Wow! This April I will have been blogging for 11 years! How crazy is that! What started out as a creative outlet accidentally became a business and is now a business that I am trying to grow. I’ve also seen bloggers come and go as well as “experts.”. But there are some things I’ve learned along the way that might help you on your own journey. Here are 5 blogging rules to break…on purpose. I recently came to a conclusion about my blogging career. It stresses me out too much. I feel like there are a ton of us out there in this same exact stage. We have decided to take our “hobby” and turn it in to a business. But for a lot of us, it isn’t easy. What once was my creative outlet is now a chore.
And while some of the “rules” are self-imposed (especially since I am my own boss – and trust me, I can be a total bitch), the to-do list to achieve success is never-ending.
After a few months of really spinning my wheels I decided to look long and hard at what the heck I’m doing here. Things need to change. Here are the rules I am currently breaking. In the name of happiness, I encourage you to do the same.
Blogging Rules to Break Right Now
1. Your Brand Identity is Everything
I’ve always struggled with the branding for my blog and how to best get across who I am and what I am all about to the readers. The branding leaders within the blogging realm will tell you that everything needs to be cohesive and well-defined and blanket all media channels. Each and everything you post, utter, share should perfectly reflect your brand.
People blog for different reasons. And all of them are right. For me, I blog because I enjoy sharing the things I like and what I am experiencing. I just can’t commit to the idea that when I am on Pinterest I am only supposed to pin the things that perfectly reflect my brand aesthetics. Guess what? Not every super delicious sounding recipe comes with a great image.
Of course, I want my boards to look nice but I like what I like and I’m not afraid to show it. Especially for Pinterest, I am breaking this rule. What “brand” has two thumbs and a home to manage? This gal. So if I want to pin a toilet bowl cleaning tip, I’m going to. If that makes someone not want to learn more about me than so be it. But guess who’s toilet is going to be cleaner…(Oh! and I found this great article that breaks down the difference between your brand and your identity.)
2. Pick a Blog Category
It has been said that readers have a hard time following lifestyle bloggers because they really don’t know what to expect in the way of posting topics from day-to-day. I totally understand that. But this gal is into a lot of different things. All of which I want to share with you.
I get that all of you don’t enjoy Abe Lincoln as much as I do but this is my place to share my love of him. Some days I want to share what my kids are doing. Some days I want to talk about easy cocktails. And I think that is ok.
I don’t think I have to pick just one avenue. I realize that may hinder me in some respects (I’m guessing a lot of food companies would love to work with food bloggers). And maybe a wine company doesn’t want me to post about their wine and then my kids the next day (truth: they go together like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong). But I am ok with that.
That being said, I do see how a nich might help you in terms of SEO. But that shouldn’t restrict you from sharing your soul with your readers.
3. Analyze your Analytics
I look at my blog traffic numbers once a day. And then I don’t do anything with them. If I stressed about hitting certain numbers I think it would take me so far away from what I want to do that I would eventually hate blogging and want to fight it in an alley. So I take my numbers with a grain of salt.
While my traffic has gotten me more in the way of affirmation from other bloggers and more notice from brands, it is not everything to me. I need to create content that I enjoy. If I followed what my analytics said were my readers favorite posts, I would be doing crafts all day.
My kids do not allow for many craft DIY posts. They are too time consuming and require a lot of pieces and work. I would much prefer to make a cocktail. Or a delicious, easy desserts that I can eat when it is done being photographed.
Of course, I want to keep my readers happy but I need to be happy too. The times when I have really focused on my traffic I have been able to grow it. Then I get burnt out and take a break and they go back down. What really is the point?
4. Blogging is all About the Money
Sometimes you make money from blogging. Sometimes you pay an awful lot of money to keep your blog going. When I decided to make a push towards turning it into more of a job, money was a big benchmark for my success. Given the number of usable hours I have in a day (I’m useless before the hours of 5 am and after 8 pm plus whatever time my family needs my attention) I found that I couldn’t do it all.
Either I created good content, or pitched new business or updated a social media platform. I have to choose. And right now I have to be ok with that. Those two little boys above are not going to wait for my blogging world to get sorted out. I literally started to feel like the world was just passing me by. It can’t just be about the money. It has to be fulfilling too (in whatever way you deem it so).
At my blogging level, we are encouraged to never work for free, never take a free product without further compensation and ask for triple what you have been getting. I think it needs to be up to each person to decide what is right for them. I was on a high horse about this for about a month and then realized I was being stupid. Once I figured that out, the heart palpitations stopped and I felt some creativity coming back. A few day drinks to help celebrate a friend’s birthday helped too.
5. Put your Best Photos Forward
I have loved photography since I was in high school. I think it is an amazing way to tell a story and is an artistic medium that I feel pretty comfortable with. But sometimes I think we get so stuck on the fact that something isn’t a “good enough” photo that we don’t want to share it. The other night I was making a yummy shrimp recipe. I had already started cooking it when I decided it would be something I thought my readers might enjoy.
With a styled photo shoot out of the question, I took some simple photos of it on my plate – my normal dinner plate not one from my prop closet. But they aren’t the prettiest. Do I share them knowing that some folks wouldn’t find them pinnable? The amount of time it would take me to set up that recipe just isn’t worth it. Especially since the recipe is a quick meal!
It would be dumb for me not to share it because it isn’t styled as pretty as some of my other posts. That is not a choice that all bloggers will make but for me I think it is right. I don’t see it as putting out a lower quality post. I see it as being practical and real. It would be awesome if all my posts could look perfect. It just isn’t always possible.
Thanks for letting me share this with you. I have been really stressing about it for a while and feel like talking about it has let some of the tension go. Are you willing to break “the rules” to be happier?