9.11.2012

What I have learned from blogging over the year



Not too long ago this blog reached a year old.  It got me thinking about the past year, and what I have done and not done.  What I would like to do and not do.  What I can do and cannot do.  I thought I would share with you my thoughts on blogging, and what I have learned from it so far.  This is my personal experience, and it will differ from yours, if you blog.  



  • Blogging is hard, time consuming, and requires TLC.  When I told Matt that I was going to start a blog, I really did not foresee the future filled with late nights, lots of typing and editing (duh!), sweating over photos and editing, and less family time.  I think at the time I really thought all my blog would need is about 5 minutes to type a few sentences, upload an image and call it good.  If you can blog like this, you are my superhero.  For real.  Blogging requires maintenance.  I have to tweak a lot.  I have to go back to old posts and insert links.  I have to update posts or even images.   
      • Blogging introduces new friends.  Yes, they may be internet buddies, but they are still real people with similar interests that I might meet one day. 
        • I have learned over the course of the year that some people think blogging is a joke, a waste of time, or not real life.  I know some people who think I have nothing better to do than blog.  Even Oscar Meyer downplays blogging in one of their new commercials.   So there are people out there that do not take blogging seriously, and that's totally cool.  I accept their opinions and know that I am doing something with my life even if it may not be what others might consider time worthy or requires a degree.  I am creating and pushing my creativity in a way that was not done before.  
          • Losing followers sucks, and it shouldn't put a damper on my feelings.  Okay, okay.  I know.  I have one of the most confusing blogs out there.  Home decorating/DIY AND sewing???   But I love them both, and I don't have the time to be like YHL and have two blogs.  It's already enough for me to try to recap the very few days I do share with you and take care of my family and  have  a social life.                                                                                                                 
          But here is one thing I have learned from losing followers.   People leave blogs for all sorts of reasons, so there is no need to get butt hurt over it.  Personality conflicts, no longer interested, expectations not met, conflicting interests, moved on, an accidental delete, or just cleaning out their blog list.   I would like to believe all bloggers lose followers.  Just don't tell me if that is not true.  Optimism people.  Optimism. 
            • Numbers should not be important.  I felt like I just lied there, but deep down inside I know that the number of followers is not important.  I like you guys, don't get me wrong.  And I am completely thrilled that someone is interested in what I am doing in my life.  And it makes me feel totally amazing to watch GFC numbers rise.  Some people judge your blog from the number of followers you have, right?  "Oh you have 8, 000 followers!!!  You're a celebrity!"  I actually saw something similar in a comment box once, so I know this feeling exists.  Some people determine if your blog is great or not by how many people are following.  I see this with sponsors and ads.  The more followers you have the higher price it is to get a spot on their page.   But with this said, it's important to me to not focus on the numbers.   Following should not determine the quality of your blog nor the type of community you have developed.  Also, there may be a lot more people who do come to visit a blog regularly but just don't want to subscribe or follow.  And those people are just as important as the ones who are following.    
              • Comments are important!  I probably do not feel alone about this.  Comments makes a blogger's day!!!!  I am not sure how much I can stress this, and unless you have a blog yourself, I don't think you can fully understand this.  Comments, even legit anonymous ones, let us know that people are reading.  Comments say "Hey girl!  I like what you did!  Thank you for spending 4 days on this one tiny post!"  Comments are happy little emails you get from friends.  Also, your comment may be the one the blogger needs to read for the day.  You may say something that inspires the blogger to not stop or to do something great.  This has actually happened to me on several occasions, and I have always let the person know that her comment was exactly what I needed for the day.  Thank you!
              • Now that people have taken the time to comment, I find it polite to respond.  It may take me a few days to respond, but I try to respond to every comment, unless it is for a giveaway.  If you are a no reply commenter, please check by clicking here.  Bloggers cannot respond to no repliers.  Usually, they have to go back to the original post to reply to a no replier, but that can't always happen.  There are also occasions where emails are read and forgotten but not by accident, and as someone who leaves comments on other blogs, it is nice to remember that.   We are human, and most bloggers are not malicious.  :)  I know that bigger blogs have a more difficult time to respond since they are receiving more emails in a day.    
                • Blog goals are important, but I didn't think about that until recently.  Where do I want to go with my blog? (Answer: I'm still not sure.)  What purpose does my blog serve?  (Answer: I reach out to like minded individuals who care about decorating their homes, enjoy good design, and who love to sew.  I would like my blog to help people, but I also want to learn from my readers.)   Who do I want my readers to be? (Answer: Anyone who enjoys home talk and/or sewing.  I know that is a weird mix, but I can't be the only person out there who is interested in the two.)  Do you want to make money? (Answer: It's not my intentions, though I would never turn down a paycheck while I can stay at home with my son.)  Do you want it to be personal and intimate, or do you want to be more like a magazine? (Answer: I would like my blog to remain intimate but have magazine quality through photos.)  These are just a few questions that came to mind, but I think it is important to asses your blog, if you have one that is not just for the family.
                  • If I can't say something nice in a comment box, I just don't say it.  I may think that what I want to say is constructive criticism, but some people don't know how to deal with that.  So it is better to just let it go than to put in my two cents.  Now occasionally I'll joke with fellow blogging friends in the comment box, but I always try to make an effort to let that person know I was kidding.   Which leads me to my next point.
                    • Writing, in general, is a learning curve.  I read all the time "Bloggers need to be themselves"  but then you get a comment saying you shouldn't have said this or done that.  What??  Where's the balance? And this is where I find things difficult for me.  What makes writing for a blog even harder is the fact I am TYPING THIS and not speaking to you.  It is hard to understand a person's intentions without seeing body signs or hearing inflections in speech.  So the reader will judge the situation by how his or her brain reads the post.  This is why I insert a lot of  :), hehe, haha, ;), bwhahaha, LOL, and the unnecessary list goes on.   I hope that makes sense.  I am still learning how to be myself without unintentionally offending others.
                      • Good pictures are important.  This is something that is continually evolving for me.  When I first started blogging, my pictures were darker and smaller.   As time went on, my photos became clearer, brighter, and bigger by using a free photo editing program like PicMonkey.  The only exception is when I got my iPhone and started using Instagram!  Instagram is addicting!
                        • I feel, at times, pressure to perform.  Now, this blog is for me, and I made it public for others to enjoy.  I needed a motivation to stop being lazy because that is exactly what I was before blogging.  Knowing that this blog is a way for me to start doing does put a little pressure on me that I need to post frequently.   Luckily, I do not feel this way all the time, but the pressure is there and you need to know about it.
                            • Having a break is awesome.  I don't post on the weekends, and it's amazing.  It gives me time to spend with family or to simply take a break from it all.  Though don't let me fool you.  I spend time writing posts on weekends too.  Like I mentioned before, it takes a lot of work, especially if you already have a full time job and/or family to take care of.
                              • I really don't "know" the bloggers behind the posts.  I think I may know what their lives are like seven days a week, but I really don't.  Most bloggers keep their blogs a happy place because most people do not like to read negative posts.  I may think at times their lives are perfect, but then I remember they are just like you and me.  They have bad days too, and they get tired and cranky just like the rest of us.  They may have dysfunctional families or marriages, suffer from depression, and/or be far from perfect.   I have to remind myself this every time I visit Rockstar Diaries.  For some reason, that blog can turn my happiness into depression in 0.2 seconds, and I know that is not their intentions.  (Yet, I keep going back.)  They seem to capture in photos this kind of lifestyle that I wish I had or want, but that is totally beside the point.
                              • I'm exposed to more talent than I could have ever known.  In fact, I am trying to recall what life was like before blogging.  Being exposed to this much creativity has its advantages and disadvantages.
                                       Advantages:   
                                        I meet amazing women who inspire me daily.
                                  
                                       My creative juices start flowing.

                                       Most times, it helps me to think outside of the box.

                                       Disadvantages
                                      Because there is too much creativity out there, I can find myself in sensory overload.  I don't   know when to stop looking, and my brain turns into mush.  Two hours later into Pinterest, and I am beating myself in the head for not using those two hours to actually make my own mercury glass or make Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge.

                                        Competition, competition, competition.  Do I really need to explain this one, or am I the only one who feels like there is a competition going on, especially in the DIY/Home decorating/Interior Design department?

                                        Now that I have seen all this talent, it is permanently imprinted into my brain.  I can't go back to a more simpler life when I thought threading noodles with yarn was the most creative thing out there.

                                • I have to make a sacrifice every time I write.  Whether it's less time with my husband, less sleep, skipping a meal, skipping a shower, or not watching Curious George with my son for the twentieth time, I sacrifice something in order to blog.
                                  • Blogging is rewarding.  If the sacrifices were to outweigh the rewards, I wouldn't blog.  Blogging has helped me to discover new things about myself.  I have also pushed myself a little harder had I not started blogging.  I have also made good friends with similar interests during the year I have been blogging, and I am starting to build a community, which is important because we all need to feel like we belong somewhere.


                                    I still have a lot to learn about blogging, and my opinions may change next year.  I don't know what the future has in store for me, but I am so happy that I started blogging.  It is a little weird to open up my life to a crowd of unfamiliar faces, but I think I am helping at least one person out there.  And knowing that makes me happy.

                                    What have you learned over time?  Is there anything you would add?




                                    peaceout


                                    27 comments:

                                    1. :) yay one year! I too think comments are wonderful - that's why I'm leaving one. other than that my poor brain is too tired to think. and I agree - pictures are a lot of work.

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                                    2. You've only been blogging for a year? Wow! I would have thought longer by how polished and consistent your blog is. But I'm a slacker.

                                      I wouldn't worry too much about the follower numbers. I know I've had to unfollow blogs in the past even though I liked them because I was either not getting their feed or getting it multiple times in my reader. Sometimes just using the reader toolbar subscribe button fixed it, sometimes I've had to just visit the old fashioned way. It's way too confusing!

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                                    3. So interesting to read your thoughts. I've considered the replying to comments thing a ton. I love my comments and always read them, usually several times! But I only reply if there is a question or I have something specific to say. I've thought about replying to each one, but so often that just means 'thanks' and in many cases I also read commenters blogs so I would rather post a comment on their site... Reading this though has me thinking about it again!

                                      It's definately a time consuming but very rewarding activity this blogging.

                                      -Lilly

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                                    4. What an interesting post. I have definitely found it difficult to know where to draw the line between my crafts style posts and home life. For example, I wanted to blog about my son's birthday today but also feel reticent to share everything!

                                      Emma

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                                      1. Thanks Emma! You should post with whatever makes you comfortable and happy! I think in general people just want to learn more about you. You'll figure it out! xo

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                                    5. I agree completely. Seriously, with every single point. As far as worrying about finding your blogging niche-- don't. Write about whatever you want to write about. It's your blog. I used to feel like I shouldn't add posts in about my everyday life or something that goes along with being an art teacher (like I should only post about sewing), but I realized that my blog is supposed to be about my interests. And it's far more interesting to read blogs that have variety. I think, anyway. What I love about blogging the most is the connection I now have with other creative ladies around the world-- like you! And you know you are probably one of the closest bloggers to me, geographically speaking.

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                                      1. Also, I finally changed my no reply status-- haha!

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                                    6. GREAT post! I feel the same about making my blog fit in a certain "niche." I love all types of crafting and decorating, and I'm going to share what I love! And I, like you, struggle with making sure my voice comes through in a post. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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                                      1. Thank you! It is so hard to make sure readers understand your voice, but I think most times I just cross my fingers hoping people get it! Haha. I try not to sweat about having a home blog and sewing blog. Like you, it's best to share what you love!

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                                    7. This is such a great post Nancy! You put into words so many things that I feel about blogging! I am so glad we are internet buddies!

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                                    8. Love the post! Even with out pics I read the whole thing through! I agree with everything you said. SO now I dont have to write a similar blog I can just link to yours, with permission. LOL! I agree unless you have time to write to get the sponsor ships and followers you need to write for you. Thats what I do. BTW I also look at the pageviews because many read in reader or with the next button and dont have times to leave comments.

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                                    9. Such a great post! I keep finding myself going back and editing my template to something better, or finding old posts with photos that I haven't properly sources. I never thought I would spend as much time blogging as I have been, but right now, I really enjoy it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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                                    10. I really really enjoyed this post. My current blog is a year old, and it's the first one I've stuck with and watched grow. I love it so much and have met so many wonderful people. I agree--these people are still buddies, even though I don't see them face to face. I am feeling kind of guilty about not responding to all of the comments at my blog! I tried to do it right at the blog, but it seemed to take away my time from commenting back on their blog. But I'm going to rethink it after reading your post. Maybe a reply back by email is the way to go. I stopped by from the Create and Share linkup. Nice to meet you!

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                                      1. It is nice to meet you too! Thank you for stopping in. I think you should do whatever you feel comfortable with. I am sure those who comment on your blog feel your love by you visiting them as well! I don't find it rude until I have commented on a blog repeatedly and there's never been a response. It just makes me think, "Does this person care about my input?" It's just a personal preference, and it's definitely a tricky one because you are not alone in feeling this way!
                                        xo
                                        n

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                                    11. Hi Nancy, I am one of those people who is an avid blog reader but not a blogger myself so I don't come up as a follower. But I am a follower of yours! I get to your blog about once a week and catch up on your news. I love your writing style. I'm Australian so I don't know a lot of the retailers you refer to, so I'm learning lots. sarahleighATinternodeDOTonDOTnet

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                                    12. Hey Nancy, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about your blog experience thus far. Happy Blog Anniversary! :)

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                                    13. Such a great post Nancy!! I feel the same about a lot of the points you made! Blogging is soooo much harder and more time consuming than I ever thought it would be. But I do thoroughly enjoy it. I think it's so important for us SAHM's to have something outside of being Mom that we can connect with, ya know?! And I also get the same reaction from some people when i tell them I blog!! (Enter crickets)

                                      Good point about the bigger blogs. When I first started reading blogs, I thought that the ones with tens of thousands of followers MUST be good!! But i do find them lacking inspiration and originality at times. Some of them I still follow solely for the purpose of being able to participate in their linky partys (terrible, I know!) It's so hard not to get caught up in the numbers game...I constantly compare myself to others and it gets me nowhere. And how did I miss the fact that YHL has 2 blogs?!?

                                      Keep being yourself and don't worry about offending anyone!! The ones who truly love you and your blog will see through it and stick with ya. Happy 1 year!1 Can't wait to see what you have in store for the next year, or two, or ten!
                                      Sarah:)
                                      Just keep being yourself because we love you!

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                                    14. I love this post... Thanks for sharing..so much of the same thing I am going through too.. I have a pretty small blog which I started in June 12.. And Iam still learning.. I do agree it takes a lot of time.. Especially taking photo and I am quite short of time as I am a full time student.. Another thing, by becoming a blogger, I know how important it is for me to follow by gfc instead of just visiting often coz thats what make them happier..and I am following you today!!! Your blog is awesome and beautiful..don't stress yourself out, coz sometime it takes time and a bit of luck and patient.. Keep up the great work. I love your home!!!

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                                      1. Thank you so much Amira! That is very sweet of you to say. What are you studying?

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                                    15. Before I started reading sewing blogs, I would make maybe a quilt every 2 years. Last year I made 8 and this year 7. Yes sometimes it's info overload, so i'll take a break, but bloggers are wonderful! Thank you for sharing your ideas and motivating us!

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                                    16. Hello! I stumbled upon your blog yesterday (I tripped over the feature on YHL and fell face first in love) and now I find myself desperately trying to catch up. This post is inspiring because I'm new to blogging (my wife recently turned me on to it as a way to juice the writing gene I've been suppressing) and your experience is encouraging. I don't sew. My wife does the majority of the home decorating/design. I'm not a stay at home dad; I work 40 hours a week. However, I'm now a fellow blogger! Thanks again for this post, it was the kick in the butt I needed to motivate me, especially on days like today where I'm asking what did I get myself into.

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                                      1. Hang in there Brad! Blogging can be difficult, especially since we are basically throwing ourselves out into public. I think all bloggers experience ups and downs with it, but we continue on because we find it rewarding. I hope it works out for you, but ultimately, you have to decide that for yourself. I'm glad this post spoke to you. Thank you for letting me know! Best of luck in your endeavors!

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                                    18. This comment has been removed by the author.

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                                    19. Wow, you're putting so much pressure on yourself. I came over from YHL and their blog is HUGE but just try to relax and enjoy. I've been blogging since 2004. Four blogs in all and I have loved writing them all. My first blog was very personal, fraught with mistakes and bad etiquette but that was when blogs were pretty anonymous, I got away with it. I had a baby blog with tips and recipes so if I ever had a second child I would remember the things I learned. The third blog was when we built our second home and about that journey. I even recently got recognised on the street from that blog, that's strange I can tell you. Finally I opened a new and improved blog last year; it's an all-rounder family blog with everything that interests me. I love my blog. I only blog when I have something to say, usually during the week and I don't care if anyone reads it. I don't worry about it at all. Maybe I'm too relaxed! I have readers, I know that, but not one person is yet to comment...does it really matter? I didn't comment on my first blog until this year but had been reading many and for years. You know your blog seems great and if someone doesn't like what you provide then they can go elsewhere. Keep up the fine blogging. BTW your son’s bedroom is gorgeous.

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                                    20. Great info! Pretty much a lot of the things I am feeling now. Thanks for sharing. I am pretty new and hoping to find my spot here sooner or later.

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                                    21. Yep, yep, & yep. I was never sure I wanted to put anything out there, well, simply because so much already was. However, I don't keep a diary AND I have learned so much from others, it was time to share. For every reason you write about here, I don't make a big deal out of what I do on my personal blog. On our guild blog, well, that's a different matter. I want people to see how far we've come; I want to grow our readership, & in turn, our guild; I want to inspire others; I want to highlight the creative process that quilting is. As I write this, it's time to pack for our guild meeting & SEW-day now. I'll be sure to come back tonight & read more. I think we're like-minded, and that's what it's all about, isn't it?

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