According to WordPress, the 10th July marked my one year anniversary as a blogger. When you think about it, commemorating 365 days since you first started doing something is pretty arbitrary, so what better way to do it than with a post based on the arbitrarily chosen number six!
(I hate doing posts with no pictures so I’m re-using the pictures I used in the first few posts with their original captions – or lack of – to break things up a bit!)
So, in no particular order:
1. Set a target and stick to it.
At first I thought I would just blog when I felt there was something worth blogging about, and although that seems like a good idea, it wasn’t very practical for a number of reasons. Firstly, I’m a bit lazy and I tend to procrastinate, so giving myself the option to decide that there wasn’t really anything worth blogging about on any given day was far too convenient a loophole. Why blog today when something more interesting might pop up tomorrow? It also meant that I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to always find the ultimate topic to blog about, which just gets harder each time!
My first few posts felt like utter failures, partly due to my own high expectations and partly because they were a bit few and far between. I realised that I wasn’t going to get any better at blogging if I didn’t practice, so that’s when I set myself the target of blogging at least once a week. Almost straight away it made a difference! It’s so much easier to motivate yourself if you take the positive, open approach of: “what shall I write about this week?” instead of the more closed off yes/no question of: “was there really anything worth blogging about today?”
I don’t always hit my target of blogging once a week, but at least I know what I’m aiming for, and sometimes I even surpass that goal!
2. Keep it interesting to you, and blog about what you love.
I have a confession to make. This is not really my first attempt at a blog. I’ve tried a couple of times to start one before, either with no specific focus, or to do with my mental health, and each time I ended up boring myself! I felt very passionate about the mental health one. I was certain that I had a lot to say about how being Bi-Polar had affected my life (oops! secret is out! Again?!) but when it came right down to it I was bored with talking about a subject that had been defining my day to day existence for years already. I had to ask myself if I would want to read a blog by someone who was already bored and mentally exhausted with the subject she was writing about, and of course the answer was no.
So I gave up on blogging for a while. I only tried again when I had something to write about that genuinely interested and excited me: my craft work. It seems such obvious advice now: blog about what you love!
3. Enthusiasm and honesty are contagious, and a positive attitude is important.
There are two blogs that really inspired me as a reader, crocheter and blogger right from the start: bunnymummy and attic24. Both blogs bowled me over with their unashamed love affair with crochet and the enthusiasm and joy with which they wrote about their projects. It’s not very British to blow your own trumpet, but these ladies don’t care! If they love something, they rave about it, and nine times out of ten I find myself loving it too!
So I decided that I was going to try and adopt their positive approach to blogging and crafts, despite my natural inclination to point out all of the flaws in everything I make. That’s not to say I don’t make mistakes, because I do! I make loads of mistakes! But I decided that I was only going to focus on them in my blog if dealing with them was interesting or it taught me something.
4. Beware of competitions that seem too good to be true.
Well, I had to mention the Hillarys Blinds Craft Competition somewhere, didn’t I? It was a learning experience, and mainly what I learned was that I shouldn’t expect integrity, honesty or fairness from a company with such an appalling reputation online that they have disabled the comments on their own website to prevent customers airing their grievances. The comment box still shows on the page to give the illusion that it is possible to use it, but it’s just an empty gesture, much like their competition.
I won’t go into the whole mess again (you can read all about it here if you feel so inclined) but the bottom line is that Hillarys thought that a £1000 cash prize and some free fabric would be an easy way to generate some positive buzz, but they failed to meet the basic legal requirements for competitions demanded by the Advertising Standards Authority. The competition was unfair, I complained to Hillarys, they told me (and this is an actual quote from Susan White, Head of Hillarys Online) “Life is unfair.”
So, yeah. I was annoyed.
5. Don’t be scared of internet trolls.
Thanks to my criticism of the Hillarys Blinds Craft competition I had my first troll attack… and it was awesome! It was almost everything I hoped it would be, full of name calling and impotent rage (although sadly they did stop short of using the troll’s standard last resort of referring to Hitler or the Nazis). It would have been easy enough just to delete the comments. The troll hadn’t even got the guts to use their own name (my apologies if that is your real name, Bob), but I was in a playful mood, and it was so much fun letting Bob the troll show himself up as a (literally!) raging hypocrite.
Dealing with someone like Bob everyday would be fairly tiresome, but it’s a risk I take every time I post something online. It’s not going to stop me from doing something I want to do.
6. I love blogging.
Maybe this should have been number one on my list! It’s probably the most important thing I’ve discovered in my first year as a blogger, because if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t do it! Because I love blogging, I will continue to try and improve, post by post, word by word, picture by picture. I love checking my stats, seeing what interests people about what I’m doing, but it’s not really how I judge the overall success of my blog. It is successful if it continues to nurture my creativity and push me to keep trying. Even if I never got another hit to any of my posts I would still have this amazing record of what I’ve achieved over the last year, and that’s something to be proud of!