If I was to travel back in time to 2 years ago, I would be going back to January 17, 2017. For most people it was just an ordinary Tuesday, and they’d be bundling up against the cold to head to work, finally adjusting back to their regular routine now that the holidays were over. For me, however, it was the start of my second semester of college. It was nerve-racking knowing that the entire college routine and class schedule I had spent a semester perfecting was about to be uprooted and changed.
But it wasn’t just my classes I was nervous about…there was something else on my mind.
Minutes before leaving for my first class, I opened my laptop, logged onto my WordPress account, and stared at the screen. After a few moments, I nervously pressed “Publish” on something I had worked on for weeks, and would change my life forever: my blog.
Today marks the 2 year blogiversary of This Girl Knows It. It’s been a long and hard journey to get to this moment, and my blog and I have been through a lot of ups and downs, successes and failures, self-doubts and achievements to get here. But this year, I don’t want to write a reflection of my blogging journey or a post about what I’ve learned from blogging. Instead, I want to write a letter to the newbie blogger, and the 5 things you should know when starting out:
1. Your Blog Isn’t Going to be Successful as Soon as You Start…but You Will Get There
Whenever I look back at my earliest blog posts, I wish I could dig a hole, crawl into it, and never come out. I’m not going to lie, they are far from good. And when we take into account the cringe-worthy graphics, logos, and photos that went along with them, I find myself surprised that people even bothered coming back to my blog. (Thank you for sticking around though.)
Back then I was a long way from the goals that I wanted to reach, and although the low numbers and engagement day was extremely discouraging, I didn’t quit. I kept writing, designing, and connecting with other bloggers. In my spare time I read guides on SEO, design, marketing, and photography. Slowly, I began to develop my skills and my blog began to grow. Although I’m still not a “successful” blogger (whatever that means), I’ve come a long way from where I started. In the first months of my blog, I celebrated when I actually reached 20 pageviews in a single day, and was over the moon with excitement I reached 400 pageviews a month for the first time. Although I still get discouraged by my numbers, I look back to these beginning moments and I can see how far I’ve truly come.
That being said, don’t be discouraged if you aren’t successful right away; those people who post about how they earned $$$ in their first month of blogging, or how they went from getting dozens to thousands of pageviews a day in X number of weeks are anomalies, and oftentimes they have prior experience in blogging or marketing. As a newbie blogger, it can sometimes take weeks, months, or even years to reach the your goals, but you will get there. I promise. It just may not be as fast as you like, but you will earn your success, and you will be glad for the journey and all that you’ve learned from it.
2. Jumping In is Scary…But then You’ll Learn that You have No Limits
In the weeks leading up to my blog launch, I was terrified of publishing my blog. Would people make fun of me? Judge me? Laugh at me? Was I going to suck at blogging and end up speaking to an empty void? What if no one read it? What if I hated blogging and gave up? What if I was never as successful as the other blogs I read?
Needless to say, jumping into blogging is scary. All of a sudden, you’re putting yourself, your voice, and your opinions out into the world on a very public platform, and that can be extremely intimidating; I know it was for me. I remember lying awake at night, terrified, wondering if blogging was the right decision for me.
‘Maybe I should just quit before I fail,’ I would think to myself.
But if you keep going, even if it scares you, you’ll excel past the limits you thought you had; you’ll excel past what you thought was possible. You’ll learn that you actually had no limits to begin with and that you can do anything you set your mind to. Doing something that scares you is the only way you’ll grow. Believe me, I would know.
3. Bloggers Thrive on Community Over Competition (and You Will, Too)
Leading up to my blog launch, I spent countless hours researching the best platform and hosting services for my site, how to create graphics and where to find stock photos, ways to better my writing, and how to work all the bells and whistles of WordPress; there was a lot to cover, and no matter what, it seemed like there was still so much to learn.
But there was one thing that these blogs never mentioned: community over competition. Although there are the rare exceptions, almost all the bloggers I’ve met are supportive of each other, seeking to raise each other up and build friendships; in fact, many of my friends are ones I’ve made through blogging, and that’s something I never expected when starting out.
So to the newbie blogger, welcome to the community. We are your cheerleaders, your supporters, and your friends. We seek to raise each other up, not push each other down. We celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and share each other’s successes. If you need feedback, we’re more than happy to provide constructive criticism, ideas, and support; there’s always someone to give you a word of advice when you need it. In a world where everything seems to be a competition, blogging communities are a safe haven, and we’re glad to have you here with us.
4. You’ll Create a Brand for Yourself…and it will Give You Immeasurable Opportunities
What many people don’t realize about blogging is that there’s so much more to it then just writing some words and publishing them on the internet. Bloggers are their own writers, editors, social media managers, photographers, photo editors, graphic designers, marketing managers, and so much more. Through all of this, you will learn how to create a brand for your blog, and (in extension) a brand for yourself, too.
As a newbie blogger, realize that this brand will give you immeasurable opportunities if you continue to work hard, learn, and grow. Whether it’s a sponsored post or an exciting collaboration, you’ll suddenly find yourself doing all the things you once dreamed about when you started blogging: finding amazing opportunities and taking advantage of them.
But it doesn’t stop there. Blogging can help you “outside” of the blog, as well. You’ll gain an extensive skill set to put on your résumé, your scholarship applications, and even your job applications. Believe it or not, the main reason I was hired for my former job (as a social media manager) was my blog. If I hadn’t started my blog, learned all those skills, and made a brand for myself, I wouldn’t have had that amazing opportunity. You may not always know what opportunities will come your way when you start blogging, but I know that is that it is well worth all the hard work you put into it.
5. Your Blog Will Change You…But it Will Change You for the Better
Whenever you make a major change in your life, whether it’s dedicating yourself to the gym or a new job, it’s impossible for it to not change you. And whether you expect it or not, blogging will change you, too. Before starting my blog, I was never on social media. I didn’t even have an Instagram or Twitter! But within 8 months of starting my blog and dedicating myself to learning everything I could about blogging and social media marketing, I became a social media manager of a local company. I became a better writer. (A LOT better. My early posts were a train wreck.) I became more likely to try new things and new experiences. I was no longer as scared to try something new anymore because I saw how beneficial it could be, and how much it could make me grow. Blogging changed me for the better, and to the newbie blogger, know that it will change you, too.
But also know that your blog will change with you, as well. No matter how much you plan for the future, your dreams, goals, and interests may change, and oftentimes, you may want to reflect that change in your blog as well. This is something I was conflicted with when I re-branded my blog for the second time, in which I decided to quit college blogging and instead blog about my new areas of interest. For a while I wondered if this meant that I was giving up or if it meant I was embracing change. At long last, I learned that changing your blog doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, it means that you’ve grown.
So to the newbie blogger, welcome. Welcome to the world of growth, hard work, limitless possibilities, immeasurable opportunities, and change. Welcome to the world of blogging.