I have been blogging for as long as I can remember. I used to write on a private blog, just as a means to get my thoughts out of my head. Later I decided that I wanted people to read what I had to say, so I blogged publicly, but I didn't tell anyone who knew me in real life. Now, I have embraced my inner thoughts and insecurities, and I share all of my writing with anyone willing to read it. I have gone through multiple different blogs and niches, and I have finally settled with my favorite. My blog, My Life on a Whim, didn't come by accident. The name came to me one day, and it fits perfectly. I write about so many different things, that it is literally "on a whim."
I have read about people who make an amazing full time income from blogging alone, and honestly I have strived to get there one day. I still do, too. I would love to run my blog full-time, while making a livable income. While I might not be there yet, I know that I will be one day. In the year and a half I have been blogging about random thoughts, recipes, and parenting lessons I have learned, I have gained a steady stream of good traffic, and I am proud of that. It has been a slow road, full of ups and downs, but I have learned quite a bit from my first semi-successful beginner blog.
You have to share, share, share
My first mistake was thinking that as soon as I hit "publish" on my first bog post, I would have readers instantly. That somehow, people out there would know about my blog and want to read what I have written. Wrong. The internet is a vast black hole that even the best written material can get lost into, and getting noticed may seem impossible. If you don't get your name out there and share your work, no one is going to know it is there. I have had many, many days (and weeks) where my traffic was at a big fat zero. I wasn't sharing or promoting my blog posts, and no one was reading them.
You have to keep your readers
While it's nice getting traffic to your blog, it's even nicer when they stay for a while. Getting a click to your blog post means nothing when they leave your page before reading the entire post. If you don't keep your reader's attention, you are doing it wrong. You can't clutter your page with ads and pictures, because that is too much going on and will distract your visitors. You have to be consistent with your posting, as well, so that your visitors will be more likely to return. If they see you actively blog on a weekly basis (at least), and they like what they see from you, they will want to come back and see what you will share next.
Get your readers engaged
This one is hard to do for most beginning bloggers, myself included. Most people will read your blog and leave, without saying a word and possibly never coming back. The real value is when you get your reader to complete the blog post, and leave a comment with their questions, concerns, or replies to your article. The more people who are engaged, the more people it will attract and encourage to be engaged as well. Even better, these people have more of a possibility of returning, especially if you reply to their comment. This is a great way to make new blogging friends, too, while growing your network.
Don't take anything personally
As a blogger, I am putting myself out there to literally anyone with internet. This is scary, because there are a lot of keyboard warriors trolling social media. Someone who wouldn't say a word to you in the street, may end up calling you the worst names you could think of, simply because they don't agree with your article on the internet. I have learned to stay away from comment sections, sometimes, because people can be downright mean. They don't know you, and they have no remorse when they make you feel like crawling under a rock. Luckily, I haven't experienced anything that bad (yet), but I have had my share of condescending know-it-alls who had to put in their two cents. Just brush it off, and understand that most of these people have issues within themselves, that have nothing to do with you. Keep doing you, don't take anything personally, and shine your light everywhere you go.
I wouldn't take anything back from the past year and half, when it comes to my blog. Sure, I wish I would devote more time to it, but life is so buys that some things have to wait. Everything that looks like a failure in life is just a lesson in disguise. I once started as a young girl who had no idea what I was doing, and I can't believe where it has taken me. All I wanted was to write, and it turns out that some people like to read my work. We all have a story in us, and we all have people out there that we can relate to. Don't be afraid to share your story and write for the world to see, because you never know where it will take you.