5 Things: I've Learned About Blogging

LL Coffee.JPG

Over the past few months I've had a few friends join me in this blogging game {yay!} and I've been asked a few questions about what I've found helpful in finding success in this gig. Its taken me a while- roughly two years; and a bunch of mistakes, a lot of wins, and whole lot more to learn.

But there definitely are a few key words I live by when it comes to Lilies and Lambs and my new role as mama/blogger.

If you're starting your own blog, or if you just want a little insight into this job I love so much, here are five things I've learned about blogging:

1. Be social

They say to find your tribe, and love them hard. And I'm pretty sure whoever said this was speaking specifically about bloggers.

If your brand is rooted in social media, you must be social. Ugh, this scared me at first. I'm no social butterfly. In person I'm shy, and get nervous when meeting new people. But in this industry, it is a must. You have to network. You must comment on like-minded sites and accounts. And you need to find your niche. This takes some research and time; and more than a few hours perusing hashtags and geotags and all-the-other tags on Instagram. But for me, this was part of the fun. And I still get a geeky sense of excitement when I find a new mama-blogger that resonates with me.

So take time- it will take time- and enjoy. And be as social as can be.

2. Work, Work, Work

If you want your blog to be your job, then treat it as such.

At first it felt funny saying I needed to run out to work for a bit. But I did. And I do. I'm lucky to have a partner that will watch our little while I work on the blog; but just like any other job worth having, it takes a lot of work. I've had to be conscientious about carving out time to take photos and write articles- and I've had to force myself to stick to whatever schedule I make for myself. And like any other small business, I've invested in my company. While I've gotten pretty good at designing my site and inserting a little CSS code here and there, there were a few things I had to call in the professionals for {here}. And it's made all the difference.

3. Quality over Quantity

This too was hard for me. I'm an all or nothing kind of gal. So when this site gained some traction I wanted to share a daily post- Monday thru Friday.

But I'm also a stay-at-home mom to a very active, nap-shy girl. So I can't always get down to blogging business. And rushed posts with little passion behind them make my heart hurt. So I now try to post three times a week- giving myself time to devote enough energy and creativity to each and every feature.

That being said, if you can't post every day, you still must promote on-the-reg! Sometimes this means sharing an old post or two on Facebook or Twitter; but I find that even the best of friends sometimes miss a post the day it goes live, so it's okay to re-share every now and then.

As for Instagram? That's a whole other can of worms. They say to share 1-3 times a day in order to engage with and attract your audience. For me, that's pretty easy. But if that's a challenge you can now use their handy "draft" function to create a log of photos to pull from on busy days. I always keep a photo or two in there "just in case." 

4. Know how to ask, and when to say no

Some days my inbox feels like Christmas morning- filled to the brim with inquiries, collaboration requests and story ideas. Other days? Not so much. In order to keep this little blog alive, I need to have content that appeals to you {my readers}. And sometimes this means reaching out to brands, other bloggers, restaurants and hotels. I've learned to take rejection pretty well. But I've also been pleasantly surprised by how willing {and grateful} brands are to help you. If you're blogging right, you're helping market other people and their products to a large audience of readers.

Find brands that make sense for your audience and ask to collaborate! But also know when to say "no, thank you."

I'm a mom blogger. I write about the beauty of motherhood, accepting the changes it can create both physically and emotionally, and about all the realities of raising tiny humans. And since I've started this journey, I've been asked to slang body wraps and weight loss supplements and weird diet teas. Not my jam. And because this is a place of honesty, there's really no amount of money that would make these products resonate with me or my audience.  

So sometimes, I politely just say, "no."

5. be authentic

When I started Lilies and Lambs, it truly was just for me. It was an outlet during a time that was both exciting and beautiful; lonely and terrifying. And the motivation behind it was never monetary. {Which has been great when it comes to number 4, above}.

Had I started this site as a means for steady income I would have quit a long time ago. My love for honestly sharing my journey is what has kept me in the game; even when page views are down. And I believe its also what keeps people coming back. 

As I've grown as a mother and writer, this site has organically grown, too.  I've shared the good, the bad, the ugly; I've shared the difficult and the joyous; and I've been lucky enough to share a wide range of amazing people, places and products with my readers. But as much as I've grown, I've remained steadfast in my honesty in this space. Which in turn, has afforded me a trusting and loyal audience. 

And for me, this is what motivates Lilies and Lambs- to always share my journey organically and authentically.

So do what you love, do it for you and your readers, and always do it authentically- your passion will infectiously shine through.

My blogging Toolkit - what I can't live without

Facetune /  Photo-editing app. I primarily use the "whiten" function for brightening backgrounds on flatlays 

VSCO / Photo-editing app. Love their filters and will typically use them rather than the filters on Instagram

Snapseed / Photo-editing app. Love that you can use the "apply last edits" function to quickly give the same tweaks to a series of photos

Snug / An excellent way to see how your uploaded photos will look on your Instagram; I use it to make sure that all my photos will have a cohesive look and that I don't have too much of the same subject matter in a row

Instatracker / Track follows and unfollows and monitor your most popular content on Instagram

Tailwind / Great for planning pins to Pinterest {although my Pinterest game needs some serious work}

Likestagram / App you can schedule to like hashtags you specify; a great way to attract attention to your Instagram account by automatically engaging with other accounts. Although I don't recommend using bots to comment on accounts- see #5 above

Canva / Excellent app for creating images for your blog, media kit, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I use it for everything, including many of my landing page graphics