5 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently When Starting This Blog

I definitely have a lot of things that I could regret in my life, but in all reality I try not to view them that way. I try and accept my mistakes and turn them into learning points.  I use them as opportunities for growth and development by asking things like “how can I use my past to create a better future?” and “what lessons can I take away from things that have happened?”

For me life is a continual process of learning and this blog is no different. I started Erin’s Inside Job a year and a half ago because I was so inspired by other stories that I read and I felt like I had one of my own to share. Along the way it developed into a passion where I was able to combine my love of writing, fitness, and ALL THE FOOD. And you know what? People listened. Definitely not at first, but as I found (and continue to find) my voice, I started to connect with readers and it has been an incredible experience.

If I had to start over again there are definitely a few things that I wish I had done differently when starting this blog and I wanted to share them with you.

Things I Would Have Done Differently When I Started This Blog

1. Starting off self-hosted

When I started this blog I just wanted to get my emotions and experiences out. I didn’t have any grand plans of monetizing or growing it into anything specific, so I didn’t think I needed anything more than a free site. Being self-hosted has allowed me to take Erin’s Inside Job to a different level and I only wish I had done it sooner. I also wish I had started on WordPress. I went from Blogger to WordPress.com to WordPress.org in a little over 6 months. There were migration headaches, broken links, and wonky formatting that I still have to go back and fix at some point.

Take the time to think about where you want your blog to go. In the back of my mind I always had a desire to grow it into more than just an online journal, but I didn’t go for it because I doubted myself and my abilities.  If you have any inclination to grow your blog, even the smallest one, I would say to make the investment sooner than later.

2. Treat it like it was important

It was only recently that I was able to proudly say that “I’m a blogger” when someone asked me what I do.  Before, I would surround that statement with a number of qualifiers, mumble, or even have it somehow sound like a question when I said it.  Even though it was the thing I loved doing the most, I didn’t feel qualified to be proud of it because I wasn’t making a certain amount of money or have a certain number of followers.

Once I started treating this blog like it was important, I became more confident in my abilities and starting taking more risks which have begun to pay off. One of the best things I have heard on this subject was from another blogger. She said “if you want your blog to be big, act like it already is.” The more support I give myself and my brand, the better return I will get.

3. Use an editorial calendar

I didn’t start using an editorial calendar until last month. I used to sit down every morning and hope that an idea came up for me to write about. There were a lot of random life posts which are still some of my favorites, but I wanted to be able to actually sit and appease my OCD planning self by introducing some structure to my posts. I wanted to be able to share things that would help my readers and do it in a more thought out way than whatever fell from my brain to the keyboard that day. (No offense to those of you who blog this way–many of you do it awesomely well!)

I started with a free 14-day trial of CoSchedule and then liked it so much that I paid to continue using it (you can read my full review here). Since then I have been able to plan out posts well in advance and conveniently move them around if I want to post something else that day. I also schedule all of my social media at the same time I write my post so that’s another thing I don’t have to worry about once I hit publish.  Even if you don’t use a dedicated service like CoSchedule, taking the time to plan out posts and put some time into them will pay off.

4. Remember that it’s MY blog

I get caught in the comparison trap WAY too often and it’s something that I continually struggle with. When I started blogging I immediately began to imitate other blogs in their frequency of posting, topics, and style.  It’s true that I learn a lot from other bloggers, but if I start copying them verbatim then I will likely lose what makes me an individual and then what’s the point? No one wants to read a thousand blogs that are all the same. Everyone has something unique to offer, whether it be a perspective, experience, or skill, and you just need to figure out what yours is and roll with it.

These days I write for me and not how I think people want me to write. I write for me, but I also write for you because I want to share the things I have learned and help you become the best versions of yourselves. The more authentic we are in what we share, the more people will resonate with that and keep coming back.

5. Utilize the power of connection

The blogging community is amazing. People are so supportive and I have made some awesome connections with people. I used to read blogs without commenting until I realized that commenting actually started a relationship that could be nurtured.  I’m talking about actual, meaningful comments and not the one-line “that is awesome!” comments.  By reaching out to other bloggers through email, social media, and post comments I have been able to develop lasting relationships.  If you are looking to grow your readers, take the time to invest in them as well.

Questions:

  • Bloggers: What would you have done differently?
  • Non bloggers: Why do you read the blogs you do?
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43 Comments

  1. April 22, 2015 / 6:56 am

    An editorial calendar from the beginning would have been great. There are so many posts that I did in the beginning that I feel have gotten lost, or guest posts that I did that I wish were on MY site, not someone else’s. But overall, I think I am happy with how my blog has progressed from where it began. I can’t say that it has even deviated all that much. But the investment in other bloggers is the most critical thing–that is how I’ve developed the relationships that are part of my real life as well.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Easy Cornbread Zucchini Protein Muffins (Gluten Free Recipe)My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 22, 2015 / 2:16 pm

      Definitely true. Now to just crawl out of my protective shell and actually interact with people…

  2. April 22, 2015 / 7:08 am

    I totally agree with ALL of these, Erin. Especially self-hosting and treating the blog like it’s important. I am looking into self-hosting now and having the past 6 weeks to really focus on writing and working on my blog, I know I want to go much bigger myself! It’s really great that you shared these because I think no matter where any of us are right now with our blogs, we all can all still learn so much from one another! 🙂
    Erin recently posted…Spinach Pesto and Butternut Squash PastaMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 22, 2015 / 2:17 pm

      Definitely true! I have learned the most from blogger meet ups and conventions where we are all able to share ideas. Self hosting? Do it!!

  3. April 22, 2015 / 9:13 am

    Hello Erin!
    I just saw this on pinterest and took a moment to pop over and I am glad I did. A few years ago I started to blog and have flip flopped from wordpress to blogger back to wordpress. #2 struck a sounding chord with me as I would mumble that I blog and brush people’s interest off instead of sharing it with them (because I didn’t feel like I knew what I was doing or if it was good enough). So thank you for writing this post! I will pick-up my new blog and treat it like a pet and give it the care I want to give it and make it important. I just signed back up with wordpress! Thank you!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 22, 2015 / 2:18 pm

      I can totally relate! Even though I was super proud of my blog, I couldn’t act that way around other people because I was afraid of their responses. I still struggle with it sometimes but I have gotten a LOT better! So glad you are back to blogging!!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 22, 2015 / 2:19 pm

      The WordPress one is helpful too I have heard. Basically anything that lets you take a look ahead and plan things out is a huge help. I also have a notebook on my desk for jotting down ideas as I have them.

  4. April 22, 2015 / 10:07 am

    #4 is my favorite on this list! I almost didn’t start my blog because I thought, ‘Does the world really need another blogger?’ When I mentioned this to my career coach she said, ‘The world needs people expressing who they are.’ That really resonated with me and I go back to that every time I start thinking I need to look and sound like other bloggers. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to everyone else but in the end, it’s being yourself, no matter what, that helps you to stand out AND feel good about yourself! Thanks for your insight, this newbie appreciates it!
    Keli recently posted…25 MinutesMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 22, 2015 / 2:21 pm

      Anytime! When I started my blog I felt so fulfilled by being able to use it as an outlet for my writing, but as time went on I started comparing and then never felt like it was good enough. Now I am listening to what readers have to say and writing for both me AND them. Do it for you, be authentic, and the rest will fall into place 🙂

  5. April 22, 2015 / 10:40 am

    I totally felt like I was faking-it-til-I-made-it for awhile. I still do sometimes! And I still poke fun at myself when I say I’m a blogger. It looks like I have a lot to learn from you 🙂

    An editorial calendar is a GREAT idea.
    Lauren @ ihadabiglunch recently posted…WIAW: not your average hump dayMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 22, 2015 / 2:22 pm

      Even if it’s not a paid one like I use, WordPress has its own editorial calendar that can be helpful. Also just writing future post ideas out can help a lot and I have a notepad with all kinds of scribbles on my desk so I can refer to it.

      Also, I’m serious about discussing these donuts.

  6. April 22, 2015 / 4:32 pm

    I think getting past the comparison trap was the hardest part for me when I first started, and I still struggle with it at times. I have a little sticky note at my desk that says “stop being consumed with what everyone else is going! Just be you!” Seeing that reminder every day has definitely helped!
    Lindsey @Fit Life Pursuits recently posted…My Quest for More Protein: FlapJacked Protein PancakesMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 24, 2015 / 9:43 am

      What a great idea! I need little reminders like that too maybe I will steal your idea 🙂

  7. April 22, 2015 / 8:02 pm

    I so agree about being self-hosted, but you live and learn right? Remembering that it’s my blog has been the biggest challenge for me and learning to let go of what I “think” other people expect from me. It’s so much more enjoyable to do what I want and not feel like I have to conform.
    Melissa @ Freeing Imperfections recently posted…Scenes from the 1st week of MotherhoodMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 24, 2015 / 9:44 am

      Exactly! I can easily get sucked back in though so I need to make sure that I keep reminding myself of that. Thanks for reading Melissa!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 24, 2015 / 9:45 am

      Totally but once you do it it’ll be great. That’s what stopped me for awhile–not wanting to deal with the hassle. In the end I wish I had done it sooner!

  8. April 27, 2015 / 3:23 pm

    I am now feeling so far behind because I’m still not self hosted and am slightly terrified of the whole process. It’s on my next year to do list, but who knows what I will lose in the transition when I’ve been doing it that long by then?!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 28, 2015 / 10:22 am

      Really it is unique to everyone what to do with it, but I found that if I wanted to control my site and be able to customize things I needed to be self hosted. Don’t worry it is never too late!

      I didn’t lose anything in my transition (thankfully), but some of my formatting ended up a little weird on older posts. Just make sure to make friends with your hosting provider and they can walk you through it. Some even have an extra paid option where they will migrate everything for you so you don’t have to worry about the hassle!

  9. April 28, 2015 / 10:46 am

    Love this post. I just started blogging again for the second time around and approached things so differently since I learned from my mistakes last time! These are super helpful – especially the editorial calendar tip. Thanks lady!

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 29, 2015 / 10:45 am

      Thanks for reading Hayley! I always like learning from my mistakes but also wish I didn’t make them in the first place 🙂

      Good luck this time around!

  10. April 29, 2015 / 10:06 am

    Erin, what a great post! I’m relatively new to the blogging world, and these tips are great for those just starting out.

    Question for you: do you have any tips for reaching out to brands and/or other bloggers for product reviews and sponsored posts? In your opinion, is that something that a new blogger should wait to do until they have a decent following? That’s something I’m struggling with currently and would love to know if you have any advice.

    Thanks for a great post here! Can’t wait to explore the rest of your blog!
    Ellyn recently posted…Wednesday Warmup 4/29My Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      April 29, 2015 / 10:50 am

      Thanks Ellyn!

      My tip would be to reach out to brands that you want to work with with possible ideas for partnerships. Remember that it’s not about what you get out of it but how you two can work together as a team. There is no hurt in reaching out no matter what your following is and the worst thing they can say is no. If you don’t reach out at all though then there won’t even be the possibility of a yes!

  11. May 21, 2015 / 10:44 am

    I’m horrible at commenting on blog posts. I read your blog religiously, but you would never know because I don’t comment. I read it and I like it…but then I move on. Connection is the biggest thing about blogging and if will make or break you. Thanks for posting this.

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 24, 2015 / 6:56 am

      Thanks for reading Angela! I am always following your 2156746 races you do haha. Wish we had gotten to know each other better at Fitbloggin!

  12. May 21, 2015 / 8:32 pm

    I love this post! And I can so relate. Especially to the part about comparing myself to other bloggers. I have to just be who I am and stop worrying that I’m terrible at blogging because someone else is so much better. I also need to check out the calendar you mentioned!

    • erinsinsidejob
      May 24, 2015 / 7:02 am

      Exactly! And yeah, CoSchedule is a life saver!

  13. July 1, 2015 / 1:02 am

    This is just what I needed to read. “Remember that it’s MY blog”.

    I have struggled over the years because of all the amazing blogs I read that I felt mine was somehow not up to par. On the positive side, it is up to par because it’s me! On the negative side, I obviously set the bar too low for myself up until now. Time to up it up a notch.

    Lets check out that scheduling tool…

    • erinsinsidejob
      July 1, 2015 / 2:47 pm

      Exactly! The only think you can do is be the best version of yourself. You can do anything you set your mind to. Let me know if you try CoSchedule and how you like it. Thanks for reading Patrick!

  14. July 1, 2015 / 11:22 pm

    Thanks for all the great tips! I needed to read these today <3

    • erinsinsidejob
      July 2, 2015 / 7:20 pm

      Anytime Tanya!!

  15. September 28, 2015 / 10:10 am

    I agree with you on all of these, especially #4! I had that in the beginning, but these days I have to remind myself quite a bit. What helps is looking back on my blog posts and being happy that I documented all my life stages!
    Katie @ Live Half Full recently posted…Freezer Stock Up: Round OneMy Profile

    • erinsinsidejob
      September 28, 2015 / 12:29 pm

      I was just saying that yesterday as I referenced a post from almost a year ago when I was about to move to Chicago. It’s great to be able to look back and remember those things!

  16. February 24, 2016 / 8:50 am

    Thanks for sharing Erin! These tips are helpful. As an RD and newbie blogger (launched in November 2015) I appreciate any help and support I can get so this post is awesome!

    • erinsinsidejob
      February 24, 2016 / 9:50 am

      Congrats! Feel free to shoot me an email at erinsinsidejob@gmail.com if you have any other questions. I love to chat about blogging!!

  17. Julie
    September 24, 2016 / 2:30 pm

    Hi Erin, I am a late arrival to writing, now my children are grown up and I have time. I have been thinking about a blog for some time (procrastinating really), and have found your comments very useful.

    So off now to develop a plan (which of course will include having a blog by a set date!)

    with thanks

    Julie

    • erinsinsidejob
      September 25, 2016 / 8:56 pm

      That’s so great! Do it Julie!!

  18. December 10, 2016 / 12:47 pm

    Hi Erin! I know this is an old post, but I found it to be super helpful. I’m finally taking the plunge this weekend in getting a camera and joining the Windy City Bloggers Club! Your tip about treating it as important is really resonating with me right now.

    I’ve been following your posts and Instagram as well and have found your story super inspiring! Thanks for being so open to sharing your journey.

    Xo,
    Ashley

    • erinsinsidejob
      December 12, 2016 / 9:57 pm

      Aw thanks so much Ashley! Maybe you can teach me how to use a camera since I still do everything on my phone haha

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