Today is the 7th anniversary of my blog, The DIY Mommy. On this exact day 7 years ago, I wrote my first blog post on how to make a diaper cake. It was short & sweet, I took a photo of a diaper cake that my aunt made for me, I uploaded the photo and typed the instructions into my little WordPress blog, and hit publish. I was going to make a blog about making things for babies, and document all of the things that I made for my own daughter who was 6 months old at the time. I was 25 years old, and I was ready for a new outlet for my creativity. I was ready for a fun, new hobby that combined my love for sewing and crafting with my love for graphic and web design. If I would have told my 25 year old self that this hobby blog would turn into an almost-full-time job for me and be a source of income for our family, I wouldn't have believed it! Let me share with you 7 things that I've learned along my 7 year blogging journey. Here are a few huge things that slowly turned my blog from a hobby into my career, and I also want to give you a gift at the end of this post for sticking with me through my blogging journey!
I've learned SO much about this business called blogging over the past 7 years. And I'm still learning something new every day! It's such a fun and exciting career, and if you're creative & love to learn like I do, it's such a fantastic job. Here are 7 important things I've learned after 7 years of blogging:
1. Network With Other Bloggers
You won't believe what can happen if you meet other bloggers and help each other. You can meet online through Facebook or Instagram groups, or meet for coffee in person. Brainstorm with each other, share tips with each other, and share each other's blog posts on your social media channels and in your own blog posts. Collaborate on group challenges on your blog and social channels. Put aside any competitive feelings, and realize that there's room for all sorts of people in the blogging world. Do it. It's life changing, and you'll meet some kindred spirits in the process!
2. Take Good Photos
When I started blogging, my photos were OK but they weren't beautiful. I had a point-and-shoot camera, and I didn't stop to think about things like composition, lighting, or staging. I think my photos have changed dramatically over the last few years - especially my home décor photos - and I've worked really hard at learning how to use my camera properly and practicing. I recommend reading a lot of photography tutorials online about lighting, composition, and staging, and also talking to other professionals or taking a photography course. Your blog photos will make or break your blog, especially if you're in the home décor + DIY arena like I am. A gorgeous photo is more apt to be shared on social media or featured in magazines. WORK THAT CAMERA!
3. Keep On Top of Social Media Changes
It's important to keep up with how to use social media sites best and which ones are becoming more or less popular to use. Social media is a HUGE part of blogging because it's a great way to market your blog posts. My current favourite social sites to share my blog posts on are Instagram and Facebook, but I'm seeing that Snapchat is starting to gain momentum. I think as bloggers, we need to keep a close eye on which social media sites seem to be the most popular or the best performing for our blog and milk those for all they're worth. We also need to continually experiment with which types of posts perform best on which social sites (for example, ugly before photos seem to work best for me on Facebook), and we also need to read all of the latest articles and blog posts on the changes that social sites are making. Algorithms, terms and conditions, and promotion guidelines seem to be constantly changing on sites like Facebook, so we need to stay in the loop!
4. Know Your SEO
SEO stands for "search engine optimization", and it's something that I think every blogger needs to have a good handle of. Google around, take a course, or talk to other bloggers to see what works best to optimize your blog for search engines. Google is a huge referrer to my blog, so I'm always trying to see what I can do to my blog posts to make them easier for people to find on Google. For me, things like using "heading" tags, naming my photos properly, and being clever with my key words and content works really well for my SEO.
5. Think Quality Over Quantity
I've experimented with the quality VS quantity thing a lot here on The DIY Mommy. During some seasons, I'll write a blog post a day. During others, it's been once a week. What I've learned is that it doesn't really matter how many posts you write in a week. For me, it's mattered that the posts that I DO write are good ones full of great content and beautiful photos. It matters that I share the living daylights out of them on social media, and then re-share them when I have a lull in creating and writing. I don't think it's a good idea to write a blog post every day of the week just for the sake of having a ton of content. Do you have the time and creativity to write amazing posts 5 days a week? Then do it! If you think it's only feasible to pump out one really great post a week, then I think you should do that. Just make sure that whatever volume of posts you're writing are your best work.
6. Patiently Work Hard
You might blog for 3 years and not see much return for your efforts. It might only be 3 months until your first major brand gig knocks on your door. The important thing is to work hard at making your blog helpful, beautiful, and full of amazing content. The opportunities will come eventually if you do that. I promise! Put aside a specific time of day where you create, another block of time for editing photos and writing, and then another for sharing your posts. Be consistent with your time commitment, and make a schedule. Use services like Buffer to schedule your social sharing posts to save you time, and pre-write your blog posts in one large chunk and schedule those out as well. Keep creating. Keep working. Don't give up. I'm a firm believer in the fact that hard work pays off. I've worked hundreds and hundreds of hours on my blog, and it's definitely paid off for me!
7. Find Your Voice and Work It
What does your voice sound like? Are you funny? Clever? Caring? Easy-going? Write your blog posts like you speak to a friend. Make sure that your blog posts sound like YOU. What's your favouite colour? Use it in your blog design. What's your favourite design style? Modern or vintage? Use that in your blog design and make it shine through your photos. Find your voice and your personal style and make sure that every photo, every blog post, every social share, and every thing about your blog says YOU. People will start recognizing your work and you'll establish yourself as a unique blogger with a strong sense of style!
I hope you found these tips helpful as you work on creating or maintaining your own blog!
I also want to thank all of you for reading my blog and following along with me on my blogging journey here. I appreciate each and every one of you! To celebrate my 7 year blogiversary and to thank you for all of your support, here's a free printable piece of artwork for you. It's one of my favourite quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder: "Home is the nicest word there is." Click on the photo below to download a PDF printable 8 x 10" copy!
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!