Blog Notes: Combatting the Comparison Trap

March 6, 2013 § 1 Comment

CLARA_10

The comparison trap is an ugly, ugly thing when it comes to blogging. But it happens to all of us, myself very much included. It creeps up in those moments where you find yourself casually stalking a blogger- first maybe seeing what their Twitter following is like, then exploring who’s commenting on their blog, and finally you’re headed for the archives, just to see how long they’ve been blogging only to find out it’s been all of two months and they seem HUGE. A total overnight success.  Yeah, I do it too, people.

But it’s so pointless! Nothing good can come of that sequence of actions. Since I fall prey to it more often than I’d like to admit, I’ve come up a with a few commandments, if you will, of things to remind yourself when you find yourself in the above situation:

  • First and foremost- remember that everyone falls into the comparison trap, no matter how big or small you are. NO MATTER. It happens to everyone- take solace in that.
  • I’m quite convinced it doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers or Facebook likes you have- it will never feel like enough. Try to let go of those figures and resist blowing up what they stand for.
  • The best blog content is the most original, so when you find yourself falling into the comparison trap use it as a signal to switch gears and channel that negative thought into dreaming up killer content! Or you know you could just get back to work…
  • It’s really ok if you can’t take a good “selfie.” Let’s not even get into the fact that there’s such a term.
  • Just because you don’t have a perfectly styled home, with an area that contains a stack of fashion books and perhaps a gold pig or two does not make you any less of a person. Seriously if I see one more pig…
  • Lastly, and probably the most important one of the list- come back to your roots. Identify why you started blogging in the first place. I bet it has very little to do with pageviews. And if it does, well that’s a whole other problem in and of itself.

You guys feel me? What are your commandments? They’re important!

Photo by Lydia Hudgens

Blog Notes: Are you creating or curating content?

January 30, 2013 § Leave a comment

Channeling-Contessa-Blog

I have to tell you- I’ve been looking forward to writing the next edition of Blog Notes since my last post. My mind is brimming with ideas for this series and the most challenging part has been narrowing down what I want to talk about every other week. There are quite literally a million things I want to cover. But my goal is to focus on the basics for the first few weeks, and closely cover the core elements needed to make a blog a success. First and foremost (after setting aside the time, of course)? Ensuring you’re creating, not just curating, content.

I am by no means the first to say this, but content, when it comes to a blog, is truly king. The first step in creating a blog that’s destined to grow is to ensure you’re consistently creating original content. That means you’re either producing your own copy and photographs, or pulling together inspiration you find online in a truly innovative way. Over the years, I’ve found that the solution for ensuring CC continually reflects content that is unique to me is not vested in one single tactic, but multiple. Here are my go to methods:

Use Your Voice Have you ever noticed how the best recipe, outfit, design, DIY (you name it) posts start with a story? The blogger starts off talking about something that initially may feel completely unrelated to the title or pictures in the post? In doing so they’re employing their voice- and the post becomes more about their personal story rather than the dish or clothing item they’re talking about. In each post you write, think how about how you can be using your true voice and bringing your personal experiences to life.

Editorial Calendar I’m also not the first to emphasize the importance of an editorial calendar, but one method I found really made a difference when it came to fleshing out post topics weeks in advance, was working slightly backwards. Instead of sitting down with your calendar and trying to simultaneously come up with post content while assigning dates- start with a brainstorming session. Grab and pen and paper and just starting writing, jotting down every idea for a post that comes to mind. Even if you’re not sure if the topic could be a full blown post- write it down anyway. Once you’ve got a list of 20+ items, start to review and group. Do any of the posts fit together, could any form a series? Which ones are going to take the most time and therefore require some planning? Are any topics time sensitive- i.e. do they relate to holidays or specific seasons? Once you’ve organized the list, then begin assigning dates and backing out your blog calendar. For a more detailed tutorial on how to set up an editorial calendar for you blog, I highly recommend this post from Lisa at Elembee.

Quality over Quantity There’s this idea that in order to create a successful blog, you need to be blogging 5+ days a week. So not true. Yes, I do that here, and many other bloggers do it- but I both have help in the form of contributors, and can devote a bit more time to my blog since it’s part of my business. Quality is of the utmost importance, so if that means you can only produce two or three posts per week- go with that. Keep a consistent posting schedule and work to continually promote that content, rather than pushing out content that is sub par.

Get Offline And stop reading so many blogs… except for this one! No but really, this last tip might be the most important. If you’re constantly browsing online, always looking to other blogs for inspiration, it’s incredibly challenging (I think) to come up with your own content. My best ideas always occur when I’m walking around the city, in the shower, reading a magazine or news article, or doing something that is entirely unrelated to blogging. I read lots of blogs, so clearly I’m not saying to erase that time from your life, but do make sure you’re consistently delegating time away from the computer to stir up inspiration of your own. I can’t recommend this practice enough.

Woo- a novel once again! I think that’s about it on my end, but I’d love to hear- any tips you have on keeping your content original? And please tell me I’m not the only one who gets their best ideas in the shower!

Blog Notes: “Finding” Time to Blog

January 17, 2013 § Leave a comment

Photo-via-Jamie-Beck--Ann-Street-Studio

Near the end of last year, I shared two of my biggest lessons in blogging from 2012. This post was sort of a soft launch for a new series I wanted to start this year- one where I can share all that I’ve learned about blogging in the past few years. There are endless resources online that will “teach you” how to blog, but I’ve always found that the best advice have come from fellow bloggers, so I’d love to give back a little and hopefully impart some wisdom on how to build a successful blog. Some of you have commented and emailed me, so rest assured I will be covering things like how much money I earn from this blog, how I created online partnerships, how I grew my traffic, and so forth. But if you have another topic in mind you’d like me to cover, please do comment on today’s post, and I’ll add that area to laundry list of topics! Now, let’s get started.

I want to begin with the basics, specifically with a topic that people ask me about a lot. And that is time. How do you find the time to blog?

You may not like my answer. I sadly do not have some secret to finding time to blog- I, too, subsist on 24 hours a day.  I make time. And by making time, it often means I’m giving something up.

Let’s look at an example. Every Monday I do a food post. Sometimes I’ve really got my act together and I can prep and shoot those posts weeks in advance, but more often than not I’m doing them that weekend- carving out a few hours on Saturday or Sunday to prep and shoot the food. Once in a blue moon that may mean not being able to see a friend or go out, but usually it just means less down time on the couch. And sometimes I really dread the thought of giving that time up. But I love doing those food posts. I love starting the week with them, and adding to my arsenal of recipes for you guys. I love hearing from you- saying you’re excited to make the dish or have another recipe in mind I would love.  In short, devoting that time each weekend is 100% worth it. But it is a very intentional investment of my time.

I want to get away from the phrase “giving something up,” because blogging is more so about an active choice on my part to invest my time in something. If we really want to do something, we’ll find the time to do it- and the same goes for blogging. Every weekend I know I will be setting aside a few hours to prep posts and work on the blog. I’ve come to really enjoy that time as it often means I’m in the kitchen, prepping food for Brandon and I to enjoy. But sometimes that work feels more like, well, work, and that’s just part of it.

So if you’re struggling to find time, stop trying to “find” it. Accept that you have to make the time, and clearly delegate a period each week you can set aside to work on your blog and create original content. In doing so be sure you really clarify (with yourself, with your loved ones) why investing that time in your blog is important to you- this will really help when sticking to that schedule, and most importantly, make it enjoyable! Because if it’s not enjoyable, well, you really shouldn’t be doing it in the first place, right?

Photo by Jamie Beck

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