This is thirty

The vegan treadmill

Five Things Friday: Growing your blog (what I’d wish I’d known)

24 Comments

I was reviewing some of my very first blog posts today and while I winced a little at my sometimes gauche overtones and blogger missteps, I’m still pretty proud of my blog.  More accurately, I’m pretty proud of what my blog represents.

Me.

Hurricane Half Marathon - pre-run pic

It’s not a literary masterpiece, and while I dream of Julie & Julia-like blockbuster success, that isn’t the goal of my blog.  

My old favorite coffee shop

My old favorite coffee shop

It is, in essence, a very public, very personal diary.  Writing is cathartic, and being part of a community of writers with similar goals and struggles is extremely empowering.  All by itself, empowerment is pretty important, especially for women, but writing every day is a great way to reflect on our own life and our own struggles. Blogging allows us to gain the valuable insight of others too.

I still consider myself to be new to the blogworld, but I’ve learned a couple of things about blogging and the blogging community that I wish I’d known originally.

1. Good, readable posts often include lots of photographs.  People like to read, but they like to read more with visuals. Plus, pictures can help me to overcome writer’s block – they can outline a post and create the framework behind the writing. But they are not required.  Too many, or ones that are irrelevant or hard to look at can detract from post (especially if it slows down the page as it loads).

Ecopolitan, Raw Crepes

2. Read other blogs.  Comment on other blogs.  It’ll help you to learn the basics of the blogging world and also create some visits to your blog.  Blogging is reciprocal.  If you’d like to hear from others about what you are writing, you’ve got to do the same for them!

3. Be authentic.  No one has to know your real name, picture, address, etc – so they won’t hunt you down and vilify you.  However, if you aren’t being real, it’s usually pretty apparent in your writing. 

4. Pick a name and a theme that represents you – and then change it.  And then change it again.  I’ve changed my theme numerous times, and I’m still not sure if This is Thirty is the right name for my blog. 

5. Don’t pay someone to design your blog for you, at least at first – wordpress.com allows you to create a free blog and you’ll learn what your blog is about as you create the different components.  Once you’ve established your concept, you might decide to have someone professionally design your blog later, but the “creation” part of your own blog is critical to creating your blogging identity initially.  Your blog becomes personal, and I believe you need that creation process to make it real and relevant to you!

There are TONS of “creating a blog tips” posts out there – and my ideas are in no way unique – but I think the benefits of blogging are pretty universal.  If you aren’t doing it already, DO IT!  And if you are, what tips do you have for new bloggers? If your blog also brings in revenue, how is the best way to do that?

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24 thoughts on “Five Things Friday: Growing your blog (what I’d wish I’d known)

  1. I think you’ve highlighted some really good tips! I’m no expert myself, but sort of as a subset to points #3 and 4, I would add that you shouldn’t be afraid to write about what YOU want to write about. If you do this, you will automatically come off as real to your readers. You will also enjoy blogging so much more! On this point I do have personal experience…my blog has existed for almost 6 years now, but there were about 2 years in there where I barely posted at all, because I just didn’t feel like what I had to say “fit” with my blog’s theme or that anyone cared, etc. My recent productivity on the blog is a direct result of me finally letting go of defining my blog by some arbitrary, narrow theme, and just writing what I want to :)

    • That is an excellent point – I find it really hard to write about things I’m not passionate about and I’m sure that is clear to the readers too!

  2. Love this post! I’ve been blogging for ages but only recently made my blog into something people other than my family would read, so I’m very new to the whole thing as well. I feel that original and honest content is always the best way forward.

    • Yes, I think so too – and if people don’t want to grow their blog or have people they don’t know read it, that’s totally fine too! Once I grew outside of that circle, it was amazing how many wonderful people I met. It’s a new kind of family!

  3. Great advice, thank you x I think the only way to be truly successful is to be your absolutely self 🙏

  4. You highlighted some awesome tips hun. I really like the one about finding a theme and then changing it. When I was thinking about starting a blog, I talked to a friend from college about it who had started one earlier and she said to make sure I knew what I wanted to write about and stick to that so that people know what to expect when I post. I didn’t think I could stick to one thing though, so I ended up waiting to start a blog till months later when I decided I didn’t care anymore. I think it’s really important to be open to change within your blog; if you have one topic and can/want to stick with it, great, but if not, I think that’s great too!

    • Yes, definitely. Plus, I think I would get bored if I only wrote about one thing, all of the time! Awesome that some people can thought – it’s just not me!

  5. You look so cute and happy in the first picture, it’s super adorable.

    it’s very true what you wrote. I like to see pictures in blogs I read. I guess, it explains why my posts are always full of pictures, but I am also a very visual person too :) It doesn’t mean that I won’t read ‘picture-less’ blogs though, in fact, I do follow a few of them, but they have to be really engaging. Otherwise, I get lost/bored and never read till the end. Also networking is crucial; HOWEVER, you can tell when people write a generic comment and it’s quite unpleasant because you know what their goal is. In my opinion, we should leave meaningful comments on the blogs we care to read; otherwise, it’s kind of pointless.

    xoxo
    Olena

  6. I think this is a really great post and you touched on some great things. I am a big fan of blogs where I can see the person’s personality really come through in their writing. And of course I love my blogs just like I like my books…with lots of pictures. :)

  7. Those are great tips! I think choosing a focus is so tough. I’ve reinvented my site a million times, as I’ve sort of honed in on what I want to do with myself. I’m sure it will change a million more times!

  8. Great suggestions. It definitely takes a bit of time to get into the blogging groove and really find “your voice”. Looking back at my early posts it’s very obvious that I was stumbling through the blog world! I also agree that change is okay and good! We’re always evolving and growing and changing. Great post Laura!

  9. First thing I have to say is: I love Sugarhouse Coffee!! Surreal to see that photo. So many good and bad memories tied to SLC.

    I always enjoy reading blogger’s perspectives on blogging because I usually find something of which I hadn’t thought. I think it makes sense not to commit right off the bat to a “professional” site – I mean, geez, two months down the road you may decide to stop blogging! Once I felt really committed to blogging I knew I’d need to make my site at least a little unique. As for revenue, I’m just exploring that myself since I only just went self-hosted, but I’ve signed up for Amazon Associates, Adsense, and I also have several affiliate programs. I’m sure there are lots of other ways, but for now, those are what I’m pursuing.

    • Sugarhouse Coffee is one of the things I miss about Utah… the rather oppressive social and political environment… not so much! =) I didn’t know you’d lived there too! What part of town?

      Great point – I am excited to hear about your blog transition. I’ll be making it when I have a final idea what I want this blog to be and your experiences will be so helpful!

  10. Thanks for this post. Lots of useful information and lots to think about. I agree with what you said about commenting, and building a community – I know it makes my day to see comments on my blog.

  11. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! First off – this is my first visit to your blog and I just want to say that I absolutely love the header photo!

  12. haha, because of work, I hadn’t read this before I responded to your comment, but seems that we were on the same wavelength! These days, we are all so obsessed with instant gratification, and we see so many blogs become huge successes overnight. But you know what? Good for them. They have obviously put A TON of work into what they are doing, and they deserve it. Not to say that we haven’t, but right now (and probably in the long run), blogging is a hobby, not a priority. The relationships are far more important, as is personal physical and mental health. Quality over quantity!
    But the competitor in me would loooovvee a few more follows, lol.

    • So understand that! But I don’t think it happens for anyone overnight unless there is $$ involved and that isn’t lasting once the $$ stops! I think this way is more sustainable and more fun anyway!

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