When I first published Part 1 of this post back in October, my hope was that you would come away with some new insight and perspective, no matter where you were in your blogging journey.
The reality is that the lessons learned in blogging are a perpetually revolving door; What I thought I had figured out a month ago, I've learned new ways to tackle since, and so it really doesn't matter if you've been blogging for a week, a year, or ten - there are always new lessons to be learned.
As I embark on year 3 of my blog, I myself, still find the takeaway from others' lessons infinitely valuable. That being said, I've rounded up a new group of seasoned bloggers to share their insights with you about what they wish they knew before starting a blog.
You'll find a bit of everything in this post, but what I hope you take away this time around is that while it's important to acknowledge that we all have our own paths, it's essential to let others guide us along.
A Few More Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting a Blog...
SEE MY TOP 3 THINGS I WISH I KNEW IN THIS POST!
I wish I knew the importance of cultivating a long-lasting relationship with a brand
When I first began working with brands, I was a fish out of water; making it up as I went, and learning with each new experience under my belt. One commonality in many of my early partnerships is that once the partnership was done, it was done; and I couldn't have been more wrong to assume that.
As all bloggers should, I would always send a follow-up email after completing a collab, thanking them for the opportunity and ending with "hope to reconnect/work together down the road!" - and that was it. Literally - it ended there.
Don't assume that your partnership is over once you've delivered your content. if your experience was positive, and it's something you want to continue to pursue, don't wait. Start the conversation immediately, follow up, and work to build an authentic relationship. Doing so helped me land the biggest brand deal of my career this past month.
I wish I knew that I would be proud of my success
The first year of my blog was a 24/7 hustle (I mean, I feel like it still is in many ways). Not only was it a physical hustle to grow my business, but it was an emotional one too. I was constantly criticizing myself and comparing myself to others. I would see the successes of other bloggers - landing major brand deals, reaching their 50k or 100k Instagram milestones, receiving PR packages from companies I'd only dreamt of.
Fast forward to now, and I've tackled not one, but all of those things - and I'm damn proud of it.
In an industry where it is so easy to get down on yourself, you have to celebrate your successes (big OR small) and know that if you keep pushing, where you are now is only a fraction of where you'll be down the road.
(Thank you to all of the bloggers who offered their advice! I have condensed responses in an
effort to provide the most relevant and diversified information.)
The biggest piece of advice I wish I would have heard before starting my blog was to have a clear vision behind what I wanted to accomplish with my blog. The market is saturated with bloggers, find what makes you YOU and what makes you different. Keep that as your filter for every sponsorship you take, every blog post you write, every IG story you film, and every caption you come up with. When you have this figured out, everything else falls into place and connects perfectly! YOU are your brand.
- Nicolle Howden, Topknots and Pearls
When I first started my blog, I wish I knew how to truly utilize Pinterest. I only recently started treating Pinterest as a search platform, rather than as a social media platform, anticipating trends and top search keywords. I've increased my Pinterest profile impressions from 30k a month to 500k, which has led to a nice bump in referral traffic to my site. Imagine if I started doing that six years ago when I first started my blog!
- Elise Armitage, What The Fab
I wish I would've known to stay in my own lane! It's easy to get so caught up in the comparison game, the number game, and so many other games, but keeping your eyes in your own lane is so important. Stay true to who you are and be true to your audience, because there is only one YOU!
- Torey Beerman, Torey's Treasures
I started blogging in 2011, before Instagram was even around. I wish I had paid more attention to emerging social media platforms. I was so focused on Facebook and my blog that I neglected my Instagram account. Running a blog can be very time consuming with all the social media platforms but its important to pay attention to trends or new platforms. Make sure you are building a following across platforms that really helps you engage more with your community. The blogging world and your community are constantly evolving and you have to evolve with them to make sure you are giving them the right value to what to come back and visit your blog!
- Whitney Powell, Whit Wanders
I wish that I had known to invest in my blog from the beginning. You have to spend money to make money! Set aside a budget for learning resources, building your website, a photographer or presets and a camera, giveaways, advertising, and mentoring. Having knowledge upfront is power!
- Lauryn Hock, Lauryncakes
I wish I was more organized. In the beginning, I didn't take social media very seriously and posted whenever I felt like it. Now I know I need to post every day at certain times and it has helped me grow so much. When I first started, sometimes I would post once a week, then the next post 3-4x. People like consistency and you have to have a plan!
- Nicole Leffew, Where Your Heart is Now
KNOW YOUR WORTH. As a blogger, you're providing a service worthy of remuneration. Your time, your photography, your words are all worth something.Don't be afraid to say no to an "opportunity" that isn't really an opportunity at all.
- Tricia Nibarger, COVET by Tricia
Nothing happens overnight! Remember that the people with hundreds of thousands of followers have been at it for quite a while, and you don't need to keep up with them.
- Kasey Goedeker, Running in Heels
I wish I knew to spend more time on fine tuning my brand, the name and my look. While I started over 7 years ago as just something fun to do, starting now in 2018 is very different. I wish I spent more than 30 minutes on thinking of a blog name that I'd be stuck with for years. Rebranding can be very difficult and sometimes not even worth it. So focus on what you'll love for years to come that reflects you and the big picture.
I also wish I knew how easy it was to invest in a great blog design. With so many pre-made templates now, there's no excuse to not have a beautiful, reader-friendly blog. I personally use Em-Press themes and absolutely love them. It was an under $100 investment that makes everything look much more professional.
- Jessica Camerata, My Style Vita
I wish I took days off from the beginning. Being on social media nonstop caused a major burn out that I had to overcome. I could have avoided it by forcing myself to take a day off once a week from everything.
- Venessa Kaufman, We The Classy
I wish I would have known how much time it takes. It's not uncommon to work 10-16 hour days (everyday) so it's important to manage your time well. I should also note that building a business takes a LONG time - this is not for the faint of heart. So many times, I see others wanting to start a blog for "free things," press trips, event invitations, fame and money. You definitely have to have a passion for whatever you're blogging about because the reality is that most bloggers won't make a full time income until years after their blog launches. Blogging is a labor of love that has many rewards, but you have to do it for the right reasons.
- Elizabeth Hugen, Lizzie in Lace
I wish I knew that strong branding is the most important area to focus on if you want to have a successful blogging business besides being authentic and yourself. I recommend creating and having a branding book where you put in all your brand’s details. If you get lost in the middle of the process, you can always come back to take a look at what your brand really represents.
- Molly Larsen, All About Good Vibes
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Blogging, in a lot of ways, can be a process of finding yourself. On that note, don’t be afraid to shake things up if you’re feeling like you’re in a rut. But most importantly, always remember to look forward instead of sideways. Focus your energy on bettering yourself instead of comparing yourself to others.
- Lily Abolghasemi, Hello Darling Blog
I wish I knew how valuable - literally - a passive income from ad banners and affiliate links can be. I blog full time now and 99% of my income comes from brand deals, which takes so much work to pitch, negotiate, create and then publish. I have friends who make 99% of their income from affiliate links and ads on their blog. I'm talking six-figure salaries, income that comes without any additional work, freeing up their time to focus on other parts of their business. I wish I knew on day one that spreading passive income opportunities around my blog could be so lucrative. I'm now spending a lot of bandwidth going back to old posts and putting ads and affiliate links in, trying to catch up on all the money I missed out on for 4 years!
- Kara Harms, Whimsy Soul
I wish I had known in the beginning what blogging tasks were most important to focus in on vs. time-wasting tasks that don't yield any real results. It's been a lot of trial and error for me and literally learning everything from the ground up, but knowing early on about SEO (search engine optimization), Pinterest marketing techniques, and ways to get my posts out there would have been so helpful and saved a lot of time and headaches. If I could give advice to anyone starting out with blogging it would be to invest in yourself and your blog and to really think of it from a business standpoint. If there are things you don't know how to do, whether it's photography, SEO, or pitching to brands, then take the time and do the research and don't be afraid to take courses as needed.
- Cara Owens, Kindly Unspoken
I wish I had known that it's OK to speak your mind. I think in the early years of blogging I always wanted to be perceived as happy and funny and everything always being wonderful. But the older I get, the more I want to be an authentic, three-dimensional person. Not just another blonde girl sharing another #ootd. I want to speak up about politics, the blogging industry, my dog, and just weird random things that I love or hate. I want to be a real person to my readers. I wish I had known from the beginning that being my true self and using my platform I've spent 8 years building is a privilege. I built it, now what am I going to use it for? I should use it to discuss all the topics that I'm wanting to discuss. That, in turn, is what has brought me the most loyal, long-lasting readers.
- Cathy Peshek, Poor Little It Girl