Monday 1 June 2015

5 Things I'd Do Differently If I Created A Blog Today

It's only natural that after a specific length of time, bloggers come to look back on their journey, the highs and the lows, the good and the bad experience and consider what they may have done differently now they've already done it, or what you could have and should have changed early on in order to positively benefit yourself, and I am no different.

I'm coming up close to two years blogging, and there's been a lot of upheaval in my life lately, whether that be emotionally or mentally, online or in real life, and it's encouraged me to take a serious look at what I would have done differently with my blogging experiences if I were to start over tomorrow. After much thought, I established that these changes may just benefit others considering starting a blog, so here's 7 things I'd do differently I started a blog today.

1. Keep My Identity Private

There is absolutely nothing wrong in wanting to protect yourself online, ever. I seriously wish I had considered it before I decided to shout my name across the online community, because as much as I like being honest and truthful and very much myself with you all, there's a dangerous line that many people online cross between wanting to get to know you, and wanting to find you. Those scary stories you've read about people being stalked, people being harassed, people being followed through their emails, social handles, names and places they live, they happen, and they are very real.

Protecting yourself and keeping yourself safe online is a complete and utter must if you're starting a blog, and whether you decide to go entirely private and keep close information to yourself is a entirely a preference, but you should always seriously think about how easily you want to be found by people you may not want to be found by.
  • Consider your email address,
  • Consider whether to shout your full name around the internet,
  • Consider who you share your address with,
  • Create written contacts or deals,
  • Keep prove of promises and exchanges
- make sure that you do whatever it takes to make you feel safe when your creating anything online. If I could change things, I might not have shared my entire name, nor associated myself so easily with so many social networking sites. It's such a small thing, but it makes a huge difference, and can be so vitally important.

2. Appreciate That I Won't Always Have Time

When I started up Book Badger, I just wanted to be part of an exclusive, cool group of people, doing good things, talking good things and I just wanted to be in it, you know? You do not realise just how much time blogging can take away from you. When I first started out, I never considered that to publish a review, I'd have to read a book, and as reading, take notes on said book so I have a braod range of emotions, feelings and thoughts throughout the experience. Then I would have to reword those words I've already written into more understandable gibberish, format and move them elsewhere, and then I'd finally get to put it out into the world. That's a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot to do, just for one post. Then imagine the same, but something new, for every day of the week.

There was many a time I was running on empty.

You don't have to push yourself to the brink. Take a step back, relax and appreciate your time. I wish I'd known just how demanding blogging could be when I'd started. There's a chance I may never have stuck around, a chance that I may never have decided to pursue the hobby, but being under the illusion that you will have time for everything you want to do is just foolish. There are other things in life that require your time, like sleeping and eating, and socialising and interactiving and actually getting some sunlight on your face, and these things are important, and I'm ashamed it to say it took me a long time to realise this. Its one of the reason I turned to co-blogging. It's one of the reasons I don't fear blank blog days anymore. Understanding that I don't always have time to blog, or want to spend me time on something else, and someone else, it's a vital rule of blogging, and I would definitely consider it if I were starting a fresh today.

3. Seriously Consider How I Brand Myself

It's true what they say. If you want to make an impact in anything, you've got to consider how you promote yourself, and it's true, you really do have to consider branding and marketing, at the very least, so people remember you. Nobody creates a blog with the intention of just putting content out there, you want attention, you want people to see your content and go 'wow, I want more of this' and to get that, you need to market yourself and put yourself out there. You don't need to shout about you or yourself, (see point #1) but you do want to have a style, have a look, have things that remind people of you, no matter where they are online.

When I ran Book Badger, my iconic symbol was, as you can guess, a badger, and it's the one feature everybody loved about my look. It was cute. It stood out. It made sense. It helped create my brand, and it worked. I was memorable to the people that took time out of their day to read my content, because I had branded myself, without even meaning to. Branding yourself and your blog not only help you get visitors, but keep them in the long run. Everybody dreams of success. Whether your success is 100 loyal visitors, or 100,000, your brand is the most important part of your success. If I were starting out a fresh today, my brand and how I marketed myself would be one of the most important things to think about, which leads me onto point #4.

4. I'd Think Long and Hard About My Design

You don't need an all-singing-all-dancing design, but you do need a functional, easy to navigate design that not only brings readerships, but keeps them there. Oh man, when created my first blog.. It doesn't bare thinking about. It was a disaster! Bad colour choices, too many fonts, too much going on and not enough of what I wanted. The designs that followed where improvements, but never made me truly happy, not until my last Book Badger design, when I finally cracked who I was and what I wanted to be. I wanted simple. I wanted functional. I wanted something people would look at and want to see more of. I wanted people to find my secrets, to see what other fabulous things I was hiding. I wanted my blog to excite people into staying with me. I wanted them to feel the time they'd spent on my blog was worthwhile, and worth more in the future. My design helped do that.

Design is a broad subject, and there are many other bloggers who can teach you the importance of a good blog design much better than I, but I do believe a good blog needs a good design. It not only makes your visitors happy, but it can inspire you to be better. If you don't love your job, you don't feel motivated to work. If you hate how messy your house is, you feel gloomy and down. If you don't love your blog as a visitor, how can you love it as an content creator? Take time to find what you like in other peoples blogs and feel inspired. Create a place you love and let that love motivate you.

I've grown a lot in the 2 years I've been blogging, and one the biggest ways I've grown is through my designs. I would never go as far as to say I'm brilliant, nor would I say I was even great, but I've definitely found styles that work for me. I like functional, I like user friendly, and I like to know where things are, or be able to find them. Our current design does this, and it motivates me to create more content, to encourage readers and visitors to stick around. If I were starting out a fresh today, I would take weeks, maybe months, to find the right design for me.

5. I Would Be Open To Blog Direction Changes and Growth

Within the two odd years I've been blogging, I've changed an awful lot about the way I blog, what I blog about, and why I blog. Starting out with one idea and one method is great, it means you've got a plan and you've got a platform, but like all performers, with experience comes development and growth, and with growth comes change. You want to move onto different things, better thing, sometimes even bigger things, and to do this well, you've got to be open to change. Keeping your options open isn't a bad thing, it enables you to grow and take yourself were you're meant to be.

I started out just writing reviews (very very badly), which then moved into taking part in memes and blog features other bloggers created, which then progressed into creating my own features and dropping almost all other memes altogether. I later moved onto actually discussing books and blogging, which has since developed into discussions on blogging advice, resources and tricks of the trade I use. In fact, I'm still growing and developing and finding what feels good to me, but I've only managed to do this by being open about my future in blogging.

The biggest of all of my blog direction changes and developments I made was to co-blog. It was never something I had ever considered doing previously - I'm a bit of a control freak, and what's mine is mine, and I have issues with sharing - and yet the decisions, while huge, was one of the best I made. Becoming open to changes that will inevitably come along has made me function better as a blogger, and as a person. I'm open to new ideas. I'm eager to try new things and meet new people. I'm excited to see how I continue to develop, and I can't wait to see where my blogging will take me. If I were starting a fresh today, I would definitely remember to keep my options open and explore. Boxing yourself up doesn't help anyone, least of all, yourself.

What Would You Do Differently From Experience?

What would you change about how you've blogged? What lessons have you learnt?

Here's more blogging-related posts you might love!

What Makes Me Follow or Unfollow 4 Things That Make Me Click To Read Your Content Blogs Change Over Time You Should Celebrate Blogging Milestones Blogging Doesn't Cost Me Anything


  1. Great post! I've had to do a lot of double-thinking about design, and all I know is that although I like that mine is simplistic, I'm not happy with how it looks. I understand the privacy issues and I'm SUPER scared to think anyone could find me or would want to!

    1. Design is always a difficult issue to solve, but finding the right design for you takes a lot of time, don't let your disappointment bring you down, it'll come to you. Privacy is a BIG issue, always best to be safe!

    2. I'm sure I'll find one eventually, thanks!