I’ve had blogs before, but none that have felt as right as this one.
I’ve had blogs about art, but I could never overcome my artist’s block, probably because I stunted my creativity by thinking I always had to document on the camera every last mark I made on the canvas, coupled with crippling ‘but is it good enough to parade on the blog??’ anxiety (cue death of spontaneous creativity and joy, and feelings of I can’t be bothered with the self-imposed long-windedness of painting a simple picture).
I’ve also had a blog on business and selling greetings cards via a direct selling franchise, but I never did keep up with it because the business model wasn’t my own, and so I wasn’t really innovating anything, or making any mistakes, or learning lessons that I could write about. Everything was fairly straightforward: buy cards, sell cards. Dull, in terms of blogging about it.
This wedding blog, however, is something I never tire of, never stop thinking of things to say or seeing things to show you, and I feel inspired to write almost constantly. And with this goes the mistake-making and the lesson-learning as I fathom the business side to it all, by which I mean communicating with the professionals I feature, learning about advertising, updates to copyright law, and all the other nitty gritty that means I can sustain this hobby in a professional manner, and hopefully grow it into a full-time job of amazingness. I just love it. I don’t want it to ever end.
I wanted to share a little list of just some of the things I’ve learnt so far. I hope they help you with your blogging journey:
Find a topic you live and breathe to blog about.
As you can see from above, it’s taken me a while to find my perfect subject. I love art, but I’m not an artist, as in, I don’t need to create every second of my day, and I sold cards, but I can’t say I lived and breathed that venture, it was just nice, but I do love weddings, and I love businessy stuff. And therefore I don’t hit a creative wall ever. You can like something, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can talk about it day in day out. Your perfect subject will find you, and so what if you have a few dead-end blogs on your way to this goal – it’s all about the journey, and it’s all useful in the end.
Delete or do
You don’t have to catch everything in your net of blogging topics. If you’re meant to write about it, it’ll stay in your mind or come round again, naturally of its own insistent accord. I made the mistake of keeping everything in my inbox (ideas, short notes emailed to myself, links to look at, emails from things I’ve subscribed to that interest me and I think I might write about at some point…), and it all became a huge higgledy-piggledy mess of nearly 200 emails. Depressing. Especially when they were drowning out all the wee gems in there that I actually wanted and needed to get back to. I had to say to myself, “either do that or delete its sorry ass off your inbox, and do it in five minutes… Go!” Strict. And it works. You soon prioritise what actually makes your heart sing and what’s just dross to be gotten rid of. It creates a slicker turnaround in getting back to people, making new posts, and it looks brill when you open up a tidy inbox. You can see the woods for the trees, and productivity increases. Keeping a humongous inbox increases what they call ‘blogger fatigue’ because it just seems a huge mountain of mediocre stuff rather than the great stuff that’s still in there but buried. Get to it.
Don’t beg for likes on Facebook
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al, are fantastic. But they’re not the lifeblood of your actual blog. You can spend too much time on one and not the other to no extra effect in terms of blog readership. In the case of Facebook, I’ve liked in return for likes before with my cards business, and guess what? We all unlike each other in the end! It’s so much better to just exist on your Facebook page, doing what you do, cruising along without totally linking it to how it will affect your blog. You’ll enjoy it more, be way more authentic, and your followers will be those who genuinely want to follow you, and so will be way more likely to stay for the long haul. And your blog will grow organically without needing all these social media extras. Concentrate on your blog content, not your social media presence, and the rest will follow in its own organic way.
Similar to above, don’t follow on Twitter just because someone follows you
Be true in your choices. In other words, don’t follow anyone you wouldn’t normally follow just because they’ve followed you. I never expect to get followed in return. It’s just not my motivation for hitting that button. I follow someone because I want to see what they have to say. I’m never sore if someone doesn’t return the favour, and I don’t think normal people would react that way if you do the same. Keep your feed full of people whose tweets you actually want to read, otherwise you just won’t give a monkeys, and then it becomes ineffective as a tool for connecting with the people you want to feature or speak to. It’s just a large crowd of too many people saying too much stuff, and you’ll switch off.
Own your mistakes
I’ve been so disorganised and busy lately that I’ve been entirely remiss about keeping on top of emails to people I’ve made contact with about featuring. Such a big mistake at any time, but especially when you’re brand new to the area. I’ve apologised sincerely, and openly owned the mistake. If you find yourself here, explain what has happened, but do not excuse. Reasons for being a bit crap are not the same as excusing yourself: the being excused is at the discretion of the person you’ve potentially peed off, so be humble.
Do not self-host too soon
I gave myself a nice depressing weekend a month or so back by leaping off at the deep-end at the speed of light and buying into a self-hosted WordPress site. I didn’t then know how to code the thing or get it looking good once I was face-to-face with it. Hours I spent over it, joined by a dull sadness that I was out of my depth. I then couldn’t write because it was killing all my creativity just working out what the heck I was doing on the technical side. I was just all het up and impatient to put my plans for this website into action, i.e. advertising and sponsored posts that I’ve had requests for, excitingly. I still want to head in this direction, but I’m waiting until next year to look into professional website designers who also handle the boggling hosting process, by which time things will be clearer as to whether that’s a thing worth doing. So, cool your jets and see how the land lies. It is thrilling to know that your website is where you want to be heading in terms of career, but just wait and see if the world also agrees, otherwise it could be a huge waste of money for no reason. Let your website grow in relation to your enthusiasm. The right timing is not straight away! Good business decisions are not rash ones born out of emotion rather than facts.
Don’t copy what isn’t you. Write about things that truly and honestly float your boat, not what you think is expected of you. Sure-fire way to alienate a readership. The readers are there to hear what you have to say, not what you think they think they want. It always sounds hammy and forced and is a massive turn-off. Example: if other wedding bloggers are saying that chair covers are shit, but you love the things, just write about them. There are people out there who also love them, and need a professional writer like you to guide them to vendors. That is, after all, what people visit wedding sites for: advice and inspiration! If half your readers don’t like chair covers, they simply won’t read that post. There won’t be wailing and gnashing of teeth, and followers leaving in their hundreds. No one will die. Just write about what you want to write about. There is room for your opinion.