Blogging. What an interesting world I’ve stepped into. Prior to starting Cathedrals and Cafes, I had spent several years blogging professionally in my previous line of work. I dedicated a lot of my time to sharing my thoughts, best practices, and projects I was working on. Then I changed careers and stopped. It wasn’t that I intentionally decided to no longer blog, but I entered into a new role and couldn’t quite figure out how to keep blogging.
A couple of years went by and I realized that I really enjoyed blogging and wanted to get back into it. But this time, I wanted to dedicate myself to blogging about things I’m really interested in, specifically travel and lifestyle topics. I also enjoy sharing ideas about personal style, entertaining, and food and wine.
About six months ago I decided to get serious and Cathedrals and Cafes was born. I’m not an expert by any means and I think I’ve learned something new everyday. So I thought I would share some things I’ve realized since I started. If you’re thinking about starting a blog or you just enjoy following bloggers like me, I hope this is helpful and maybe enlightening. From my messy desk, here are 5 things I’ve learned in my first 6 months of blogging.
1. There is a belief out there that blogging is easy.
If blogging were that easy, every person on the planet would do it. There are a lot of bloggers out there who have been doing this much longer than I have and they would be the first to say that there is a lot of work that goes into writing a blog. Many of them do it full time and have managed to make a career out of it. Others like myself, juggle a full time “9 to 5” career while spending time blogging nights, weekends, and any other small kernel of free time. I spend hours writing posts that I think will be interesting to my readers. Creating engaging content takes time, from generating ideas, writing, re-writing, editing, proofreading, planning and finally posting and sharing to social media. Not to mention the photography involved. Scheduling a shoot and editing photos is also time consuming and can be an agonizing process – what looks best, is this the right lighting, does this convey the mood I’m trying to achieve? It’s so much more than just sharing travel photos and talking about clothes and cocktails. For now my blog provides a fun creative outlet for me and I love to share our experiences. I really enjoy the feedback and connecting with readers and other bloggers as well. I hope to transition it to a full-time gig at some point. This requires developing a business plan and focusing on branding and brand partnerships, all things I’m continually working on and learning about.
2. Great content is important but so are great photos.
My blog is still not where I want it to be aesthetically. For my readers who have commented that they love my photos, I thank you tremendously! It humbles me so much that you find them interesting to look at, even as I critically scrutinize them to death. I’ve been reading blogs a lot longer than I’ve been writing one and I know as a reader how much I enjoy beautiful photography, too. I use a Nikon D5500 for almost everything you see on the blog, but a lot of the time I’m only armed with my iPhone. I’ve learned to use photo editing apps like VSCO to help make my iPhone photos look the best they can. Still a work in progress!
3. Patiently build an authentic audience.
When I wrote my first blog post and put it out onto the Internet I wondered just how many people would read it. And for awhile, I didn’t really see much traction. The thing to remember is that if you’re enjoying it, keep going. People will find you and soon you’ll have a small dedicated group of readers. I love hearing from readers who comment and provide me with feedback about what they like seeing on the blog or similar experiences they’ve had. Blogging is a social thing and making those authentic connections are part of what makes it so enjoyable for me. I’ve learned that there are many ways out there to garner a larger following on your social media outlets, from loop contests to “bots” and various other social media managers that promise to exponentially grow your following and readership. I have not chosen to go down any of these paths. I prefer an authentic engagement, letting my following grow organically. I want to know that my readers are real. It’s tempting when you’re trying to build your brand and partnerships to want to find the fastest way to gain a ton of followers. But that diminishes the integrity of the blogging business, and yes, it is a business.
4. Don’t let the naysayers and negativity get to you.
There are plenty of people who want to rain on your parade. Whether it’s hiding behind a screen name and putting you down or those who think you’re just dabbling in a fad or hobby that’s not worth the time you’re putting into it. There are many examples of successful bloggers who have made a full-time and fulfilling career out of it. And if it’s your side gig (like mine is for now) then that’s ok too. You do have to have a thick skin and confidence in yourself and your goals. Stay positive and focus on those authentic connections.
5. It’s important to plan, organize, and find balance.
It’s so important to plan your content and organize it in a way that makes sense. I keep a completely separate planner for my blog. I’m looking at a month at a time because it’s all I can really focus on right now. I like that all of my blog goals and scheduled content are easily accessible in one place. I don’t mix my 9-5 calendar with my blog calendar ever. That would just be too stressful. The hardest part is finding balance. I really want to take my blog to a great place other than just a hobby, and that requires spending a lot of my free time writing, editing, and photographing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I need to put my phone down and my computer away.
The bottom line is that every day introduces me to something new to learn. Which is another reason why I’m still blogging. I realize that there are still more things to learn that I don’t even know I need to learn yet. If you’re a new-ish blogger like me, then I hope what I’ve learned so far is helpful to you. I’d love to know how you manage your time and any tips you have for making it all work. Share in the comments!
I also have to mention how much I am loving the Sloan utility pant from Banana Republic. I always struggle to find great fitting pants (especially for work) and these are perfect! I paired them with a simple white button down shirt (also from Banana) and comfortable wedges, but really the options are endless. I think I may need a couple more pairs in additional colors. Click below to shop the entire post!
As always, thank you so much for reading!
This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.
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