So I have 4 posts so far. Yes 4, going on 5. What could I have possibly learned by now? Well let me tell you this blogging thing is not as easy as I thought it would be. In fact for me, there’s a huge learning curve that has come with this. I’ll admit it, I was one of those people sitting at their computer while scrolling through pinterest reading blog after blog and thinking to myself, “omg I can totally do this. In fact I can do a better post than that one. How hard can it be? These bloggers just type something, click publish, and look, now they have all these followers. So easy.” Ha! Except that it’s not so easy. And you don’t just sit here and whip something up, click publish, and poof now you’re famous and getting sponsored. Well I mean, I guess you could sit here and type something up and publish it right away, but I doubt you’ll be famous or maybe even worth following. Blogging to me is one of those things that seems so easy in theory but once you get into it you realize how much behind the scenes stuff there actually is. I’ve always been an avid reader. I love books, magazines, online articles, blog posts etc. There are books everywhere in my house (much to my husband’s chagrin). Writing has always come somewhat naturally to me, although I do feel like I have to work at it and I’m not perfect or brilliant by any means. I’m not creative like some amazing novel authors. I like to write about more factual things because I like to know how things work or why things are the way they are. It’s probably because while I was in nursing school using evidence based research was drilled into our heads. I hated my nursing research class and think it’s funny that 9 years later I am always looking up research articles and making sure the sources are credible and the studies are valid. Even so, I still like to keep things light and have a sense of humor. I want my blog to help average people like myself learn something new and make it seem easy and do-able. Take out the intimidation factor if you will. I hate reading books or articles that are so complex you find yourself scratching your head and giving up saying “well this is way too difficult, I don’t know what I was thinking.” So without further ado here’s a list of 5 things I’ve already learned about blogging in just a few posts. Lets see if anyone can relate to these!
1: Writing is hard
Like real. damn. hard. I’m always thinking of things to write about, especially when I am out hiking and don’t have anywhere to write them down. I’ll be hiking along and I think of a great opening for a blog post, or even a whole paragraph. When I get home, by the time I shower and sit down at my computer I can’t remember any details of my great post idea except maybe the subject. Even when I do remember and have a good idea of how I want to get started, I start typing and inevitably the dog starts barking out the window at nothing and the baby starts fussing. Sigh. I swear they have a radar for it. Then when it’s finally nap time I realize I have so many other things to do I have to stop working on the blog to go get them done. For example- my husband is coming home soon and dinner isn’t going to cook itself. Or my husband is coming home soon and the house is a complete disaster and I’m still in my pajamas. Or I have to work this afternoon so I should probably take a shower and try to look presentable so I don’t scare my patients away. The way I think of writing things in my head never comes out as smoothly when I type it out on the blog. It takes a lot of writing, rewriting, rereading, and editing to get every post to a place where I am happy with it. Sometimes I think I have a great idea to write about but when I sit down I just don’t even know how to type the words out.
2: Writing is time consuming
I’m amazed at how these stay at home moms (especially those of more than one child) manage to have a successful full time blog and yet still balance the needs of their families while getting other stuff done (see above). I am a quick typer but it takes me a while to say what I want to say, just how I want to say it. Not to mention the time it takes editing the posts and figuring out how to make the darn links work or insert pictures etc. It’s not as easy as typing a whole post in an hour while the pictures insert perfectly and all the grammar is correct and nothing needs to be edited. Usually if the baby is napping and I’m on roll she will wake up right in the middle when I don’t want to stop. But of course I have to stop and leave things to finish later. I don’t like doing that because later I’m inevitably doing something else and “later” now becomes next week. It also takes me a while to take decent (as decent as possible since I only have my phone) pictures and then edit them, add text, and make a featured picture for a post. To have a successful blog you have to be consistent with posting, which means that no matter what is going on in your crazy house you’ve got to find a way to get the words out and publish the post! I am not one for staying up late, though I know a lot of bloggers stay up into the wee hours of the night after their kids go to bed. I need my sleep. If I am tired I will have no ideas and I’ll be cranky on top of it. It’s a lose lose situation. So the time I have for blogging is during the day when I’m awake and I have lots of things going on. Thankfully blogging is a fun outlet for me to be creative so I enjoy doing it in the little spare time that I do have.
3: Editing is key
So you wouldn’t know it but I edit every post like 25 times. It’s ridiculous. I type things, I go back and change things. I preview the post and find more things I don’t like or need to correct. I don’t want to have any spelling or grammatical errors so I reread everything multiple times and do my best to make sure it’s correct. I also read sentences and decide I don’t like the way they sound so I will sit here and think of a different way to word things. I feel like the more I edit the better my post comes out. Or sometimes the more I edit the more I feel like I will end up on the behavioral health unit at work. Sometimes I might go a little too crazy. Maybe you are just really gifted and are able to write a whole post, be satisfied with it, and publish immediately. If you are I am super jealous because that’s not even close for me. See #1 -writing is hard. Sometimes I get my post published and then I have my husband read it and he points out things I could add or clarify so back again to editing I go. Now I try to have him read it before I hit publish!
4: It’s not exactly free
Don’t get me wrong. Blogging can totally be free. But I wanted to have my own host site so you can easily find my blog. I started on wordpress.com but the more I read about it I decided to go for a self hosted site with a wordpress.org platform. For that, I had to pay. Then I decided to go with a premium theme. I had to pay for that, and pay to have it installed. Sheesh. I’m not great with computers so trying to figure out how to add things to my post is frustrating at times as well. I paid for a theme and I still can’t figure out some of it. If you want your blog to look professional and have a better chance of getting noticed, let’s face it, you’re going to have to spend money somewhere at some point. There’s a lot of competition out there and although I’m learning a lot everyday and making small improvements, I notice a lot of places that need work, especially when I read other blogs. There are plug ins that you can pay for but I’m not even sure what those are yet. When I figure it out I’ll let you know :). If you get really serious about it eventually you are going to need a nice (read $$$) computer and also a real camera ($$$) so you can take better quality photos (and won’t have to use your outdated samsung galaxy s5). I have a chromebook so I’m pretty limited right now but it has a keyboard, connects to the internet, and very basically gets the job done.
5: It’s way more technical than you think
There are so many ways you can set up your page it’s crazy. There’s also different styles of themes- fixed, fluid, responsive. Then of course you can do your own html and edit CSS. I don’t really even know what that means. I basically know how to type and add pictures into my blog but I haven’t quite figured out widgets or anything extra like those plug in things. As you can see there is a blank picture box on the right sidebar where a picture of me is supposed to be with a little intro like “Hi welcome to my blog!” Lol. I haven’t figured that one out yet either. Sometimes it is downright frustrating and I want to just give up. I have to google everything and it adds more time – see #2 writing is time consuming. It took me hours upon hours upon days to figure out how to design my logo (for FREE!) and then get it to the right size (sort of) and add it to the top of my page. If you are computer savvy this blogging thing is probably going to be a lot easier and smoother for you. I’m sure people with big successful blogs have been able to hire help – or maybe when you finally get that big you’ve had so much experience learning all these nuances you don’t need help anymore. Like I said in #4 when you look at other popular blogs you start realizing that they must have spent some money to get their blog to look and act the way it does. Not to mention almost all of those bloggers have a custom designed logo which, unless you know how to do graphic design, I’m sure they paid for. To get your blog noticed you have to be good at “SEO” (I found out that means search engine optimization) so when people search for stuff your blog posts come up on google etc. If you’re wondering, no I haven’t figured that out yet either.
Another thing about blogging is the fact that you have to put yourself out there. Which means I have to make an instagram for my blog and actually get on and post so people can find me. I have to pin my blog posts so people will see my articles. I don’t like promoting myself because I always fall into the comparison trap and I feel like my blog isn’t good enough so why should I promote people to look at it. But if you’re going to blog you might as well get it out there and be confident in it. I talked about this with my husband when I was feeling frustrated one day. This is how our conversation went
me: “I want to blog about so many things but everyone already blogged about it.”
him: “So what.”
me: “Well what else am I going to say. Everyone else’s post says everything I want to say so why should I even bother. Who am I? No one is going to read my blog.”
him: “Yeah but everyone has a different perspective on things. You are a good writer. Someone might like the way you think about things and think that you write about it better than someone else. So who cares what people think anyway. Just blog if you want to.”
Don’t you wish you could be a man for a day? He keeps me grounded lol.
What have you learned just starting out blogging? Was it harder than you expected? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments!