Five Lessons I Learned as A Blogger That Will Last Me a Lifetime
By Stacey Ross
I began blogging four and a-half years ago, because I wanted to stay connected to my community in a way that allowed me to raise a new family as an at-home mom, but also bring in an income on my terms. I knew that there would be trials and tribulations, and indeed there have been, but the journey has been so invaluable to me that I will take the lessons learned to the grave, one day, and remain grateful for them. They, beyond doubt, provide me with wisdom that transcends beyond the cyber world.
The following is some "education" that money can't buy, which I hope is valuable to other bloggers:
Live your purpose
Represent your blog's (or brand's) purpose when online! The beauty of blogging is that it can be whatever you want it to be. You are the boss. You make your own rules. However, for long-term success, having a mission or goal in mind is a smart move.
This is not to say that you must always write with an agenda in mind, but if you wish to be known for something that stands out, you are smart from the get-go to have a plan. Also, having certain personal and professional boundaries in place (like budgets for time and money spent) can set you up for success or failure, or somewhere in between.
But, if you are in this for quick cash, run! Surprisingly, though, there are many ways to monetize online, and blogging can help enhance that process greatly. There is an art and science to it, so before you chase your tail, ask yourself if you have the strategies in place to make your venture worthwhile. My venture turned into a nice little business, so never underestimate what your blog can do for you!
Be true to yourself!
If you are out there to be noticed, there is a fine line to walk that entails maintaining authenticity, yet also being colorful enough to grab attention and maintain it. There's the whole "If it bleeds, it leads" reality, so if being provocative is fitting to your online personae, engage in controversial topics and post your thoughts! Just be original and authentic, and focus on your strengths.
Oh, and there is a time and place to be opinionated! Initiate a healthful debate or two in the appropriate social media platform and see how things move but, if that is not your bag, then come up with something that sets you apart from the rest. Make your specialty shine and own it, without stopping to worry if you seem to be tooting your own horn (and of course do it in a classy way, because bloggers' egos can get really inflated - just sayin'!).
Stay on track!
Invest time in something that works with your overall mission. I used my blog to discuss couponing with a nutrition-state-of-mind. Didn't fly too well, but my bringing on guest bloggers very much began to spices things up! Budget-conscious guest bloggers who are interested in cross-promotional partnerships have proven priceless. Another way to spice things up has been to write insightful consumer posts and quote others on the topics at hand.
On that note, you are good to go if your values are aligned with your messages and your messages are clear and consistent in your platforms. My point here is that being true to yourself does not mean you need to express your every opinion or go off on tangents during your allocated social media time, but if you are supporting your purpose for being online, go for it!
Engage with integrity
I highly suggest that you not get on the bandwagon with something just because you read about it on some site. There are well-decorated opinions and statistics to back anything and everything. Beyond referencing Snopes, check the sources and determine if they are legitimate before you climb on board or post breaking news. Likewise, you are wise to state your sources and back them with compelling studies and testimonials.
Also, you might be pressured into not sharing or promoting something that is considered politically incorrect. You might be accused of "pimping out" something merely because you are being compensated to do so, or asked to not be so opinionated about something because it is considered offensive. Use your own judgment, and consider the "haters" as paying you a complement, as there are always readers that shame you for your approach and/or opinions, regardless. They might even name call. Suggestion: Wish them the best, delete/unfollow/unfriend, then move on with the day, and waste not one breath on them!
I have had to ask myself time and time again where I stand on certain topics, as by the nature of my blog, I share a lot of brands and businesses that cater to families. The only thing to date for which I have passed up compensation-wise is sharing anything that centers around brands that even remotely advocate sexual explicitness or illegal drug use. The rest is fair game and I don't lose sleep, so long as I maintain an authentic voice and implement clear disclaimers.
You will grow in leaps and bounds when you offer a colleague in need your special services. I had a couple of long-term online friends spend hours assisting me when I was in bind. They did not keep score, rather they just offered a helping hand. Then, when the time came that I could help them with something, I was thrilled to reciprocate and was at their service. Reciprocity is a beautiful thing!
Simone de Beauvoir wrote, “That's what I consider true generosity: You give your all, and yet you always feel as if it costs you nothing.” If you are inclusive when interacting, offer great feedback and tips to your online colleagues, are complimentary to them, and generously engage with them in social media, it will go right back to you!
Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.