Knotty Thoughts: 5 Things I Learned During My First Month Of Blogging

Knotty Thoughts is a series of posts featuring the sometimes complex, sometimes intimidating, and other times just plain loopy ideas that come out of my head.


I created this blog in the summer, and then spent months researching things like “what makes a good blog post?”, “how does SEO work?”, and “how to run a successful blog”. When I thought I knew it all, I launched Curls OTG…. and quickly realized that I really didn’t know much of anything.

So, here are 5 things I’ve learned during my first month of blogging.

1. Its More About Community Than Competition

I entered into the blogging world with this idea that it would be every woman/man for themselves.

I thought that particularly when it came to bloggers trying to appeal to similar audiences, I’d be entering into a cutthroat competition, and while that has never been my style, I came prepared.

But what I found after making my first post was that bloggers rely on each other.

The more seasoned bloggers that I expected to get some serious sideeye from have been kind, approachable, and inspirational.

The helpful comments I’ve gotten on how I can improve my writing, or what I can do to make my layout more appealing haven’t been coming from the people that stumbled upon my blog by chance- they’ve been coming from fellow bloggers. That’s been invaluable to me, and I make sure to pay it forward.

We’re all in this game together, and its called “the blogosphere”, and not “the cluster of random blogopoints” for a reason.

We’re interconnected, and there is much more incentive to see each other thrive than there is to see each other fail.

2. Structure Can Be Good

Anyone who knows me knows I’ve never been a planner.

In college, my agenda book contained way more random doodles, and snippets of poems than information about assignments, or meetings. Everything I had to do stayed in my head, and during my free time, I went wherever the wind took me.

The way I saw it, so much of our lives are dictated by schedules set by others- why would I want to put myself on a schedule?

I’ve always preferred freedom over structure when given the choice, so I started blogging thinking I’d be able to take the same approach

Nope.

At least not if I wanted to keep my readers.

Really, I should have known this by looking at my own habits.

From websites to Youtube channels, the content I view most frequently is content that has some element of predictability. I know that every day, (blah).com publishes new material. I know that every other day So-And-So uploads new Youtube videos.

It’s something I look forward to, and it keeps me coming back.

On the flip side, there are Youtube channels, and websites that produce content that I love, but they do it so sporadically that I can’t get into the habit of visiting every day or week. Instead, I go through periods of  obsessing over them, followed by periods of practically forgetting that they exist.

I’m still trying to figure out how to structure my posting schedule- especially now that my work schedule will be changing so drastically, but now I see that a little bit of planning and structure can be a good thing.

A little.

3. You’ll Reach People You Never Imagined You Would

I come from a technical background, and have a pretty good grasp on how the internet works, but blogging is new to me.

I started this blog with the goal of encouraging young women to travel by creating a collage of sorts showcasing aspects of different cultures and nations of the world.

I saw it as an opportunity for me to share what I knew while pushing myself to continue to learn, and had hopes that at some point, I’d be able to expand my audience beyond the US. Little did I know, that point would be almost immediately.

Keep in mind that I’m still trying to figure out how everything works, and I haven’t had a massive amount of visitors, but I’ve already had readers in the US, the UK, India, Pakistan, and Honduras check out my posts! (And shout out to you guys! You should totally say “hi” in the comments!)

Blogging provides a platform where you can share your ideas and opinions on a global scale, and I can only hope to to use that power to bring people closer together.

4. The More You Know, The More Questions You’ll Have

While I’m not a planner, I am a researcher. Like I said at the beginning, when I created this blog, I didn’t start posting immediately. I wanted to learn a bit about things like what goes into making a blog post people enjoy reading.

On that subject, I read articles about post length, proper editing, and image use. But what I didn’t think about until later was timing.

That when you post can be almost as important as what you post.

A person could write an amazing piece, but she or he will shoot themselves in the foot by publishing the post when their target audience is most likely to be on their way to work, or at school, or asleep.

So my next question was when would be the best time to publish a blog post based on my target audience.

Well, varying sources had varying opinions on the subject. Some said the weekend, while others said during the week. Then, there was the subject of measuring success. Are we talking pageviews, shares, likes, comments, new followers, or something else completely?

One source reported a difference in optimal post time based on whether your audience is male or female. But in order to make use of that information, there is the question of whether your target audience and your actual audience are in fact the same, which is something I’m attempting to figure out now.

This all to say that blogging can be as complex or simple as you want it to be, but there is much more to it than meets the eye.

5. Its About Patience And Experimentation

This post is being written on January 1st, 2015- one month after my first post was published. But if I don’t either accidentally hit “publish immediately”, or simply give into the urge to do so, no one should see it until Monday, January 5th.

Why?

Because I’m trying to create a schedule by applying what I learned in my research.

Trust me. After you spend hours writing a post, all you want to do is hit “publish”, and see how much/whether your hard work has paid off. But that’s not always the best practice depending on what your goals are.

The scary part is the not-knowing. You could spend lots of time on a piece, deny yourself the sense of relief that comes with hitting the “publish” button, only to have your post flop. Or, your delayed gratification could actually pay off.

What happens in the case of this post remains to be seen, but regardless of the outcome, I know it’s all a part of trial and error.

Happy (hopefully belated) New Year, Everyone!

-Charly

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