It perhaps comes as no surprise that I’m a huge fan of blogging and not just the writing side of things but reading blogs too. I think I’d go as far as saying that I spend more time reading blogs than I do writing them. I find myself lost for hours on end on BlogLovin, only to come up for air (and a snack/meal) and dive right back in again.
I’ve done posts on why you should start a blog in the past and if anyone ever asks me if they should, my answer is definitely always a huge yes! I didn’t start blogging to keep in touch with family or friends across the world (and I’m not saying that you shouldn’t start a blog for those reason, I just use Facebook and Whatsapp for that already so didn’t need to start a blog for that reason) – I started blogging because I had experiences I wanted to share and more importantly, I really wanted to find out about (and learn from) other people’s experiences – which I constantly do. I may be terrible at responding to comments promptly but I read them as soon as they arrive on my phone (it really means A LOT to me).
Now, while there is a lot of information on why you should start a blog, how you should start a blog and perhaps even on how to make your blog popular, there’s a lot of stuff that I think is left out sometimes and I thought it best to write a quick post to share with you aspects of starting a blog that I never really see people mention.
1.) There is no reason to pay £10 for a domain name! You might need to pay £1 or £2 at a stretch perhaps but most times you can get it for free with the hosting package you’ve got. There are lots of options as well when it comes to getting hosting so find one that’s got decent reviews and the right amount of freebies before you sign up (some give you Google/Facebook advertising credits too).
2.) Aiming to go from 0 – hero (or in blog terms 1,000,000,000,000,000s of readers) overnight is unrealistic and will only ruin the whole blogging experience for you. Regardless of what people say, blog growth comes in noticeably increasing chunks. Set small goals, reach then and then set some more. It’ s more fulfilling and rewarding way to enjoy what you’re doing and yet stay ambitious doing it. (Even high school geniuses who skip several grades don’t get their High School Diploma or GCSEs within a day!)
3.) If you don’t like what you’re blogging about, you will grow to despise your blog. When you start out blogging and you’re looking to connect with more readers, the main thing that will keep you going and set your apart (especially when barely anyone is reading the blog) is the passion you have for what you’re blogging about.
4.) You will probably outgrow the first webhost you have. Whether it’s from traffic growth or from an increase in the amount of content you have stored on the server (especially if you’re a self-hosted via Wordpress blog), you will outgrow your host and look to upgrade or move (which can be a rather painful process – especially if you don’t plan in advance so do bear this in mind).
5. You will have some dud posts! Those posts you spent hours writing, researching and editing and yet no one appears to enjoy it quite as much as you do. And that’s okay! It’s sometimes hard to pre-empt what these posts will be but you really shouldn’t try to anyway. If you’re passionate about what you’re writing about, it shouldn’t (and won’t matter). You should experiment and try new stuff, it’s the only way you’ll learn more about what works for both you and the people reading your blog.
5.) You will need to spend more time promoting your blog and getting your name out there than you will spend writing the blog posts (and editing the photos). Hey, how else will people know that there’s steak for dinner if they don’t hear it sizzle! 🙂
6.) You will be addicted to your blog. If you’re not, you ain’t doing it right. Now while this sounds like a good thing, refreshing your stats for hours on end or constantly checking your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram can actually be counter-productive, especially if you don’t blog full-time – heck, even if you do blog full-time, it can still be counter productive to spend a ridiculous amount of time obsessing over it so you need to remember to step away from the laptop and go experience the stuff that got you to start blogging the blog in the first place.
7.) You will get some of your best blogging ideas at the most ridiculous of times. Like when you’re in the shower… or half way through a frenzied prep for dinner or perhaps stuck on a crowed train. It’s important however to make a note of it as soon as you possibly can otherwise you’re pretty much guaranteed to forget it if you don’t write it down and try to remember it a few hours (or days) later (and if you do remember it days later, it will most likely be a watered-down version of the amazing post you had in mind originally).
8.) Different social media platforms work differently – accept that and recognise their differences. Don’t assume that what works on Facebook will work as well on instagram – conversely, don’t beat yourself up about stuff that doesn’t work on certain platforms as they can be quite a hit on other ones. The important thing is to realise what works best for each platform (which is sometimes quite an individual thing) and to make sure you focus on what works best for you.
9.) There will be temptation to try to be like somebody. To take photos like they do, to write like they do, to dress like they do… don’t do that to yourself. Even though it might be hard to tell that you’re on a path to success sometimes, it’s important to hold true to what makes you, you. It’s fine to draw inspiration from certain elements of people’s blogs or lives but don’t try to be a replica of said person or said blog as it just never works and will definitely not make you happy.
10.) A lot of popular blogs put their best foot forward and show you the more glamorous side of things which can sometimes set unrealistic expectations. In truth, everyone works hard at their blogs (even when it seems like they have it easy) so when you’re toiling away and working hard, rest assured that you’re not alone and that the things you’re doing are exactly what you need to do to make your blog successful. I personally try my best to be realistic about blogging on Hand Luggage Only which is why for instance in a lot of blog posts, I talk about how to save money or do things for free and yet on the same trip, splurge on other things instead (for instance on our road trip in the US, we decided to splurge on a suite for several nights at the Bellagio but stopped at gas stations for hot dogs and beef jerky for lunch on the drive to Vegas – though to be fair, all four of us love the beef jerky you get in the US). Let’s face it, unless you’re Mr or Miss MoneyBanks, the save and splurge lifestyle is more realistic and in-line with what most of us are accustomed to.
11.) Being a full-time blogger is not for everyone and you shouldn’t feel the pressure to be a full-time blogger for you to consider your blog a successful blog. Don’t get me wrong, making money from blogging is great but it is more of a potential* by-product than it is a criteria for success (and I stress that word, potential as it’s not guaranteed). People want different things from blogging. Set your goals according to what you want and when you get there, you can tick it off and know that you’re successful because you’re achieving something you set out to do, long before you knew for certain that you could do it.