I’ve been blogging at Holly Muffin for almost 9 years now (woah!) and in that time, I’ve learned so many valuable lessons about being an online creator. I’ve made a ton of mistakes along the way, but have also been able to grow my blog and change the way I think of this space. I hope the things I’ve learned can benefit others in some way, so here are the 5 best and worst things I’ve done as a blogger.
The 5 Worst Things I’ve Done as a Blogger
1. Not owning my own domain – It took me a long time to finally decide to invest the money and purchase my own domain name, but it was so worth it. It’s so much easier to brand and promote yourself this way.
2. Writing about topics I had no knowledge of – When I started blogging, I wrote about the most random things. I remember making “nail art” posts even though I had no talent in that department. Surprise! Those posts got no hits. Readers want to come back to someone who knows what they’re talking about, not someone posting just to post. It just isn’t genuine!
3.Not marketing myself – It was only about a year ago that I started truly marketing myself. When I began blogging, I would post and hope the traffic would happen naturally. The truth of the matter is that the blogging world is saturated with people just like me, so I had to make myself stand out. Now every time I post, I go through a series of tasks that include posting on all social media platforms, promoting in specific blogger groups, and interacting with my readers. I’ve seen my traffic quadruple!
4. Being inconsistent – Although I’ve been blogging a long time, there have been months where I didn’t post at all. It’s hard to keep going when you don’t see your stats improving or you aren’t making money. Along with marketing myself, posting at least once a week has really changed the flow of traffic to my blog. I try and rotate my niches and have specifically timed posts (my “Currently” post goes up around the 15th of each month). Get organized, set up a posting schedule, and watch how things change.
5. Writing about what I thought was popular – Like I said, writing about things like nail art got me nowhere as an online creator. Although it was crazy popular on Pinterest at the time, my content was boring and didn’t seem genuine. Therefor, people didn’t read my posts. A few years ago, I nailed down my niches and stopped worrying about popularity. There are people interested in everything, so stop trying to fit in! Write what you know.
The 5 Best Things I’ve Done as a Blogger
1. Keeping the same blog name – I have never once switched the name of my blog. For me, keeping the same name has allowed me to be recognized. The companies I worked with when I first started blogging can still recognize me as the person behind Holly Muffin all these years later. Beyond this, my super old pins (yes I still get traffic from them) have my current blog name. No confusion!
2. Switching from Blogger to Self Hosted WordPress – This is something I chose to do earlier this year after a very long time of wanting to. It changed everything! My website is so much more streamlined and I have full creative control. The best part is that WordPress has endless plugins that make this whole blogging thing a breeze. I hope to elaborate on this in a future post, but if you’re thinking of switching – do it!
3. Deciding on multiple niches – Writing about whatever you think of that day might work for some people, but having specific niches on rotation has made me feel so much more creative and focused. I know a lot of bloggers have one niche, but this has never been my thing. I currently write about my life as a mom, DIY and home, frugal living, and product reviews. Having more than one niche gives me some flexibility in posting and allows my blog to reflect what I’m doing in the real world. I don’t feel forced to pump out similar content over and over simply because it fits my blog.
4. Utilizing social media – 90% of my traffic comes from social media, mostly Pinterest and Facebook. If you really want to market yourself properly, do some research. Find the appropriate Facebook groups and Pinterest group boards, learn when to post, what to post, and watch how it affects your traffic. I’m not an expert, but the more I learn, the more I benefit.
5. Monetizing my website and participating in affiliate marketing – Blogging isn’t always about the money, but realistically, it’s a huge motivation to keep going. I monetized with Google Adsense and over time, I’ve made enough to call this a part-time job. Affiliate marketing is tough, but my best advice is research, research, research. I’m not great at affiliate marketing, but I’m learning. I still get excited every time I see a sale through Amazon Affiliates. I think the key is to only place affiliate links where they fit. You don’t want to seem like more of a sales person than a writer.
In summary, I still have a lot to learn and probably many mistakes to make. Blogging is a constant learning process and my next focus is trying to master affiliate marketing. What are the best and worst things you’ve done as a blogger or online creator? Comment below!