I recently received some emails asking me for "blogging advice" and while I don't feel that I am an expert AT ALL I thought I would take the time on this "two year anniversary" to share some thoughts and tips. I hope that it helps! Thank you again to all of my readers for taking the time to read this little space on the internet! I pray that you leave here encouraged to grow in your relationship with the Lord, that you are inspired to live life fully and beautifully, and that you take the time to delight in the beauty of ordinary days.
(P.S. If you are looking for past "blogging advice" I have written the following posts about the subject. I should warn you though that some of those tips are a little outdated and some are still extremely relevant!, but they might be of help if you are interested: Tips from the three month newbie, the six month newbie, the nine month newbie, and blogging 1 year later.)
Thank you again y'all for reading this little space! I love connecting with y'all!
You are wonderful!
1. Write for you. My biggest advice that I would give to any blogger is to write for you. Write about what you are passionate about, what you are processing, what you are struggling with, what makes you cry and laugh, and share your heart with the world. So MANY bloggers that I knew at the beginning of this journey that were writing and now don't told me that they simply got burned out because they tried to fit into a "mold" to get a following. Write for you and I promise that while you may hit "writers block" or feel like you have nothing to say, you will not feel burned out. When I first started my blog two years ago it was really hard to find anyone who wrote about health issues for us "youngers" and spoke about Chronic Illness. This was one of the driving forces of me starting SEEN Gathering. Another thing that I saw all of the time when I first started blogging was everyone showing fashion tips and the latest fashion outfits. I love blogs about fashion and still follow several... but that isn't me. I also could not find many blogs by single women over the age of 25. It seems like bloggy world is filled with married and mommy blogs. That is awesome but (as much as I wish it was so) I am not married. I remember one well-known (at the time) blogger literally telling me that I "should write more about fashion and relationships and less about my topics if I wanted to make it in bloggy world". Listen, I would love to be well enough to be writing about fashion because I LOVE it. But the truth is that that (as much as I wish it were so) is not my life write now. God has me in a different season and stage. And the thing is that I have a choice to "fight" against that or learn to thrive in the seasons that He has me in. As I continued to write about things that I am passionate about and are close to my heart I feel encouraged to grow in my relationship with the Lord, inspired to live life fully and beautifully, and I find delight in the beauty of ordinary days.
2. Find a Balance. My second biggest advice is to find a balance and a schedule that works for you and is realistic. One of the biggest pitfalls that I see with new bloggers is that they try to have a quality post every single day. While I think in the first few months of blogging that is more of a possibility (since you are newly writing and sharing your ideas for the first time) it is simply not realistic as time goes on. I knew one blogger who was quite "big" in bloggy world when I first started that sometimes posted two or three times a day(!) and yes, sadly, burned out. Unless your blog is your full time business and full time job it is not possible to hold a schedule like that for the long run. Look, I am a writer and am currently writing books full-time in addition to life demands and other responsibilities. And even though I love writing it can be difficult to keep up with a writing schedule for the blog. My advice is to set your blog schedule that is realistic for you that will work for the long-term and that can be "tweaked" as you go on. For a long time I found that taking weekends off worked well for me. Now, with my treatment schedule, writing schedule, and shop demands, I have found taking other days off works better. Find what works for you and find a balance.
3. Follow a mission statement. One piece of advice that I give all bloggers who ask me is to have a "mission statement" for your blog. For me, Caravan Sonnet, only posts blog posts that "strive to encourage people to grow in their relationship with the Lord, inspire people to live life fully and beautifully, and posts that would encourage others to take the time to delight in the beauty of ordinary days". Under this I have decided that the topics that I post about will be about health, scripture, photography, my writing, and my shop. This mission statement has helped me make the decision of what I will and won't do in bloggy world. Its made it incredibly easy to turn down certain offers and collaborations and opened the doors to lasting friendships and a blog that I know I would want to read forty years down the road.
4. Find Community. Find community in this online space. There a whole lot of options but as you look you can find beautiful community here in this blogging world. Don't worry if it takes time, morphs into looking different as time continues, or you feel that you "don't fit" right away. Keep plugging away and praying about it and the Lord will bring you the right community.
5. Realize when to say "goodbye". This was one of the more difficult lessons to learn in bloggy world- realizing when it is time to say "goodbye". I don't mean "goodbye" to blogging (although I do think different seasons and times call for this) but I mean goodbye to connections and collaborations that don't fit with your mission or who you are. Because of my personality and loving people it was a hard lesson for me to learn that sometimes in blogging world people "show their spots" later on. A couple of years ago (a few months after I started blogging) there were a couple of well known bloggers who were Christians that started "bad mouthing" each other on social media. (To this day I still don't know what started everything.) If you were blogging then and involved in the least little bit with social media you probably know what I am talking about. It was ridiculous. Names were called, people chose sides, and honestly the whole thing was so sad. I will never forget though what another blogger (who wasn't a Christian) said to me at the time though. "It usually takes longer, because people hide behind a "pretty blog" but a persons true colors and character will always come out.". This has stuck with me through many months and now years of blogging as I have sadly seen this to be true. I have been shocked by bloggers who claim to be Christians and speak of God, Christian values, and loving others and then behind the scenes have sent hurtful emails, written very judgmental comments, and been critical over silly and petty things. I have seen Christians not wanting to help other bloggers because of petty jealous and an the assumption that giving help will diminish their personal "following". I have experienced this personally several times and it happened again very recently. I had written to a blogger for advice and a simple question about some blogging thoughts and instead of being completely truthful with me they decided to lie. It was sad to realize and sad to acknowledge but it did happen. I have chosen to forgive them but since this is not the first time that this has happened I have realized that we need to part ways. The reality is that, just like in real life, blogging is dealing with other people. My greatest advice is to live in forgiveness and realize when it is time to say "goodbye" and move forward following the Lord.
6. Realize those bloggers who genuinely live out their faith. On the complete flip side of #5 has been the absolute blessing of connecting with other ladies who love the Lord passionately not just "on their blog" but behind the scenes. These ladies have consistently been an encouragement to me in their writings and behind the scenes and have selflessly helped me and countless others in bloggy world. Whether it has been an encouraging word or shared tears, or sweet emails and lots of prayers, or simply helping out with answering a thousand bloggy questions these ladies are the "real deal". We are all at different "phases" but their genuine love for the Lord covers all circumstances and has provided beautiful friendships. I truly look up to each and every one of these ladies and respect them. If you are looking for amazing bloggers who live out their faith and practice what they write I can't recommend enough these ladies: Katie from Always, Katie, Caroline from In Due Time, Amanda from Marshalls Abroad, and Erin from Its Erin James.
7. Make Decisions for You and Your blog. I really believe (just like I stated in #1) that you need to make decisions for you and your blog alone. There is sometimes a "big conversation" about whether you need to have your blog be "a hobby" or "a business". After blogging for a couple of years now I can honestly say that I see this conversation "rotate" in bloggy world. Some people will say that you need to "choose" one or the other and that you need to make a huge list of changes for your blog depending on which way you are going to go. Honestly, in some very small cases this is true but in reality I have found that figuring out what works for you is always best. When I first started blogging everyone was switching from Wordpress to Blogger. Now? I see it the opposite. I was told by a well-meaning blogger lady this summer that I "HAD" to switch to Wordpress otherwise I had issues. I was in a panic for like 2.2 seconds until I realized that I "didn't have" to do anything. I researched, talked with lots and lots of bloggers who have been around for 4+ years, read tons of information on both sides of the fence, and decided that for me personally I could not afford the financial investment into switching. I shared this with the blogger who had said I "had" to switch and the response I received was "you must not value your blog". Listen, I am really happy for those that can do that, but I have heard from a lot of bloggers who paid $200+ to make switches between platforms that they never "came out even" with the money. My blog does not make money. I don't sell sponsorships, I take very limited sponsor ads (I accepted three this past year) and I don't join in on opportunities where I could make a lot of money with my blog. That does not mean that I don't value it. It simply means that I am doing what is best for me and my blog. It makes me so sad to see that I am not the only one who has received "advice" like this. I have seen a lot of great bloggers who have gotten "burned out" and "frustrated" with blogging because of pressure they feel from others. Listen, I love blogging and use a variety of different sites for different things that I do. I love blogger for right now for my blog, I use squarespace for my personal website, wix for SEEN Gathering, and have a very personal and private blog on wordpress. Make decisions that are right for you and your blog - it will save you a lot of frustration and you will feel much happier when you do!
My final advice is to enjoy the process and journey of this blogging world. Just as we grow and evolve as humans in our personal lives I have noticed the blog shift and change and morph into more of "me". I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for year three of this little space! Thank you so much for your kindness, encouragement, and love this past year! I look forward to connecting in deeper ways with y'all over this next year! Happy Two year Blogiversary!
Thank you again for living life with me this year!
With lots of love,
Thank you again for living life with me this year!
With lots of love,