Brandyn Blaze

Life Between The Scenes

Month: August 2017

The 10 Biggest Blogging Mistakes I’ve Made and How To Avoid Them

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: until very recently, I was considering 10 views a day to be a “good day” for this blog.

To some of you, that may seem laughable.  To a lot more of you, that probably seems very relatable. Putting all the time and effort into creating the best content you can, only to have it read by a mere handful of people can be disheartening. It’s also extremely frustrating, especially if you’ve had some previous successes.

Before I shut it down, “Life, Motherhood and The Pursuit of Happiness” was doing really well. I was getting a few thousand views a month, tons of comments, and actually getting shares from other people. I had a fair amount of subscribers and the Facebook page for that blog had 700 followers, which I naively believed would just naturally migrate over to the new blog.

I was sadly mistaken.

A few people followed along, but I saw a dramatic decrease in traffic and watched my social media following stall out. As you can imagine, this also impacted book sales and brought my other ventures to a halt. It was terribly frustrating, to say the least. For the last year and a half, I have been plugging away, trying to figure out what was going wrong.

When my husband and I started kicking around the idea of me sucking it up and finding a “real job”, I knew I had to do something.  I’ve worked so hard to establish myself as a legitimate author and designer, throwing it away was not in the cards.

I began thinking about all the things I had done to make “Life, Motherhood, and The Pursuit of Happiness” a successful site and decided to apply all I had learned to this blog. Although this site has been up for close to two years, I had to start thinking of it in terms of a brand new blog and start from scratch. A daunting feat to be sure!

Within a week I noticed a dramatic change in my stats. Soon, I was back on track.

I decided to share what I’ve done to bring this site back from the dead in the hopes of helping fellow bloggers increase their reach.

 

blogging mistakes, blog tips

1. Being Generic

When I first started blogging, I was deathly afraid of alienating people. This led to me keeping things pretty bland, which obviously did nothing to keep people reading. I made the same mistake when I started this blog, in the hopes of looking more professional. In both cases, I found that as soon as I started publishing heartfelt pieces and injecting more of my true personality into my writing, my views went up. So did engagement. Don’t water yourself down out of fear. Trust that the right audience will appreciate your authenticity.

2. Not Joining Blog Hops or Groups

When I ran my first blog, I was joining several blog hops (also known as link-ups or linky parties) each week and sharing my posts in several blog groups across various social media platforms. Originally, I had avoided that on this site. To me, having those badges on the bottom of my posts (or in my sidebar) looked unprofessional. However, we all have to start somewhere and in the beginning you are basically writing for other bloggers. From there your audience can grow quite well, but it is definitely a community, not a one-man show.

3. Not Using Social Media Effectively

When I was starting out, I was barely using social media at all. Eventually, I found myself with the opposite problem and using it too much. You want to find the sweet spot and focus on the platforms you actually enjoy. Trying to keep up with 20 different profiles leaves little time to focus on creating content. Personally, I mostly focus on Facebook and Twitter. I also use Instagram for all my images, and have it automatically publish to my Facebook page and my Twitter account, which is a great time saver. I also have my Facebook posts publish to my Twitter account so I don’t have to write as many separate tweets. I use FPTraffic to share daily images and links to Facebook to cut back on the amount of time I have to spend posting things as well.

The other key is to avoid constantly promoting yourself. Share things from other sources as well, share bits about yourself and your life. Keep a well-balanced mix of content to avoid burning out your followers. This is something that has worked very well for me in the past and that I’ve been working harder on implementing for this blog with great results.

It is also worth noting that the occasional promoted post can do wonders. While part of me hates the pay-to-play aspect, if you have something you want to make sure gets seen it can be a useful strategy and can often result in new followers.

4. Not Interacting With Other Bloggers

This kind of goes hand in hand with joining blog hops and groups, but I think it’s important enough to stress here as well. You need to be involved in the community to grow! Comment on blog posts. When someone shares something on social media be sure to like, comment, and share. Email other bloggers. Strike up friendships!

Not only is it always nice to add to your circle of friends, but you never know when you may need someone else’s expertise. You may even be able to help them out or join together in a project that benefits both of you.

5. Thinking It Will Take Off Overnight

Every now and then I feel down about how long it’s taken to get this site off the ground. However, when I think back on my first blog, I realize that it took me about two years before I finally gained some traction. It takes a lot of hard work to build your following. You’ll spend hours writing content, editing images, and promoting your work only to feel let down when it doesn’t immediately pay off. There will be times when you wonder why you are even doing this. Stick with it! One day something will stick and open up more doors for you. If you enjoy what you’re doing and have a little faith, you’ll find the right audience. Just keep doing the best you can and learning along the way.

 

blogging tips, quote hard work, working hard, blogging mistakes

 

 

6. Not Treating It Like A Business

Even if your goal isn’t to make money off of your blog, if you want to be successful you absolutely have to treat it like a business. Figure out exactly what you want out of your blogging experience and go for the gold! You need to carve out enough time to do it well and guard that time with your life. Let others know how important it is to you, and treat your blogging time with the same respect you’d treat your working hours at any other job. One of the great things about blogging is you can set your own hours and be flexible, but don’t let that slide into you putting it on the back burner. If you need to focus on writing next Wednesday and can’t agree to that lunch invite, plan lunch for another day. Do whatever you have to do to make your work a priority.

Half-assed efforts lead to half-assed results.

7. Not Knowing What Your Goals Are

Why do you blog? What do you want to offer to others? What results would you like to see? What are you willing to spend? How important is it to make an income from your blog? How much do you eventually want to make?

These are the sorts of questions you should know the answers to.

When I started blogging, it was just something to do to fill the time. I wanted to get used to sharing my work and to possibly help others as I shared my experiences as bits of knowledge I’d acquired. Eventually, I decided I wanted to turn it into a career.  For me now, this blog is a hub that allows me to express myself, andto  provide encouragement, support, and information to others. It also serves to lead people to my products. For others, the blog itself may be the product.

Whatever you wish to achieve, you must have it well defined in your mind. Write it down, and figure out how you are going to get there. Break it into smaller milestones and develop an action plan to achieve them. What do you need to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to make it work?

I like to stick all those tiny, actionable steps in my planner and tick them off as I go. You may have another system that works better for you. Maybe you like lists or charts. Maybe you like to keep it all in your mind. Regardless of how you track your progress, you absolutely need to have a clear vision before you can make something a reality.

8. Not Having A Content Calendar…Or Being Too Reliant On One

I know, I know, that sounds contradictory. Allow me to explain.

When I first started out, I was just winging it. Sometimes this worked well, but more often than not it would lead to stress as I stared helplessly at my keyboard, trying to find something to write about. Eventually, I started keeping a list of ideas that I could pull from and that helped a little.

Then one day, I decided to plan out a year’s worth of posts in one go. I sat down with a fresh notebook and wrote down all my publishing dates (I used to post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and then I planned a topic for each of those dates. Some of them were very concrete ideas (like a tutorial or recipe) and others were more vague (like “something about Father’s Day”). I remember feeling so relieved to have the hard part done. Now all I had to do was write!

What happened was, I still found myself struggling. Sometimes I didn’t feel about writing the post I had planned or it turned out I didn’t have as much to say about the topic as I thought I did. Other times, I’d get a great new idea I wanted to write immediately or I wanted to write about something that was currently trending. Then I’d stress for hours as I tried to rearrange my calendar. Often times I’d just let those ideas go to stick to my schedule and later wish I hadn’t.

What I’ve learned is that it is absolutely helpful and ideal to have a content calendar. Knowing what posts to write next and being able to write in advance and schedule things for later definitely eases the burden. However, shoot for smaller windows of time and allow for changes to be made. Sure, you may know that you want holiday themed posts on a certain day and can reserve those well in advance, but I find it is better to plan everything else a month or two out at a time and keep the other ideas in a separate list to get to later. This affords the opportunity to move things around more easily if the need arises.

9. Paying Too Much For Hosting — Or Not Paying At All!

While I absolutely understand starting your blog on a free platform (which is where I began!), eventually you’ll have to pony up and pay for hosting. A website looks much more professional when you have your own domain name, and it goes a long way towards branding. There’s also something to be said for owning your own page.

There are many affordable options nowadays, so purchasing your domain name and getting hosting is a breeze. Shop around and find a company that fits your budget and needs–just be sure to do your research! Unfortunately, the internet is full of scammers, so always be sure you are purchasing from a reliable source.

Personally, I use Bluehost for my hosting. I have had great experiences with their customer service team on the rare occasion that things have gone wrong and they offer several packages that are easily affordable.

10. Worrying Too Much

This is by far the biggest mistake any of us make in our day to day lives. Whether it’s worrying about our blog stats or wondering if we are doing a good enough job, or worrying about something in our personal lives, this is something we could all stand to do a lot less. Worrying does nothing but rob us of joy and keep us from performing at our best. In fact, I’ve found that the posts I was most worried about have consistently been my best performing pieces.  Relax and enjoy your work! Keep learning and doing the best you can, and do what makes you happy! The rest will sort itself out.

 

quote abraham lincoln worry, blogging mistakes, blog tips

 

I know blogging, or any creative pursuit, can be full of hurdles. No matter what problems you’re facing, attack them head-on. Never stop searching for solutions and never lose site of the dream.

The Inner Workings Of A Flake

I’ve always been a flakey person. I get big ideas and get excited about them, only to shelve them immediately when something new pops into my head. I change hobbies faster than some people change their underwear, and am constantly re-evaluating my opinions on just about everything. I overbook my weekends and cancel plans. I forget to return borrowed items, leave birthday gifts sitting by my front door for months before actually getting them to the giftee, and somehow manage to forget that my phone has the ability to dial out.

I’ve always been this way, and I’ve made some great strides in learning to keep my head down, but it’s tough.

The other day I ran across this old post I had written for “Life, Motherhood, and the Pursuit of Happiness” where I explored the perpetually distracted nature of my mind.

I laughed as I read through it, realizing that I could just as easily write the same post today. I’m still just taking this thing one day at a time and learning to implement more mindfulness to combat the flakiness.

Today, I would like to share that post as it ran on January 3, 2014.

***

A few days ago I noticed a picture on the wall in my Almost-In-Laws’ den (which is currently serving as our bedroom). It’s a picture of the 3 Stooges on a firetruck with a caption that reads, “When disaster strikes, don’t send a stooge…send three!”. I’m sure it’s always been there, but somehow I never saw it. This isn’t a rare occurrence. For some reason, my brain just flat-out ignores most of my surroundings.

This malfunction of gray matter annoys the living daylights out of Almost-Husband, as he feels it is a detriment to my personal safety. Now that we have a little one, it worries him even more.

I’ve never seen it as a hindrance to my safety, as I’m quite certain that I wouldn’t miss a raving lunatic heading my way or anything that drastic. It is, however, a trait I wish I could get rid of. Mostly I think my brain is too focused on itself and providing me a constant stream of ideas, worries, and insights for me to truly focus on much else. Maybe it’s a product of my unmanaged anxiety disorder, maybe it’s due to my (also unmanaged,) ADD, I’m not really sure. What I am sure of is that I hated the way meds make me feel and this is the way I’ve been for as long as I can remember.

I’d love to be able to be truly present. I strive to better myself in that direction and try hard to make it happen, but it exhausts me. While I’m washing dishes, I’m writing a new song. While I’m playing with my daughter, I’m mentally preparing my to-do list. While I’m watching a movie, I’m analyzing how and why I came to be who I am now. I’m constantly dreaming, thinking, and scheming. I’m imagining a future conversation or mentally revising an old one, contemplating how different things would be if I’d said something different. My mind just never shuts off.

This contributes greatly to my extreme clumsiness, as I’m too preoccupied to look where I’m going. It causes frustrations with others when I have to ask them to repeat what they’ve just said…often numerous times, as my mind drifts off. I lose things constantly. I forget things easily (which might have something to do with my over-reliance on lists).  But nowhere does this state of constant distraction cause more chaos than when I’m driving.

Not only is it presumably dangerous to be driving while distracted, but my lack of observation skills means that I’m pretty much always lost. Even though I’ve lived in the same small, Iowa town for the entirety of my 26 year existence, I never know where I’m going.

 

flakey person, easily lost, confused all the time, space case, Adult ADHD

If it wasn’t for GPS I’d never get anywhere…ever.

It doesn’t matter if I’ve driven the same route a hundred times. I somehow manage to get myself completely lost and confused. This stresses me out, as I know I should be able to get around on my own, and that stress causes more stress to those who have to deal with my stress (which is a task most often reserved for Almost-Husband). Their stress adds to my stress and well, I’m sure you can see the infinite stress magnification that occurs and the melt-downs that can ensue.

I don’t know how to fix this problem beyond trying to force my brain to listen to me and focus, which hasn’t yielded many results thus far. I do, however, have a theory as to where my sub-par directional skills originated.

I think that at least in that particular instance, it comes down to this: as I kid, I didn’t have to pay attention to where we were going, so I didn’t. Some adult (usually Mom) was driving and I trusted that they would get us to our destination, so I busied myself with other things. I focused intently on the music playing on the radio or I contemplated life’s mysteries or thought about which Barbie I was going to play with when I got home. You know, kid stuff. I never once tried to memorize landmarks or took any notice of what was going on outside of my own head. Once I learned to drive, I suddenly realized that I didn’t know where anything was. I still don’t really have much of a clue. In fact, I’m fairly certain I’ve gotten lost in my own home at least once.

Luckily for all of you (I hope), a good portion of my zoning out now leads to amazing blog posts like these. You’re welcome, by the way. For your sake, I hope I never get a hold of my runaway imagination. For the sake of my sanity and that of my family, however, I hope someday I’ll be able to reign it in enough to give people the attention they truly deserve and really be in the moment during those special bonding moments. Additionally, I get pretty tired of being known as the flighty, space cadet blonde who couldn’t find her way out of a paper bag. I guess until I find a solution, I just have to embrace it or drive myself nuts.

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