of effort, so whether or not a product is really 'free' is for you to decide, but reviewing things for brands does throw up a lot of questions:
  • What do you do if you don't like the product that you've been sent? 
  • What do you do if your skin had a bad reaction to a product?
  • What if the shade you were sent doesn't suit your skin tone at all?
It is quite simple - Be honest and have some integrity.  I never want to offend a PR company/person, a brand or even another blogger but there are always going to be some products that are not right for you and it is far better to be honest about it than to simply state everything is fabulous when it isn't.  I personally couldn't do it and when I have been sent a product I didn't like, I have always told the PR exactly why, sent them my review and we have taken it from there, you won't get your head bitten off and they won't think you are ungrateful, total opposite infact.

Constant improvement is a good thing!

When I first started blogging, I was offered a product to view and I eagerly replied saying yes please I would love too, only to be told that on reflection my viewing figures were not high enough and my Google Analytics figures were not good enough either, the same thing happened with a well known advertising company, they approached me first, I filled in their questionnaire form thing and again I was told "Sorry you don't actually meet our requirements".  To be told that crushed me, why offer something then take it away and why not do some proper research first? and for a few weeks I did debate whether or not my blog was any good and was I wasting my time if I wasn't good enough.

Having chatted with a few friends, they gave me some tips and pointers and my backside was well and truly kicked into looking at my blog properly.  Since then I have always compared my blogs to others, instead of finding it quite daunting and depressing, I find it quite helpful.  I always have these questions in my mind when doing so:
  • Why is it that some blogs have lots of followers and others don't? 
  • What is it they do that I don't do? 
  • What can I do to improve?
From there I have learnt some valuable lessons about fonts, photo sizes, labels, alt-tagging photos, blog post titles and buzz words to name but a few. I am sure I still have a lot more to learn and I have no doubt that there are many things I can do to improve my blog, but for me they are all things I am learning about at my own pace.

You don't have to have a million followers to be a good blogger!

There is a lot of pressure out on bloggers to increase their readership, it is a simple fact and the point above demonstrates why in one example. But readership and followers are two very different things for me.

I do love it when people follow my blog,  I get quite excited when I am alerted to a new follower and I always go and check out who they are, have a quick read and follow them back (if I can find out how) if I like their blog.  I never do follow for a follow, I think that would demean the whole point of blogging and be a little unfair because I value each and every follower that I have and I do spend time reading their blogs.

Readership on the other-hand is more important.  If you have spent hours writing a post and no-one reads or comments on it, it can be quite deflating. I have been there and done it, it still happens from time to time, but I use it as a learning curve to see what people like to read and what they don't like to read on my blog.



Google Analytics

Yes the dreaded GA.  When I set my blog up, for the first 6 months or so I had no idea what GA was or how I could install it and I always got confused when people asked for my figures, I assumed they were the ones you saw when you logged into your blog, clicked page-views and had a nice little set of figures. No, apparently not.  


Instead of spending hours reading about it, I came across a really fantastic help guide by fellow blogger Georgina or Makeup-Pixi3 as you might know her and it was so well written and easy to understand that within half an hour I had it set up, correctly and it is still working right now.


Why do you need it? Well if you want to work with PR Agencies it is helpful because they will more than likely want those 'figures' such as unique page views and followers and for yourself, I really like looking at how each post performs, which ones get more reads and which ones barely get noticed.  It has also helped me find the perfect time for posting to get the most exposure on certain days and see where my traffic is coming from.

People can be cruel

Going back to my first point really.  Sadly there are in life nasty vile trolls who take it upon themselves to have a dig, say nasty things, put you down, poke fun and so on.  There is nothing you can do about these people, they are trolls who thrive on negativity and as a blogger you need to develop a thick skin pretty quickly because no matter how hard you try or how much effort you might put into something, there is always someone who has an 'issue' with it. 

However, please don't let that discourage you and stop you from blogging, everyone is entitled to their opinion and for every negative comment you get I am sure there are ten times the positive and supportive comments and if you don't everyone to see the comment, you are the one in the driving seat - delete it.  I have had one or two comments from people and a few facebook messages which said my blog was "Boring, dull, useless and that my posts were truly awful" and yes it did upset me at the time and it did make me question whether or not I should continue.  That was however one persons view and I took a look at their blog and didn't particularly like what I saw either, only I chose to not tell them and instead move on.

Network and make friends with other Bloggers!  

Blogging is not a competition, there us plenty of room for all of us, even though at times it feels as though it is and there isn't. Bloggers make great friends, infact since I started blogging I have been lucky to meet quite a lot of you at various events and have made some amazing friends and it is such a valuable friendship to have. Why? because they understand where you are coming from, it is likely you have similar interests, they read your blog, they can give constructive criticism, they want to see you do well and if you are falling out of love with your blog and are wondering whether you should continue, they are the ones who can tell you to get over it and get on with it.

It is also nice to share things with your blogger friends.  If I get invited to an event that I think someone else would love, I tend to ask if I can bring a friend and if the answer is yes, I ask that blogger if they would like to come with me. 

If you do get to go to events, talk to other bloggers, don't stand there in a corner on your own, be bold, be brave and go say hello.  Not everything you read about bloggers in true and I am yet to meet a nasty horrible one!  Same can be said for Twitter chats, they are invaluable.  You don't have to do them every week, but I would advise you to do as many as you can to get yourself and your blog known.


Photographs.

Yes one of the issues I have with my own blog is how awful my photos look alongside other bloggers. I feel the photos I take are as important as the words I am typing, so with that in mind, I am constantly striving to improve them and be more creative to make them stand out, look professional and be better than I ever imagined they could be.


I have been spending some time learning how to use apps like Picmonkey to see how hard/easy it is to play around with some of the photos I have taken to make them look better.

Social Media is Important!

Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Digg, G+, Stumbleupon and so on, you name it they are important to your blog and driving traffic and this is one area that I am still leaning about.  There is now so many social media sites that I have come across of late, I have them written down in one of my notebooks to look at and learn about.  

When I first started blogging, all I ever used was twitter and instagram, two things I had for 'Real Life' that I adapted to blog life.  In reality, I wish I had been more clued up on how to use them all in the beginning because things might have been so different to how they are now, that said, I am getting there slowly. 

How do I contact you?

Bloggers are nice people, PR people are lovely, brands have some lovely staff and non-bloggers are also on the whole lovely.  However, more often than not I come across a new blog that I like reading and I can never find a way of contacting them.  Make it clear on your blog how I do this, where I can find you and possibly most importantly how you want to be contacted.  

On my blog I have a contact page which lists numerous ways in which you can find me - email, twitter, facebook being the main ones and I have symbols for each of these displayed clearly on my blog page constantly under my photo. If you want to hear from people, make sure they can find you easily.

Those are the things I wish I had known before blogging, not that it would have put me off, but it would have made my life much easier.


I would love to know if there is there anything you wish you'd have known before you started blogging?

20 comments:

  1. this was truly a great post!! my hubby is following the analytic guide for me for my own blog and I'm signing up to twitter and what not too now as well I've found pinterest to be quite good too. Also I use www.befunky.com for my pic editing as its super easy and fery good editing site http://maybemayhemmakeup.blogspot.com.au/

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is a fantastic post hun, I'm always looking to improve my blog and have found some useful tips here! I still think I'm learning and class myself as a newbie even though I've been blogging for coming up to a year and a half. lol
    www.loulovesbeauty.co.uk

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post. I'm constantly learning new things about blogging, but it really does take some time!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love this post, some great tips you have included!
    http://xprincessjas.blogspot.co.uk/
    x

    ReplyDelete
  5. There's still so much I need to learn, but I too love looking at my blog 6-12 months ago and see how far I've come! xx

    Gemma // Miss Makeup Magpie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for the mention lovely :) I just checked GA and saw someone was looking at that post from here, so followed the path back :D I'm so glad it helped and that it's still working :) If you ever have any questions about it I'm always happy to help :)

    *mwah*

    Georgina
    Makeup-Pixi3

    ReplyDelete
  7. Such a great post, you've said so much of what I wanted to say! I've definitely learnt to stop 'worrying' about my blog - I used to worry that my views weren't good enough, I didn't post enough, my pics were rubbish - at the end of the day, as long as you're having fun, it doesn't matter!

    Love Zoe x
    Face Value Beauty Blog

    ReplyDelete
  8. Fantastic post! I was the same in the beginning - I was constantly worrying about everything! Do I write enough post? Are my photos good enough? Do I get the right amount of hits?, etc. until I realised the whole purpose behind me starting a blog was to enjoy it, so now I am enjoying it! :-)

    Gedlab.com – A blog for the modern man

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great post, there are some really great things here and definitely things I wish I'd known about blogging before I started!

    I've done a mini series featuring things I wish i'd known about blogging here: http://www.kimberleysbeautyblog.com/2014/03/things-i-wish-id-known-about-blogging.html

    Kimberley || Kimberley's Beauty Blog

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great post! If I started blogging knowing what I know now, I definitely would do some things differently in terms of photos and my blog design especially. xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is such a helpful post. I think I need to take social media more seriously :) Thank you for sharing with us .

    Warm Regards
    D, x

    www.dellilahsnotebook.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. What a brilliant post Rachel! I still get (a little) stressed if I can't post on certain days but am learning to chill with it a bit - as you say real life happens! xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. Amazing post hun so many brilliant tips! :) x

    ReplyDelete
  14. That's a very nice article. Only thing I knew right away was that I wouldn't be able to post daily, I started with the goal of 2-3 times a week.

    Alex - Funky Jungle - When on Sunday

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fab post! I've taken a few months off blogging since having my baby and even now I find it scary coming back into it. It seems to have evolved in such a short space and is so competitive now. Thanks for this post.. It's given me the motivation to start back up :)

    Siobhan xx

    ReplyDelete
  16. Brilliant post! I am still learning now to blog better :D

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is a great post! Completely agree with the first one, when I first started blogging I thought you had to post every day to get peoples interest! xx

    ReplyDelete
  18. You said so many great things in this post, I have learnt so much since having my blog but I think the thing that sticks with me is to do it please myself rather than others Xx

    ReplyDelete
  19. Great post sweetie! Sometimes its so easy to get sucked into the competition of blogging and forget why I started this in the first place-because I bloody love make up! I am at the stage where I have been sent a couple of things from Dubai PR's and I actually find it a bit awkward and feel under pressure about getting a review up asap. Then I suddenly realised I have to put my life first-work comes first in my book-it's what pays my bills and buys my make up!

    I think everyone will admit to feeling frustrated when you get no more followers for a month but I just keep reminding myself 'this isn't my job'. I have GA installed but don't use it because I am a 'hobby' blogger not a pro.

    Best thing about blogging? Meeting people like you who are so supportive!

    Stacey Expat Make-Up Addict xx

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nice article ! If you want to start a blog, use the following tips :

    1. Register your domain name
    2. design your blog
    3. host your blog
    First of all, You need to choose a perfect domain name for your blog. After selecting a domain name, you have to register it with any of the domain providers like 9cubehosting.com Design your blog by using Text pattern software ( you can get it as a freebie from the above provider after getting hosting plans from them at affordable cost ) and host it to any of the hosting providers in the world to make your blog public in the internet.

    ReplyDelete

Everything written here is done so by the blog owner and it may appear elsewhere.
All content and images © Beautyqueenuk unless otherwise stated. Blog design by Beautyqueenuk