Exactly one year ago, I took a big leap of faith and published my first blog post on smelltheroses.com (read it here). As I celebrate my blog’s birthday, I can’t help but reflect on everything that has happened over the past year. Being that I run this blog while trying to balance a full-time job and normal social life, I am quite proud of what I was able to accomplish. That being said, I have learned A LOT over the past year and thought it would be fun to write a post about the lessons I’ve learned during my first year of blogging. Hopefully, this post will help those of you who are considering starting a blog of your very own!
Here we go!
Lesson #1: There is never going to be a perfect time to start, you have to just go for it!
I delayed launching my blog for months because I kept convincing myself I wasn’t ready yet. I had this false belief that one day I was going to wake up feeling super confident and ready to put myself out there. In reality, that day never came and I had to just pick a launch date and stick with it.
Lesson #2: Blogging takes more work than you think.
Before I started Smell the Roses, I never realized most of the bloggers I followed ran their blogs as their full-time jobs. I constantly compared myself to these super successful bloggers and couldn’t figure out how they made it all look so easy. The more I researched and the more I developed my own blog, the more I realized how involved blogging was.
For a typical blog post, one needs to come up with the idea, write the post (may also include setting up collabs with companies/other bloggers, researching your topic/product, making your post SEO friendly), either photograph or hire someone to photograph your content, edit your photos for each social media platform, and then finally share/advertise your post with the world.
Aside from that, a lot of work goes on behind the scenes such as learning how to operate your website, insert plugins, prevent/block spam, respond to emails, respond to comments on social media, and probably the most difficult, try to gain a following! I don’t write all of this to scare anyone, I write this so you will be informed and better prepared for what lies ahead in the blogging world. ?
Lesson #2: Success is not instant or automatic.
A blogger’s biggest hope is that people will like his or her content and keep coming back for more. It was hard for me to realize not everyone who came across my blog was going to be interested in what I was writing about. This is what makes it so hard for a blogger to build a following in the beginning. I’ll be honest, the first few months I’m pretty sure the only people reading Smell the Roses were my family and friends! I’m glad I didn’t give up because I eventually found people in my target audience, it just took some time to find them!
Lesson #3: The key to a successful blog is consistent & original content.
If you want to gain a dedicated following, you need to be posting quality content on a consistent basis. While I feel each of my posts are high-quality, I struggle to keep up with a consistent post schedule. I believe this is partially due to the fact that I am not willing to post something just for the sake of having a new post up. I put a lot of time into each post and do everything myself so that slows down the process.
The most successful bloggers post on a weekly basis at MINIMUM so keep that in mind when analyzing the success of your blog (many of them also have people working with them behind the scenes). For me, I write Smell the Roses as a creative outlet/hobby so I don’t stress too much about my statistics. That doesn’t mean I don’t want my blog to be a legitimate blog, it just means I don’t get too hard on myself. However, I am working to increase the number of posts I write each week (so stay tuned!).
Lesson #5: Don’t be afraid to reach out to companies you want to feature!
Anytime I decided I wanted to write about a specific product, I made sure to email the company to see how we could collaborate on the blog post. Most often this resulted in me being able to offer my readers a giveaway or an exclusive coupon code. I was pleasantly surprised how almost every company I contacted was interested in working with me on some level, despite my blogs small size. For that reason, I urge you to reach out to your favorite companies or companies you have always wanted to try. You really have nothing to lose! I have met some amazing business owners and have discovered many of my favorite products this way!
Lesson #6: Be true to yourself 100% of the time.
If you take anything away from this post let it be this. As my blog has built up a following, I have been contacted by numerous companies asking if they can be featured on my blog. Typically the brand will offer to pay you for a review or send you free products. When I already know/love the brand and have used their products, it’s easy to say yes. However, most times I have never heard of the brand. In these cases, I always request detailed information about their products and conduct my own research into their brand. If I feel they do not align with my values, I decline their offer.
Bottomline: Do not accept anything from or feature a brand if you are not passionate about them. Your readers will either see through this or be mislead. Always remember why you started your blog in the first place and that your blog is a direct representation of you!
Lesson #7: Don’t forget to have fun!
Blogging can be an amazing hobby or job if you create a healthy work/life balance. I believe blogging should never feel like a chore! If it does, reconsider the content you’re writing about and go back to the drawing board.
I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you would like to see more posts about blogging please let me know in the comments or send me an email through my contact page. To those of you who have supported my blog at any point this year, I cannot thank you enough! ? Thank you for allowing one of my dreams to become a reality. I am so grateful for each and every one of you!