{Our Blog Journey} If I could do it again what would you change?

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I have been receiving questions from readers wanting to start their own blog journey and those that are established seeking advice and tips.  I am thrilled to start a  new series to help share some of mine and other bloggers ideas to help build your blog.

When I first started blogging Tina Gray from tinagray{dot}me was my go-to lady, I remember googling something I was having trouble with and she had the answers and was kind enough to email me with great advice .  Tina has been blogging since 2006.  I had the privilege of meeting the 2 other ladies in our blog series while visiting Kuala Lumpar last year.  Both Sarah from A Beach Cottage and Caz from Mojito Mother & yTravel Blog were both nominated in the 2011 Nuffnang Asia Pacific Blog Awards, clever ladies!  

Today I am hositng the first question of the series, next Sunday please visit Caz’s blog, Mojito Mother for a new topic to help you on your blog journey.

If I could do it again what would you change? 

Such a great question!  I would put more of an effort into the following two things.

1. Site design
Site design is more important than you think, especially when you consider how much competition for your reader’s attention there is online. You have to make it as easy as possible for them to make the decision to hang around you.

It took us a year before we had a site custom made and the difference was pretty incredible. Our site looked so much more attractive and easy to use.

Make your site bright, fresh, fast to load, easy to read and navigate. Don’t ever make your readers search for information, throw it in their face so they can easily click around to discover who you are and to ultimately follow you.

2. SEO
Or Search Engine Optimization, that horrible word, otherwise known as Google’s noose.

I would have put more of an effort into perfecting my SEO from the beginning. I’ve never been that great at it or interested in doing it.

But, it does bring in lots of new and free traffic if you can optimize your site for those keywords that people are searching for.

Word length doesn’t always matter. Sometimes on posts like this it can be a good idea just to make sure the answers are evenly balanced in length.

 

Hi ladies, well this was an interesting question for me and when I sat down to think about it, honestly it made me think that I have been very happy with my blogging journey… 

One of the things that I have learnt from blogging is that in my case, it has almost run its own race and it has evolved into what I blog about nowadays, however, in the early days my blog was primarily just about decorating and renovating our first Australian home.   Now though, I include recipes, beach photography of where I live and real girl fashion. 

So I wouldn’t change any of the nuts and bolts of my blogging, I think that is natural growth and it has been enjoyable for me and from the feedback from my readers, the journey has been good for them too. 

But, I did do a few things that looking back now I wish I hadn’t…one of the main ones was interacting with readers and not doing enough of it, mainly because I found it tricky to find a good and easy way to answer comments…people would leave me a comment and I would answer it in the comments – but c’mon how many people come back to read the comments again?  Not many.  Then I tried personally emailing those who left me comments and that was a good way but it was far too time consuming especially on posts that had upwards of 50 comments, so that really wasn’t feasible for me in the end.  Now I have found a great solution to this via a WordPress plugin that allows you to comment via your blog but it also shoots this comment via email to the address the commenter left you – it’s working really well and I now feel I am talking to the girls out there that read my blog. 

The other thing I would certainly change is that I would get out more and meet other bloggers.  It wasn’t until a few months ago that I did this and it has helped me enormously with blogging.  No it didn’t give me any magic ingredient to ‘blogging’ but what it did give me was the realization that there are other people out there who love what they are doing just as much as me.  There are other girls around who like talking about WordPress, who quite happily chat about who they love on Twitter and other girls who will suddenly stop dead, right in the middle of walking down the street to whip out their phone, take a picture of a tree/food item/cloud/flower, upload it, give it a filter and post it to social media…  So looking back I would definitely have made more of an effort to get out there and meet other bloggers whether by going to blogger meet-ups locally or attending conferences.  

And this year that is what I am doing with my blog, it is a new area for me and I am looking forward to what it brings to my blogging.  Already just having attended one event, meeting other bloggers has given me lots of opportunities for my blog, with some exciting things on the horizon, plus I have had heaps of ideas and tips from listening to what other bloggers do…but most importantly, meeting bloggers has started some great friendships.  And I love that.  So if you are a new blogger or you have been doing it a while, my tip would be to get out there and meet other bloggers – you never know where they might take you!

Hindsight is a beautiful thing, isn’t it? If only I knew then what I know now.

If I could it all again, I would have self-named my blog right from the start instead of being “anonymous” for 4 years. I would skip Blogspot and go straight to self-hosted WordPress because if I was paying for it back then, I would have taken it more seriously back then. And I would have been more cautious when PR and Brands started contacting me. It was exciting to be sent “free stuff” but I wish I had been more picky with the opportunities presented to me.

I love this question as many people  just need a point to start and what a great way with all these suggestions above.  I must add, as Sarah suggested above to get out and attend other blogging events to meet other people with the same interests as you.  This was such a help to me when I first started.  I attended the Aussie Mummy Bloggers conference early last year.  I went down solo, not knowing anybody. I was very scared and nervous, but read twitter while at the airport and realised other attendees were boarding their planes and we would reach Sydney around the same time, we then caught a taxi altogether to the hotel… perfect icebreaker.  Yes I felt lonely in the beginning, but the friendships that evolved and what I learned at the conference was so worth the effort of stepping out of my comfort zone.  

I am attending the Digital Parents conference at the end of the month.  If you are attending and don’t know anybody please let me know, I would love to meet you at the airport, the hotel for coffee, be there to break the ice with you!!  

What I would change:

  • I started my blog with wordpress.com (a free blog system, it was easy to use and had some great templates).  I also used their free domain name option.  I loved that everything was FREE because when I started it was just a ‘little hobby’.  However shortly afterwards I wanted to customise my sidebar adding a facebook like box and use some of the fancy plugins I had heard about. WordPress.com really limits the design element of your blog and adding plugins to enhance your site.  So after 4 months I purchased my own domain name and moved the blog to wordpress.org.  Moving was such a hassle as I had a lot of links between my posts and these had to all be changed to the domain name.  To this day I still have broken links 🙁 .  
  • As I mentioned above when I started it was ‘just a hobby’, I had no idea about SEO, didn’t have a clue what it meant, so just ignored the need to look into it further.  I even went to conferences and it all went over my head.  I wish I took some time to understand it a little more in the beginning as it is such a BIG task to go back and tag all my old posts.  However now I have learned it is VERY important and a must to understand.  I would tell you more about it if I could, but I am still learning myself.  You may like this post from ProBlogger8 First Step SEO tips for Bloggers
  • Create a good structure to your blog categories
  • The desire to think that I have to be on all social media platforms….facebook, twitter, google+, pinterest.  I tried, I really did, but twitter drives me nuts, it’s too quick for me and I would always end up frazzled that I couldn’t keep up or that nobody was replying to my tweets.  After a lot of attempts to continue trying I gave up, and that’s OK.  I was happy to concentrate on just one platform that being facebook, this is where my readers are and ask questions and this is where I enjoy being.  But then late last year Pinterest caught my eye, ooh Pinterest how I love thee.  Pinterest has become my little outlet, time out to just browse over many gorgeous craft ideas, lovely quotes, beautifully decorated rooms, delicious yummies to bake and share my blog posts.  To find out more about Pinterest visit here.  So moral of the story is, don’t feel like you need to do it all.

Some resources that may help you

   

 

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19 comments

Tanya Drummond March 11, 2012 - 12:40 PM

Fantastic post. While I don’t want to become “famous” in the world of blogging, I would like to know that people read my blog, and enjoy it’s content etc. This has been very informative 😀

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Katrina March 12, 2012 - 5:13 PM

And I think that’s the most important Tanya, content!!

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Wendy Wyatt March 11, 2012 - 7:07 PM

Thank you for this information, as a new blogger i found it so invaluable for my road down a blogging path!
beetlesbubsandlife.wordpress.com

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Nicole Avery March 11, 2012 - 8:12 PM

Thanks for sharing this info kat. I love reading more about bloggers journeys – the parts we don’t see on the blog! Look forward to reading more of the series.

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Katrina March 12, 2012 - 5:10 PM

It some great insight and hopefully help those that just starting out 🙂

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Deb @ Aspiring Mum March 11, 2012 - 8:49 PM

Thanks for all this information! I’m in the process of moving from Blogger – and it’s great to glean some advice from others. I also am not keen on Twitter…I am more comfortable with facebook and I think I will continue with that.

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Katrina March 12, 2012 - 5:09 PM

ooh, will be a change for you, hope the process is easy enough 😉

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Kelly Exeter March 11, 2012 - 9:38 PM

What a cool post – so interesting to see everyone’s thoughts above 🙂

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Katrina March 12, 2012 - 5:07 PM

Hope you enjoy the rest of the series!

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Johanna March 11, 2012 - 11:45 PM

Fabulous post, Thanks! Loved the bit about not needing to do everything. Sometimes ‘everything’ can be so overwhelming and not necessarily work.

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Katrina March 12, 2012 - 5:07 PM

absolutely, just need to remember to take it at your own pace.

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Claire @ Claire K Creations March 12, 2012 - 9:16 AM

Very helpful post! I just added the plugin that sends an email to readers when I reply to their comments. Very helpful!

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Katrina March 12, 2012 - 5:06 PM

It’s a great plugin claire!

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Nikki @ Justb. March 12, 2012 - 12:57 PM

Great post guys – Katrina – would love you to add it to my Saturday linky – there’s no rules or buttons or anything, I’m just trying to give bloggers as many resources as possible on top of what they get from my Saturday posts and you all have so much to offer! http://www.stylingyou.com.au/2012/03/blogging-brands/

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Katrina March 12, 2012 - 4:53 PM

Thanks Nikki, I just linked it up

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Jane Williams March 12, 2012 - 11:58 PM

Wondering if spelling organized with an s instead of a z was for a reason? …the only way to get that title? It really bothers me, but just wondering what the thought was?

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Katrina March 13, 2012 - 8:25 PM

Hi Jane, it’s because I’m an Aussie Blogger and we spell a few words slightly differently, ‘organised’ being one, I know it’s hard but please bare with it!

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Katrina March 13, 2012 - 8:22 PM

Ooh, I haven’t used or heard much about typepad, but I do know how easy wordpress is to use and all the great plugins that are available

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Melanie April 10, 2012 - 10:40 PM

I use WordPress and it’s lovely. The themes are great, there are loads to choose from and I found it really easy to find my way around during the setup process. Only thing I can’t work out is how to get my profile picture on there!?!
Can highly recommend the program!
LM x

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