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5 things I wasn’t prepared for when I started a blog!

5 things I wasn't prepared for when I started blogging - girl about townhouse

Grab yourself a cuppa, because I feel a rather long post coming on. Are you thinking of starting a blog? Maybe you’re a new blogger like me? Perhaps you’ve just stumbled across this post and want to see what this blogging malarkey is all about. Well, today’s post is a little compilation of my observations as a new blogger and all the things I really wasn’t prepared for when I started blogging.

I’m only three months into blogging and already it has been an enormous learning curve. Huge! If you’re a regular reader you will know that I’m a stickler for planning and endless researching. When I made the decision to start blogging, I didn’t take it lightly. I did several months of preparation, developing my website and brand, taking courses, preparing content and images until finally I decided it was now or never and I hit publish on my first posts.

Yet despite my best efforts in preparing, there are some things that you really only learn on the job.

As a newbie to the blogging world, it’s a bit like visiting a new country. You’re not fluent in the language, all these terms are cropping up and you’re wondering what the heck they mean. You’re not sure what the customs are either – if somebody comments on you blog do you return the favour? I spent most of my first month trying to figure out blogging etiquette and avoid accidentally pissing anyone off.  

If you want to read a little more about why I started blogging you can check out this post, otherwise let’s dive in and talk more about the things I really wasn’t prepared for when I started blogging, so that you can be.

1# THERE ARE SO MANY BLOGGERS

If you’re not a part of the blogging community then you’ll probably have no idea of the vast (and rapidly increasing) number of bloggers out there. I certainly didn’t, it was an eye opener for sure. There is a statistic from several years ago, stating that there are 152 million blogs in the world and I can only imagine that there are a fair few million more now.

When I started I joined various blogging Facebook groups and started following other bloggers on social media and that’s when it really hit me. It was like I’d stepped through the wardrobe into Narnia. Only there was no Mr Tumnus to greet me, it was just bloggers – millions and millions of bloggers. Any subject you can possibly think of, I will guarantee that someone out there is blogging about it.

It is an amazing community to be part of, people are incredibly supportive of each other and always willing to give others advice. Blogging can connect you with people all over the world, that you never would have met otherwise (albeit virtually).  

And while it is brilliant that so many people are inspired to write, to share information, images and anecdotes. The problem for new bloggers, is finding a way to stand out in such a saturated market.

Well, my suggestion is: you do you! You can blog about a very similar subject in a completely different way.

Use your own voice, images and branding to break away from the crowds and give a different perspective. If we had this conversation in real life, this is pretty much how I would talk to you (OK maybe a slightly more polished and edited version) – and err hopefully you’d talk back too! So be yourself, because that’s what makes you different.          

2# BEWARE OF THE NICHE POLICE

Everyone wants you to be really specific about what you blog about. Like, really specific. They want you to pinpoint your target audience down to the finest detail. Are you writing for cat-owning, single, vegan, nurses, who like to wear pink (but only on a Tuesday)? That’s exactly what the niche police want.

Ok, I might be exaggerating a little, but pretty much any ‘how to start a blog’ post you read starts with picking a niche.   

Part of me thinks, screw you niche police – I’m a complex person, with multiple interests. If I want to blog about a range of topics I’m into, then why the hell can’t I?

Buuuut, I can’t ignore my instincts from over a decade working as a marketing professional. Those niche police have a point, as much as I hate to admit it. Defining your audience makes it a hell of a lot easier to create content that’s relevant. It can be very difficult to develop loyal readers if they’re only interested in a small portion of your content.  

If you’re too specific though, you will run out of things to write about very quickly. You need to find a balance.

As a new blogger I think it’s ok to start with a broader niche.

You’ll learn which content you enjoy writing and which you don’t and most importantly which content people are most interested in reading. You can always fine tune your niche after a few months.

3# CONTENT IDEAS WILL COME TO YOU AT THE MOST RANDOM MOMENTS

I’m not a morning person. I mean, I have to be because I have a young child – but naturally I’m really more zombie until I’ve had a cup of coffee or ten. For that reason, ideas will come to me in the middle of the night or just when I’m about to go to bed. Then I have to open my laptop back up,  or at least jot something down, because I know I won’t remember by the morning.

But it’s not just limited to the middle of the night, oh no. At the dentist, at parents evening, out for dinner with the in-laws, somehow your brain never quite switches off from blogging. If I am able to and it doesn’t appear too rude, I will just make a few notes because if I don’t it’ll be gone forever.

In fact, right at this very moment I’m actually trying to write another blog post. This idea has popped in to my head and so I’ve had to abandon the other post to start writing this one. Annoying and impractical, but I find that the words flow much more easily when you feel inspired to write.

Use a notepad or your phone to write down any blog related inspiration and take it everywhere with you. 

I have a notes page on my phone where I jot down blog post ideas and sometimes whole paragraphs that spring to mind randomly. The dictation tool on my phone is also very useful for quickly capturing thoughts while i’m on the go.  

4# YOU CAN’T JUST WRITE

I’m a serial list maker, I just can’t help myself. If there’s a way to involve a list in the planning of anything, I’m all over it. You may be able to tell this already from the sheer quantity of list posts I write.   

As you would imagine, planning 6 months worth of post for the blog has me grinning manically and mentally high fiving myself for being so damn organised.

But when it comes to actually writing the posts, the reality is not so straightforward. Sometimes I will stare at a blank page for several minutes waiting for inspiration to come and it just doesn’t. I get up, have a little walk around the house, do a little bit of housework and come back to my laptop, hoping that the words will start to flow….  

Still nothing. Nada. Zilch.

You can’t force it either. I would rather not publish a post at all, than publish something half-arsed. You see, editorial calendars are all very well and good, but you have to be flexible. Imagine writing 15 ways to be happier, when your pet has just died. Not gonna happen.

If you’re really struggling to write the post that you’d planned to, switch it for something else that you feel more inspired by.

If you’re struggling to write full stop, then have a day where you do something completely different – take photographs, design free printables for your current blog post, schedule social media, network and try again with writing the next day.       

5# IT’S OVERWHELMING

Whether you’re blogging as a hobby or professionally, it takes up so much more of your time than you can ever anticipate. The month I launched this blog, I was pretty much glued to my laptop and not much has changed to be honest.  

You may assume that after you’ve written the blog post the hard work is done, right? Nope. What’s the point of writing the world’s most amazing blog post that nobody has ever read?

Even if it hasn’t taken too long to write the blog post, you then need to edit the post and optimise it for search engines, so that it has more chance of being read. Take photos or scour stock images for hours to find the perfect ones. Design pins for pinterest. Promote it on all of the social media platforms, via your newsletter and linkies.

Plus, if like me half your readers are in a different time zone, you need to ensure that you are promoting your content at the relevant times.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg too! You constantly need to learn new skills and keep up-to-date with changes to social media platforms and algorithms.

There are so many courses out there, so much advice about blogging and often it’s conflicting. Which is pretty baffling to a new blogger. It’s very hard to know what your priorities should be.

Don’t try to do everything at once, experiment and find out what works best for your blog.

Get yourself on google analytics, if you aren’t already, and get to know your about your readers. This helps to decipher which content people are interested in and what drives the most traffic.

Phew, that was a long one!

If you made it all the way to the end, I’m presenting you with a virtual medal.

I’m so obsessed with blogging. I could happily talk about it all day, everyday (much to the frustration of my husband). Blogging certainly isn’t easy or indeed a quick way to make money, but it’s hugely rewarding.

Over the past three months I’ve learnt so many new skills, I’ve connected with hundreds of inspiring people and I’m one step closer to creating my very own dream job.

Are you a blogger? What surprised you the most about blogging? Let me know in the comments. 

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30 Comment

  1. Reply
    stephanie
    January 22, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    your blog is really looking great, for me I struggle with the motivation to carry on!

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 23, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Thanks Stephanie. I know what you mean, it takes a huge amount of motivation and some days you’re just not feeling it! If you still enjoy it, you should carry on though, it looks fab. x

  2. Reply
    Victoria
    January 22, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    This was a great post and definitely things I’ve found as I’ve been blogging! Really enjoyed reading this after I came across it on twitter! 🙂 x

    Victoria | VictoriaaHelenn

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 23, 2017 at 10:35 am

      Thanks Victoria! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading the post.x

  3. Reply
    Emma me and b make tea
    January 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    i can definitely relate and this is nice advice i wish i’d read at the begging 🙂

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks for visiting Emma. I would literally be nowhere if it wasn’t for other bloggers sharing their experiences and advice, so I really wanted to write this. Plus, any excuse to ramble on about blogging, such a blogging bore. ha ha x

  4. Reply
    Jacqui Paterson (@JaxFortyNorth)
    January 26, 2017 at 2:39 pm

    I’ve been blogging for seven years, and can still relate to every one of your points! 😉 xx #brillblogposts

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 27, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Wow, seven years Jacqui! That’s so inspiring. Refreshing to hear that you can still relate.x

  5. Reply
    Jenn @ Mad Mommy
    January 26, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    It has been nearly a year and these things are still catching me off guard! #BrillBlogPosts

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 27, 2017 at 9:00 am

      I think it’s the rate at which everything changes in the online world. Even in the past three months! Thanks for your comment Jenn.

  6. Reply
    Beth
    January 26, 2017 at 11:29 pm

    I can relate to this so much! It’s amazing how much I’m learning as well especially the language. I’ve also only been blogging since September. Great post! #BrilliantBlogPosts

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 27, 2017 at 8:55 am

      I know, thank goodness for google! It’s hard work figuring it all out, but so fascinating. Thanks for visiting Beth.

  7. Reply
    Mrs Mummy Harris
    January 27, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    Love this! I currently have posts diarised until mid march which like you’ve said makes me feel super happy at my organisation skills – but i have popped a few posts in there can are for fillers purposes so if i get another idea or a review request; then I can pop it in and push the original post back a bit.
    oh i love me some organisation =]
    #brilliantblogposts

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 27, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      That’s great! Organising make so me happy.

  8. Reply
    Jeremy Barnes
    January 27, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Definitely the time obligation was the biggest shock. What do you mean I can’t just write and millions of people will read it? oops. #brilliantblogposts

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 27, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Ha ha, I know. There aren’t enough hours in the day!

  9. Reply
    Sara
    January 27, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    I started blogging in September, and I totally totally agree with all the points you made! Thank you for putting into words (and structure) something that’s been swirling in my head! This is very validating – it’s great to know that it’s not just me experiencing this! Thank you again for sharing #BrilliantBlogPosts

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 28, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      Thanks Sara. I agree, it’s so nice to know that other bloggers out there are feeling the same.

  10. Reply
    Mary - the boondocks blog
    January 28, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Caroline I started two years ago and had I know all that I know now I might , no I would have, been so overwhelmed that I would not have started at all. Having said all that I love what I do and so it is not a dreary job for me. But the truth is there is so much to learn. I feel that I am still at the tip of the iceberg. And truly there are not enough hours in the day. Good luck to you and if you ever need anything that I can help out with, pop on over.

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      January 28, 2017 at 5:07 pm

      That’s so kind Mary thank you. I’ve just been over on your blog, it’s DIY heaven! I love it.

  11. Reply
    Honest Mum
    January 31, 2017 at 11:35 pm

    Love this post, wise words and blogging really is addictive x

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      February 1, 2017 at 10:59 am

      Thank you Vicki, I really love it so far but I do struggle to switch off from it. x

  12. Reply
    A Narrow-Minded Woman
    February 1, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    So true. I especially agree with your niche police comment. Often when we start out, we don’t know where we will eventually land. Start broad and then focus as you go. 🙂

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      February 2, 2017 at 9:52 am

      Yes, absolutely. I know of lots of bloggers that have completely changed their niches over time. Thanks for visiting 🙂

  13. Reply
    Maggie
    February 1, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I love this! I’m new to blogging and still learning. I did months of research before my site went live and to this day I feel as though I jumped in with both feet before testing the water. One day I will get the hang of it but for now I’m enjoying the learning process.

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      February 2, 2017 at 9:58 am

      Yes, so true. I don’t think you can ever be prepared enough, you just have to go for it. Best of luck with your new blog Maggie.

  14. Reply
    Nikki
    February 2, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Absolutely love this post, and agree with your points. Blogging is overwhelming, if I would have known everything that was entailed I may not have started. There are tons of other bloggers, but very few make it to their first year. So if you make it that far you are in a minority. I really love how you planned things out for months before launching your blog. I had no plan in place when I started, and I’ve been flew by the seat of my pants for the first several years. I am so impressed that you made a plan and stuck to it when you could, but are willing to adapt to make things better. Sometimes it’s harder to make changes then it is to make the plan in the first place. Keep up the good work.

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      February 3, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Thanks Nikki. That’s really interesting that most bloggers don’t make it past a year. I can see why though, nothing can really prepare you for the level of work involved. Planning is my ‘thing’ but I’m definitely learning to go with the flow more when it comes to blogging.

  15. Reply
    Lane Beck
    April 21, 2017 at 7:24 pm

    Blogger virgin here! Wonderful post Caroline! So much I can relate to. I just began blogging 2 weeks ago. It has been a whirlwind and I know I have barely scratched the surface.

    I am very much a planner and list-maker like you, but part of my motivation to blog was to find my lost creative side. I knew I could easily go into analysis-paralysis. So, let’s do this! Within a week, I had what I think is a beautiful and functional site and my first post. 😛 I think I had realistic expectations going in, but definitely a steep learning curve. Trying not to get overwhelmed… improving (and learning) bit by bit.

    Thanks for writing and sharing this therapeutic post.
    Does Google Analytics have a free version for us newbies?? I’m an analyst by profession so I geek out on that stuff! 🤓

    1. Reply
      Caroline
      April 21, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      Welcome to the world of blogging Lane! A blog is a fantastic creative outlet for sure. I’m a bit of a geek when too it comes to stats and thankfully there is a free version of google analytics. If you need any help setting it up let me know and I’ll send you a link to the tutorial I used. Good luck and I look forward to reading about your travels : )

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