HAPPY NEW YEAR!! With 2015 winding down, I thought I should take a look back at my first year blogging. I’d like to continue growing my blog in 2016, and part of the growth process is looking back on the progress I’ve made, as well as evaluating what’s working and what’s not. If you’re thinking about starting a blog or are looking for ways to jump start an existing blog in 2016, this post just might be for you.
Here are five notable things I’ve learned after a year of blogging.
1. Followers are important, but they aren’t everything.
When I first started sharing my projects on here, I thought that the best way to grow my blog was to gain followers. But I didn’t know how to gain followers without growing my blog first. Eventually I realized that gaining followers is just one part of growing a blog, so I decided to shift gears and focus on other ways to grow my blog. Most importantly, I submitted guest posts and projects to other blogs and feature sites. Since most people find specific DIY projects online via search engines, I also got smart on SEO.
In just one year, my daily pageviews have grown from just a handful of close friends and family members to 2,500–3,000 views from people across the world. I still have a lot of work planned for 2016, but I’m proud of the progress I made by not giving up when one growth opportunity didn’t pan out right away.
From my most-viewed post this year: Make Beeswax and Coconut Oil Candles.
2. Great content is the best way to grow your blog.
Speaking of growth opportunities, you’re not going to have many if you don’t have great content to promote. And by great content, I don’t necessarily mean awesome, cutting-edge content that no one has thought of before. My husband likes to say that nothing on the Internet is really new anymore, and I often think he is right.
When you have a blog, your primary goal should be to produce great content that helps people in some way. That could mean explaining something in a new way, giving something a new purpose, switching up your presentation, or even just putting a different, creative spin on something. Creating great content will make people want to come back for more.
I’m not the first person to make a DIY cat condo, but the Internet sure did love this one!
3. Professional-looking photography also doesn’t hurt.
Good photography gets your content noticed. And I don’t mean that you need to run out an buy a DSLR camera! I have a Nikon d7100, but I am also a hobby photographer, so I had the camera before I started blogging. It does allow me to take some really great photos in challenging lighting situations, but having a nice camera is only part of the battle.
Good photography is also a combination of lighting, staging, framing, and editing/processing, and if all four of those things are on point, you can shoot great photos with a high-quality pocket camera or cell phone camera. In fact, many of the step-by-step tutorial photos I take are with my cell phone just because it’s easier.
Before and after curtain pics…which picture would you click into first? 🙂
4. Networking is really important (and I need to do more of it).
I’ve found many of my favorite blogs or websites through other blogs or websites. What does that tell you? It tells you that your blog shouldn’t live on its own island. You should get to know other bloggers who are interested in related topics and create a network.
You can guest post for one another and share ideas—perhaps even partner up for a bigger project or series of posts to share the workload while also reaching double the audience. Aside from content creation benefits, working with other bloggers will likely also teach you about new resources and tips for running your own blog.
5. You can’t sweat the small stuff.
I’m an editor at my day job, so I am paid to sweat the small stuff there. I’m also taking classes for a copyediting certificate. So, as you can imagine, I used to worry a lot about minor typos slipping into posts, as well as formatting and images not being 100% perfect.
But balancing a full-time job, classes, and running this blog takes A LOT of work, and that’s all on top of balancing personal relationships and downtime. I am my own content creator, manager, writer, and editor, so things sometimes fall through the cracks. And that’s okay. I just try to do the best I can and not stress out about the small stuff.
One of my favorite posts…too bad I referred to my products as “Miniwax” instead of “Minwax” for months until someone pointed it out. Oops.
I’m looking forward to the projects that 2016 will bring my way!!