Don’t believe everything you see in the media, that includes social media as well.
Starting a blog from scratch means you need to work your way to the top. That requires a lot of research. I say this now because there are things I didn’t know about blogging that I know today, and have helped me with my current success.
Please note, success can be defined in many ways. Right now, I feel as though I’ve reached a certain point with my blog where I feel okay sharing my strategy because it’s based on in-depth research and trial and error, and I freely share it with others because it’s already available to them if they dig deeper, ask questions.
Finding The Right Blogging Resources
Creating content for an audience can be exciting, but it requires knowledge of best practices.
I started my blog in 2013 at a time when I was still working full time and had been blogging for more than five years.
My first blog was when I was 15 and I loved beautifying MySpace pages at the time. I even had a community Facebook page for the town I grew up in that generated more than 4K genuine followers (meaning, none came from third-party websites or sponsored giveaways).
By doing this allowed me to help my brother with his business, and landed me an internship at a local hospital.
Although I had the experience, I didn’t have the right kind.
Sure, hopping on LiveJournal, Xanga or even Blogspot was a great way to develop my writing. However, it wasn’t the same when I arrived at the digital B2B publishing company.
I started out as an eager-to-learn intern and blossomed into an assistant editor and social media strategist. It was fun, but I had a lot to learn.
Organization Is King
Armed with the right team, I discovered there’s so much that goes behind running a website, working with advertisers, creating content, etc. Much of what I do today is similar to what I learned from my time at the B2B publishing company.
I read white papers after white papers, eBooks and even cheat sheets from HubSpot. Nothing that I read made sense until I put it into practice when I started my mom blog. A former colleague joked once that the job of a social media manager is 24/7. I laughed until I realized I was slowly allowing it to consume my life and gave truth to her words.
During my time at the digital B2B publishing company, I heard a lot about content marketing and how content is king. One thing marketers failed to address was how important organizing your content and how you’re going to present it, is just as important.
Entering the field right after college was a good slap in the face on how you really need to learn how to focus. I mentioned this to my supervisor at the time and he agreed: “College is a lot easier than the real world. You go to a class and focus on that one. At work, or even in real life, you’re being pulled in different directions.”
It feels overwhelming when you’re not organized. I had to learn that the hard way, and oftentimes would beat myself up when I didn’t meet deadlines or come prepared for presentations.
I was still learning the ropes at the time, but looking back, I value the mistakes I made because they’ve made me stronger. It’s funny how that works.
Change Is (Sometimes) Good
I’d be lying if I told you coming up with a mom blog was my idea. Actually, it was a former colleague’s suggestion. I jokingly said no, but little did I know it was going to change my future.
As for being a freelance social media strategist, that too came from another colleague at the B2B digital publishing company.
When I finally started my mom blog, Motherhood Through My Eyes, I was on a free hosting website. Three of my colleagues at the B2B publishing company had suggested I pay for a self-hosted website. The cost was high for me, a first-time mom who knew nothing about creating a website.
But I researched how, and it helped me in the end.
I’ve been working on my blog ever since, landing clients from companies big and small, and helping other bloggers do the same. Today, I don’t regret starting my blog or even working as a freelancer. I will admit that there were several times I almost quit. Below, I shared a handful of times I didn’t see a future for my blog and how I’ve been able to combat those feelings:
1. When I got a negative comment from someone who personally knows me.
Within the first month of blogging, I received a comment on my Instagram from a friend’s cousin who mentioned how I had just become a parent and was offering tips as though I was an expert.
It annoyed me then, and I almost wanted to give up because I didn’t need that type of negativity in my life. I did something better. I cut them from my life and social media sites.
2. When I thought I’d never get accepted to work with companies.
Although I started Motherhood Through My Eyes to help other first-time and new moms, it blossomed into something more. Within a month or so of starting my blog, I landed a campaign with a well-known baby brand for $45. It was the motivation I needed to keep going. To share my thoughts on what it was like to be young and find yourself pregnant.
I told my story, and I continue to share my everyday life and the lessons I encounter. It’s helped others in my position, and for that I’m thankful. There’s more to motherhood than just changing diapers, and there’s no need to compete if our stories are unique.
3. When I didn’t understand how to market my blog.
I shared my blog several times throughout social media, and I heard about building your tribe many times over the years. A friend introduced me to her tribe and it was the best thing ever, and I’m forever grateful to our friendship because it’s opened so many doors for me.
4. When I got backlash from my mom.
A year after starting my blog, I hit one of my milestones: I worked with a car brand that holds a special place in my heart. When I mentioned it to my mom, she asked how much they were paying me. She said that was too little for someone who went to college and earned their degree in the field.
Yes, she was semi-right, but there are more factors to working with brands than a degree. I was a smaller blogger at the time and I didn’t have the right tools at the time. Since then, I’ve raised my rates and won’t take free collaborations with brands.
5. When I was only being pitched free products for reviews.
As a blogger, your email is your lifeline. Most companies/PR representatives will pitch you directly to your email. It can get stressful when you’re only being sent free products to review. It’s nice to see something that I could actually use, like a foldable bathtub I received a few months back, but otherwise, I don’t entertain the idea anymore.
Also, another great way to make use of these free-product pitches is to put together an ultimate giveaway/multiple giveaways for your readers. This helps companies understand how you work and how well your audience responds to their product(s).
6. When I didn’t really have the time to blog.
Once I started getting pitches from companies, I began to write on a daily basis. Monday through Friday, and sometimes weekends. It made me feel down when I didn’t have time to work on a piece. This was when I was taking in free products to review. It really hurt me in the end because I didn’t consider the loss it would show on my taxes. Fun, right?
After that, I’ve become more selective of how I invest my time. It’s been one o my goals from this day forward, to work smarter, not harder. Time is everything when you’re raising a family, and I don’t want my business to ever interfere with life as it did back then.
7. When I didn’t have a good strategy.
No matter how many times I researched things, and how others have been able to find success, there was one thing I didn’t think to do. That was to stick to something that will work for me, my lifestyle, not someone else’s.
There’s no cookie-cutter path for you to follow. It’s more like a toddler learning their shapes and trying to bake cookies at the same time. There will be imperfections, and that’s okay. You’re still learning.
They say seven is a lucky number, and thankfully, I now know that quitting isn’t something that will benefit me in the end. In fact, each time I thought about giving up, there was a reason why I needed to try harder. That’s exactly what I did. I hope you do the same in whatever it is you’re pouring your heart on.
Remember, you define your own success.