It’s my 17th Blogiversary this year (yes, you read that correctly – 17th!). It’s been an incredible journey, and both blogging and I have changed exponentially. Today I’m sharing the inside scoop on the most important things I have learned about blogging over the past 17 years.
The Most Important Things I Have Learned About Blogging
1. You Can’t Do Everything All By Yourself
This is probably one of the most important things I have learned about blogging. It’s all about collaboration, not competition.
When I first launched my website, I was super protective of everything I did. If someone shared a blog post or recipe that was even vaguely similar to one of mine, I’d spend ages feeling a bit miffed about the whole thing. I didn’t reach out to other bloggers for collaborations because I was afraid it would be detrimental to me. I couldn’t have been more wrong!
You can’t do it all by yourself. Competition is rarely productive, and it can lead to major headaches (literally and figuratively!). Collaboration lifts us all up. Whether it’s a link party that boosts your traffic and expands your reach, a shared promotion, or helping another blogger, author or business owner publicise a book or course they have written, helping others is always a good thing.
Promotions and collaborations have led to many opportunities, opened lots of doors for me, and have sometimes even led to friendships in real life.
2. Don’t Be Too Quick To Work For Free
In the beginning I’d get so excited if a brand wanted to work with me, even if it was just in exchange for product or ‘shares on our social media pages’. I’d put in hours of work, and get virtually nothing back – especially if the brand wasn’t very ethical about crediting or tagging the work.
Creating a sponsored post takes time, and the post occupies space on my blog. Both of these are worth money, so if a brand wants to work with me they need to have a budget. Although my accounts have yet to be in the black due to the costs of running the blog and other demands on my time, one of the things I have learned about blogging is that you should rarely work for free. I may help my colleagues as I mentioned above or do pro bono work for charity, but my time, effort and influence are chargeable.
3. Integrity Is Crucial
I’ve never said I liked a product I truly didn’t, but in the beginning let’s just say I always looked for the positive. If something was truly abysmal, I would refuse to review it instead of saying anything negative.
After about 5 years I realised that when it comes to sharing a product or service on this blog, honestly is the only policy. If I don’t use or believe in a brand, I won’t work for them. I do turn down a lot of work, and I’m grateful I have the luxury of doing that.
If I recommend something, I really do believe in it. Your trust means everything to me. That said, we can’t all like the same things, and I can’t guarantee that everyone will love the same products or services I do. However if I say that I use or believe in a product, that is the absolute truth.
4. It’s Important To Reinvent Yourself Regularly
When I first started out, I was a thirty-something housewife and mom. One of the first mom bloggers, I launched The 21st Century Housewife® to support other housewives and stay at home moms like myself.
In the last 17 years, that website has evolved into a leading lifestyle blog, and I’m a mid-life, much wiser, housewife and empty-nester.
I look a lot different than I did all those years ago, and so does the blog. Through 4 redesigns, 2 web designers, 3 hosting companies, and about 4 personal reinventions, both the blog and I have evolved into our best selves.
It’s been a challenging journey, and I’m really proud of both of us. I can’t wait to see where our next evolution takes us!
5. A Mailing List Is More Important Than Social Media
This is another one of the most important things I have learned about blogging! Social media algorithms, the fact that Facebook is now big business, and the cut throat nature of the follow/unfollow game some people play makes social media really unreliable. It’s important, but you have to think about what would happen if it all disappeared – or if it all became pay to play, which seems a bit more likely these days. All you would have is your mailing list.
You need to devote time and energy to what you are offering your readers in terms of a newsletter, bonus content and freebies. It has taken me nearly 17 years to learn this, and now I’m playing catch up.
Funnily enough, this is now actually one of the parts of blogging I now enjoy the most. Developing my mini ebook “5 Vintage Family Recipes” was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. I can’t wait to develop and share more content like it!
6. Have Some Fun
These were the last words of advice in my late father’s speech at my wedding, and his advice is also one of the most important things I have learned about blogging. While blogging has changed exponentially over the last 17 years, it should still be fulfilling personally and professionally. Most of all, it should be fun.
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April J Harris® and The 21st Century Housewife® are Trademarks of April J Harris in the United Kingdom.