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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

10 Things I've Learned About Blogging

Blogging has been a big part of my life in the past year + and I've learned alot from the time I've spent here on this space and in our community.  It's been such a rewarding and fun journey. I'm so very thankful for it. And though I'm really no expert and in many ways I'm still a rookie, I've lately had a few conversations with friends about blogging and received some e-mails asking for blogging tips so I've decided to share 10 things that I've learned about blogging - through trial and error, teaching myself, and learning from others. May you be inspired!
1 // Be true to yourself. Sounds cliche, I know. But it's OH SO TRUE. Be yourself. Don't copy anyone else. Don't try to fit into some "blogger mold." Write about what you wanna write about; write what God has put on your heart  - even when no one else is talking about it and even if it's controversial (like when I wrote about "50 Shades of Grey" and when I talk about sex, pornography, & virginity.) Be upfront about what you believe. Don't be shy. Be fearless and brave. And you will go far, I promise. Also, I have learned to be accepting and grace-filled. Not everyone will agree with you. You will encounter other bloggers and readers who are on a totally different page. Blogging has helped me learn to embrace differences, and to love and be friends with those who disagree with me. Love wins, grace is necessary. And we are not here to judge everyone all the time, we're here to love. I pray that my blog never comes off "judgy", legalistic, or harsh - I want my words and the things I share to be seasoned with passion, grace, and kindness. 

2 // Don't focus on "getting followers", just be a friend. There's a big, beautiful community in this blog world and it's one of the absolute best things about blogging. I have truly made some very close friends through blogging. So, don't just try to "get followers" - meet friends and be a friend. Read other blogs, really read them - and leave thoughtful comments. Show them you care, that you really read their post. Even if you only have time for a few words. It can be a huge turn-off when people comment and clearly just want to play the follower game - when they say something generic like, "Here's my link! Wanna follow me if I follow you?" I've followed lots of bloggers this past year and I try to always share something I genuinely loved about their blog, to use blogging as a way to encourage others. But I usually do tell them if I followed them and sometimes I include my link so they can find me if they like, and so they know who I am. I personally never mind if someone tells me they followed me! When they do, I always try to follow back. It can be a fun way to help each other build readership, and to be true friends and readers! The main thing to remember is to be real and genuine. And to treat others how you would want to be treated. Just 'cause there's a computer screen and miles between us, we should still treat people right.  
3 // You CAN teach yourself how to be a blogger. Just do a little research.
When I made an account on Blogger, I dove headfirst into blogging with absolutely no knowledge or skill in graphic design, HTML, or photo editing. Through trial, error, lots of mistakes, some tears and frustration - I taught myself how and you can too! If I didn't know how to do something, I literally Googled it until I found an answer. For instance, when I didn't know how to make a blog button I simply Googled, "How do I make a blog button?" and sifted through shady "How To" websites and random blogs until I found and answer, and then walked through each step until I got it right. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. Trial and error, but usually I figured it out. 
To help a sister out, I want to share a few links to tutorials I've found helpful 
4 // Content is what keeps readers coming back. I really believe this. A cute header is great, pretty buttons are awesome, and a well-designed sidebar is helpful. But it's not what hooks readers. Content is the main reason people will continue coming back, add you to their blog roll, subscribe, and follow. I go back to a blog because something about it moves me, inspires me, encourages me, makes me laugh, or just helps me somehow (whether that be that it helps me learn how to make a fabulous DIY project or it helps me work on a serious heart issue or helps grow my faith in the Lord.) Don't underestimate your content, and fight for it. Your blog is your baby - be careful with the integrity of it, don't sell out, and stay true to your heart! 


 5 // You will have writer's (or blogger's) block at some point. Here are some tried & true cures. According to your's truly, in no particular order ;) 
  • Drink some strong, sweet coffee. 
  • Turn on James Taylor music.
  • Eat some chocolate (actually, do that when really anything goes wrong!)
  • Light a candle. 
  • Spend some time with God, read your Bible, listen to worship music.
  • Get out and take a walk, breathe fresh air, or just experience real life.
  • And if all else fails, go to Target.
And if it doesn't go away, walk away. Don't post that day. It's okay. It's better to not post one day than to force it. Readers smell forced posts a mile away. (At least I think so.)

 6 // Use big, full pictures. My friend Heather taught me this last year in this post on blogging. I love thinking of my blog as art and like to lay it out almost like a magazine - big, full, pretty, inspiring pictures. I personally have a hard time reading blogs that have teeny-tiny pictures. I think big pictures help readers get to know you and help you make your point in writing. I don't have the best camera because I can't afford one right now, but that doesn't stop me! I use my iPhone alot of the time, and make it work. Don't feel like you can't post photoshoots or pictures because you don't have all the things you "need" - all you truly need is a little creativity and inspiration. You never know what might come of it! 
 7 // Haters will probably hate. Yep, sometimes people come outta the woodwork who don't like: a.) What you say, b.) What you look like, c.) What you believe, and d.) Who you are. It's just a fact. Sometimes, people will hate on you because they're just plain mean. And sometimes, they will simply misunderstand you and not "get" who you are and what you're saying. And let's not lie, that hurts. When you put yourself out there on your blog, you must have a sense of fearlessness. You have to be brave, even if you don't feel like it. When the fear of being criticized is surpassed by the passion to speak out about what you love and believe, then you will be fine. 

When haters do hate, listen to this: click here.

And remember what my man Paul Newman said, 
 And how can we not listen to him? Classy guy. Yes, I do love that quote. But I also wanted an excuse to add a picture of a classy man in a tux. (sorry, not sorry ;)

Anyway, let's just be sweet to each other, okay? Mmkay.

8 // There's no "right time" or "right way" to do sponsorships and advertising. I really think it's up to you and there's no hard and fast rule as to when you should start advertising. Or if you should do it at all. Making money on your blog does not mean you've "arrived" and it is not the definition of blogging success. I currently use Passion Fruit Ads, which makes it all super easy for everyone involved. I also love Adproval, a similar service. Whatever you choose, pray about it and do what feels right for your blog. 

9 // Be honest and real but set boundaries. The very essence of blogging is sharing your personal life, thoughts, heart, passions, beliefs, dreams, style, story, faith, struggles, creativity, and/or thoughts - blogging is a public affair, without a doubt. Be careful what you share. Respect those around you. There are parts of my life and story that I have and will not share here in this space, because, well - they involve other people and some of the stories are not mine to share. And that's okay. Be discerning. Never compromise a relationship by sharing too much about someone else. If you do talk about someone on your blog, ask them to read over the post first and OK it with them. It is a constant balance of being real and honest, while setting boundaries and keeping certain things sacred. I'm not perfect in this, but I try to pray through all the content I post and share. Once you publish something on the Internet, it's out there for the world to see. So be careful, and have firm boundaries on what you will and will not share before committing to blogging.

10 // The key to failing is.... trying to please everyone. You cannot please everyone. Be true to yourself. Have integrity. Be kind. Be gracious. You will make mistakes and have certain regrets, even in blogging. Pick yourself up and keep on going. And remember - stay true to what you are, believe, and to God and you'll be okay! 

So friends, what are your blogging tips? What have you learned?
Please share in the comments below - I would love to learn from you!

All my love.

XO
Erin

35 comments:

  1. I LOVE your tips for writer's block! I do all of those things too, and they never fail to inspire me! I think the Target one is my favorite! :)

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  2. I love this! Thanks for sharing!:)

    Shelby xoxo

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  3. As a person trying to grow their blog, I find these tips amazing and so helpful!

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  4. Oh my gosh I love this post! So true in SO many ways! I really love reading your blog because you are true to yourself and your beliefs. :)

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  5. You had me at James Taylor. My ultimate favorite. Ever. Love love love these tips. Thank you for sharing.

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  6. Hi Erin! I'm new here, found you from Living in Yellow's tweet about this post. This was refreshing and I'm excited to get to know you more! New follower!:)

    Lauren
    TheAlbrechtsblog.blogspot.com

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  7. Your blog is so refreshing and such good advice! I was so glad that your blog was one of the first that I found when I started blogging again..it set the standard high! I am also grateful for the friendship that has come out of it! :)

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  8. this is wonderful. every time i stop by your posts are filled with wonderful advice. :)

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  9. Such great tips! There are times when I feel forced to write just to keep up with other bloggers. But, I'm not going to do that anymore. It's better to write from the heart. Thank you for the advice :)

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  10. Love it friend!! I kinda touched on the same points in my post tonight. To share and write is to b brave. The world could use brave souls :) Love you. Mean it :)

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  11. these are wonderful tips! blogging (at least to me) is a lot of work. maybe it's because i'm not that good at writing. but it sure does feel good to write what you want out on a post and hit publish. and i completely agree about the big pictures.. i love to see pictures when i'm on a blog :)

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  12. LOVE these tips Erin!! Thanks girl :)

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  13. I have been thinking if starting one and I think you gust gave me my inspiration!!! Thanks sweet girl!

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  14. Ps - sorry queen of typos ;) ill work on that !

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  15. I love this! Especially your tips on writer's block haha.

    Also, I've been meaning to say that I love that you replaced the default comment text and wrote a Bible verse. It's such an awesome idea and I've never mentioned it before.

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  16. i loved this, erin. i have been guilty to want to try to make everybody like my posts and happy with what i write. but, you are so right, it's just not possible. love you.

    xo
    purposelyathome.blogspot.com

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  17. Thanks for all the tips!!! Those are all really great :)
    I will definitely be remembering those when I write.
    I was interested to know your thoughts on sharing more personal things about your life on blogging, and how to get stuff across in a good way over the internet. You do it really well, and I sometimes have a problem doing so.. So I completely drop that idea. I believe that being real and open about stuff is such a good thing, can be most encouraging to your readers, yet it can be hard trying to get your heart across in the right way, you know what I mean?
    Your one tip on that was really good. Thanks for all the help :)
    Love ya girl.

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  18. this is SO wonderful and full of so many truths! My favorites were that you can teach yourself to be a blogger. I do love giving advice on the mechanics of blogging but honestly it is easy to do on your own! That's how I started mine :-) and it isn't all about followers and numbers... it makes me sad when I get comments asking me to follow them, I want people to come to my blog to read and connect to my content. And boundaries are SO important...I am lucky that my husband fully supports what I share but there are things that I do like to keep private (and need to remmeber this when baby comes!). thanks for the wisdom girl!

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  19. Loved this post! A friend posted a link on fb and that is how I found myself here... yes, here - when I SHOULD be writing... hmm... looks like chocolate and Target are in order today!

    Can't wait to read more! (You know - AFTER I finish off this post I am 'working' on!)
    ~K~

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  20. I loved all these tips, Erin!! Thanks so much for posting! One of my favorite things about your blog is that whenever I come to visit, there's such a homey feeling to every post. I feel like you would make an awesome older sister!!! ;) I love your passion for Jesus! I hope we can become friends as we continue to blog!

    Love,
    Manda
    http://meandjesus-amanda.blogspot.com

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  21. Glad to have found your blog today! New follower from simplyclarke.com :) Can't wait to read more!!

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  22. Thank you for this post! I want to have a blog so badly but am so tech challenged I feel it would be impossible. Your post encourages me. Thank you!

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  23. I love blogging advice posts. My favorite from this is the LARGE pictures advice. I often click away from blogs with tiny pictures, not even because I want to, but because I truly find them hard to read.

    Some Snapshots Blog
    Jess

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  24. Love this post girl! And I'm so with you on "Full pictures". I love it when people put their pictures in full! I guess because I notice more detail! ;)

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  25. These are all such great tips! The first few weeks I had my blog I stessed over so much until God reminded me: write what matters. And that has served me well thus far - all the rest doesn't really matter so much.

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  26. Thank you so much for the tips! As someone who has just started seriously blogging, I will totally save this post.

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  27. Hello my beautiful friend :D I really enjoyed reading your tips. My favorites were 2 and 9. Being true to who we are, and having boundaries are critical to blogging and life in general. Thank you so much for all the great tips. Have a fantastic weekend. Love ya friend xo

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  28. Hey Erin! (I got a new blog url and switch some things around so just wanted to make sure you knew. By the way this post is amazing. I love all these things and have experienced the same thoughts. Thank you!

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  29. So I was reading this while trying to fall asleep the other night, and I was commenting about how much I LOVED this post and thanking you for writing it, and I fell asleep before I posted it- haha!

    So THANKS! I just loved this post. It was so helpful to me and encouraging! {Well, really your blog in general :)

    Thanks, sweet girl!

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  30. This is great advice! I keep up with you through blog and instagram and I just want you to know how much I enjoy your writing and how you fearlessly put yourself out there. I have three daughters and two of them are embarking on the teen years, your blog has inspired me to consciously speak to my girls about becoming the women of God they are called to be in an ever changing and not-so-godly world. Keep up the good work, it's great to see how God continues to work in your life. Have a great day!

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  31. What great tips! Love them! & love you too! xo.

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  32. Ruthie Hart sent me to this post when I asked her for tips on growing my blog. Great tips on how to stay true to who you are! Thanks :)

    Tonya
    http://www.thesweatmanfamily.blogspot.com/

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  33. Wow, great and useful tips for a new blogger like me! Thanks for sharing!

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sweet friends, share your heart.

"kind words are like honey...sweet..and healing.." -proverbs 16:24.

xo.

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