10 THINGS I WISH I KNEW BEFORE I STARTED BLOGGING
#1 Blogging is addictive
Sooner or later, you’ll become a blogacholic. Your blog is above all a creative outlet, so you want it to be perfect. So much so that even after hours of hard work, you’re still happy to keep going. Sharing your passion with the world is a wonderful feeling and a rather addictive one too.
#2 Be honest
This has been one of the things I have been firm about ever since I started the blog. If I don’t genuinely like something, I simply don’t recommend it. There is no point in spending time and energy on being negative or lying. Be sure to disclose your collaborations and honour the relationship you have built with your audience.
#3 Be patient
Once I met a lovely girl who sought my advice on how to start a blog. When I asked what made her decide to create her own website, she replied “I want to become famous”. This is definitely not the right reason or way to start a new blog, so I explained to her that it takes a great deal of time and effort to get there, if at all. I still remember publishing my first posts and feeling ecstatic about the fact that 20 people in total had read them. Did I mention that half of these were members of my immediate family? Blogging does not guarantee overnight success. You must have the commitment and drive to stay dedicated to your cause.
#4 Find your voice
It may take some time before you achieve this one but at some point you’ll find your voice. Blogs are personal, so celebrate the fact that you are unique and don’t overthink. Write as if you would talk to a friend, be yourself. You can’t/won’t please everyone but that’s perfectly ok. Feel free to draw inspiration from other websites or bloggers but don’t be a copycat. Be creative, there is no need to follow somebody else’s vision.
#5 Focus on quality
Quality is always better than quantity when it comes to blog content. Try to put out there the best you can do. This doesn’t mean that it needs to be perfect, you will get better over time through practice anyway. Do your research, post clear pictures that are big enough, avoid spelling mistakes and speak from the heart. If you make your posts informative, valuable and fun for your readers, they will come back for more.
#6 Be nice to your fellow bloggers
A recent conversation with Kelly on Twitter the other day got me thinking about blogging and how competitive it has become. Throughout these past few years I’ve met some great fellow bloggers with whom I became close friends but also a lot that were arrogant, self-seekers and sneaky. I know that we are supposed to pretend we all love each other but I’m afraid this is sadly not the case. It’s not all about the stats, who got the best picture and how one is going to become the most successful blogger of all. The internet is big enough for all of us, so I just ignore these kind of people. Make new friends, exchange tips, don’t copy, and always remember that your blog is above all a creative outlet.
#7 Get social
Blogging is essentially all about sharing and interacting with people, so don’t hide behind your computer screen. I am totally guilty for this one as I was afraid that appearing on the blog could somehow hurt my day job as a lawyer. “What if a client finds out I am a blogger? They will definitely think of me as a less serious professional.” These were my thoughts until recently when I started thinking things differently. Blogging is a part of me and if somebody can’t deal with my creative side, then that’s their problem, not mine. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of oversharing but in my experience, it’s so much more fun to be open with people.
#8 Copyright your photos
A lesson I learnt the hard way! After seeing my pictures being repeatedly used for websites or businesses without asking permission or giving any credit, I started adding a copyright in my pictures. In the beginning I had my doubts and did not want to compromise my vision but it was when I saw my photos in the menu of a pizzeria in Brussels (!!) that I was firmly convinced. Protect your work, dear fellow bloggers.
#9 Value your work
This is something I feel quite strongly about. Contrary to popular belief, having a blog doesn’t earn you money. Not before you invest a lot of time and unless you are one of the few super bloggers who admittedly earn millions. Having a blog entails expenses, both one-off and regular costs, like hosting, web design, license fees for photo editing tools, camera equipment, restaurant bills and so on depending on far you wish to go really. Not to mention your precious time after you’re done with your full-time job. Asking to be paid when you work with a company is more than fair, especially if you create original content for them. It doesn’t matter how small the amount is; it’s a matter of principle. When you’re a “micro-influencer”, you will be regularly asked to work for “exposure” but don’t fall for that. In my experience, it rarely works and it’s not fair to your fellow bloggers. Be professional, value your work and time.
#10 Taking a break is ok
Remember how I mentioned that blog is addictive and a lot of hard work? That’s why it’s fine (if not necessary) to take a break every once in a while. Being disconnected from the blogging world and social media is a breath of fresh air, just like a short holiday. Treat yourself to some off-line time and you’ll be surprised how much more inspired and motivated you’ll return. People who really love the blog won’t stop following, you’re their friend and they’ll get it.