Happy almost April!
As a Taurus, I love this time of year.
I am very happy to
see talk to you again. I’ve been having a rough week on account of my pending solitary lifestyle. Though this lonely road will only be temporary, its quickly-approaching start date is turning me into a wacky-emotioned, lovesick pony.
ANYWAY I wanted to change things up this week and give you a little behind-the-scenes look at what it’s like to be a blogger. I was inspired to write this post when, last week, Husband saw my dashboard (where all the blog magic happens) and said, “What the heck is that?”
I laughed out loud at him and said, “This is my blog!” He was baffled for a moment. Which made me think that you might like a little peek, too.
When I “go to my blog,” I go here.
Look at those teeny tiny statistics! I promise I get more page views (sometimes).
My dashboard is where I write posts, design my site, install little doodads and fun elements to my footer, and smash my face into my keyboard.
I hardly ever visit my actual site – perksofinterest.com. I try to stay off my own site because, when I visit it, my visits are counted toward the total visits. Which makes it look like more people are visiting my site when it’s just me visiting my site. Which isn’t any fun at all! Fake stats = bullstats.
(If I could, I would disclude my own IP from the stats, but my Jetpack plugin won’t let-have I lost you?)
My dashboard is an excellent representation of blogging as a whole: there are a lot of secret things going on that I don’t share with you.
And all this time, I’ve been polishing my posts and sending them to you in pretty packages while keeping all of the nasty behind-the-scenes business to myself.
Well, not this week!
The best way to explain what it’s like to be a blogger is by explaining some of the unexpected things I’ve encountered.
Because blogging is just FULL of surprises. Which I love, usually. But most blogging surprises are not good surprises.
Also, there are way more than five things I wish I’d known when I started. But, hey, I’m going to need a lot of material if I’m blogging full-time someday (AKA dream life).
5 things I wish I’d known when I started my blog:
1.) How deeply my confidence would plummet.
Writing for the semi-ambiguous world is incredibly intimidating.
How do I know that I’m writing posts you want to read?
How can I be sure I’m writing in a style/voice you prefer?
How can I confirm you’re reading it and enjoying it?
How on earth am I supposed to know what needs improvement?
Would anyone tell me if my blog is no good?
I ask myself these unanswerable questions constantly. Because I am writing for YOU. And I am desperately hoping you’re ENJOYING yourself while you’re here.
I can track my popularity through page visits and shares and comments, but I can’t track my impact through any of these channels. I can’t tell how much ALL of you are liking it. Which makes me wonder if anyone is liking it.
A blogger can never be too sure about whether she’s totally botching it up or doing a killer job. And, ever-pragmatic writer that I am, I always (safely) assume the former and work on getting better. That’s really all I can do.
But it’s not enough, dad!
Plus: how – just how do I know that what I’m doing right now isn’t IDEAL for you, and that any changes would mess it all up enormously?
I had no idea I would doubt myself so profoundly when I started this blog. I thought it would be a fun, easy, simple blog. NOPE. I care way too much about this blog for that to ever be the case.
2.) How emotionally open I’d have to be for successful writing.
This #2 thing was actually hard for me to write. In fact, I wrote all of the other four points before I wrote this one. I’m like an emotional clam shell, sometimes, and I just DON’T. WANT. TO. OPEN.
But the truth is that I want to be the most vulnerable little chickpea for you. I want to spill my heart in hopes that you might find your own inner solace when I do.
And as time passes, I find it easier and easier to open up.
I owe a lot of my emotional blog blossoming to my dear friend and editor of My FREE eBook (How to Fix Anxiety). She read the draft and came back with some hard-to-hear questions that required me to delve deeper into my anxiety-ridden past. And delve, I did. All that introspection resulted in a far more truthful, raw, and honest depiction of what my anxious life was like. Which was exactly what my eBook needed.
The crazy thing is that I had no idea I had been stuffing all of my past experiences with anxiety way deep down inside. SO deep that I hardly remembered what having anxiety was like. And when I did remember, I remembered vividly. I felt that dark blanket of anxiety cloak me like I was 20-years-old all over again.
My anxiety didn’t return, but the tangible emotions certainly did. And writing them all down in detail was not easy.
But that’s the good stuff! The hardest stuff always is. And my friend’s questions showed me that Hard Life Stuff is SOLID BLOGGING GOLD.
The truth is that people care more about what makes me crumble into a pile of human tear dust than how to make an elephant sculpture. It is essential that I show you both, though. Because I wouldn’t be me if I wasn’t teaching you how to make homemade papier mâché animals AND telling you all the embarrassing truths of my marriage.
When I started this blog, I had a lot of ideas about what I’d write. None of those ideas involved personal Brooke truths. Those truths make for great writing, though. And writing about them makes me a better person. I force myself to open up to you, which is so good for the soul.
Especially at times like this, when I know Husband is leaving so soon and all I want to do is shrink up like a pickle and not write. But if I did that, I’d be a terrible blogger. And I’d never do that to you.
3.) How much blog experimentation I would have to do.
My blog is very broad. That’s because I want to be able to write about whatever I want.
Because I need to make sure I’m writing about things you want to read, I must experiment with my topics constantly.
Slowly, I’ve felt my content start to taper toward the how-to end of things. I’m not sure it will stick, though. Because I’ve renamed what “type of blog” I have about six times.
Because I have no idea what kind of blog I have. I think it’s a “lifestyle” blog, actually.
See what I mean?
The reason I have to constantly change things is because bloggers are always screaming things at me like this:
Find your niche!
But make sure to appeal to the masses!
And also join all the social media outlets!
But don’t focus on them because it’s a waste of time!
Comments on your post are the most important goal!
Comments are worthless – it’s page visits you’re after!
No one is going to read your content unless your blog is beautiful!
Content = king, and unless your shit is great, your “beautiful blog” is NOTHING!
Oh, and narrow your content!
But make sure you write about a wide range of things!
It’s terrible! It’s like tumbling in a washing machine that’s constantly being injected with strange and conflicting soaps, and you’re just desperately waiting for the rinse cycle to wash everything out of your head so you can write.
Having big future-full-time-blogger goals means dealing with a lot of dreamer pressure. I want it to be perfect, which means I feel an incessant pressure to DO DO DO.
To find a good theme, to edit old stuff, to back-link my old stuff to newer stuff, to research new plugins, to make sure my security is up-to-date, to write a new eBook. Which I am currently doing, by the way!
I am thrilled about new eBook because it’s totally different from the first one. It’s not a how-to at ALL.
It’s about something specific in my life. Something I seriously never thought I’d share on this blog. Almost everyone I know has had a run-in with it. Which means you will want to get your paws on new eBook ASAP.
Yes. Yes, yes. *petting purring cat*
In due time, my darlings.
eBook #2 is another experiment. Because it’s different. From anything I’ve ever written. Plus, the topic is not something I share with a lot of people. We’ll see what it does for the ol’ blog.
I experiment with the way my blog looks, too.
A blogger changes the design of his or her blog by using a different theme.
What’s a theme?
Look at it like this: the words on a blog are the actor’s face, and the theme is the beautiful Mrs. Beaver mask in front of it. The actor sounds the same with or without the mask, but the mask makes the actor look beaverly and professional.
Did you know? I was Mrs. Beaver in my 5th grade play.
There are free themes and purchasable themes.
I bought my current theme because it allows me to change a LOT of things about my blog (like colors, the layout, sidebar information, etc.) WITHOUT HAVING TO KNOW HOW TO CODE.
Because I do NOT know how to code.
I will learn to code this summer and really pizzazz this blog up. I promise.
Another recent change: I’ve start to underline my hyperlinks, because Husband asked who the woman was that inspired my recent fitness regime, and I said, “click on it!” And he said, “oh, that’s a link?”
And I smacked my blogger forehead and made a mental note to underline my hyperlinks.
Manually. Because I can’t figure out how to make my theme do it for me.
Are you bored yet?
When I started this blog, I had no idea that I would change it so often.
Blog = my little puppy amoeba. It’ll fluff up and morph into new shapes with time and readers and me.
4.) How difficult it is to manage/compete on social media.
As you just read, social media is one of the many things bloggers disagree on. Some say you should pick one or two channels. Others say don’t bother with anything but Facebook. The thing about blogging is that you really have to just do whatever feels right to you. Which is just as annoyingly intimidating as it sounds.
I started with Twitter.
Then, I joined Bloglovin’. Just because I love Bloglovin’. No one follows me there. Except me. I follow myself. So I have one follower on Bloglovin’.
Then, I created a Facebook page.
I joined Instagram last week. I am OBSESSED WITH INSTAGRAM. Instagram is my social media soul mate. I love it so much. I love that you can’t share links. And I love hashtags. I can’t believe I waited until I was 25-years-old to join Instagram. I now dream in perfect squares.
I touch nearly all of my social media profiles EVERY TIME I post something new. Here’s how it goes:
Every time I hit “publish” on a new post, a tweet is immediately sent out to my followers with a link to my new post.
My post is automatically shared to my Bloglovin’ page, too.
Then, if you’re a subscriber, I create an adorable email for you and send that to your inbox.
Then, I go to perksofinterest.com/whatever-my-new-post-is and pin the new post’s main image to Pinterest.
Then, I go to Facebook and share my new post with my Page Likers.
Then, I have a margarita.
Not really with the margarita. I’m not a big drinker. And I’m more of a hard cider girl, anyway.
All of those social media outlets require a lot of maintenance. Not just with new posts, either. I try to tweet older posts to Twitter sometimes. And to Facebook sometimes. Just so my evergreen content isn’t buried by the trials of time. You know.
As far as social media go for MY blog, Facebook is my number one source of views. I still post to all the other ones because I’m still trying to find my readers.
You are out there, readers. I know you are. I just have to REACH you.
And hopefully, with lots of persistence and hair-pulling, I will.
Social media + blogging is a pain because it’s not easy to compete. With Twitter, I have to post frequently or be left in the dust. With Facebook, it’s common for my new post to reach just 5 people. With Pinterest, it’s rare for someone to pin one of my blog’s pins. And you already know about Bloglovin’.
I haven’t shared any blog posts/images to Instagram yet, and good thing, because everyone’s freaking out over the new Instagram algorithms.
And all that freaking out makes me a teeny bit glad that I’m not very popular there, yet.
Because the popular folk are LOSING THEIR MINDS over the new Instagram algorithms.
All of this nonsense boils down to this: social media is a much bigger monster to wrestle with than I’d ever imagined before I started my blog.
5.) How privately rewarding blogging is.
This probably comes from being a writer. But, man, does it feel good to blog.
The stages of writing are not all great, of course. Writing content is fun. Refining, refining, refining my content until my eyes burn and I’m reading things backwards is NOT fun.
But whoa nelly, when I delete the PERFECT PARAGRAPH TO DELETE or move that sentence up to the paragraph just above and suddenly my post just sings with clarity…there just isn’t anything like it in the world. That feeling is impossible to replicate elsewhere. I’ve tried.
And after I write stuff I’m really proud of, I get to post it on my blog for my readers to gobble up. For example, my If I Were Miss America post. I was SO PROUD of that post, and I was positively beaming when I hit “publish.”
And then, when people liked it?! That’s just a whole different galaxy of elation.
Because I love writing and the internet, blogging is my ultimate haven. I might cry when all my pictures crash and pace the kitchen floor when I can’t figure out how to open up comments on my pages, but all of the stress is absolutely worth it.
Because I’m never so fired up as I am when I’m talking/thinking/dreaming about my blog.
Blogging is the greatest thing ever invented. And starting mine was the craziest, scariest, and best decision I’ve ever made.
There you have them! The 5 things I wish I’d known when I started my blog.
Though I wish I’d had a better idea at the start, I don’t regret not knowing these things. That would be silly because regretting things is a waste of time.
One of these days, I’ll make my life easy and hire a coder.
Maybe when I get 100 subscribers.
Did you know? I have 31 right now.
And I love each and every one of my 31 subscribers! Yes I do!
Sometimes, I click through my subscriber list just to read your email addresses. Just because. And because I truly love and appreciate you so much. You’re like 31 little gems. You’re glitter in my sunshine heart.
More than anything else in the blogging world, my subscribers are the very best part.
I will break my pinkies on my Shift key for you forever.
Because you make all the blogging surprises and behind-the-scenes madness worth every second.