"It would have been nice if I actually knew what I was doing. But that's the beauty of blogging: you just jump right in whether you know anything or not!" --Ree DrummondThe Pioneer Woman wrote that in a post years ago when she was sharing insight into her early days of blogging. She started with a point and shoot camera and a longing to connect with others while living on a working cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere.
I am nowhere near the position she's reached but I, too, started my blog with a point and shoot camera and a desire to try something new. In my first blog post, I even described it as "my feeble attempt at giving something new a try," and feeble it was. That post didn't even have a picture with it.
Judging from the quality of my early pictures, that may have been a good thing. There I am--red eye and all--from an early blog post. Oh, but I was happy. So happy! I started blogging when I was pregnant with my first child, and we had just found out in that picture that we were having a baby girl. Tim was all red-faced because he'd been crying tears of joy over the news. I shared the excitement with all five of the loyal readers who saw that post. I'm actually pretty sure that those five pageviews were all just my mother. Bad photo alert >>>>>>>>>>
the nursery and the house. Tim and I were newlyweds just starting out in a new home, so things looked a little sparse. When Lydia Grace was born, pictures of her cute, little face took over the blog. I began writing about motherhood with a few crafts and recipes sprinkled in here and there. The blog was a journal for my life. I mean that's the whole reason why it was named The Life of Jennifer Dawn.
1. Take The Blog Seriously
I don't mean so serious that it wouldn't have been fun. I mean serious in the way that I wish I'd known it would grow and people would actually read it someday--other than my mother. I spent years kicking back being way too nonchalant about improving, promoting, providing quality content, or even monetizing the blog. Those were years that I could have come out with a bang!
2. Quality Over Quantity
I can't even tell you the number of posts sitting way, way back in the archives that I look at now and wonder why I ever felt the need to hit "publish." What was I thinking with some of those?! I'll tell you what I was thinking. I thought I needed to post more frequently and fill-up space. I know now that quality is key! I keep them in the archives though because they remind me how far along this little blog of mine has come.
3. The Importance of Beautiful Photos
I should have ditched the point and shoot and opted for a good DSLR camera the moment I decided to start a blog. I also should have worked on sharpening my photography skills long before I did. The pictures have come a long way though.
I've gone from this (my first popular post)...
to something more like this...
4. Have a Plan
In those formative years of blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. I needed a plan! Content, branding, promotion, and design should have all been planned out. I should have started with a good system for tagging and organizing my posts, as well as, optimizing posts from the beginning. It would have saved me a lot of time down the road. Like Ree confessed, sometimes you just jump right in whether you know what you're doing or not. I still don't always know what I'm doing, but I do know that blogging has given me so many new skills and opportunities that would not have come otherwise.
5. Be Patient
If blogging were a race, I'd be the turtle among the hares. Building the blog has been a slow process, but that's alright. I've been able to take in the view better from this pace.
6. Don't Compare
There are some bloggers who come out with a bang and reach phenomenal success in less than a year. That's not been my story though. I may still be a tiny blip on the blogging radar, but it's me--all of it. It's a one woman show here. I plan, make, photograph, edit, write, and promote all of the content on my own. I'm not sure if that makes me crazy or just stubbornly independent. I'll give you an update on that after another seven years. That does mean that sometimes things are a bit slower here than others, but I can promise you one thing. In a world where some bloggers are buying content right and left and claiming it as their own or pretending to be something they're not--that won't ever be me.
. Connecting With Others is Crucial
I was a lone island for years. I had no idea there were blog conferences, Facebook groups for bloggers, link parties, blog hops, and wonderful ways to connect with others on this blogging journey. I sat in my little bubble for way too long. I never saw other bloggers as my competition, but I also didn't make connecting with them a priority. That's a big mistake that I won't make again for the very reason you're about to read.
8. Blogging Builds Friendships
Some argue that technology hinders us from building authentic connections with others. I disagree. Through blogging, I've met some amazing women that I'm blessed to call my friends. Women like this lovely lady who I
9. Time consuming
Blogging has a lot of perks, but I wish I had known early on how time consuming it can be. There's a lot more to it than meets the eye. We'll get to that later in the series though. Would I have still started a blog if I had known how much work and time it takes? Sure, but I would have done some things differently in the beginning to have saved myself time and unnecessary hassle later on.
10. Blog Love
Even as challenging and time consuming as it can be, it's something that I've grown to love. I had no idea when I stepped into blogging how much I'd love it or how deeply I'd care for all of you who are following along with the journey. I've shared some of my best (babies, becoming a SAHM...) and worst moments (miscarriages, losing my dad to cancer...) here on the blog, and I appreciate each of you for being here through them.
Behind the Blog--A New Series
here. Grab a cup of coffee, get cozy, and take some time to read how the fantastic bloggers below jumped into their own blogging adventures!
Robb Restyle // Robb Restyle Beginnings
The Speckled Palate // The Speckled Palate's Beginning
Twin Stripe // Behind the Blog: Blog Beginning
The Natural Homeschool // "Can I Start a Blog?" This is My Story
Moms & Crafters // How to Start a Blog on the Right Foot
Arts & Crackers // I Never Meant to Start Blogging, But...
Smart Girls DIY // Three Years of Blogging How Did it All Begin?
Smart Girls DIY // Three Years of Blogging How Did it All Begin?
The Life of Jennifer Dawn // Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging
Thinking about starting a blog? Already have one? How did you get started? I'd love to hear about it in the comments! Do you have things you'd add to this list?
Oh, and thanks for following along!