(Photo credit: Lauren Iwen with Lauren Iwen Photography // @LaurenIwen)
Today is my three year blogging anniversary. That’s right, three years ago I wrote this little post proclaiming that I had a bun in the oven. Three years, I decided that this would be my little place on the internet and that I would share my journey with all of you. And what a journey it has been.
Last year, I shared what I had learned in two years of blogging, so I figured I’d continue the tradition and share what I’ve learned in three years of blogging. I’m in no way claiming to have all the answers, but this is where I am so far and what I consider to be blogging essentials.
(Disclaimer: Yes, I might use some affiliate links. It’s how I try to make some money from this blog of mine. You can click the links and I might get some cash, but that doesn’t change the content of what I was going to write anyway.)
Blogging Essentials – Four things worth spending money on
When I got started, my blog looked REALLY basic. I had a free WordPress theme and pretty minimal design. After a month of sticking to it, I bought my domain name and had a site designed for me. It was a whole year later when I had a logo designed for this site. And only a few months ago, I started to invest in tools to help me grow and run this blog of mine.
So, what do I think you should spend money on with a blog?
- A domain. This is the first thing people notice about your site, and they aren’t all that expensive to register. Pick your blog name and register the domain. It makes a big difference. I’ve also sorta failed at this recently, because I keep saying that I will switch to a .com domain soon, and I just haven’t gotten there yet.
- Site design. Maybe you’re a designer or a developer and can do it all yourself. And yes, it’s true that ANYONE can design a site thanks to all the easy, magical tools out there. But honestly, value your time and take advantage of someone else’s skills. Pay someone more talented than you to build you a perfect site. It’s honestly worth every penny.
- Logo. Similar to the idea above. Sure, you could go into Canva, drag some elements around, play with fonts and colors and make a logo. But it won’t ever be as indicative of who you are as going with a designer. My designer took the time to truly understand me and this blog, creating a logo that’s ideal for what I am and do.
- Automation tools. I recently signed up for Tailwind, and I now get a steady stream of traffic from Pinterest. Going forward, I also want to get a Milotree extension and add to my mailing list automation. But tools that help me do things can be really worthwhile.
What I learned – Don’t spend money on these extras
When I got started, It was clear that inviting my friends to like my Facebook page was only going to get me so far. I decided to run an ad campaign to grow my Facebook likes. And it worked. I grew the page and found a larger audience.
But then I started boosting posts to grow reach and engagement. And while that did work in a sense, giving me better vanity stats, the reality is that it really didn’t do much for getting people to click through to this blog, or even start following my page. Facebook LOVES to push people to boost posts, but I’m honestly not sure it’s money well spent. Rather craft a perfect ad from scratch than boost an existing post.
Blogging Essentials – Audience
One of the first things anyone will tell you in blogging or really doing anything online is to imagine your audience. If you can picture who it is you’re talking to, you’ll write better posts that appeal to your target.
It’s true, to a point. I am most definitely a mommy blog, even if I don’t always like that term. I want to write blogs that are interesting to other moms. That might mean blogging about child development, or about my questioning if we should have a second kid.
But I’m also very much a geeky person, which is why I always like to include some geeky elements where I can. Whether I’m writing about a game I love, the books I’m reading or how I’m sharing geek stuff with my kid, there’s a reason this blog is called Born Geek.
Prepping a blog about this amazing experience I had at #catchmeatluxe! It’s so great to be surrounded by other creative people, and I want to share some of the things I figured out that day. Plus, you just have to see how gorgeous Harley looks in some of these pictures!! 😱😍 (and I might even have a ton of great choices for my own new profile pic!) I also love seeing how she played with the other kids – I thought 2 year olds couldn’t do that yet, but apparently she can! Just check her out, hanging out with @jennloydlifestyle’s munchkin! 📷: @sarahhoagphotography
What I learned – Surprisingly popular posts
So, here I am thinking that the majority of my readers will want to follow along with our journey, or learn something about parenting. But in reality, one of my most popular posts is all about our emigration journey.
People are curious about how we got from SA to the States. Not only is it one of my most read posts, it’s also the one that gets me the most private messages. That might not have been my target audience, but it’s an audience that has found me nonetheless, and who I still want to speak to.
Blogging Essentials – Consistency is key
The more regularly I blog, the better I do. In the beginning, I used to blog pretty much every working day. I always had new content going up, sharing my story or ideas, putting myself out there. Once Harley was born and we got her home, things slowed down. And once she could walk, my blogging slowed down even more.
The more I blog, the better. People want to read new things, so creating new content is important. But it also gives me a reason to share, which is crucial. The more I post on Facebook and Instagram, the more I share on Twitter and Pinterest, the more people find me and decide to see what I’m all about. By posting more often, I remember to share more often, which means that I generally just interact on a more regular basis.
What I learned – Sometimes it’s enough to be proud of showing up
Lately, I’ve been lucky if I manage to blog once or twice a week. I wish I were more consistent. I wish I could follow a blogging schedule, promising new content every Tuesday or something. I wish I could go back to doing regular Facebook Lives. That’s still something very much in my plan, but I just haven’t gotten there yet.
Life is busy. Parenting is busy. And lately, I feel like I’m in a severe time famine. But I still love to write, to share, and to connect with all of you. No, it might not be as often as I like, or on a regular basis like I’d prefer. But, in the same way that old friends let you pick up where you left off, I’m always happy and proud when I show up here, when I share what’s happening.
So, if you’re wondering what I learned from three years of blogging, it’s that you should celebrate the successes and keep moving past the things that don’t work for you. Just keep showing up when you can. This is my corner of the internet, one that I try to visit as often as I can, and I’m always happy to see you meet me here.
Also, never let the numbers get you down. Imagine if you had to have all your readers over for dinner. Could you fit them around your table? In your house? Sometimes we get sad thinking “only X people read this blog post”, but that’s still X number of people who you’ve connected with. That’s magical!