On Sunday it will be 6 months since this blog was born, and it doesn't quite feel real. I want to say that not everything has been a surprise, but I can't think of a single aspect about blogging that has been as I had expected it!
It takes time, effort and planning
First of all, what struck me is how much effort goes into writing a blog. I've been posting twice weekly as a hobby while working full time and boy, does it take some commitment! I take my hat off to all those who blog daily or those who upload fairly frequently as well as having a day job. There are times when you can reel off a list of things you want to write about and other times when inspiration is hard to come by. There are days when you get home after a long day at work and the last thing you want to see is a computer screen.
Everyone will tell you that consistency is important (and it is true), so at first I tried to stick to my upload days religiously to the point of putting extra pressure that I just didn't need, so over time I have found that sometimes it is better to skip a day. Of course people who have a bigger readership may prefer to plan ahead and make sure that they don't miss a day, but right now this is not the case for me, and as long as these gaps are the exception I am happy with it.
Being organised is a skill that helps a lot. I started off with a simple list of posts I wanted to write, and then I went a bit crazy and created a spreadsheet with different tabs for different categories, colour coding for what was posted, what was in progress, etc. I ended up spending more time updating it than writing, so I decided to ditch it and keep it a lot simpler. Right now I use a paper planner. There are lots of blog planners online - all you have to do is a search on Pinterest. I really liked this one, but there was a lot there that didn't apply to me, so I tweaked it a bit and use the yearly and monthly goals, monthly planner, post planner and a list with ideas for posts.
I normally use iCloud Pages for writing my posts because it gives me a lot of flexibility. Quite often I start posts on my phone with a roughlist of things I want to say. I can complete the text on my iPad if I am travelling or on the computer and then just copy and paste into Blogger and add the photos and links at the end.
Self promotion is a strange thing
Something else I have noticed is that I find it so hard to promote the blog, and it is something I need to work on. Sometimes I feel like I am apologising for posting something on Facebook or Twitter, as if I was saying: Sorry for going on about this again, but if you're totally bored and have nothing else to do, you may want to have a look at this post I wrote... yeah, I know it is fluffy and maybe it won't interest you... Now, how am I going to get people excited about it with that attitude? Time to get over it, I think!
Stats and other blogs
It is hard to not compare yourself to others and get a bit fixated with Google Analytics. The reason I started Sunshine & Glow was to develop my writing skills in English and to find a creative outlet. I didn't set out to have lots of views or to do this full time, yet sometimes I can't help but look at other blogs and feel discouraged that I am not as successful, or I will have a few days with low views and think that nobody is interested and feel really low. When that happens I quite often go and read my first ever post to remind myself of why I do it. I love the process of writing, thinking about different themes, planning the pictures and even learning a bit of html, so I try to just forget about everything else and enjoy it!
Many people talk about the blogging community being very open and supportive, but the reality is not as rosy. By no means do I mean that people aren't supportive and lovely, but there are so many people trying to become successful and promote their blogs that it takes a little while to establish some kind of rapport with other bloggers. I think this is such a shame, because when you're new you really want to talk to someone else about what you're finding difficult, share experiences... that bit of encouragement from another blogger means the world. I am lucky that I know Daisy from Cupcakes and Cherries because of our day job, so she has had to endure lots of questions on a couple of occasions. My friend Kelly has a fab vintage blog and we are hoping to organise something in Oxford soon. Within the blog world, I have always found Erin and Katherine and Brenda Busy Bee super friendly and really lovely, and just seeing their comments regularly probably means more than they realise, so thank you girls!
What's coming next
During the past six months I have learnt so much, not only through blogging, but also through reading other blogs and through reflecting a lot. I have been thinking about making some changes.
One post a week, every Sunday morning
I want to be able to achieve some consistency that doesn't compromise the quality or the enjoyment I get out of it. I've known deep down for a long time that I needed to move to weekly posts but I have been resisting it until now. There may be the odd "Monhtly favourites" during the week if the end of the month is too far away from the weekend, but from this week, posts will go up every Sunday morning, around 8am.
I love talking and listening to people, and embarking in this project was partly to do with that, so I want this space to become one where people talk to one another too. Now, this is a long term goal, but from now on I am going to be sharing with you more of the things I like on social media. If you don't already follow me, these are the places where you can find me:
Lastly, if you have ever left a comment, liked or commented on a Facebook post, told a friend about my blog, sent me a text to tell me you like it or told me you enjoy it when passing in the corridor at the office, thanks a million! You have really spurred me on to carry on doing it, so I hope you can continue to enjoy it for many more months to come!
Don't forget to leave me a comment below and share on social media.
Here are the other places where you can find me: