I was a neighborhood party the other night when someone I knew asked me about how my blog was going. I don’t think she was looking for “fine, blogging is great!” It might have been more of a career question: are you making money blogging? So I thought it was time for an update on my blogging life.
Blogging is a Journey not a Destination.
I started blogging nearly seven years ago with an idea to turn it into a business. I had other ideas for a birthday gift registry for family members to go in on expensive gifts but I am not a programmer and didn’t want to hire one.
Initially, I wanted to share the after schooling curriculum I pieced together to catch my oldest up in first grade when her teacher was absent so often that there were subs for subs. It took a while, but I eventually found my voice and rekindled my love of children’s books. It wasn’t long before I put a stake in the ground and declared that I was dedicating my efforts to promoting diversity, inclusive, and multicultural books. Multicultural Children’s Book Day came out of that and with it, the joy of working with Valarie Budayr at Jump Into a Book and Becky Flansberg of Frantic Mommy.
Blogging is a Community You Build For Yourself.
Blogging is like going to college. You can go far or nearby but in each case, you get the opportunity to make a new set of friends. With blogging, it’s even easier to find your tribe because you sort of float into each other through social media and the communities that exist out there already. And it’s wonderful to find your tribe. In my case, it’s KidLit bloggers, education bloggers, authors and illustrators.
Blogging Forces You to Learn.
Learning to blog can feel like drinking out a fire hose. There’s a lot to juggle and there’s always one crisis after another when things break and your technical know how limitations haunt you. But, at the end of the day, you will learn:
- Social Media and how to engage your audience. There will be a new social media platform to figure out each and every year. Not all of them will feel like home. I’m currently on: Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flipagram, and Periscope. But I actually only actively trying to grow Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO). This will always be constantly changing as Google algorithms change with great frequency, but the tenants are the same: content is king, and organize your posts for reader comprehension. Which is to say, you will want to understand permalinks, backlinks, key words, the use of headers, SEO tools like plugins for your blog, as well as creating the best content you can day in and day out.
- Rudimentary HTML and the backside of your blog. Your blog will break. That you can be sure of. But how to fix it? Try disabling all your plugins and enabling them one at a time to see which one broke it. That usually works. Make sure your blog has enough memory storage at your web host. Recall the last things you did to your blog. You might want to disable the last post, banner ad, or whatnot. You need to use the Scientific Method (observe, measure, experiment, formulate questions, test, and modify) to figure out what went wrong.
- Content Marketing. You are doing it! When you create the best content you are capable of, and readers come to read it, you are successfully growing your blog through content marketing. Now you need to do this consistently.
- Branding. Bloggers are a brand of one and need to think like a brand in terms of how do I grow my brand. But it’s been equally freeing to know that I can be myself including occasional ranting and raving and that’s ok.
Blogging as a Means to an End is like declaring What You Want to Be When You Grow Up in First Grade.
When I first started blogging, I declared my goal was to make $1000 a day. I still want that but I am far from it. But when I reach this goal, I am done in the sense that this is the size I want to be and no bigger. I don’t want employees or assistants or teams of help. I want to keep this small enough that I can do it all myself. I may never reach my goal, and yet, every year, it feels a little closer.
So what I’ve accomplished so far is:
- I’m getting over a million views to my blog a year.
- I’m getting paid to write content for brands and to promote them on social media.
- Multicultural Children’s Book Day is a non-profit, now in its third year. Last year, we achieved 96 million social media shares during the week of our celebration! And we gave away more than four hundred diversity books to teachers and parents.
- My “author platform” which consists of my blog and social media is, I think, large enough to help me get published. I’m working on several picture book manuscripts and one middle grade book.
I guess the most important realization is that I find joy in blogging every day, despite those days when I am buried in email, feeling tired and/or discouraged, and not bursting with ideas of what to say. It’s easy to get caught up and wish that you had someone’s blog traffic, or social media followers, or wrote that great post of theirs, or blah blah blah. At the end of the day, you just have to run your own race. Your best is good enough.
As for me, my blogging journey still excites me though the destination still out of reach. But maybe that’s the point.
How about my fellow bloggers? How’s your journey been? Regrets, we’ve had a few? … Nah! It’s been a really great experience, right?!