Gallantly, gal is now six months old. My first post was published on December 4, 2017. To be fair, I have other blogs that are older than this one, but I have not taken those as seriously as I’ve taken this one. Those I have used as online journals of sorts to freely express myself. While great experiences in their own right, they haven’t pushed me to change or improve.
I’ve always wanted to be a professional writer, and I felt like Gallantly, gal was a good stepping stone and project to take on for myself. As a result, I faced many challenges and the experience has been more rewarding. I’ve learned a lot about SEO, engagement, promotion, branding, marketing, and more–but those lessons will not be the focus of today’s post.
If you were looking for how to boost your traffic or anything of that sort, sorry! This is not the post for you. If you want to learn about the journey, then you’re in the right place. To celebrate my blog reaching half a year, I wanted to share with you the lessons I picked up on this incredible journey so far. Let’s go!
Your biggest supporters will be strangers
This came as a surprise to me. You may think that the ones who would support you the most would be those already closest to you, such as friends and family, but this won’t be the case. I know any online presence might come off superficial, and sometimes they are, but I think blogs are an outlet for your truest self, the self that has been kept hidden, looking for a way out in silence until it festered for too long and started bubbling over. It’s easier to comfortably discover yourself and bring it out into the world on the more anonymous and private space offered by blogs. There are no preexisting expectations of you.
I think family and friends suppose they won’t get anything really new out of your blog. They think they already know you, and reading your latest thoughts won’t change this perception of you that’s solidified from constant interpersonal contact. Since the relationship is also already established, there is no obligation to make the extra effort of reading your blog. Don’t get me wrong–most people seem perfectly okay with not having family read their stuff, let alone even know about the existence of blogs or YouTube channels (myself included). However, I did expect friends to be more supportive.
Which sounds like shade! But it’s not! While my friends certainly give me words of encouragement and occasionally drop comments, they are simply not my biggest supporters as mentioned above. I appreciate this lesson a lot, actually, because now I try to be more supportive of my friends’ personal projects–but without expecting anything in return. Because I have a separate community now on-line that I love and find sufficient.
The simple fact of the matter is, our friends and family met us in prior stages of our life and have a rigid view of who they think we are already, whereas strangers are out there open and receptive to the most current us, ready to welcome us as we are on our blog. And these strangers, most often than not, are other bloggers who understand what you are going through. I love that we all support one another. We find the same solace in blogging, which makes all of us able to relate to one another by default.
Some people are out for themselves–and that’s okay
Not all strangers are supportive. For the cynical side of things, you also have to realize and come to terms with pretty quickly that some people are out for themselves and expect things in return. I knew this a long time ago, even before blogging, and it never particularly bothered me. Sometimes it might bug me a tinge, but I can’t fault people for their business mindset and eagerness to get ahead. It happens and annoys me more often on Instagram, but this is a lesson in real life. I think it’s important for you to know if you are a blogger or any other presence online.
Even if I suspect someone’s following me just for a follow back, I always check out their stuff. This is actually a pretty good way to find new content and people to follow. If you are a follow-for-follow type of person, more power to you! I admire your drive, and it doesn’t actually harm me in anyway so I won’t waste precious energy dwelling on it.
Far be it from affiliate marketing to be your holy grail
I’m the type who doesn’t think it’s a big deal if people try to make money off their blog. They’re putting in time, effort, and energy into it, so it’s not far-fetched for them to expect some form of return. I’ve been doing it pretty much from the get-go, too, just because why not if I can? Turns out I can’t–hah! Well for now, anyway.
Moving on, affiliate marketing might seem great, and eventually, you may be able to make money off it, but it won’t be the great source of income you may expect. It is still good to have. I just thought I would warn you ahead of time. Most likely, sponsors and selling your own products/services will work way better if you plan to make a business out of your blog.
All the advice on blogging will repeat
Ironically, going off the prior post, any advice and tips about blogging will be on repeat–like anything with life–so my advice is…you just gotta move on and figure things out for yourself. Apply the things you’ve already learned and play around with everything. You can’t expect a step-by-step guidebook to go by from the birth of your blog to its hitting success. There is no such thing. It’s different for everyone, so you can read on and on about all that you can possibly devour, but eventually, you would do better to spend that energy into the actual cultivation of said blog.
Views don’t mean as much as engagement
I initially thought views would affect me the most. Sure enough, I do check the stats more often than I’d like, but it doesn’t mean that much to me in the end. I’m not happiest when I have a ton of views on a certain day. I’m happiest when people actually engage by liking and leaving comments (especially the latter). Because, see, the views don’t matter if my content isn’t worth commenting on.
I love discussion! Introverts get a bad rep as being “too shy,” which is, excuse my language, poppycock! I am way too talkative. I love to pick people’s brains, be contradicted, be taught (find the perfect balance so you’re not mansplaining to me, please), banter, and more. I especially want to know that my content is worth talking about–and if not, I still want to be told that my content is actually worthless (okay, please be more constructive for the sake of my heart). Views don’t mean anything if there’s no response.
Thou shalt not be tempted
Investing is important when it comes to blogging, but you will soon find that there is a lot to invest in–this can be overwhelming. How much do you want to invest in this? How much does it mean to you? I found that money would have to go out to the annual site hosting, the monthly use of a P.O. Box for a mailing list, monthly use of Tailwind for Pinterest, and a one-time theme buyout.
It took me forever to decide that the theme was worth buying. I really wanted it, but I was torn. My blog wasn’t doing that well, so I should wait on the theme, right? I decided in the end that I wanted my blog to look good. This was important and could help views, so I decided that the reward was worth the investment (especially since it’s a one-time payment). However, I am still waiting on all the other things. I know they’re supposed to help with my blog’s success, but my priority is the content.
I advise that you focus on the quality of your content–because no matter how things look and how you promote things, none of that will matter if the basis of all things, your actual blog, stinks. Also, is this really what you want? Don’t jump into buying everything until you’re sure of your dedication to blogging.
A schedule and plan are meant to be changed
Yes, you should have a schedule and some sort of plan for your blog. At first, I didn’t have a rigid schedule for my blog post, and I found myself slipping in diligence. I finally snapped to and indeed made a plan–I will post three times a week with each blog post of that week set in a different section. For example, quizzes are on Wednesdays (a slot reserved for fun stuff in general, but I love making quizzes so you’ll get that most of the time).
However, a schedule and plan aren’t set in stone, and you can’t be too rigid about them. I grew immensely stressed at not having something to review every week, and reviews were supposed to go out on Fridays. Ultimately, I decided I would only post on Friday if I have something to put out because three times a week is a lot anyway (ironically right after skipping one Friday, I had so much stuff to review and put out).
I decided ultimately to find a middle ground and simply not fret too much. Things can be flexible–as long as I’m consistent with putting out quality content, all is good. I am still struggling, for example, with other things in my schedule, but I’m figuring things out–that’s the most important thing, just figuring things out and going with the flow until I find what works for me.
Blogging saves lives
A lot of people I know have turned to blogging as a means of an escape or as an outlet for expression and reflection. A lot of them are going through hard times. They get to air their grievances, questions, frustrations, and more online. I, too, turned to blogging for this reason and found such a warm and supportive community as well as safe and comforting platform that it’s quickly turned into a passion of mine.
Feeling lost and just wanting to write, I turned to blogging in my time of need and decided it was a great way for me to share my thoughts, find myself, and help others who are just like me. I think it actually helps to write to strangers about certain things.
I think blogging is great–both a challenge and a solace. It lets me be who I want to be. What has blogging taught you?