These days it seems you can’t throw a eco-friendly, gender neutral, Montessori block without hitting a mommy blogger. This isn’t meant as an insult, as I too began blogging shortly after my daughter was born, presumably for the same reason as many others: It was all so new. I felt like I was an explorer, and each incredible thing I went through had to be shared with the Motherland (no pun intended) because it was so bizarre and exotic. “It’s poop! UP THE BACK?! Have you ever SEEN such a thing?”
But alas, many multitudes of incredibly talented others had already beaten me to the parenting punch, sharing their experiences in well-thought-out, social media savvy memes and blog posts, where minutes after posting them, they would accrue a mass of “LOLs” and “THIS IS MY LIFE!” comments. It seemed so glamorous, fun, accessible, and at the risk of sounding like a jerk, dare I say, easy? My baby’s daily antics provided a constant source of material, and when it came time to record it, thoughts flowed effortlessly from my brain to my blog. But that’s where things started to get a little messy. Navigating the waters of the blogosphere, creating a social media presence, and trying to make a name for myself proved to be much more difficult than I would have ever guessed. One year later I’ve learned a lot. Here are 9 things I wished I’d known when I started.
#1 Be Prepared For The Unexpected – I started with zero experience and very minimal expectations, never predicting or preparing for random great exposure by big sites and more established bloggers. Case in point? My first ever blog post was Freshly Pressed (an award on WordPress that showcases your blog to a huge audience). Talk about starting off with a bang! But I wasn’t at all prepared for this influx of traffic, and missed out on a great opportunity to have furthered the reach on social media. If you plan on submitting to bigger sites, and want to capitalize on the traffic they will (potentially) send you, get your social media accounts established early on.
#2 Write About Things That Are Important To You – Some of my most popular posts (one about horses, and another about celebrating my first year of blogging) were posts I was sure would do poorly, yet I wanted to write them because they meant something to me. For some reason, people responded to them. You never know what will resonate, and sometimes it seems the more heartfelt and honest a post is, the more people like it.
#3 Prepare Yourself For Rejection – If your goal is to get on other sites, mentally prepare yourself to be rejected. A lot. Writing “It’s Just Not A Great Fit” on your bathroom mirror so you see it every day might help take the sting out of it, but ultimately it’s just part of the game. Don’t let it get you down.
#4 Get Tough – A thick skin comes in handy for dealing with internet trolls and rejection letters alike.
#5 Keep Submitting – Keep trying, and then, just for good measure, see #3 again. Sometimes you get lucky and get one of the coveted, “We love your piece!” emails. These are pretty cool. True story, the first time I was accepted to Scary Mommy was the same day I found out I was pregnant with number two. I was so excited, I told my husband about Scary Mommy first, which seems weird in hindsight.
#6 There’s No Free Lunch – Creating a following is hard work. Getting pieces up on big sites helps. Being super active and networking on social media helps. A stroke of good luck helps. But so far, nothing I’ve encountered has been a surefire way to increase your following quickly and easily. Embarrassing fact: I spent $20 on a Facebook ad that resulted in exactly zero new followers, which did wonders for my self-esteem.
#7 It’s All Been Done Before – Got an idea? Google it first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought of something, only to discover it’s already been done by someone else. It’s up to you to decide how to proceed, but if you at least know in advance you can figure out a way to communicate your idea originally, and avoid submitting it somewhere where it has already been run.
#8 Trim The Fat – I’m wordy. This was brought to my attention by BLUNTmoms editor-in-chief, Magnolia Ripkin, whose advice to keep things tight has made me much more cognizant of cutting out parts that aren’t essential.
#9 Have Fun – This seems cliche, but if it isn’t enjoyable, don’t do it. I remind myself of this all the time, when I’m stressing about not having a post ready, or bumming hard about having received what feels like my 8 millionth rejection letter. But ultimately, much to the probable chagrin of the many editors suffering through my musings, I’m still having fun.
Connecting with people is hands down my favorite part of blogging, so feel free to shoot me an email to discuss this post, or leave a comment.