What I have learnt after 3 years of blogging

Where the magic happens!

Back in August 2015 I set up Abbie Chic as a lifestyle blog, sharing all the things I love and my life in general.

Fastforward to 2018 and here I am celebrating three years of being a blogger. There have been some highs and some lows over this time and I have learnt a lot along the way.

So let me share with you some of the things I have learnt over this time…

Being organised with my time

The sweet smell of success!

Time has been a thorn in my side, at well times. Consistency is key when it comes to posting, and I have found with working full time I’ve had to then focus my limited free time to keep on top of my blog.

I’ve even blogged in my lunch breaks at work before when I’ve been keen to get a blog post out in time. 

Back last year when I was blogging more regularly, I used to try and post once a week on a Sunday. That worked well for quite some time, but then I fell off the blogging wagon and I haven’t yet got back on track.

I think when you do stick to a dedicated posting schedule it gives the audience anticipation of when to expect a blog post- almost like tuning into your fav programme eat the same time each week.

I think one of the reasons I haven’t blogged as much this year is down to having the time to do so. Yes it;s great to indulge in a hobby in my free time, but when it becomes hard work to maintain, that’s when I stop and have a break until I’ve got my motivation back.

So my advice? Be consistent if you can, pick a time/s when you will post each week or whatver and stick to that if you can.

If you’re struggling to find time, just give yourself one goal to achieve- it’s better to have one awesome post less often, then a number of half hearted posts more frequently. Quality, not quanity in my opinion.

Engagement does matter

In the mood for blogging

I like to thing of blogging like an online business. You have your shop front which is your blog, then you have the back end which is the blogging platform you use.

Your product is your blog and your readers are your customers. I feel you need to treat your customers/readers as well as you would if it were a business.

Ever been to a shop and was ignored by the sales assistant, even when you tried to interact with them? (Which I have experienced only recently). On the flip side, have you contacted a company before, got an excellent response and as such kept loyal to that company?

If you answered yes to both, then think about your blog in the same way. Obviously if you get too popular, you can’t interact with every tweet, blog comment etc, but when you do make it count.

I have seen some great examples of this in action over my time blogging and of recent on social media.

Use these three as some inspo:

Abbie Louisa Rose

Dorkface aka Jemma

Internet Girl aka Bella

These three (and there are plenty more) have great engagement with their audience. Yes, this is where the time element can rear it’s ugly head and may get in the way. But if you can make the time to chat to people on Twitter, leaving thoughtful blog comments on other blogs, joining in Twitter chats, you’ll gain some great engagement I’m sure.

Now I do say all this, yet do I practise what I preach? Probably not, but I have seen these ladies in action with who ever they interact with online and it leaves me wanting to up my game for sure.

And when you do this, I hope you gain some followers who want to know more about your blog and respond to your comments on social media. Treat others as you would like to be treated is how I see it.

Self learning is part of the progress

Some of the great online tools I use

When I started blogging, it was all so new to me. Everything was. Well apart from Twitter and Instagram, but how to create headers, find and install blog theme templates, even edit some HTML code was a whole learning curve.

I’ve discovered some really useful websites that have helped me up my game. This is all through Google searches and playing around on websites.

I’ve learnt how to use Pic Monkey, Canva and Fotor online to edit photo’s. I’ve used Etsy and Pipdig to purchase and download blog templates and installed them myself. I’ve used apps like Ripl for creating short videos to promote my blog and Creative Market for six free weekly downloadable resources and Da Font for awesome free fonts.

I’ve actually had a lot of fun learning and finding resources to help my blog. A couple of my fav discoveries have been Pixabay for free copy right images and most recently the Yoast widget on WordPress to help with my SEO in my blog posts.

Aside from Resources, I’ve also learnt that blogging can be a great past time and can also be a great way to work with brands and if you’re lucky make some income. But it also has it’s down sides.

For example there is on Twitter, a number of accounts who like to post negative and scathing comments to other bloggers. Twitter Drama! I used to get drawn in, I wouldn’t be trolling but if someone was commenting on something I felt was unjustified and plain wrong I would tweet my opinion. But then I realized that even if I have an opinion and it’s to stand up for what is not right, it becomes a gloomy mindset and gets me worked up. And really it’s not worth it at all.

So now I just scroll by and leave others to have their debate and I might watch from the side lines, but there is far more important and worthy stuff to worry about that is for sure.

Another negative side to blogging is comparison. I think almost every blogger does it, compares their blog and social media followings to others and feels like they are not good enough. I know I do. It can be taken two ways I find thinking like that. You either let it get to you and make you feel your hard work is insufficient or you can use it as motivation and inspiration to work towards.

I do try to focus on the latter as that’s much more beneficial to my mental health and my blog. Use others who you look up to as a guide for something to strive for. And trust me, those who you think are nailing it, feel insecure about their online presence too some of the time, I would put money on it.

PR Companies- The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Collaboration with Apricot Clothing

So one of the plus sides to blogging, is that some brands like to work with bloggers to help promote their products or services. Which is generally win/win for both parties.

The blogger gets to work with a brand to boost their reputation, perhaps get payment or a gift for their work and the brand gets access to their core audience via a more organic method.

I’ve worked with a few brands in the past, for example, Apricot Clothing, Dunelm and Whittard tea. It’s been so humbling that a brand or PR person values my content enough to want to work for me.

Some people do set out to simply have the ability to get free goods from brands. And for me that’s not what blogging is about. Blogging is to me a way to share in whichever way you like online, your thoughts, opinions and ideas on topics your are passionate about. And if you have a great relationship with your readers, brands should recognize that and want to work with you.

So the good is the joy of working with a brand. The Bad is the random emails I recieve from some companies that want to work with me. I don’t get them often, but when I do, it tends to be not personally addressed to me, for example they will start with ‘Hi!’ and not include my name or my blog name. Then they will go onto explaining who they are and how they would like to work with me. Generally it will be a brand that has no relation to the concept of my blog so would be totally irrelevant for me to promote on my blog. I turn 99.9% of these emails down, as if they did just a simple thing like look at my blog, they would see that my blog has no correlation to their product or services.

Also copy and paste generic emails frustrate me. Be professional and atleast make the email seem like it’s to me and not 1000 other bloggers to see who bites.

The Ugly is the brands who ghost me. They seem all interested initially then they go cold on me and leave me hanging. It’s just unprofessional. And I would only work with a brand if it was somewhere I would shop from, so them doing this leaves a sour taste in my mouth as a customer. If they do change their mind for whatever reason and not want to work with me, courtesy would be to let me know.

Unanswered emails from the get go also bother me. Please PR person a yes or a no to my request is all that I ask for. Being ignored is not nice.

And on the topic of contacting PR depts for brands. I have done this before on a few occasions. Some with success, some as stated above, not so much.

I just pitch about who I am, how big my audience is, how I would like to work with them and what the benefit is for them. Other’s may tell me there is better ways to go about this but as I’ve had some success before it seems to be ok. And when I do contact a brand, I don’t do it just because I like the brand, I do it as I can see an opportunity that will benefit my blog and their social media reach. For example celebrating my blogs birthday, promoting Summer fashion for the new season or for an event I’m planning. Also I consider if it is something my audience would be interested in. 

Again it comes back to treating you blog like a shop. Would your readers genuinely be interested in purchasing what you a promoting and reviewing? 

Being motivated- keeping my blogging MOJO alive

Some times you just need to get away from it all to get some perspective

So I have touched on this a bit at the beginning of my post, but I just wanted to highlight how for me, my motivation to blog has waned over this year.

For about the first 18 months I was blogging away merrily, coming up with various different posts and not finding it a slog to create a post. 

Then at the beginning of the year I hit a metaphorical brick wall. I just couldn’t think of any fresh idea’s for my blog, I wasn’t happy with the look of my blog and was overall a bit dispondent with it all. It’s taken me a number of months to get back into the swing of things but I’m getting there.

I have had some life events also take over and have been wayyyy  more pressing so the blog becomes really quite unimportant in those times. But my heart hasn’t gone out of it fully, the passion to write is still there. I have written around 250 blog posts in the three years I have been blogging. I don’t know how that compares to others (there I go comparing myself to others!) but to me it feels like at least a short novel worth of writing. I fit in blogging when life allows me too. Life can sure like to muscle in and put my blog on the back burner I have learnt. As with any hobby, it’s great when you can dedicate time and energy to it.

Final thoughts

Blogging is really what you make it. You can keep it simple with a clean basic template or you can go to town and have a jazzy template, amazing photos, make it all singing and dancing as it were. The possibilities are reliant on your imagination! 

There is no right or wrong way to blog either, as long as you don’t copy right someone else’s work, don’t slander someone and overall be a nice person (should you want to be-I do hope so!) then go forth and blog (if you aren’t already). I’m not trying to sound like I know it all, as if I did I think my blog would be fare more successful, but I like to share what I have learnt so far should it be of any help! And if you would like to see my first ever blog post from 3 years ago, you can view it here.

I’d love to know what your thoughts on blogging are and do you have any advice you can share? Pop a comment below if you do!

Love,

Abbie xxx

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