Every Thursday for the next couple of months, I’m featuring a 1st year blogger to write about his/her experience in the first year of blogging.
The following post was written by Melanie Chisnall from http://www.scribblesandsmiles.com. Melanie is a fellow writer from Hubpages who is known for her animal advocacy, her vibrant and positive outlook on life, and her latest endeavor as a life and career coach. She has a new blog called Steer Career Success that you should check out too.
A couple of years ago, I jumped onto the bandwagon and started a small blog because it was considered the next best thing to try. I didn’t bother with it before – I thought blogging was for bored people or that it was something that people did along the sidelines for the fun of it – I just didn’t get what all the fuss was about. Soon after starting, I lost interest in my blog, and it fizzled out.
In June last year I decided to give blogging a try again. I’d started writing on HubPages that January after a New Year’s resolution to pursue something creative, and I quickly fell in love with words all over again.
I stumbled around for a month or two trying to find my feet, writing whatever came to mind – or rather, what I thought people wanted to read. I didn’t get any comments on my first six posts, and I was feeling frustrated. I just didn’t understand what I was doing wrong.
Around that time I heard about a blogging support group called Bloppy Bloggers that had just been put together by Julie – a writer I’d met on HubPages. I joined and soon found myself surrounded by other like-minded people. These people quickly became friends. We were all in the same boat together, trying to keep our heads above water, and swimming in a sea among millions of other bloggers. It was a good feeling knowing that I wasn’t alone.
This group has been my saving grace on a lot of days and it still is. Writing for a living can be extremely lonely. You start to feel isolated – it’s tough to get back on the horse and try again, especially when you get knocked down with rejections – or feel like you’re being ignored.
In my case, I’d just left my full time job (after months of research and pleading with my husband) at an IT company in pursuit of a writing career. I had (and still do) a lot to prove, not only to myself but to others as well. A lot of people criticized my decision, and I lost friends because of it.
So for me, Bloppy Bloggers is one of the best groups of genuine people I’ve ever come across. I haven’t met any of them in real life, but it doesn’t matter. We lift each other up, cheer each other on, offer each other a shoulder to cry on, and a place to vent when we need to.
If there’s one piece of advice I can give to anyone wanting to start a blog, it’s this: find a support group (or join ours!). Blogging today is a whole different ball game. You need connections and a way of making it stand out among the millions of others online. And you need to keep your sanity at the same time.
For me, blogging is a way of expressing my thoughts. It’s a part of who I am and I can’t imagine giving it up – like I did a few years ago. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges.
If you’re thinking about starting a blog, find your voice and don’t give up. Keep learning. Love it, and let it grow. Let down your walls, and write what your heart feels, but also write about things that you’d want to read about when you’re not feeling pulled by emotions.
I’m learning new things every day. It’s amusing to think that some people consider blogging to be “digital graffiti”, but it’s not. It’s a whole different ball game to what it was only four short years ago, and I can’t wait to see where it will be in four years time.
I’ve been in this game for six months now, and I’ve learnt a lot – I’m still learning. These are the things that have stood out the most for me during this time:
Things I’ve learned These Past Six Months in the Blogging World
The art of waffling. I’m still learning this one. I tend to waffle on in my posts, but I’ve recently learnt how to use more bullet points and subheadings, and am making an effort at keeping it shorter. People tend to get bored quickly if it’s one long piece of information.
Keywords are key. In order to get more traffic to my blog, I need to write about what I believe in or what’s in my heart, but also tie it together with something that other people might be interested in reading.
Being “Techie” is fun. I’m creative and had no desire to learn technical terms in the past, but recently I’ve started enjoying working with code and HTML. I’m learning basics to improve the appearance of my blog little by little with the help of this site, and tips from my techie husband.
Words and art gel well. Besides writing, my other creative love is design, and taking photographs as a hobby. I love combining the two and have started putting more focus into this, and adding it to some of my posts. You can use free programs such as Paint.NET and GIMP to do this.
Breaking out of comfort zones. I chose writing as a career because I’m quite an introvert and shy. But, if you want to get anywhere in the world, you need to learn to stand up and market yourself. This means connecting with people on a daily basis. I also recently started vlogging – something I never thought I’d do, but you know what? It really wasn’t that bad. Blogging and vlogging has forced me to come out of my shell.
Losing friends. I’ve lost a few, and you might too. Sometimes, you might write things that are taken the wrong way. Sometimes others won’t be able to support what you do because they’re unhappy in their lives. I’ve learnt to let it go and keep moving on. Those who matter will stick around.
Give and take. I’ve learnt that if I expect others to read and comment on my blogs, I need to do the same with theirs – to take an interest and to make the effort. It’s a two-way street.
Be yourself. When I started my blog the second time around I had a vision for it. Only it didn’t quite turn out that way because I was forcing something that didn’t always come naturally. I learnt that people quickly pick up when you’re not being true to yourself or to a topic. Keep it real.
Change is good. I’ve fallen in love with plugins and widgets over the last two weeks. I can’t get enough of seeing what’s out there and how I can jazz up my blog. Experiment, and update every couple of weeks to keep things interesting. Just don’t overdo it so that it takes away from the most important part – your writing.
Images speak volumes. And they add so much more to a blog post when it’s relevant. Just make sure that you use your own images, or ones that are royalty free. Unless you want to chance being sued, avoid using Google images as much as possible.