1. Self-hosted WordPress is WAY better than Blogger. I know there are arguments on both sides, but this it is my opinion that WordPress is best. Transferring my blog from Blogger to self-hosted WordPress was perhaps the best thing I did with my little blog in 2011.
While my Blogger experience wasn’t bad, I prefer blogging in WordPress because I like the freedom. I like it’s reliability. Through self-hosting, I own my blog. It’s all mine. ALL MINE!! (Insert diabolical laughter) I also like the professional feel of WordPress and, oddly, I love how using it requires that I research to learn more about stuff, stuff like XML, CSS, and SEO.
2. Paying $17 for your own domain name is a good and necessary investment. When I started out on Blogger, my domain name bore the name (blogspot) of its true master, Google. In 2011, however, I purchased my domain name (www.jessicafhinton.com).
This blog is not my business. It’s just a hobby, a hobby that I’ve learned to take seriously because it’s a reflection of me. Purchasing your own domain name is not only good for establishing your authority, but it also makes it easier for people and companies to recognize/find you online. Oh, and, another big thing for me, once you own your domain name, no one else can claim it. So, if you haven’t already, get to it!
3. In a crowd of many, remember to stay true to yourself. There were months within my blogging journey in 2011 where I suffered from debilitating writer’s blocks. I was afraid to write about a lot of things in my life and motherhood journey because I would look at my “successful” posts and in seeing my follower numbers increase with those posts, I felt pressure to continue on, what I assumed, was the “popular” note of my blog. I worried about comments and wanted people to like me and my writings so much that I lost my voice.
After some time away from my blog, I was able to remember why I started blogging in the first place (to write truthfully and make connections) and began writing again about the things that matter most to me.
4. Monetizing your blog doesn’t make you a sell out or a horrible, greedy troll. I held out on adding ads to my blog or accepting sponsored post opportunities mainly because I didn’t want to sell out. Like many new bloggers, I feared that doing these things would hurt my credibility, my integrity, and get in the way of being able to make real connections with my readers.
But in late 2011, after a late night review of my dwindling bank account, I changed my mind.
I changed my mind not because I want to get rich from this blog or even earn an income. I changed my mind because, well, I’m— I’m broke, jobless, and because my pride can’t cover the costs of running this blog. *sigh. There, I said it. That, plus my husband isn’t all that enthusiastic about paying the tab for a hobby that he thinks is mostly a huge waste of time (but that’s another post for another day).
I began running ads from BlogHer in October and accepted my first sponsored post opportunity in December and haven’t looked back. Now, I don’t know why I made such a big deal about the whole thing in the first place. I still write what I want and still am making the kinds of genuine connections that I got into blogging to make.
5. Blog because you enjoy it. Similar to #3, it’s easy in blogging to get caught up in numbers, follower counts, comments, and stats and all that other crap that, at the end of the day, doesn’t really matter to you but becomes important to you because it seems to matter to every other “good” blogger you follow.
Blog because you can and because you want to. Blog because in blogging you feel better about your life, not worse.
In 2012, I hope to continue to continue blogging as honestly as possible about these sweet ladies:
I hope to continue to talk and make sense of my life and journey in motherhood.
I hope to continue to set goals for this blog and meet them.
And, most importantly, I hope to continue to make lasting friendships, to inspire and be inspired, and to grow.
Happy New Year, everyone!
What are some lessons you’ve learned from blogging in 2011? What are some of your blogging goals for 2012?