Get comfortable, you’re in this one for the long haul! Nothing could have prepared me for the world of blogging. I was under no illusion that it would be easy to consistently post to the website but starting out that was about the extent of my concern. How quickly I learned that this was not to be. Sass & Shamrocks is 3 months old today! To be 100% honest (because I don’t see the point in being any other way), thus far the negative aspects of running this blog outweigh the positives but I’m optimistic in thinking that won’t always be the case.
Blogging is EXHAUSTING, it infiltrates your entire day, consumes a great deal of your thoughts and gobbles up vast quantities of your time and energy. In the beginning when I was desperately trying to teach myself how to do everything at once, I skipped meals and hardly slept – thankfully it isn’t like that anymore. This is the number one stinger for me; I am a perfectionist. A perfectionist who is excellent at organization but terrible at time management. Instead of separating tasks and adhering to a strict schedule I like to think that I can juggle 50 things simultaneously. I always know exactly what needs to be done but do not have the patience to do them separately. I am slowly learning to complete tasks, one action at a time rather than half a**ing everything I attempt to do at once. Blogging has taught me that it takes far less time to compartmentalize than it takes to sort through a huge mass of chaos. Good old fashioned pen and paper lists have become my saviors.
One of the first things you will learn about writing a blog and building a following is that you must post consistently. This does not mean that you have to post every single day to keep your viewers interested but you should post on a fairly consistent schedule. Whether it is once, twice or three times a week your subscribers will come to know your posting schedule and expect new content on those days. The key is to post according to your own capabilities, i.e. how much time you have to commit to writing, posting and promoting your work. The other and most important point here is quality. You can post every single day of the year if you wish but realistically how good or unique will those posts be? Strive to publish your best pieces and if this means only once a week then so be it. I am not claiming any expertise here and my blog is still in its infancy but I have made these mistakes and posted thrice a week only to churn out utter rubbish. I have since removed content that A) I did not put my best efforts into B) Does not fit into my niche C) Had little to no views/engagement.
Which leads me to my next point, write about what you want, using your voice/personality and what is inherently YOU. I post about my personal journey, things that interest me and that are relevant to my life. Through that I connect with like-minded people experiencing the same and building that network is a dream. I have seen blogs start around the same time as mine and have been following their blogging adventure as much as my own. I have seen some shoot to success from day one, I have seen others grow at a snail’s pace and adapt to their niche as they find their feet in the blogging world just like me. I have even seen some disappear into the internet abyss never to be heard of again but I have also seen others sell out quickly to affiliate programs and brands that seemed to be nothing to do with their overall blog mission. Monetizing your blog is possible through EXTREME hard graft. Some are lucky and soar almost directly into a financially cushy blog spot, others kill themselves for cents per month. In April I applied ads to my site but the monetization of Sass & Shamrocks was not my reason to launch. I truly write for release, fun and the connections/friendships made along the way.
Let me tell you about some people you will
endure experience on your blogging journey. People can be flippin’ terrible. It is wrong of me to tar a portion of the population with one brush so I’ll illustrate this via anecdotes about actual negative interaction on Sass & Shamrocks. Does anyone have frenemies? Y’know the ones you thought you left back in high school – the types who smile at you in the street but for some reason have an inward distaste for your existence, well if you promote your posts through your facebook page you will see that there are a few lurkers. Facebook insights are revealing. Very revealing. For example, the single person who consistently hides my posts regardless of what they are. The person who hides every post relating to my trip home to Ireland. Baffling considering they could just ‘unlike’ the page and never have to suffer such awfulness. As a side note here is why these people SHOULD unlike your facebook page by Alyssa (a gem I’ve met through this wild trip).
Following to unfollow. Frustrating and fruitless! I am not a mass follower. I follow people in stages, over time on different social media platforms because A) I like them B) They fit into my blog’s niche. If I don’t get a follow back, I still follow them – after all, I chose to follow them. If however their content no longer interests me or I realize that maybe they don’t fit into my niche as much as I thought and therefore have no engagement then I will unfollow at a later date. It’s not personal. I do not like the follow for follow mentality where I wake up to 30 new followers who unfollow within 24 hours because I haven’t returned the favor. This isn’t a game of you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. With social media’s new and complex algorithms it is not beneficial to follow and have followers who do not interact with you. It damages your reach and you will find yourself and your content buried at the bottom of the ‘popularity’ pile. More gold I have learned through this experience.
Blog comments. This s a source of contention for me for two reasons. The first being negative comments. I’m all for constructive criticism and debate on my posts but telling me I am ‘stupid’ and ‘selfish’ (yes people take the time to write and publish comments like that!) is unnecessary. Not to mention, I am not going to approve such comments and display them on my blog. The second peeve here is comment threads. I participate in forums whereby I read other bloggers’ posts and leave a comment on them. The deal is that you read the post thoroughly and leave a genuine, intelligent comment. The aim of this is to support others’ blogs, discover new bloggers and build a network. Unfortunately a large amount of participants enter these threads merely for the number of views to be gained (and I assume, money). They use it as a tactic to heighten views and you will find comments on your blog such as “great post, thanks for sharing” or “great tips” only to have spent five minutes writing an essay on theirs while it is evident they didn’t even read yours. It’s as disheartening as it is false and a big lesson through this has been learning the importance of genuine engagement on my blog. I just stumbled on this excellent article by Gary Vaynerchuk explaining why your view count and social media popularity really means crap. When I first started blogging, the stats were the be all and end all for me. Now my main aim is connection and genuine interaction. I have cut back to only viewing my stats once a week to assess where I am going wrong and work on correcting those issues.
Plagiarism. My soul hurts as much as my brain does when I see a blog post that is identical to mine days or just hours after publishing. This has happened to me three times in these past three months. I suffer from writer’s block often. Evidently so do they since they read posts and regurgitate them on their own websites with no credit. I don’t have the energy to battle it out with these people. But one in particular was someone who had a massive following. It’s incredibly frustrating knowing hundreds of thousands of people are actually reading your content that someone else has hijacked. Where is the integrity? The blogging world is over-saturated, we all know this but I firmly believe that using our own voices, ideas, opinions etc. can result in something entirely unique. I’ve learned there will always be someone lurking, waiting to use your achievements for their own ego boost and the hard part is rising above that. If it becomes more sinister or repetitive, action may be taken and here’s how.
That is seriously enough about the negativity in blogging. I find it draining to even talk about it but these are the facts of the last three months. I need to give major props to the positive, warm people I have come to know over the last quarter. I struggle in Georgia to make friends even in a military community. Whether it be cultural differences or the limitations of my visa process, I spent a lot of time on my own. One of the reasons I launched the blog was to put myself out there and open doors to new experiences. That definitely happened and although I have come into direct contact with more negativites than positives, it is the elation of the positive experiences and words of the wonderful, supportive people out there that keep me striving towards something greater.
If you want to test out your range of emotions and experience all of them at once I recommend that you start blogging. It is fun, it is draining, it is therapeutic, it is enraging, it is amusing, it is jealous, it is liberal, it is passionate, it is ignorant – to list but a few. You are placed in a little corner of the world wide web and given a voice. You can use that voice to inform, help or upset others. You can change a life. I’m not saying I do but you are in this unique position to be heard which is sometimes difficult to achieve in ‘real’ life. Sharing this piece of myself is scary but rewarding when someone says “I get it”. You can be as transparent as you like and conversely, as private as you wish. You can be a light or you can be the dark. The most important thing is that you are you.
Some days I still want to figuratively, flip over the table that is this blog and say F this crap! (*Amy OUT* Obama mic drop, style) other days I feel like I want to change the world. It’s only been three months. A lot has happened and lot still hasn’t. Watch this space.