Today I’m starting a new video series, where I’ll share “3 Things I Wish I’d Known” about various topics and life experiences.
Many will be about life as a wife and mother, but this first one is “3 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Started Blogging.” I’ve been blogging since the summer of 2006, and started blogging here (at jessconnell.com) in January of 2014. Prior to that, I had a different blog, and I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot the hard way.
Today I’m sharing with you 3 things I wish I would have known going into it, so that you can avoid making the same mistakes I did.
Watch the video here (or scroll down to read the transcript):
EMOTIONS & CONTROVERSY
The first thing I wish I’d known is how to discern what I’m emotionally capable of in a given season.
I used to write opinion posts, and then feel a hurt or a bit tender when someone thought I was completely wrong. In nearly a decade of blogging, I can’t tell you how many bloggers I’ve watched come and go (either by stopping blogging, or deleting their blog altogether) because of this one thing. It’s emotionally jarring to have someone tear into you because of something you’ve written.
Here’s what I had to realize: any topic you take on that’s controversial (breastfeeding, parenting, birth control), where people take a firm opinion & have strong feelings about it, will get back negative feedback. You can guarantee it… especially, if your blog is doing well! The great thing about getting your blog content out there is that you get feedback. But then you have to deal with the reality that some of that feedback is going to be negative.
So I wish I would have learned earlier how to deal with that, and how to discern what I could handle. Because there are seasons where you just can’t *take* as much as you can in others. If I’ve just had a baby, or have a busy summer full of church and community events, I (now) know that I probably won’t have the extra “margin” that I would need to take on controversial topics. Instead, I need to stick to subjects that I have the gut for.
That’s the first thing. I wish I would have learned sooner how to deal with those things, and decide in advance whether I had the gut to see that topic through all the way to the end, including angry comments and people who call you an “idiot” because you hold the opinion that you do.
For me now, an important part of blogging is deciding before I post something, if I am capable of taking on that level of controversy (including the negative pushback that will inevitably come). And because I do that, I’m more in control of my emotions and more in control of my writing and responses. When I take on a controversial topic, I do it with full knowledge that it’s going to require more time and more intestinal fortitude to handle any backlash that comes.
PACING & POSTING
The next thing is that I wish I would have known how to pace myself. When I first started, I was just putting out content. Whatever I thought up that day, I would post. And sometimes that looked like several posts a day, and then sometimes I would go one or two weeks, or sometimes even months, without posting.
I wish I would have thought more carefully about the pace at which I could put out good quality content so that people could get comfortable with my routines– (i.e., “Jess always posts a new article every Monday and Wednesday“). Some bloggers do something similar with “Thankful Thursday” or some other regular feature that their readers can count on.
For you, what that could look like is, “I’m a stay at home mom, and I’ve got three little ones ages four and under. I don’t have time to post multiple times a week. Instead, I’ll write a post when I can and every Monday, if I have a post, I’m going to post it, and that way readers can come to rely on that schedule– checking my blog for new content at the beginning of the week.”
Think about the rate at which you can write good content. Then regularly pace yourself, and consider using your scheduling feature to plan your posts in advance, rather than just putting it out there the moment that it’s written.
It’s fine to do it the other way (posting randomly), and in fact, if your goal is to use your blog as a personal diary or peek into your life, that is a perfectly great way to go about it. There is no reason to mess with scheduling if your blog is your way of sharing family events, or jotting down your personal thoughts for whoever wants to read them.
But if your goal is a blog that grows in readership and influence over time, you’ll want to develop a dependable approach to how readers can access your blog. If you’re going to post once a week, Monday morning or Sunday night is typically a good time to pick, so that readers know that at the beginning of the week, they can go to your blog and get something new & fresh from your pen.
ONGOING CONTACT WITH YOUR READERS
The third thing I wish I’d known is the importance of developing an e-mail list. In over 7 years of writing at my old blog, I had over 800,000 readers come to visit, read, and interact. And you know what I have to show for that? Nothing. I have no way to recontact those readers, no way to tell them about current articles they might be interested in, and no way to connect with them about projects that I’m releasing.
When I started my new website, I offered my e-book, One Thing: Top Tip (From a Mom of 6) as a freebie for people who signed up for my newsletter, and over the course of eleven months, with nearly 250,000 visitor chalked up (much quicker rate than my old blog!), I’ve developed an e-mail list that currently sits around 450 subscribers.
What that means is I have their permission to regularly contact them.
For my blog, because I write about Christian mothering, parenting, and marriage, these subscribers know that once a month, they’re going to get some sort of encouragement from me in one of those areas. This content is NOT on my blog; it’s special content that you only get if you subscribe to my newsletter. My monthly newsletter also keeps them informed about the articles that got the most interest & interaction that month. So if they had a busy month, they know they can scan through that e-mail and find links to articles that are of interest to them. That’s the way I use the newsletter/e-mail list feature.
But the great thing about it is that it allows you develop a relationship of trust, over time, with the same reader. Without an e-mail list, you’re just waiting for them to happen across your blog again, either by coming across it in their Facebook feed, or remembering to come back and check for new articles. Instead, by having that opt in feature (always have it be “opt-in”… never add someone without their permission; that’s illegal spamming!), you’re able to keep in contact with the same person. I’ve found it useful and encouraging, and I think my readers do too.
So, friends, those are the three things I wish I’d known before I started blogging.
IN THE COMMENTS, PLEASE SHARE:
- Which of these points did you most need to hear?
- If you’re a blogger, please share something you wish you’d known before you began.