So, my blog turned 1 on the 8th of February 2015 and I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learnt in this journey so far. There are a couple of tips in here too. I only planned to write 5 lessons but then it became 10 then 15 then 20, now 24 (2 for each month)
1) Things don’t always go as planned:
I have so many examples of this. I started my blog on the 8th of February but my 2nd post wasn’t up until the 29th of March as my laptop screen spoilt and my camera battery charger got lost so my blog post frequency wasn’t consistent until the end of March/ early April.
2) You can never predict your readers’ reactions:
This shocks me every time. I remember my first BN article on the 20 things I’ve learnt from attending weddings in Nigeria. It was very tongue in cheek and there were sprinkles of humour too yet some people took a couple of the points a bit too personally. This brings me to my next point…
3) Have thick skin and don’t let the negative comments get to you:
Learn from them and take the constructive criticism into consideration when next you write. It’s funny how people hide behind a mask and type comments they would never say face to face.
4) Blogging exposes you to a wide range of opportunities:
I’m not saying this to encourage people to start blogs but brands/people get to see your potential from your posts and can usually infer the skills you have from the output you produce.
5) Networking is key:
Attend events related to your blog niche. In my case, I am a lifestyle blogger so I write about food, music, style, events, beauty, my experiences, natural hair, theatre, Lagos living, travel. I attend make up fairs, hair events, stage plays, specific events during social media week, etc to meet other people with similar interests.
6) Do not be a ‘prouding’ person:
Visit other blogs, leave comments too, interact with your readers, follow them back on social media, they will feel closer to you and that’s how conversations are generated.
7) Work on improving your skills:
Don’t be satisfied with every little accomplishment, don’t allow yourself to get complacent. Once you achieve a goal, set the next one. I’ve attend a Model workshop, Writers workshop, Makeup class, Photography class, Social media week, etc I also know there are blog workshops online. This is inter-related with the 5th lesson as you get to meet other people with similar interests at such workshops.
8) Change is key, adopt with the times:
Don’t become ancient/stale/set in old ways. Just because a certain style has worked for you for the past 3 years doesn’t mean it will work for the next 3. Technology is improving and there are new developments that make blogging easier, apps on your phone/tablets, etc. This doesn’t mean you have to implement every new idea or new fad in blogsville but discern and decide which ones are important.
9) You’ll be shocked to discover those who believe in your ability:
Usually, it is people who you never thought will encourage/support/cheer you on so strongly that will be sharing your posts.
10) Discouragement will definitely come:
A post you’ve put a lot of effort and time into gets little views and few comments. It might just be that you need to expand your audience e.g. By participating in forums where your target audience are active in or it could be timing – maybe you posted it an odd time and your next post came too soon so people didn’t have time to read the previous one. Or maybe the title didn’t make the post seem interesting.
11) Don’t give up:
If things are going wrong, dig deep and find out what the problem is, then it will be easier to figure out a solution e.g. I expected more comments on posts when I started. Then a reader pointed out that I need to enable anonymous comments as everyone hasn’t got a Google account. I did this and the comments started rolling in ☺ (Keep them coming folks, I enjoy reading and replying them).
12) Feedback is important:
Ask your readers questions and throw in a reader survey annually or every 6 months. I did a giveaway once and I expected more participation. One of my readers said it was because she didn’t have a Twitter account and so couldn’t fulfill all the criteria the giveaway required. If you’ve experienced this, you could reduce the requirements for the next one e.g. Follow on Twitter OR like us on Facebook. Most people are usually active on one of these platforms. Alternatively you could host giveaways on specific platforms like Beauty in Lagos did last Christmas.
13) Explore social media as a marketing tool:
It’s free and work can go viral quickly. Make use of hashtags on Instagram and Twitter and read about how people grew their businesses/increased their customer base via social media. I’m sure many make up artists can testify to this.
14) Read other blogs, locally and internationally:
Learn from them, don’t be afraid to ask questions via email if you’re interested in how they did a certain thing. I’m always excited when I get emails from my readers/other bloggers and I do my best to get back in touch with them as quickly as possible.
15) Don’t allow yourself to get intimidated by other bloggers:
Let their progress encourage you. I can ‘write story’ for Africa but some people keep their blog posts short and simple, that’s their style. There are people who will appreciate yours.
16) Consistency is key:
Sisi Yemmie typically puts up her Monday Chit Chat at 12pm every Monday so her readers (myself inclusive) usually check her blog at Monday during lunchtime. If you’re struggling to maintain your blog frequency then let your readers know or try and post on social media every once in a while to keep the connection alive.
17) Experience is a great teacher:
After a while you will learn what works and what doesn’t.
You will be able to figure out what time people are online/more active. You will make mistakes and learn from them so you can help people around you avoid such errors.
18) Don’t be satisfied with being a king in your village:
What about your state? Your country? Your continent? The world? Shoot for the stars, so when you fall you land in the clouds. Aim high!
19) Don’t undervalue yourself:
Set your ad rate and stick to it, brands will approach you when they see the value you can provide. Don’t negotiate when you are hungry.
20) Keep your private life private:
It is a personal/lifestyle blog but not everything that happens to you personally should be shared with the World Wide Web. Know what to keep confidential, what issues you can share with your blog readers and what issues you should share with close friends, family members and mentors.
21) Do it for you:
Don’t start a blog because so many people are doing it/it’s supposedly the next big thing/you want to make money/you want freebies. Start it for the right reasons e.g. You want to share your talent with the world/you want a bigger platform to express yourself. You can’t fake it for too long if you aren’t genuinely interested. After a while it will show that you aren’t in it wholeheartedly.
22) Do you:
I had said from the get go that I wasn’t going to write about entertainment or gossip. That’s not my niche and I’m not going to write about people’s gist just because it will bring in readers/traffic.
23) Original content:
Don’t be a copy cat. If you like the way someone does something, form your own version of it. Be creative and don’t just imitate word for word, let it influence you. I have a workflow series and the monochrome way series. Berry Dakara does her lovely links and Sisi Yemmie does her Monday chit chat. These bloggers inspired me to start a blog – reading their blogs made me feel like I could do it too but we are different, different writing styles, different blog layouts. I have what makes me unique and so do they.
24) Enjoy the ride:
It isn’t going to be smooth but it does bring a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment especially when you realise the sort of influence your blog has/the impact it makes in people’s lives. It could be something as small as your blog becoming a reference point when looking for a nice restaurant to dine at or someone embracing their natural hair because they see how you rock yours.
I know some of these points don’t apply to people who blog anonymously e.g. Naija Husband but if you have a blog, do share what you’ve learnt in your time as a blogger. I am by no means the world’s greatest blogger and I sure do have a lot to learn but I appreciate the journey and all the experiences I’ve had.
I know good things take time and even though I’m not where I want to be, I’m proud of my little accomplishments. Over 140 posts, Over 100,000 views on the blog and over 800k on Google Plus, collaborations with other bloggers and brands, giveaways I’ve hosted and readers I’ve met, interviews and features on other blogs and websites and now I’m aiming for more.