19 years ago today I was a 6th grader wandering through our public library with my mom. In the featured books section there was a book titled something along the lines of “How To Build Your First Web Page”. On a whim I decided to checkout the book and see what this web page craze was all about. There were a few gymnastics pages out there that I had obsessed over and I wanted to learn to do it myself. 19 years ago today I started my first website on Angelfire. It was called World Famous Gymnasts and one section I kept updating regularly was my online diary. You know, a blog long before the word blog existed.
Thanks to that day at the library I’ve have met some incredible people and made life long friendships that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I’ve had the fortune of meeting Olympic champions, designing their websites and getting to know members of their families. There are inside jokes to last a lifetime with one of my closest friends who designed websites with me for years. Most importantly it lead me in the direction of my career. Ironically enough my career ultimately led me to my husband. I don’t blog for a living nor am I involved in website design anymore. The skills and knowledge from hundreds of hours in front of the computer lead me to Internet Marketing and I couldn’t be happier where it has taken me.
With that being said, I guess you could say that I’ve officially been blogging for 19 years now. Believe it or not I still have about 95% of the blog entries I’ve written over the years in some capacity. Many are saved in Microsoft Word documents and some of the really old ones are even still published way back on this blog. I’ve learned A LOT of blogging lessons over the last 19 years so in honor of my 19 year website/blogiversary I thought I would share 19 blogging lessons I’ve learned in 19 years of writing about life.
Important Things to Know
One. Not every day is a breeze. There are good days where your post gets hundreds of pageviews and there are days where you’ll be excited to see 20 pageviews. There are days where you want to write and there are days where Facebook sounds like a much better idea.
Two. Haters Gonna Hate. This phrase makes me laugh as I type it but it couldn’t be more true. This is quite possibly one of the biggest blogging lessons (or website design lessons) I’ve learned. I will never forget the very first night I spent in the dorms at Valparaiso University. My phone rang at 5am because one of my websites was getting spammed with angry gymnastics fans over the results of the Olympic All Around competition. I was up and working early and my roommate thought I was crazy. Some days you are going to get negative feedback. Ride it out, things will turn around.
Three. Not every post you write will go viral. If it happens to you, that is incredible. Even better if it happens not long after you launch your blog. Sometimes that post you worked for hours and hours on isn’t going to get the traffic you expected. Sometimes that post you would least expect to be a big hit is the next big thing. You never know what the Internet will get excited about tomorrow. Let’s be honest, who could have predicted our obsession with a Giraffe giving birth?
Four. You never know who you will touch with your posts. One of the biggest things I used to do was hold back ideas. If it didn’t fit with the theme of my blog or I thought people would judge me for I didn’t write it. Then I started connecting with other bloggers and I’ve realized that just because one person might not agree with a post I want to write there might be someone else out there who can walk away from it with a new perspective. Write it down anyways, you might touch someone when you least expect to.
Blogging Tools You Must Have
Five. Don’t hesitate to invest in a good host. I’ve used Dreamhost to host my websites for close to 10 years now. Their support staff has been wonderful. Having your own domain will gain you more respect throughout the blogging community, give you room to expand your blog and help with your SEO. Trust me, take the leap and buy a domain.
Six. Buy a template. This is one of my newer blogging lessons I finally adopted. I used free templates in WordPress for years. While they worked for me they never had me completely satisfied. After purchasing a template that had almost exactly the layout I wanted, the customization options were so simple from there.
Seven. Find a community. Over the years I’ve taken various breaks from blogging. Some have been weeks, some have been months. I always go back to missing the basics of blogging. I’ve come to find that the main reason I’ve taken those breaks is because I lose the excitement a community of bloggers brings. In my website days I lived for chats with my fellow webmasters. These days I get excited to see what my favorite bloggers have to share in my favorite Facebook groups each morning.Three Must Have Blogging Tools: A Good Host, A Good Template & A Community. Click To Tweet
Physical Items You Should Invest In
Eight. Invest in a good pair of headphones. No seriously. Over the years I have blogged listening to music, podcasts, youtube videos and even thunderstorm sounds. Cheap headphones don’t last long and I finally decided to invest in a good pair of headphones. Not having your headphones break at an inopportune time can save you more stress than one would expect.
Nine. Caffeine will be your best friend. Just kidding, okay not really. I personally write my favorite posts over a cup of coffee. Many lattes have been consumed over the years. Invest in a good coffee mug (or 20). If you would ask me which of my blogging lessons I’ve mastered over the years… it would be this one.
Ten. Back to school sales will be your best friend. If you are anything like me, you will have hundreds of notebooks with ideas written down. Again, maybe it is just me but I used to spend hours sketching out website designs and blog ideas in notebooks. I still carry notebooks around with me to jot something down if a post comes to me when I’m in an awkward spot. Looking back through some of those notebooks makes me laugh but also makes me realize just how many ideas I’ve had over the years that I never even bothered to go through with.How Many Cups of Coffee Does It Take To Write a Blog Post? Click To Tweet
Social Media Is Still Important
Eleven. Don’t hesitate to share your blogs on social media. Every single blog post I write gets shared on at least four social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter. Chances are at least one person will click through. Maybe someone will even share it to their own page.
Twelve. It’s okay to pay to advertise your blog on social media. Some of my favorite blog posts I’ve read have been from clicking on an ad on Facebook. Advertising on those platforms is not just for Fortune 500 companies. Anyone can do it.
Thirteen. Create images that are Pinterest friendly. People love Pinterest and saving things for later using the network. I recently read that you should always have a Pinterest friendly image for every single post no matter what the topic is. This gives people the option to pin your images if they want to save it off and you still will have control over what image they pin. Boardbooster is an incredible Pinterest tool if you are looking to up your game.What is your go to social network to share a blog post? Click To Tweet
Monetize Your Blog
Fourteen. Years ago I put Google Adsense banners on my websites and quickly discovered you could earn a decent little paycheck if people clicked through your ads. Eventually I bought into the idea that people don’t like seeing ads on websites and stopped. That was stupid. People will use an adblocker if they get THAT annoyed by ads. You run your blog, why not make some money?
Fifteen. Don’t miss out on affiliate opportunities. You don’t have to just use ads to monetize your blog. Chances are if you are blogging you at some point in time will reference a product you love. Have you ever looked into an affiliate program for your favorite products? Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing is a game changer when it comes to learning how to monetize your blog. Michelle will give you ALL of the tools necessary to promote your favorite products and make a few dollars while you’re at it.You don't have to make a living blogging, but you can earn some extra cash while you are at it! Click To Tweet
Never Stop Learning
Sixteen. Last year I discovered Facebook groups and it took my blog into so many directions. The amount of blogging lessons and information these groups provide are incredible. Have a question about Pinterest? Need some advice on a logo? They have it all. Don’t ever hesitate to pose a question to fellow bloggers, they will (almost) always be happy to answer.
Seventeen. Never hesitate to try something new. The internet is always changing. This is probably my favorite part about the last 19 years, there is always something new to learn. Last year Instagram was the be all end all of organic marketing. This year it’s Pinterest. Next year who knows what it will be. Take a leap of faith when someone tells you to try something new.Whatever you do, don't ever stop learning. Click To Tweet
Eighteen. Don’t write a blog that you don’t believe in. If you walk away remembering any of these blogging lessons walk away with this one. So often we get caught up in the idea of certain opinions getting more traffic to a blog. Your blog is YOUR blog. Your community visits your website because they believe in the content you have to share. They will keep coming back if they find that you are truly genuine.
Nineteen. Do what you love and love what you do. I spent the first 10 years of my online journey designing websites for gymnasts while maintaining my own personal website. Over the years I realized I fell out of love with the process of designing the websites and fell in love with the process of creating content for the websites. The most important of all of the blogging lessons I have learned over the last 19 years falls in line with one of my favorite quotes:
“Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
These last 19 years have been a wild ride. I can’t wait to see what the next 19 years bring.