Blogging // What the First Six Months of Blogging Taught Me

Oh, little blog of mine, you're just over six months old! If you were a real life human baby my Facebook friends would be sick of the sight of your squidgy, little face. I'm proud of you, sure I am, but we didn't get to this point on a whim and a prayer! Remember that night I worked on your layout, designed new graphics, a header and icons until 4am, only to have you reject all my CSS coding? Remember when I couldn't figure out how to size pictures? Remember me making up an unnecessary maths equation to work out how many pixels wide a portrait image had to be? Oh, I do!

Thankfully, with the help of some fab blog posts (Sweet Electric I'm lookin' at you) and a lot of googling, I've got my blog to a place I'm happy with and have some lovely, bright and interesting ladies coming to read it (also my Dad. He can't keep away). I've learned a lot in these past six months, so I thought I'd share them with you to help you on your merry blogging path, (Or you can just laugh at my ridiculous blogging mishaps - up to you!)

Sorting My Priorities Out

It is verrrrry easy to become obsessed with blogging. For a while, every trip out, every thing I baked, every spare moment I had was centered around my blog. Don't get me wrong, content is key, but trust me your family and friends won't thank you for cutting them off mid-sentence to take a picture of that market stall or that cute French bulldog. Plan blogging trips, and then plan non-blogging trips. Of course, you CAN do both, but it helps to have an idea of the types of photos you want to take before you head out. That way, you've filled your quota and can give your squeeze all the attention they deserve.

Connect with Other Bloggers

This works two-fold. One, the blogging community is really great. I had no idea there were so many clever, like-minded and hilarious women on the internet before! Comment on blogs you love, big and small, and you'll start to see people coming back over to your neck of the woods. Did you love someone's post? Tweet them about it! Do you love a certain bloggers idea and want to do something similar yourself? Tell them they inspired you! With blogging, you get in what you put out, so start sharing the love!

Master the Art of CSS and HTML

Well, when I say master I really mean not having to rely on templates or Wordpress/Blogger widgets. I started with a 'Simple' Blogger template and then changed individual features to make it work exactly how I wanted. If you want to try out a new feature, like a different way of displaying popular posts, google it and discover CSS codes that'll make your blog work for you. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so figuring out how to shift my header over 15 pixels through editing HTML was a life saver!

Go to Etsy for Graphics

It's no secret that there are some really amazing graphic designers out there. If you'd like to play around with a new header, or want a cute floral wreath to frame a picture, head to Etsy! You can purchase beautiful designs inexpensively and download them as png. files straight from the site. Using these, you can bet that you'll have a truly unique blog design that has your personality stamped all over it. Also, you'll be helping support independent designers, which is always a good thing!

Edit Your Pictures

You don't even need photoshop! There are some great online photo editing sites that are completely free! Picmonkey is my one stop photo shop - it has some great features, including filters, overlays frames, fonts and it doesn't cost a penny. I'm now in the process of teaching myself very basic Photoshop, but I still use Picmonkey for a lot of things. In fact, my header, profile picture and navigation bar were all done on Picmonkey.

From a photography perspective, try and mix up a post by using close-ups, long range photos, images with you in them, images without you in them, landscapes, 'people' pictures, 'capturing movement' pictures, food (I always rate a good food pic) and pictures with a lot of depth. Variety is the spice of life! Daydreams of Summertime published this post to help with basic photography skills - I rate it highly!

Buy a Camera Remote

Oh, this is a good one! I purchased this remote from Amazon for next to nothing and it's proved an invaluable resource! No more will you have to ask a friend to snap pictures, which may or may not have cut off your head. Most DSLR camera's have a 'remote' function, which means you can take 'wistfully looking into the distance' photos 'till your heart's content! You can see a cheeky remote picture here...

Invest in Sponsoring

This is by no means an essential, but I've gained some great exposure from sponsoring other people's blogs. That said, I wouldn't advise sponsoring until you're really happy with your blog and you've got a good few months of posts in your archive. That way, your reader will know you're serious about blogging and they'll have a good backlog to browse through! My first sponsor was in my sixth month of blogging. Make sure you only sponsor blogs you love that have a similar content range to you, as this way your reader demographic is likely to be the same. So far, I've had the pleasure of working with Sunny Sweet Pea, The Tea Drinking English Rose, Cider with Rosie and Sweet Electric. Daydreams of Summertime will also be added to that list very soon!

Use Twitter (properly)

I was of a generation just too old to have jumped on the Twitter bandwagon. To me, it appeared full of either 13-year-olds retweeting famous vloggers or 25-year-old political commentators. I was neither, so therefore believed it had no place in my life. Wrong! I bit the bullet and started following the Twitter accounts of all the blogs I love, historical houses I'd visited, publishing houses I'd read the books of, interior stylists, that sort of thing. In fact, my recent connection with the Benjamin Franklin House came largely down to Twitter, so it's a great way to connect with people, places and brands that you'd love to work with.

Be Realistic

...about what your expectations are and about what your blog should represent. I spent the first few months of blogging trying out different posts and discovered which content really got me excited and which I was largely writing for someone else. Your blog won't last long if you're not psyched about what you upload. As many a Shakespeare play hath professed, 'be true to thine own self!' Your readership will increase with great posts that you've loved putting together. On that note, don't set yourself unrealistic targets. I aim to post twice a week, which fits in with my schedule. If you want to do more or less, that's fine too, as long as you don't see it as a chore and your posts are consistent!

I hope this has been helpful!

Would you have anything to add to the list? If you've got any blogging questions leave them in the comments below, I'm sure there'll be plenty of people ready and willing to answer!

Happy blogging!

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