Blogging is still a pretty new career for the world, and with that comes excitement, but also feelings of confusion as you watch your friends and classmates going forth down their more traditional paths. The idea of blogging sounds so wonderful: Working for yourself, anywhere and any time you want. It is great, but that part is only looking at a very small part of what blogging actually is. (Bloggers reading this will totally get what I mean). Anyways, here are some of the things I wish I knew about blogging when I started.
Traffic Doesn't Just Happen.
Oh man. When I first started this blog, I thought it would be easily found by the masses. You always hear stories of people who were just blogging for themselves or their family members, when out of no where traffic came flooding in, and they were almost instantly successful. You also hear that it doesn't usually happen that way. But when you're first starting out, you can't help but think "oh it certainly can work that way for me!" No, it probably won't. Most days when I started I had zero views. On some days when I would hit one view, I would be ecstatic! Thankfully my traffic has grown from there, but it came from a lot of hard work.
Companies Won't Be Crawling at Your Feet.
What a wonderful dream it is to think that as soon as you start blogging, big companies that you admire will find you and beg to work with you. Again, this isn't quite how it works. If you want to make a career out of your blog, I am sorry to say, you most likely will be the one to contact the companies in the beginning. I'm also sorry to say, you'll probably get an awful lot of rejections or just plain silence in response to your emails. How long will it take for a 'yes'? That varies. Some people can get it within months, others it takes years. For me, it had been about 2 years before I really got a good opportunity. It all depends on who your target is, what your website quality is, your followers etc. Speaking of followers...
I hear from a lot of sources that the amount of followers you have doesn't matter. I don't find that to be true. Sure, the quality of your followers matters. By that I mean you want actively engaged followers, and not just a bunch of "ghost" followers. Numbers do matter however. My blog began to pick up once I could say I had over 10,000 followers. Not only through one social media though, I read for other bloggers that you can count your followers over all accounts, and that's the amount you have. However, if you have to supply a media kit, or if the brand wants more details in general, definitely be upfront with your numbers. They can always check for themselves and if you're lying, they definitely won't be wanting to work with you.
A lot of People Won't Understand What You Do.
I've had to try to explain blogging until I'm blue in the face. There are always a ton of follow up questions as people try to understand, but for the most part they don't. Now that my blog is starting to gain more traction, my family seems more understanding and supportive of this as a career, but in the beginning I think they were genuinely worried that I would end up living with my mom forever (maybe they still think that). You have to just be okay with it and if you work really hard, you can turn this into something really great. I've tried to get away with just telling people I'm a photographer, but once they ask what kind of photography I do, I'm led down the path of explaining the wonderful world of blogging (I'm not being sarcastic, it really is a wonderful world).
You'll Want Multiple Streams of Income.
There are a lot of way to make money blogging, but no one is going to pay you just to read what you want to talk about every few days. You'll want to partner up with companies you wholeheartedly believe in sure, but there are other methods to bring in the dough. Ad companies such as AdSense are useful, affiliate marketing with companies such as Amazon is another popular way, as well as things like guest posting, social media campaigns, sponsored posts, etc. Creating an online course in something you're skilled at, or creating an ebook is also a good way to create passive income.
You won't make it as a blogger if you don't have passion about your niche. Blogging takes long hours and gives very little reward in the beginning of your career. You won't be inspired to keep up with the work load and you won't be able to produce amazing content if you aren't driven by passion. If you don't care about it, why should your readers?
Social Media is a Full Time Job.
Not even kidding. It's taken me a while to get better at this, and I still have plenty of ways that I need to improve. I used to hear that social media was a full time job in itself and I would think to myself "I doubt that. I'm on social media all the time!" Your use of social media changes when you're doing it for your business. Scheduling is an amazing tool! I highly suggest scheduling a bunch of stuff a few weeks in advance so you can put your focus onto other things. Also don't try to master every.single.social.media.outlet. You'll exhaust yourself. Find what works the best for your blog! I used to love Instagram, but I realized it wasn't bringing traffic to my blog. That doesn't mean I don't use it anymore, it just means I put more strategy into what will bring readers to my page. Instagram is wonderful since I'm so visual, but I've found putting more effort into Pinterest still satisfies my need for beautiful photos as well as brings more readers to my page. Again, find what works for you!
Join Facebook Groups in your Niche.
This was a game changer for me! I read the idea in a book, and I began to scout for groups of people who were into blogging, and more specifically, travel blogging. First of all, it's wonderful to have a place where people are speaking 'your language', and it's a great place to find inspiration. One thing I love about bloggers, is they love to share! When I was focused more on photography, I realized the photographers I came across generally didn't seem to enjoy sharing to the same extent. They liked to keep their 'know how' private, in fears that someone will learn it and out do them. The blogging community is sharing, and helpful (most of the time) and these Facebook groups are so wonderful. A lot of the groups will also host threads where bloggers in the group can support each other by visiting blogs, commenting on posts, following and sharing on social media etc. It's great to be with likeminded people.