An Honest Chat About Blogging

Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Honest Chat about Blogging

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Every now and then I get emails from people interested in starting their own blog. These emails tend to increase after I publish status messages or blog posts about free products or events I've been invited to. Which is understandable, no one would take a job without knowing the perks, right? 

Blogging often gets glamorized and people aren't always aware of the hard work and dedication it takes to grow a blog, to appear at the top of search engines, to find (and keep!) followers on social media.

These glamorized ideas about blogging even effect other bloggers! A lot of those emails come from people who already have blogs but who are seeming to struggle to make their blogs a success. So today, I'm going to share a post from the heart. Let's have an honest chat about blogging.



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An Honest Chat about Blogging

On the surface, blogging looks like a never-ending parade of free products and tickets to events. It's a job you can do in your pajamas all day long with your feet up, sipping tea and catching up on your recorded TV shows. But the hard work bloggers do often goes unnoticed. Here are some hard and honest truths about what it's like to be a professional blogger: 

Blogging is hard work

It seems like it would be easy. Open browser, write post, hit publish. Anyone can have a blog, but having a blog doesn't mean you're a blogger.
 Blogging requires hard work, there are no meaningful shortcuts. You have to show up every day and you have to perform. Whether you have two readers or two thousand. And you have to perform with your whole heart and as passionately for two as you would for two thousand. 
All blogging is different, but food blogging, sharing and developing recipes requires a unique approach. There's preparation and forward planning. There's execution and follow through and then there's relaying what you did, troubleshooting and engaging with your readers. That whole process is one of the things I enjoy most about Anyonita Nibbles. I love it when I see an idea I've had on paper become a favorite recipe in the homes of people I've never met. But getting there is hard work.

You have to stick with it

Every week it seems I come across blogs that were just abandoned. The blogger just walks away or stops blogging. I've received emails from bloggers who are contemplating abandoning their blogs because it's not as successful as they'd hoped. Some of them are one or two years in, others have been at it longer, but they're all ready to throw in the towel.

"I just don't have the energy to do it anymore. I keep coming back and sharing recipes and no one reads." A fellow blog friend said that to me in an email just last week. I understand the frustration. People blog to be read. And getting readers is especially important for monetized blogs that require a certain number of visitors in order to receive payment for their advertisers. It can be disheartening, but please stick with it.
No blog will ever be successful if it's not updated. Stick with it. Write and invite people to read. 
Take part in blogger opportunities and put yourself out there. Find and apply tips on increasing traffic. And remember,

You will not get 5,000 followers overnight

Blogs grow best when they grow organically. As you improve your blogging skills, your photography and your social media and promotion skills, your blog will grow. You could get 5,000 followers over night if you went on one of those dodgy sites where you could purchase fake likes on Facebook or followers on Pinterest and Twitter, but that's never a good thing to do. 
There's no benefit in having a load of followers when they don't interact with you and when they don't even read your content.  Followers are earned and they will come, but you have to keep doing the hard work and you have to keep inviting them in.

Followers & freebies aren't guaranteed; they're earned

So many bloggers who reach out to me for help seem to think that just because they have a blog they're entitled to followers and freebies. I wish that was the case, but it's not. People aren't going to read your blog just because you have one. There are literally millions of blogs on the Internet. People are only going to read what they are interested in and what they like. 

And when it comes to freebies, businesses and brands aren't going to shower you with freebies just because you have a blog or just because you ask. Often times,
they want to know what the benefit of letting you endorse their products is. What can you offer them?
The most common thing that businesses and brands want is exposure. Exposure comes from having readers.

Blogging isn't always glamorous

I tend to post photos on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter when I get freebies from brands. It's a nice way for me to connect with the PR or the company that sent me the freebie before I use it. It's also an easy way to show potential PRs and businesses that their peers (and often their competition!) trust me and that they are willing to work with me.

These are the posts that aspiring bloggers always comment on. They usually say things like, "Oh wow! I can't believe you got all that for free! I need to start a blog!" But
posts about failed recipes or trying the same dish three or four times before I publish it or struggling to get people to interact with the content I produce doesn't get anywhere near as much publicity.
When you have been trying to crack a new recipe and just can't get it right, blogging isn't glamorous.
When you spend hours on a post and no one reads or comments it, blogging isn't glamorous.
When your content gets stolen and shared illegally, blogging isn't glamorous.
When your hard work is ignored, blogging isn't glamorous.
When you can't get a good photo of a plate of food or when you accidentally delete all the photos before uploading them, blogging isn't glamorous.

One day, your blog will just lift off & traffic will be steady

But when you stick with it and you put in the hard work and you share and invite and you engage with your readers and when you are consistent and when you let your blog grow organically, you will have a day (a few of them, actually) where
your blog will just lift off and you will get a steady stream of increased traffic. 
Those are the days bloggers live for. Those are the days everyone wants and they are really special and you will experience that as a blogger. It's just hard work. But you knew that, didn't you?

There's one more than one way to write a blog

And it takes being brave. And it takes standing up for what you believe in and writing the type of blog you want to read because there really isn't a wrong way to write a blog. It's easy to get wrapped up into blogging a certain way or sharing a certain way for maximum exposure or SEO benefits, but at the end of the day, whether you post every day, or every six months, there's no wrong way to write a blog.
Blogs should be an extension of their blogger and just like there's no wrong way to be alive, there's no wrong way to blog.

Blogging is not a competition

One thing that I find really disconcerting is when bloggers view blogging as a competition. It's not a competition at all. People attract the readers they attract for a million different reasons. If I viewed blogging as a way of one-upping my fellow bloggers instead of working with them, I'd be pretty miserable and my blog would most likely suffer. Nobody wants to hang around anyone who's trying to keep up with Jones'.

As a blogger, you have to be confident in what you have to bring to the table. You have to be confident that you will find your niche and the readers who understand you and like what you are doing. You can't be concerned with anyone else and trying to emulate or one-up them. And while I'm on the subject, if you do get involved in helping to promote other bloggers (which I highly encourage) please do it fairly. When I promote other bloggers, which isn't nearly as much as I'd like to, I promote content that I'd be happy to put my name on. In promoting this way, I ensure that I treat their content and hardwork with the same respect and tenacity that I treat mine.

Here's a practical example that cropped up in the blogging community just last week: when I pin my own content or promote my own posts on social media, I do it when I know my readers are active. I do it with vigor and care and I do it in a way so that it would reach the most people possible. Otherwise, what's the point? When I promote other bloggers, I take all those aspects and I lend them to their work. What would the point be in telling someone "Let me help you share you work" and then deliberately and underhandedly sharing it in a half-assed way? It just doesn't make any sense.
Blogging isn't a competition.

Blogging is worth it

It really is. For all the hardwork, the botched posts, the slow days with little interaction, blogging is worth it.
It's one of the most rewarding things I've ever done and it's one of the most fun, too. 
All it takes is seeing your content get shared exponentially on social media, or seeing a barrage of comments on a post for you to realize that blogging is worth it. The friends you make and the other bloggers you get to know are irreplaceable. The freebies and the perks are great too! Here's a perk you can help me with: have you voted for me yet?? Please, please, please! 


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7 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing this information. Thank you for being so candid. I voted for you!

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  2. Great post for the beginning blogger... heck, even for one that's been around a while. Thanks!!!

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  3. G'day! WHAT a fantastic blog post today Anyonita! I will be sure to be spreading the word! GREAT advice!
    Cheers! Joanne
    http://whatsonthelist.net

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  4. So true! Blogging is much harder work than people realize. I voted for you for your Paris trip. Good luck! If you come, maybe we can meet up for a drink :)

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  5. Anyonita, I always learn something from your posts about blogging. Being a low-tech person, I marvel that I've been blogging for more than four years now! Still learning.

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  6. What a lovely, thoughtfully written post. Thanks!

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  7. Thank you for all the great words of wisdom on blogging. I like that you tell the good with the bad parts of blogging. :) Your tips are very helpful!

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