When I look back at my earlier days of blogging, there's a laundry list of woulda, coulda, shouldas. Here are a few lessons I've learned, pieces of advice I'd share with fellow bloggers, and some of my bloggie goals for 2013.
Create & Collaborate: I think the most important thing I've learned is how essential it is to create your own content and collaborate with bloggers you respect. I wish I would have reached out to other bloggers sooner. I think I was a little afraid at first, but I've grown a bit more confident. More often than not, you're going to reach out to someone that wants to help or share their experience. I've only ever received the most warm and generous responses. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there. What's the worst that can happen? They don't reply. Well then, on to the next...
The Gift of Friendship: I can't tell you how many kind emails I've received and how touched I've been by reader comments. The fact that someone else took time out of their day to share words of encouragement, compliments, or advice, means so much to me. Occasionally, I'll even get pieces of snail mail from some of my readers and bloggie friends, and I'm incredibly tickled. I'm in awe by the genuine kindness of complete strangers. Of course, I use the term strangers loosely, because in all actuality, I feel like we've become great friends instead. I think that's been one of the greatest and unexpected gifts of blogging. I could be having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, and the next thing I know, I've got some form of sunshine sent my way. Whether it be through comments, snail mail, or email, your compassion and generosity makes me want to pay it forward. And sometimes you know just what to say when I need to hear it the most.
The Importance of Comments: I rarely used to comment on blogs; I guess I just figured the blogger wouldn't care what I thought. It wasn't until I started blogging that I understood how imperative that is and just how much it means to the blogger. Essentially, we should all be blogging for ourselves, but it's nice to know that someone out there appreciates the graphics you put together or the information you shared. We blog to connect with others. Commenting facilitates and fosters the bonds created between bloggers and readers. It's also a wonderful way to encourage other bloggers to stop by your site, too! One of my goals for 2013 is to comment more on my blog and other blogs. For the longest time, I wasn't sure if readers ever knew when I responded to their comments. Recently, I installed the Disqus widget, and I like that it allows me to reply to each comment individually. I resolve to respond to your comments. It's the very least I can do! I also want fellow bloggers to know just how much I appreciate their posts. It makes a difference in my day!
Attribution: I'm still trying to figure out the best way to make image credits apparent to the reader. I hope I'm doing this correctly, and I'll take any advice I can get on the matter. I just want to give credit where credit is due. I want to ensure that other bloggers, artists, etc., are getting the acclaim they rightfully deserve. I know that some bloggers flat out ask permission for every image they post. I also know that there are others who could care less and post whatever they want. In fact, that's probably the biggest downside to Tumblr and Pinterest. It's clear that I still feel a little insecure about this topic. I'll explain why... About six months after I started blogging, I received an email from a blogger I respect greatly. She asked that I credit her images in a specific way. She has every right to make this request. I had NO idea that I was doing it incorrectly. She was super nice about it, but as a perfectionist, it was enough to make me want to quit blogging. I'm such a conformist and want to please everyone. I was absolutely crushed to be on her radar and for this sort of reason. I remember calling my mom and sobbing. It was a lesson that I'll never forget. I also learned that it's okay to make mistakes—it's an integral part of the learning process.
Bloggie Goals: As the blog's readership has grown, it's become more apparent that I need to have a media kit for any future sponsorship inquiries. I still don't know exactly what this means, but I'm going to try to figure it out. I've started referring to some of my favorite blogs for advice. If anyone has any tips, let me know. I'd greatly appreciate it! And in the spirit of pushing myself in 2013, I also hope to sign up for one of Alt's online courses. I think it would be a lot of fun, and I'm going to hold myself to it. If you want to sign up for a class together, let me know. Perhaps they'll even have one on media kits, and I can knock both items off my blog to-do list.
Bloglovin: Years ago, I used to bookmark all of the blogs I followed and organize them in my favorites folder. After discovering Bloglovin about a year ago, my life has never been the same. I've toyed around with various readers and whatnot, but I've found that it's the single easiest way to follow your fave blogs. I usually login each morning with a cup of coffee and start scrolling through posts. This weekend I'll update my Blog Roll (look to your right). I desperately need to add to my list of daily reads.
From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU all for being so receptive to this past week's posts. Your comments and emails have made it incredibly worthwhile. It's a lot easier to throw together random posts, but this week I really had to think a lot about the process and reflect upon the joy it brings me each week. Blogging has been such a wonderful creative outlet for me, and I just think that it's important to support one another in our efforts to express ourselves. Don't you agree?
P.S. On a side note, if I was Andy Cohen and this was the WWHL Clubhouse, I would most definitely make anything blog-related part of a drinking game. After this week, we would be blitzed. The wordsmith in me cringes at the thought of how many times I've used the word blog. Hold on to your high balls and take a guzzlet of your favorite drink!