Last week I was invited to speak at my local SF NAPO Chapter meeting on the topic of blogging. Number one, I am so not a public speaker. Hello, I write a blog and work one-on-one with organization clients. Sitting behind the computer or organizing stuff in a confined space…that is my comfort zone. But I love my chapter so I lost the arm wrestle contest accepted the invite, sucked it up and ended up having a great time…with engaging conversation.
Which brings me to number two, the topic of blogging is big. Huge, in fact. So much so that I couldn’t possibly cover it all in the time given to me. We decided to break it down and I spoke specifically about attracting a readership / traffic to your blog. But big surprise, I couldn’t even cover all of that in the allotted time.
Then I had an idea (at 2am, of course) to write a series here on the blog about blogging. This is a series I’ll be sharing with my fellow chapter members as well as all of you.
No, I’m not the most well-known blogger out there…there’s thousands upon thousands of us. However, I’ve been doing this nearly 4 years and learned a ton along the way. You can find all sorts of great tips online about starting a blog. Matter of fact, I have a pinterest board dedicated to blogging right here!…
I’m also part of a great Blogging Tips Community board on pinterest. You can find that one here…
* The Not So Nice Side of Blogging
Sidenote: The posts in this series may not come in this specific order.
When I started this blog in September 2011 (Yep, 3.5 years ago. Say whaaaa?!) it was because of the nature of my life. At the time, I was living in Little Rock and knew I wouldn’t be there forever. I knew I’d end up moving out of state…thankfully that ended up being my native home – the SF Bay Area. Since I was done having children, I desperately wanted to start my professional organization business, but the idea of growing one in Arkansas only to move it wasn’t appealing. I also had (still do) 3 children. In Sept 2011 my youngest was 1 and my middle guy (on the autism spectrum) was in school half-day and spent the 2nd half of his day in intense therapies. There was a lot of time spent at home with young kids or in the car driving to therapy sessions / school. There was no chance I could start my business yet.
Instead, a good friend encouraged me to start a blog. So thankful I listened to her advice (Kelley!). I started the blog and never looked back. While the blog sometimes (read = a lot of the time) has been a job itself, it was the best platform to launch my business. It’s been an amazing experience, coupled with personal / professional growth and a big side of stress, surprises, tears, excitement and happiness. When you’re sharing projects and writing, you learn a ton about yourself. Come into your own, if you will. In terms of the blog tech stuff, I’m completely self-taught and did this by searching pinterest, reading tips from fellow bloggers about their struggles, watching youtube tutorials or simply lessons gained along the way.
Did I mention I did that searching in the middle of the night? Hence the bags under my eyes for months on end.
I also had a bigger goal in mind. While I love this blog and have no plans for it to go away, my bigger dream was to finally start my own business, working one-on-one with people. I’m now doing that and couldn’t be happier…or more proud. This blog has been a space to showcase and test out ideas / tips…and has now become an easily accessible portfolio to share with clients. I’ve also had clients contact me via the blog, having found me online. Over time the blog helped to develop a business plan. I always lived my life simply and organized, but could I really help other people live the same? The blog helped me answer that question – yes, I can do that.
So, as you see, a blog can be more than just an online outlet to share. It can potentially be a springboard to your dreams!
During this series I’ll share a lot about my experiences, but the first consistent message I heard (which is still very true!) and a good place for you to begin is to know who you are and what you want your blog to be.
Now that I’ve been blogging for a while, I completely agree this is true. Before you start a blog, think about these points…
Knowing what you want to blog about is a very important first step in starting a blog. Using myself again as an example, there are many organization blogs out there. But what I blog about is simplicity. I blog about small, easy projects. Over time my blog has added in DIY projects that are a bit more involved, but for the most part I’ve stuck with easy, simple, doable projects along with tips & tricks, educational pieces, organization giveaways (which I am very picky about), and client before & after’s.
Overall this blog is about keeping it simple. Some organization blogs take it to new levels…and that doesn’t work for everyone. Just like simplicity may not get people fired up either. I have a unique spin on organization and attract people that are looking for simple. I’m not a blog about complicated, fussy and only DIY-based organization.
Even as a professional organizer, I belong to a professional peer group (NAPO) and each of us is SO unique in our style and approach to the field.
That said, spend some time thinking about what you want to blog about. Take time to research blogs in that same general landscape, too. It’s ok if someone else is blogging about your main topic. Again, how many organization blogs are there? I’m one of hundreds, I’m sure. But I’m the only Samantha of Simply Organized. I know what my blog is, what I write about and what my mission statement is. These are all things you should know and have down in writing so you don’t lose that focus.
Also keep in mind, there are thousands of “lifestyle blogs”. If you don’t have one particular topic to focus on and instead want to chat about many topics, it’s ok to do that. It’s about being consistent with your message. Either you’re a lifestyle blog, a family blog, or you are topic / niche specific. This is important so readers know what to expect or look forward to with each post you birth into the world.
Oh yea, bloggers will tell you some of these posts are like our babies. 😉
I’ll never forget a couple friends asking if I was being realistic. Would I have enough content each week to continue blogging about organization. If you have the passion for your blog topic / niche, you’ll have content. Don’t worry about that! And all those friends who asked me that question, they now see exactly why I have a passion for this. It’s me. It’s my calling and I do it professionally. I have plenty of content. Matter of fact, I have enough content / topics lined up for years to come. It’s a matter of finding the time to blog about it all! Ha! Maybe once my kids finally move out. ???
Plus, I’m always learning new things to share through my professional network and my work hands-on with clients, which brings in a fun aspect to this blog.
In regards to content – ask yourself if you’re blogging about something you’re truly passionate about? Or is this a temporary hobby? If you can answer the first question with a “yes”, than the content will flow.
Each of us is a unique person with unique backgrounds, living situations and voices. We have unique writing styles and differing sense of humors. Let you shine through in your blog design and posts. If you’ve been following a blogger within your passion / niche for some time, and you admire them – that’s great. But don’t be them. Be you! We’ll talk a little more about this when I chat about attracting readers…but readers know when you’re being fake and when you’re being you. That’s the beauty of writing. You can pick up on little things here and there. I’m sure many of my readers notice when I’m stressed or frazzled or relaxed or more funny / witty than usual. Sometimes my mood boils down simply to PMS, people. But other times I’m really frazzled in the game of life and it comes through in my writing. Hey, it’s me. And it’s real. And I keep it real in here. Your readers will connect more when you’re real. So don’t hide you — be you!
Which brings me to the topic of being real. Do that too! There are blogs that make it appear as if each and every room is perfection. Or they have the perfect family dynamic. Or they have 3 perfectly prepared meals on the table each day. Or they have perfectly behaved children that flush the toilet and put the lid down each time they go to the bathroom (ahem). Or they had not a single hiccup while tackling a huge project.
They aren’t fooling anyone.
Let people know when you’ve failed. This is how we connect in real life. We connect over the great successes and the disastrous failures. And everything in between! So be you and let people fall in love with you and your personality.
Just like I mentioned being consistent with your blog message / mission, it’s a good idea to be consistent with a posting schedule. Not only will this help you when you’re organized and know what day you have posts planned, but your readers will be waiting on the edge of their seats for your pretty little post.
I’ve had several life-changes over my blogging years and each time my post frequency goes down, I notice the difference. I see it in the numbers and I see it in how long people are hanging /poking around the blog. I try my best to post 3 times a week. Lately it hasn’t been that way because my clients have picked up in the New Year. But I’ve tried my best to get something up each week – whether it’s a giveaway or a client before & after.
Remember to go easy on yourself in the beginning. You may only be able to write 1 post per week, and that’s ok! You’ll get there. It helps to have your list of topics to choose from too. If you have a good list, you can scroll through it each week and pick 2-3 you’re comfortable tackling. Put them on your schedule and then get to work with the content, images, etc.
Finally, a last little note – something important to keep in mind is that blogs evolve over time. Ask any blogger and they will agree. Everyone starts somewhere and learn as we go. Your design will change. Maybe your posting frequency will change. You’ll find some topics resonate with readers and get huge pageviews, while others are a total flop. I say this so that you don’t feel discouraged.
New bloggers struggle because you’re not only getting used to blogging and design stuff and posting several times a week, but we pour our hearts into these little things. And you want someone to read and comment – to know all that hard work you put in was worth it. The beginning of anything is tough, but the more you write and churn out that great content…the more people will notice and then subscribe and then continually come back to read what you’re blogging about.
If you’re a new or seasoned blogger, I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!