After blogging for one whole year, I am pleased to say that I am still here and still loving every minute of it. This is my hundredth post! At the beginning of my blogging journey, I had very little idea about what I was doing. Through joining in with conversations with other bloggers in the wonderful, supportive blogging community on a range of social media sites, I have learnt a massive amount in this time.
Setting up as a Blogger
The first thing I did when I thought about setting up a blog was to read some other blogs. My friend from school set up her blog a few years ago, Mummy of Two, and I regularly read her posts, via her Facebook Page, for a while before being inspired by her to set up my own little piece of the internet.
Even if it takes some time, choosing your niche is very important. Being a Stay at Home Mum meant that my niche would certainly be parenting. My blog was originally an online scrapbook of my experiences with my two children as well as the many activities we do in our daily lives, with an educational slant (as I am a qualified Primary School teacher). Due to my daughter and I having food intolerances, I decided, after some time, that I would also include recipes on my blog too.
I then had to decide whether to have a free site hosted by WordPress or Blogger. I opted for WordPress and the sign up process was very straightforward. I was able to start writing straight away. At this point, I had no idea how to publicise my posts but soon realised the importance of the different social media outlets to do this. I set up my Facebook Page, which seemed to open up all sorts of possibilities and opportunities for my blog.
This free site did not allow me monetise my blog in anyway, due to WordPress rules. So I opted to change to becoming self-hosted and buying my own domain name. I did quite a lot of research on which hosting site to go with and asked a few other bloggers what they would recommend. I use iPage.com. The set up process was quite straightforward and they had a fantastic online support chat feature to help with any issues. Plus, now I could explore and use a wide range of widgets and plugins for my site to make it more personal to me. Eventually, I was also able to change some of the coding to change the colours of my website.
Social Media and the Blogging Community
Once Dillydrops had a Facebook Page, I started to look into using other forms of social media. Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, Bloglovin’, StumbleUpon and Networked Blogs were the main ones I linked to that helped me to publicise my posts. I have not started a vlog yet (Video Blog) on YouTube but I would like to build myself up to this in the future.
I discovered many Facebook Groups and realised that the blogging community is an extremely supportive one. Communicating with each other, commenting on each other’s blog posts, sharing ideas as well as interacting with each other on different social media is a massive part of setting up and maintaining a successful blog.
I found that all of these are very useful tools for enhancing my blog. Focusing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram whilst dipping in and out of the others seems to work well for me. It depends on the blogger as to which social media are most useful to them. I would suggest only focussing on about three as otherwise, it is possible to stretch yourself too far and have blog burnout.
Adding Social sharing buttons at the bottom of each post is useful to publicise each post too. Your readers can click on one (or more) to share your post to their account, e.g. on Twitter or Facebook so that more people have an opportunity to read it.
Read, Read, Read!
Reading is a much larger part of blogging than I first realised. I thought blogging was mainly about writing to start with. My advice for anyone starting out in the blogging world is to read, read, read! I read and comment on many, many blogs each week. I find them through the different forms of social media and click through to blog posts that interest me.
On Twitter, I search for hastags such as:
- #pbloggers (parent bloggers),
- #mbloggers (mum bloggers),
- #fdbloggers (food bloggers)
- #lbloggers (lifestyle bloggers)
- #bbloggers (beauty bloggers)
Taking part in Twitter Parties, such as:
- #mblogchat hosted by @mummy_bloggers on Fridays 8pm until 9pm;
- #Blogtacular hosted by @blogtacular on Wednesdays 9pm until 10pm;
- #pbloggers hosted by @pbloggersnet on Sundays 9pm until 10pm
Stats and Charts
Once my blog was a bit more established, I was asked to review a canvas and host a competition for someone to win one of their own. At this point, my blog statistics became more important. I was being asked for my Page Views per month, as well as my Unique Visitors per month. Initially, I had no clue! Luckily, my WordPress Dashboard has a quick link to my stats page. My Page Views (how many times my blog had been looked at) and my Unique Visitors (this counts how many people visit your site, using their IP address). So if one person visited your site ten times in that month, then your Page views would be ten and your Unique Visitors stat would be one).
I was also asked for my TOTS100 chart position. The TOTS100 chart is made up of parenting bloggers (about 8,000 of them). By using the code (by putting into a text widget) on the sidebar of your blog, the badge keeps track of the number of visitors requesting to view your webpage (blog). Using this, as well as other metrics, such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Klout and Links to your site. Each month, these statistics are compared to other blogs in the chart and your blog is ranked accordingly. I am very pleased that my blog started off nearly 2000th in the chart but has recently reached number 438 this August. The TOTS100 website has many fantastic blogging tips, by the way.
To find out more about blogging and what I have learned in my first year, you can read the second part of this post here.
What did you learn in your first year of blogging? Is there anything you would like to know?