Make no mistake, I am a bona-fide rookie to this blogging thing. I have no tech background, no business background, but a modicum of common sense and ‘let’s get ‘er done’ background. (I think.) As most of you lovely readers know, the impetus for this little blogging venture was our move from New York City (specifically, Brooklyn) to the suburbs of Connecticut.
The move meant leaving my part-time job as a school guidance counselor, and joining the stay-at-home mom club. It also meant living in a home larger than 4 rooms (yay!) that was in serious need of some TLC. At one of our ‘going away’ dinners, a friend suggested I write about the transition assuming that I probably wasn’t the only woman to shift gears from the urban to the suburban and the working to stay-at-home. Ciburbanity was born.
Before I get into some lessons learned and some challenges I’ve faced, I’ll say that this year of blogging has flown by. On most days, I am completely grateful for the opportunity to dabble in the sisterhood of the blogosphere. I love the writing, the crafting, the scavenging, and the escape all of this provides from the often taxing moments of project managing toddlerhood.
So let’s get into some blog talk, shall we?
When I first started, I reached out to the few blogs that I regularly read and was SO touched by the actual human responses I got. See one from my idol: Sherry at Young House Love.
In general, the advice I got from most bloggers was pretty consistent:
1) blog because you love it, not because of some ulterior motive to make it big. Thankfully, that’s just what it’s been for me… a personal satisfaction, motivation to get things done around the house, and a great chance to connect with my new blogging community! Case in point: sewing Roman shades, replacing a toilet and making a headboard… nothing like public scrutiny to motive you!
2) Be consistent about when you post. Maybe that’s two posts a week, maybe it’s 10, but when people know they can expect new content… they check in and read what you’ve got to share. Even this tragedy from my growing pains days.
3) Pictures. Make them great and use them to tell the story. In the land of Pinterest, photographs have to be clear… crisp… perfect. I still don’t know Photoshop so I’m working with a good camera and the editing software on my Macbook Pro; some of my images are amazing… some not so much. Room for improvement.
4) Get your name out there. Comment on other blogs. Link, link, link. When I first heard about link parties, I had no idea what that meant. Picture me nodding knowingly and frantically scrambling to google ‘link party’. For the non bloggers reading this, a link party is basically an opportunity on someone’s blog to share a favorite post or a post that might fit that blog’s theme for the moment (e.g. summer home tours)
I’m still a long ways away from joining the big leagues, but my readership is slowly creeping up (thanks, peeps!!) and I’m finding my blogging voice.
Lessons learned along the way:
1) Sometimes it just takes time to find your rhythm. When I started, I had a vague idea of what a blog even was and an even vaguer idea of what MY blog would be. I had the hook, “City mom moving to the suburbs,” but not the content. I suspect that all blogs go through growing pains in the first few months and Ciburbanity is no exception. My first few posts were painfully talk, talk, talk. After a few weeks of life full-time in suburbia, I found a better routine of DIY, kids’ activities, and the occasional thought piece. Some weeks there were more projects to share, and others not so much…
2) What’s my voice. This is still something I wonder… This blog isn’t only a DIY/ Design blog… it also has kids activities and the scattered ‘mommy post’. If I’m being honest, the DIY/ Craft posts are my favorite… I would like nothing more than to spend 5 days a week scavenging, repurposing, designing and flea marketing. But my kids can’t hang at Goodwill for more than 5 minutes, so I have to entertain them on occasion and throw out a few activities each week. And then the stay-at-home-mom stuff percolating away gets shared every once in a while. All in all, it may not be a clear vision, but it’s MY vision and MY life and blogging is, afterall, a little snippet of our lives!
3) Finding new readers is hard. Really hard. I’ve read more blogs now than I EVER did a year ago. In fact, a year ago Perez Hilton was probably the only blog I could name. I try to comment when I can and have definitely made some blogging pals. I’ve been thrilled to get shout outs on bigger blogs like Apartment Therapy, Curbly, and PopSugar Circle of Moms (#9!). I make a point of seeing where other blogs I like have been featured and try to reach out when I can. But it takes some intel and lots and lots of time. Baby steps.
4) The name of my blog sucks. Don’t get me wrong… I love the concept, CI (city) + BURB (suburb) + ANITY (sanity), and I never have a problem securing URLs or usernames, but… people can’t remember it (yet!) and it’s confusing to say. But if Deadmau5 [deadmouse] can make it, so can I.
5) I’ve learned a little bit about how to set up the blog site (called coding for you non-bloggers), but I still have a long way to go. I’ve been hesitant to PAY someone to help with the design until I feel like I have a substantial readership and might appeal to advertisers/ sponsors… and I like a challenge. The site has come a long way but I still have some serious organizational work to do with my Catablog plugin and my project galleries…
I have a superlatives post lined up for another day this week in honor of the ol’ blogiversary, but here are a few quick stats just to give you a sense of what a year in the blogging world looks like!
- Today marks my 255 post
- I’ve shared 1,493 photos
- My first post had a whopping 6 views. I published it on June 26, 2012 but I’m pretty sure I didn’t tell anyone about it for a week!
- Most of my posts were DIY/ home stuff (103) but 92 have been kids activities and 70 related to being a mom.
What are my goals for the upcoming year in the blogging universe?
- Continue to expand readership (spread the word, y’all!)
- Use social media more and more. Follow me on Facebook here and check out my Pinterest page here. I’m still trying to crack Twitter, and need to get on the instagram bandwagon (versus just enjoying their technology!)
- Learn photoshop so I can add some captions/ graphics to my photographs
- Clean up my Project and Activity Galleries
- Guest post on other blogs and continue to submit my projects anywhere I can think of
I suspect I’ll throttle back on my 5 weekly posts for a bit once Quattro arrives, but I’m looking forward to seeing what the next 52 weeks of blogging will unfold! An enormous suburban-sized shout out and bear hug to those of you have come along for the ride, commented on posts, and generally cheered me on. Sure, I love blogging, but if my stats showed 5 readers everyday (thanks, family), I wouldn’t be nearly as motivated and excited to post something each morning! Hearing from readers makes my day so keep the comments coming. Like Ciburbanity on Facebook and continue to check in each day! I’m game if you are!
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