Following up from my 2014 Reader Q&A I shared some answers to the most frequently asked questions back in December. Today I'm bringing you part two and answering ten more of the blogging related questions you guys asked in my Q&A; if you have any more burning questions feel free to head back to the survey and let me know!
How do you stay motivated to run your blog when you’re busy?
I can really relate to this question right now as I'm currently feeling a little drained while finishing my book, working on some other side projects, running ALO and keeping this space going as well. My best advice is that the only way to stay motivated is to completely fall in love with your blog; create for yourself an online space that feels like yours and one that really allows you to find creative freedom with the content you share. Don't let your blog become a chore - let it be the place you love escaping to when everything else feels a little too much.
What is the number one thing you have done to grow your readership?
I'll be really honest with you, since starting this blog back in March '13 I've never really done anything to market this online space. Of course I've joined in with Twitter chats and shared my posts on social media, but I've never actively had a marketing plan or advertised my blog in any way. So for me, the number one thing I've done to grow my readership has been to just focus on producing content I can be proud of and that will hopefully connect with my audience. Fellow bloggers sharing the love for my space and Bloglovin's newsletter and popular pages have been the biggest ways new readers have discovered my blog but I never actively sourced out that coverage. My best advice is to focus on creating content that stands out from the crowd and really connects with your ideal audience - and find a way to share your blog with the world that feels comfortable to you.
Did you always know you wanted to be a blogger/freelancer?
Definitely not. At university I studied to be a social worker and even though I completed my degree, half way through I knew it wasn't for me and my heart was set on pursuing a career in publishing instead. My freelance journey came about in a strange way as it's something I started after quitting my post-uni day job due to health reasons - I spoke about this in more depth in this post.
Should every blogger have a Terms & Conditions page?
I definitely think they're beneficial when sharing your disclaimer policy and protecting yourself and your content. They're not an essential, but it's a great place to inform your readers on your approach to all things disclaiming and sponsored content, and also to share how you would like your content to be treated in terms of reposting and sharing.
Because blogging is so crowded now, do some of us just need to resign ourselves to always being somewhere near the bottom?
This question made me so sad and my first response was a big NO. I think it's really hard sometimes to gain some perspective in the blogging community in terms of this hierarchy we all perceive to exist, but just because it's an over-saturated industry it doesn't mean there's no longer any space to grow and thrive. My best advice though would be to reinvent the wheel a little bit; if you're just following in the footsteps of those who have come before you it's much harder to gain any traction and carve out a unique space of your own. Trying something new, developing your own voice, and running your own race every step of the way is the best way to stand out. I think it's also super important we quit putting ourselves in tiers - just because some people have a bigger audience or higher traffic it doesn't technically mean they're more relevant than you are. I've said it before but I really do believe in the power of the medium sized blog; whatever you do never let your stats or follower count define you, as the most important thing is that you're having impact and reach with the right audience for you. I spoke more in depth a few months back on why You Are More Than Just Your Traffic.
How do you bounce back from bouts of writers block?
Writers block is really hard to deal with sometimes, and I've definitely struggled with it many times in the past (and still do now). It can really knock your confidence as a creative and leave you feeling like you having nothing left to give, but my best advice is to take a step back to refuel yourself first as writers block can usually be a sign that you're burning yourself out. If you're struggling to write after taking a break, my personal cure is to just write anyway. Sometimes starting a post is the hardest part, so I just jump into the middle of it and worry about the introduction later.
If you were to start from the beginning again what would you do differently?
I thought long and hard about this one and I struggled to really pinpoint anything I would change. Every decision I've made (and even every mistake) has brought me to where I am now and I wouldn't give up any of those lessons I've learned along the way. I would deal with a few personal relationships differently for sure - I've definitely learned how to deal with conflict much better since starting this blog - but apart from that I think the process of being a beginner and just learning the ropes all by yourself is a super beneficial experience.
What are the best ways to build connections and collaborate with other creatives?
Be brave and reach out is my best advice. Be authentic every step of the way - make friends not connections - but sometimes you just have to step outside of your comfort zone and send that tweet or that email and open up the connection. It probably makes sense to start with people within a similar niche/area as you'll immediately have something to connect over, but some of the best connections I've made through blogging started with just a slightly awkward 'hello' email from me.
How can I grow my blog in a way that feels comfortable and not spammy?
So I touched on this in the question earlier how I've never really promoted my blog or invested in any traditional marketing techniques, and this is mainly due to them feeling a little too uncomfortable and spammy. Depending on your long term goals though, finding a way to feel comfortable marketing yourself can be super important and my biggest advice first and foremost is that to feel comfortable marketing yourself you have to feel 100% proud of what you're marketing. Focus on creating a blog you're crazy proud of and then build a marketing plan that suits your purpose and audience. For example maybe you'll invest in Facebook promotion, or sponsored tweets, or advertising on other blogs in your niche. Or maybe focusing on SEO and keywords is the best route for you, or like many others maybe Pinterest and Instagram are your best platforms for finding new readers. One of my favourite bloggers, Regina, has an eKit all about Growing Your Blog Traffic With Social Media that may be an awesome investment for you if you really want to utilise your social media platforms.
Are you always 100% happy with your blog or are there times when you feel deflated?
I've never met a blogger who is happy with their blog 100% of the time, there will always be days when the comparison trap takes its toll, or you feel like you could be doing better or growing faster with your space. I definitely have those bouts of deflation from time to time and it's tough not to be your own worst critic every step of the way, but sometimes I've found that when I do have those moments it can actually push me to try something new and raise the bar a little with the content I'm producing. When you're really feeling deflated or insecure my best advice is to either take a step back and refuel your creativity, or reach out to your closest blogging friends and talk with someone who knows exactly what you're going through. Sometimes you just need to be reminded that you're not alone!
I'd love to know your answers to any of these questions?
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