Tuesday, 22 September 2015

What five years of blogging has taught me

picture frames vintage

Five years ago today, I published my first post on Elise and Life (then Foof and Faff) and I'm somehow still here today.  For someone who can barely keep a diary for a couple of months at a time, it's no mean feat.  I couldn't go that long without picking up a few tips and observations along the way, so allow me to blether on a bit about how I approach blogging...

Accepting the evolution of blogging 
The online world has changed so much in the past few years.  So much of the information we consume now is digital, so it makes sense that blogs have become slicker looking, easier to read, more pictures, less words...  (In theory.  I'm about to write many words.  Just a warning.)  We also have so much choice of what to write about, but if we want to be noticed we have to write something that stands out and appeals to readers while still incorporating popular themes - the latest one for lifestyle bloggers seems to be giving advice on how to do just about anything blog related, from building your followers to optimising SEO in posts.  Sure, it's helpful stuff, but I like a sprinkling of personal anecdotes with my side of learning.

Realising so many people are better at this than I am...
Increasingly typical scenario - 'My blog turned one today!  I just passed the 1000 followers mark!  My goal for next year is to get 5000!'
Me - 'Wut.'  *stares at my 172 (awesome, amazing, terrific) followers on Bloglovin.  Wonders what I'm doing wrong.*

...but also knowing my integrity is intact.
I comment on blogs or chat to others on social media when I have something to say, either to compliment a post or add something to the conversation.  My sucking up skills are non-existent.  I'm incapable of shilling something I don't love or giving a less than honest review.  I have a passionate hatred for click-bait articles.  I don't tweet 'follow me!' links twenty times a day because I know you guys are smart enough to find that stuff out for yourselves, or refer to that one tweet I posted a few hours/days ago.  That's not to say every successful blogger out there has ignored their conscience when it was convenient, but it's not difficult to spot someone who's trying a bit too hard to be noticed.

loafers shoes M&S vintage carpet rug

Walking the line
Occasionally, I'll have a moment of doubt and wonder what the hell I'm doing, documenting bits of my life on the internet.  I get a fleeting desire to remove myself entirely and just live in the 'real' world instead of flitting between blogging, tweeting, Instagramming and pinning.  Being invisible sounds oddly appealing.  Then I remember how much I enjoy sharing my views and photographs and stories with a wider audience and I relax again.  Although if I ever do disappear, just assume I'm holed up somewhere, scribbling all my thoughts in pencil instead of on keys.  

Scheduling promotes sanity
Since I got into a proper blogging routine earlier this year, I've felt better about my content and productivity.  Monday evenings are for all things blog related.  I write posts for the week ahead, edit pictures, take part in Twitter chats (when I remember) and generally feel all efficient and social.  The writing is my downfall though.  If I get posts ready for the next 2-3 days I'm doing well because I'm ridiculously slow at stringing cohesive sentences together.  If I get a chance to write at other points during the week (tea breaks, during Netflix binges) then that speeds me up significantly, but either way I know Monday nights will be late ones.  

I also spend a few hours writing and visiting other blogs during the week, except Tuesdays which are always reserved for eating my favourite dinner and knitting in front of a movie!  I don't really get a chance to write at the weekends (Tam hates talking to me over my laptop) so nights after work have to be planned with precision.

Promoting is as important as posting
It's all well and good to write the most kick ass post ever, but if that's all you do, no-one will notice it.  I know my page views go up if I make an effort to promote posts on social media - a couple of times on Twitter, a picture on Instagram, adding it to StumbleUpon and linking it on Pinterest, although I must admit I get virtually no traffic from the latter so chances are I'm doing it wrong...  Still, I like to tell myself there must be people out there who would like my blog if they found it, so I see social media promotion as a way to try and catch them all!  Plus I'm nosy and love to read about what other people are up to, so it's a win-win.

pompom quarterly magazine knitting

Supporting blogger buddies feels awesome
Whether it's sharing a post on my blog, leaving a thoughtful comment on theirs or giving them a shout out on Twitter, helping my fellow bloggers get noticed is one of my favourite things to do.  I'm not saying to retweet every link you come across (cause let's face it, too many of those clogging up my feed gets old fast) but the ones you love deserve to be seen by others.  My 'favourites' tag in the sidebar is generally attached to posts where I've included links to the best blogs I've read that week, and the Blog Love page up the top has links to all my must read blogs, although it could probably do with an update now!

Acknowledging that I could do better
Blogging is not quite my top priority in terms of how I spend my time.  Working full time, that has to come top, and hanging out with my favourite people, although I guess the only good thing about not living near family or Tam is that I get a bit of time to myself each day.  I have crazy admiration for anyone who can work forty hours a week and then spend all their free time on blog related activities - I know I'd go nuts if I attempted that.  As a result though, the quality of my work on here isn't as high as I want it to be.  The images I take specifically for the blog could be better, the writing could be stronger, I could put together craft tutorials and scheduled tweets.  All this is ok for now because on the other end of the spectrum, the work I do put into the blog has improved tremendously over the years - my pictures are bigger and brighter, my priorities are more focused and I know so many amazing people in the same boat as myself, so I'm not letting myself feel guilty about something I could change but choose not to.  I'm slowly getting better, and that's good enough.

I'm not really one for celebrating blog milestones (or real life ones for that matter) but this one felt worth writing about, if only so that I had an excuse to say a massive thank you to everyone who's ever clicked on here, or left me a comment, or emailed me, or chatted on social media.  You make me smile every day and you are all stars.  From bloggers to brands, any support I get on here makes me feel like what I'm doing is worthwhile.  

And now I'll go back to being my usual unemotional self.  Sorry to scare you like that.


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