Metropolitan Mama is almost four years old (that's pretty old in mom blog years) and I've learned a lot since my days of blogging infancy.
Here are 6 lessons I've learned (and am continuing to learn)...
1. Publish your best. It's far better to publish a few well-written masterpieces than it is to hit publish out of obligation. I used to think there was an unspoken "publish once a day" rule. Now...I don't. I'm not Cinderella and my blog is not going to - POOF! - disappear if the clock strikes midnight.
2. Brevity is an art. In blogging (as in all forms of writing), being concise is a sign of discipline and is a gift to your readers. Tim edits almost all of my posts and he often cuts out whole paragraphs.
3. Photos captivate. A blog post without a photo is like a piece of carrot cake without the cream cheese frosting. You may eat it, but it won't be nearly as enticing.
4. Saying "no" allows you to say "yes." This is a life principle as much as it is a blogging principle. There will be many opportunities that arrive in your inbox - product reviews, giveaways, trips, ads, etc. Most of them will not be worth your while. Try not to spend excess time and mental energy on a bar of soap. Also - carefully consider if the brands that you choose to partner with line up with your lifestyle, your ethics, and your priorities.
5. Blogging is a conversation. One of the best things about blogging is developing relationships. Take care to acknowledge, appreciate, and surround your readers with kindness.
6. Live your LIFE (first). The best blogs are those where it is clear that the blogger is consciously living a meaningful life (away from the computer screen). For goodness' sake, take your kids to the park. Volunteer at a food bank. Watch a butterfly emerge from a cocoon. Invite your neighbors over for ice cream sundaes. Read a book that you can't put down. Go on a moonlit walk with a tiny hand in yours.
If your life is colored with laughter, generosity, and fullness...your blog will reflect that.
How "old" is your blog? What lessons have you learned since you began blogging?
I love these points. My journal blog is over 3 years old (www.singingandspinning.com) - I print this one off and have copies for each of my girls. My main blog is just about 8 month old. I used to post at least 5 times a week but I've backed off a bit, mostly because work is busier and with both girls in school and lessons, I'm focusing on living more than blogging. :) But I really miss the conversations.
Thanks for the info Stephanie! You are such an expert. I will tuck this post away in my mental file. My "mind blog"(he he) is almost 3 years old- ridiculous right? I did open a wordpress acct the other day- the "deadline" is approaching but it is a bit overwhelming. Thanks for being such an inspiration.
I glad to hear about your progress, Dayna. It will be a happy day when you officially launch...for you and for ME. I can't wait to read your stories!
I have been blogging for 5 years but not consistently. Since the baby was born, started a new blog and have blogged approx 5+ times a week now for about 7 months! It was a goal of mine, that if I stayed home to raise a family, I would devote more time to writing, because I felt I hadn't been able to do that when I was teaching full time.
I am still learning to say "no" - but have a hard time b/c I want to do it nicely and not "burn bridges."
I am always struggling to be brief. It is NOT a strong point with me. I find I can edit out the little extra words like trimming fingernails, but cut whole sentences or paragraphs? That's like amputating an arm or leg! :) Working on it though.
Thanks for all the great posts and inspirations though - four years - wow, congrats! Your blog shines, and gives me a quality level I aspire to! Thank you!!
my blog is almost 5 years old, and I agree with everything you've written. Also, everything you've written I have to remind myself daily about. It's so easy to agree to stuff, throw up bad post, ect.
I really think successful blogging is a learned skill. It comes with time and practice, at least it has for me.
I agree completely! It's taken a long time for me to finally feel comfortable in my "blogging shoes" so to speak...(and I know I still have a long way to go).
Stephanie, you are absolutely right in everything you post... you have such a way with words, and captivating posts. I have always enjoyed your blog... and it only gets better!
Thank you so much, Amanda. You are very kind!
Well, my blog is pretty old, going on 5 years at Christmas! But only about 3 with the whole "mom blogging community" as I didn't know it existed before then!
I definitely agree with the last point... I find I have much more to write about when I'm out doing things with my kids/family than when I'm just on the computer all day, obviously! Although that tends to be when I get the most fired up about issues.
I think I've learned that I just have to be me. I doubt I will ever be a "big" blogger, but that's okay. It's not me. I don't think I'd want the stress that went along with it either! And it's more fun when I don't have to write for anyone else - other than the grandparents who are mainly who it's aimed at - and just can write what I'm thinking about.
I have been blogging about homeschooling for almost a year. Since I am the first in my family to homeschool, I wanted to share with them what our days are like and how much the girls are learning and growing. I also realized during my research on homeschooling that most established blogs are just that....established. I wanted to read about the first year. The ups and down the beautiful and the ugly.
My main goal is honesty. If I am going to share my family with the world (especially with others who may be considering homeschooling), I want to give an honest portrayal of our wonderful, unique, slightly crazy life!
Thank you for the pointers. I enjoyed this post!
Great advice, Stephanie and congrats on your 4th year of blogging! I've only been blogging for 2 months and am still figuring everything out. I have yet to be inundated with offers in my inbox! I definitely feel pressure to post often. I am trying to post 4 times/week. Some blogs that I read every day don't always have pictures but the writing is so wonderful and engaging, I don't mind. I don't think a bunch of pictures will make up for poor writing skills. I think the biggest lesson I have learned so far is that the number of followers is not as important as the quality. I would like to build a community of loyal, strong writer-supporters who leave intelligent, meaningful comments. Thanks for another thought-provoking post!
You make excellent points, Anne.
Ultimately, every blogger must find his/her own comfort level in terms of the length of posts, number of posts per day/week/month, etc. When I first started blogging, I felt pressure to conform to "blogging rules." Now, I feel more confident on my own two feet. (But I'm still learning). :)
Great advice! All tips I strive to follow!
Happy 4th to you! You have something special here!!!!
I really like your last one! And I adore all the photo's you post with your blog posts. I'm much more interested in reading a post if it has pictures.
I am a three year old blogger.
I learned: Photos can speak 1000 words, sometimes you don't need to "say" a thing.
I love: the women I have connected with. Even these past two years when my blogging got quiet, I still have held onto those friendships and they have inspired me to pick it up again.
I hate: the fact that many times your blog can be used against you and/or can start family drama.
I owe: my blog my life... After my separation when I was 6 months pregnant with baby #6, I have no idea what I would have done with my time if I hadn't found this community!
Oh my - you're so right that your blog can be used against you!! Long story, but when I ran for public office in my town, my posts about wanting to homeschool were used to try to make me look bad! among other posts people tried to take out of context!!! Crazy! :)
That IS crazy, Julie! What office were you running for? I'd love to hear more about the process...what you learned, your biggest regrets and triumphs, if you would do it again, etc.
A blog post perhaps? ;)
Happy 4 years! I've bookmarked this and will no doubt, return to it again and again. Thank you!
I totally agree. Great post. For me it is important to set and follow priorities where familiy/kids is first, my house and my full-time job is second, and blog, is last (sadly, but it is last) :(
Sometimes it is hard to get up and shut down for the day, but it is so worth it
I love your blog. I've been rather 'off' the grid' after our move, but when i do sit at the computer, Metropolitan Mama is one I always love checking in on. Congrats on 4 years and going strong. And, great advice.
P.S. My biggest lesson so far has been to do back ups. My blog was hacked two months ago and I still haven't figured out how to get it up and running again. Albeit, the three littles and a major move have been my biggest hurdles for figuring out the missing html. Crossing my fingers to get back to it soon though.
Hi Jeanine! I think of you often. How did your move go? I miss checking in at your blog to hear your heart and see what you've been up to.
Remind me where you are in California. We'll be heading up the west coast for the first leg of our Give Every Day tour...
I LOVE the butterfly picture! Very pretty!
These are great insights. My blog is almost six years old (Wow!) and I have learned a ton too. I've only recently spent any effort at all on growing my audience. Brevity is so terribly underrated. I learned that as a marketer writing copy before I applied it to blogging. It's amazing how some writers struggle with this.
And I'm ALL for living your life :)
Great tips!! I've been blogging for about 2 1/2 years, but recently became a "mom blogger" when I became well...a mom:) It's been so fun making so many mom friends online and the community is incredible!! Thanks for the great blogging tips!
Wonderful topic! I think the brevity one is so important--and editing goes hand in hand. Don't be afraid to cut out sentences--even after you've hit publish. I always go back after an article is live and make some tweaks. I've been at it for 4 years and see no end any time soon. Totally addicted!
I do the same thing, Nicole! I will often "return" to a post to add, delete, or edit a sentence or two after I hit "publish."
um...not to pick on the soap comment you made but I see someone else already said their favorite soap...my favorite review I have done so far was for Springvale Soap. Since then I have bonded with the owner, I get what you were trying to say but at the same time one persons bar of soap is another person's treasure. lol
So true! You said it exactly right! All blogs are written by different kinds of people w/ unique interests, careers, and lifestyles. (That's the beauty of the blogosphere, right?). It makes sense that the same partnership opportunity could be presented to two bloggers - one might accept; one might reject.
just have to inform you that if that bar of soap happens to be one from Strawberry Hedgehog's line, it's WELL WORTH IT. no really. WORTH IT.
my two cents.
Great point, Jes! The "bar of soap" thing was only an example. Clearly, Strawberry Hedgehog is an exception! ;)
Depending on a blogger's goals and interests, different "opportunities" may or may not be worthwhile. One blogger may think it is profitable to review a pair of shoes or to attend a corporate blogging event or to sell text ads. Another blogger may choose the opposite because the ROI isn't significant enough for her to want to participate. It certainly isn't the same for every blogger (and that's okay).
My blog is 2.5 years old, and I've learned that numbers don't matter! lol. I don't have a whole lot of readers, but I'm okay with it. I've also learned that interacting with readers (and visiting their blogs as well) is important.... more so than how many people visit my blog each day! I definitely agree with the saying no thing. Just because an email offering a product in exchange for a review lands in your email inbox, it doesn't mean you have to accept!
I had to laugh at the last paragraph because today I blog about us working in a garden for food that would be given away to our Christian food bank LOL!
But this is a very good post! I love your practical advice and piece of blog wisdom :-)
Keep up the good work, Ps I love reading you and seeing those cute picture of you all!
Happy Four Years to you! I so enjoy seeing new posts from you! One of the things I need to work on is brevity! My posts take me quite some time to write because I have to edit so much of them. I have a hard time using few words to get my point across. I am one of those who thinks the world needs details :-) Still working on the brevity part! My blog is about three years old. I started it as a way to keep in touch with our families that are spread out around the US and the world.
Thanks for sticking with it for four years! Here's to four times four times four more!!
I think the length of your posts is just right, Nini! And you've got #3 down to a science. You always share LOVELY photos of your travels and your family.