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.
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.
- Bloggers: What would you have done differently?
- Non bloggers: Why do you read the blogs you do?