The Life of Jennifer Dawn: Behind the Blog: 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Behind the Blog: 10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Blogging

 "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 Drummond
The 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 >>>>>>>>>>
Early on I shared pictures of 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.
I wrote that first blog post over seven years ago. It's funny how far both my life and my blog have come over the last several years. Looking back there are certainly things I wish I had known about blogging when I first started. Things like...

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...
And I'm not done sharpening those photography skills yet. I'm striving everyday to take photos prettier than the ones before. It's the teacher in me--committing to being a life-long learner.

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.
7. 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 think know I talk to more than my local friends. This has been one of the greatest blessings to come out of blogging--the friendships I've made.
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.
When I first started blogging, I was a new mom with a point and shoot camera who just wanted to share her little corner of the world on a blog. Feet first...I jumped right in! And it really has been a beautiful adventure. The journey is not over yet though! There's so much more to come!

Behind the Blog--A New Series
This post is the first installment of a new series I'm doing with several other bloggers. (See! I did learn how important it is to connect with others.) Each month we'll be sharing what goes on behind the scenes of blogging. You can read more about the 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
The Natural Homeschool // "Can I Start a Blog?" This is My Story
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?

Happy reading!
Oh, and thanks for following along!
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  1. This is great, Jennifer! You really touch on things that all of us have to go through to grow. You're doing a phenomenal job, and I love to see where you've come from and I look forward to where you're going. :)

  2. Oh my goodness, do I LOVE this post! I completely agree with all the things you wished you knew before starting a blog, and I found myself nodding my head as I read because these points ALL resonate. I have made some of my best friends blogging, and I love connecting with other bloggers. Like you, I'm a solo shop (and probably always will be!), but there's so much love, time and energy put into my work that it makes me smile knowing there are folks like you who are working just as hard and loving every minute of it.

    So excited that I'm getting to know you through this year-long series. Looking forward to following your blog and you!

  3. Blogging has opened a new world to me, and I will always love it. Those are all true, we don't really know what to expect when we first enter the blogging industry.

  4. there's a lot that you mentioned that i wish i had knew when i first started blogging too. i'm coming up on my one year blog anniversary and i have learned so much! i hope this list will help others as they start out

  5. Well done Jen you have come so far and your blog looks amazing. I hope I do as well as you.

  6. It is definitely more time consuming than I first thought but I'm loving it :) I'm still working on improving my photography skills.

  7. Even though you didn't know those things then you do now and look how far you've come. Your blog is beautiful.

  8. I really wish I knew these things when I first started blogging. So very true and I hope new bloggers find this post. I love blogging now, It has opened a whole new world to me and I love our Bloggers forums and family!

  9. This is so true and it is for this reason that so many give up before there is success. Many thought it was going to be so easy but it is a lot of work

  10. Those are things I wish I knew too!! Thanks for sharing them they are going to be very helpful for new bloggers!

  11. Yoru pictures are great. I'm intimidated by a good camera but I might take a plunge someday just the same.

  12. I also wish I knew about these things when I started out. This will help the newbies a lot.

  13. I think to know everything is quite impossible, but you’ve made a great work! I enjoy reading your post and all photos are very beautiful! So keep on creating such interesting content!

  14. I started blogging 10+ years ago and stopped and started so many times. I am on my third blog now and this time, as you said, I am taking it slowly and making it all about me! Meaning, I blog about what is important to me, what I know and what I wish to know more about. Gradually, things will pick up, the photographs will get better. Thanks so much for a great post!

  15. Yes yes and yes to alllll those I'm definitely in #3 right now and really leaning all I can and its helping so much already !!! Laci

  16. The buying of content has gotten so out of hand, hasn't it? It's not something I can do either, and it saddens me that it's not disclosed they didn't produce the content themselves.

  17. I have been blogging for like 3 years and yes, I wish I had known these things before! I seriously learn something new everyday from blogging.

  18. I love #6! Like you I've been on this journey a while, before plans and conferences... And it is hard not to compare myself to those with seemingly overnight success... But it is about the journey!

  19. This is absolutely a great post. I love the number 4 have a plan for my blogging.

  20. Great post! thanks for sharing this i love all the tips i think they are going to be really useful for me on this learning process

  21. Blogging is definitely a live and learn deal! My blog is coming up on it's one year anniversary and I've definitely learned a few of these points over the last year, but I'm going to keep them all in mind as year #2 starts! :)

  22. This is such an inspirational story! Your pictures are always amazing and I appreciate following your work. You are so talented!

  23. Great points! I am working on not comparing right now. This can be hard because my younger brother who lives with me blogs as well. His blog is in a completely different nitch but is a lot more successful than mine.

  24. Your story sounds so much like mine. In high school I didn't even know how to turn on the computer when I took a computer course. I don't need to tell you how little I knew about the Internet, much less blogging when I first began. And pictures. Oh, I cringe when I see those early posts. Pinterest wasn't a thing then, so it wasn't as crucial as it is now, but those posts! It has definitely been a journey! Looking forward to seeing where we both go along the way.

  25. You have definitely learned some awesome things since you began blogging! Thanks for sharing your lessons with us! <3

  26. I love your blog! There are so many things I wish I knew before I started, but I obviously didn't start in a place where I'd planned to stick with it. Love these tips and there are several I still need to work on (like networking.)


Each and every one of your comments means so much to me. I love to hear from friends both old and new. Thanks for taking the time to stop by my little corner of the world and thanks for taking the time to let me know you were here.