I started blogging a little over a year ago. In this time I’ve learned SO MUCH about the blogging world and I must confess, it’s not really what it appears to be. I’ve wanted to share what I’m about to say for a long time now, but I was nervous about how others would respond….especially since many of the reasons I started WIRL Project stem from many of these blogging secrets that many people don’t know about. I am by not necessarily a “blogging expert”, but I am an expert at sharing my thoughts and stories, so you can take or leave whatever I say. I think a lot of people will agree and be glad I shared this. Oh and if you agree or disagree, go ahead and comment below.
I’m going to break this down into two parts for you, so I’m not all over the place…
Part 1: What Non-Bloggers Should Know About Blogging
1. Pageviews Matter, A LOT!
Giving a blogger a click or a “pageview” is SUPER VALUABLE to them! Here are some facts about why pageviews matter (I will elaborate below):
• Much of blogging is based on statistics.
• Pageviews show us that other people actually care and like what we’re doing.
• The length of time you stay on a site matters too!
• This can get tricky… but pageviews can actually = $$$$ for the blogger!
There are websites that rank blogs based on traffic (Alexa). When you are looking to set goals for your blog or to even monetize the site (AKA: make money), you will be forced to really understand your statistics and analytics. There are terms such as “bounce rate” and “session duration” which summarize how long people stay on your site or how much they “click around” before they leave.
Side Note: One reason I created WIRL Project was to help bloggers to have a platform to share their work, grow their audience, and get more page views in an organic, authentic way.
So, basically, if you want to show your support to a blogger or website, you should actually visit their site and spend some time taking a look at what they’ve put together. It’s super easy for you, super helpful for them and it’s FREE!
2. We LOVE When You Comment and Share Our Posts
Have you ever heard of something going “viral”? This can only happen when people love what we create and decide to “share” it with others! Most viral posts have hundreds of comments and thousands of shares. If you like something we’ve done, let us know! Even the smallest little comment means SO much to us and can set the tone for other’s to comment as well!
3. Blogging is A LOT of Work
No blogger really wants to admit this to anyone because it may sound like we’re complaining, ranting, bragging, etc. but, it really is a lot of work. To make our site look aesthetically pleasing and function properly it takes a lot of time and effort. I HATED that I had to learn about things such as plugins, widgets, and coding!! (Which is why I eventually created WIRL Project, so people could blog without all this hassle!) Then, you have to choose a niche, write great content, find an audience, and get traffic to your site from search engines or blogging communities.
And you thought we just sat there and wrote all day…didn’t you.
4. Affiliate and Sponsored Posts Can Be a Load of Crap!
Some people are going to be really pissed at me for saying that, but I don’t care. For those who don’t know, affiliate and sponsored posts are when a company or business pays or gives the blogger money or free stuff in exchange for them to talk about or review their products. Bloggers are supposed to disclose that they’re doing this type of post, and most of them do, so watch for this and let it be somewhat of a red flag because the blogger is basically the Sales Rep in this situation.
So, if you’re looking for unbiased thought, story, or review, stay away from these kinds of posts. Let’s be honest, who is going to say something negative about a company who is paying them to promote them? It’s like the ultimate biting the hand that feeds you.
(WIRL Project does not allow sponsored/affiliate WIRLS – we keep our content REAL!)
5. Some Bloggers Do Make a Nice Profit From Their Site…Most Don’t
Remember how earlier I talked about pageviews and clicks and how important they are to bloggers? This is even more important to those who have pay-per-view or pay-per-click ads on their site. As a reader, you may resent the fact that you clicking on something can be putting money in someone ELSE’S pocket. It kinda makes you feel a little duped, but try not to feel this way. More than 80% of the time, bloggers who make any kind of money are just bringing in enough to stay afloat. Blogging does cost a bit of money out of pocket (domain name, hosting, web design, graphic design, etc.) so a few little clicks can be really helpful to keep the blog going!
Remember: Pageviews = Traffic = Success in the blogging world!
There are a few other things I’d like to shed light on, but they may not make sense to those who do not blog. Feel free to continue reading for to hear my thoughts and the rants about the bloggy/web world.
Part 2: Comments and Frustrations That Only Bloggers Will Understand
1. Link Parties
I have NEVER understood the value nor have I really found any kind of long-term relationship with other bloggers in doing these. The whole concept is a little crazy to me! So, let’s get this striaght… A blogger is “hosting” a WEEKLY linky party and hundreds of people are going to go to THEIR site and “linking up” EVERY WEEK. Then, you’re supposed to “hop” around the link party and connect with the people who left their link. Seriously? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the ONLY person truly benefitting from this linky party B.S. is the HOST(S)!!! Very few people actually visit any of the links on the site; they usually just “link and leave” (similar to the “dine and dash”) and don’t pay any attention (or pay it forward) to the other links that were shared. And then, to top it all off, everyone does it all over again next week!!! WHAT. THE. F? Sure, maybe you’ll get featured next week if you try again, but guess what…the host of the “linky party” is laughing as all 438 of you visit their site again next week and “link up” again. Are they giving you that kind of traffic in return? Doubt it. It’s all basically a scam, unless you find a really genuine, dedicated community to “link up” with – it’s basically waste of your freaking time! Whew, glad I got that off my chest! Moving on…
2. The Facebook Groups
I am in a few Facebook Blogging groups that are really great in supporting me and WIRL Project. We share, pin, tweet, stumble, WIRL, support, and do all kinds of things to help each other out. But there are some Facebook groups that I have been in (and quickly left) because they’re SO ANNOYING! Sometimes I feel compelled to leave rude comment such as, You know you’re a blogger right? Not the President of the blogging world. Yes, you are the Admin of this super annoying Facebook group, but you’re ego, ridiculous rules, and obnoxious posts are down right stupid. Stop with the insanity! But, when I’m feeling compelled to do this, I choose to leave the group instead.
3. The Smoke and Mirrors (and SEO)
As I said before, I have a few groups and communities I belong to and I really enjoy the people I’ve met and support I get from them. However, the blog world is a lot of smoke and mirrors – this is the reality. A “like” isn’t really a genuine “like”, because we’ve actually asked our blogging friends and communities to “like” our posts for us. BUT, we do this a lot of the time because our friends and family who don’t blog (see above), don’t understand the value of the traffic, “liking”, sharing, etc. so we need SOMEONE to help us out with it…so we turn to other bloggers who are facing the same thing. I want to express the reality of this because there are times when I see a blog with 12,000 Facebook “likes”, but their content sucks and they rarely post. This is a sign that this person is great at “buying” their “likes” and that people don’t really organically enjoy the site/content. For those of us who really work hard to boost our traffic and increase our stats, the whole smoke and mirrors thing can be frustrating. Check the “Alexa” rank of a site if things aren’t adding up…you’ll usually learn more of the truth from a third party site.
And the SEO…don’t even get me started! Gearing your blog up for search engine optimization (SEO) is about as fun as poking yourself in the eye with a blunt probe! Just as you figure it out, search engines and social media sites change their algorithms and you have to basically start all over again. Do yourself a favor and outsource this hassle to someone (if you can afford it), or at least get someone to teach you the best way to manage SEO for your site. And keep in mind, a Google search may not be something that really drives traffic to your site anyway. It may be better to ditch the whole SEO crapshoot and focus on social media instead? Take a look at your analytics and make the best call based on your situation.
4. The Rewards
Blogging is a lot of work (I’ll say that at least one more time before I’m done), but it is SO rewarding. The positive comments, shares, and support you get from family, friends, and fans is so humbling…people actually like what I have to say? Wow! Getting to know other bloggers and writing and sharing your inner thoughts and expertise with the goal of helping yourself and others is awesome. Hearing how you impacted someone’s life in a positive way because of something you suggested, advised, shared, or taught is the absolute BEST feeling. And though those moments may not come as often as we’d like, they definitely do occur and remind us why we started doing this in the first place, right?
5. Blogging Is a TON of Work
I said this before and I’ll say it again – blogging is very time consuming and can be frustrating. I’m saying this from blogger-to-blogger because I feel your pain. Between taking and editing photos, writing great posts, posting on social media, being active in blogging communities, graphic and web design – it’s a lot for one person to handle. Not to mention, we have other responsibilities such as, being a parent, partner, spouse, caregiver, etc. and it can be really hard to balance your domestic life and your blogging life. If you’re anything like me, you’ll tell your spouse that you’ll be up to bed in 10 minutes, and it ends up being at least 45…somehow time moves at a different pace in blog world, don’t you think? Anyway, when it comes to choosing your blog vs your family, I hope you ALWAYS (or at least most of the time) choose your
blog family. The emails, updates, posts, and whatever else can always wait. But, sometimes putting your blog first means a break for you – and your sanity is what keeps your family together. Find the right mix and balance for your life, but do know that it IS alright to periodically take some time for yourself and your blog and tell your family you need some space (especially if you’re an introvert!).
I wanted to share these thoughts with you because I think that a lot of people will be able to relate to what I’ve said. I also think it’s important for those who don’t blog to understand why we send emails and ask for shares. If blog outsiders know and understand a little bit of the blog world, maybe they will be more inclined to help us because they know that their efforts are actually really valuable. Hopefully this is the case. Fingers crossed!
I also wanted to share this because I felt a lot of these frustrations within my first month of blogging, which is why I eventually went on to create WIRL Project. My vision for WIRL Project has always been that it would be a place or a platform where real people could read and share stories about life and what it’s really like (WIRL) in a casual, conversational way. I hated all the EXTRA WORK that came along with blogging – I just wanted a place to write and starting a blog meant SO much more than just writing. With WIRL Project, I want bloggers and non-bloggers alike to have a place to share their story without the extra hassle of setting up, paying for, and managing their own entire website. I wanted a place where the smoke and mirrors didn’t exist so much and we focused our efforts on the reason we started blogging in the first place – to share our thoughts, confessions, and stories about life. If you like and support the things I’ve said, I would highly recommend you Request to Join the WIRL Project Community. We are growing rapidly, gaining the attention of some industry leaders, and our content reaches thousands on a regular basis! We do this in the most organic, genuine way possible and hope you appreciate that.
If you agree or disagree with the things I’ve said, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below. I guess we’ll see who was paying attention.
Hint: I mentioned that I LOVE comments and shares (wink, wink).
For me blogging is all about meeting new people and showing to anyone interested the vast variety of Greek kitchen and history!
I hear you, Sara. Blogging is a ton of work, but it’s fun, too. In general, I agree with you about link parties and facebook groups, but the ones that are run by actual bloggers who are active (as opposed to VAs doing the work or someone paying their kid to drop links for them [true story]) can be extremely supportive and help make blogging worthwhile.
Joy @ Joy Love Food
What an enjoyable article! I agree that blogging can be a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun and so rewarding!
Wish I could like this post a thousand times!! Loved you take on what blogging is like. I agree with so many of your points! Love the community you are working to build!
Betsy @ Desserts Required
Great post, Sara. I agree with just about everything you wrote. My experience has been very positive in terms of the blogging community. I have found that others are happy and willing to share their knowledge and I am a huge proponent of paying it forward.
After about a year of blogging on three different platforms;(yes I moved my blog THREE times in 6 months and DONT recommend that), I will say It’s all very confusing and a LOT of work. I am determined to continue for various personal reasons; but as a part time job…I aspire to minimum wage! Long way to go to get there.
I co-host a linky party and get almost no views. Our party just went to PIN sharing. that’s better help for everyone I think. Otherwise, Just a chance to connect w other bloggers and share our stuff.
Social networking is a TON of work but also really helpful on pv and blogger info. Lots to learn and LOTS to do in this world. Why do I do it?…it’s fun, creative, expansive personally and socially. Also hoping to earn minimum wage someday Nice article about it all. Thanks!
KC the Kitchen Chopper
Oh yea! I can relate to everything you said. I can’t believe the amount of time I spend at my computer getting the word out of The Chopped. But making the population aware of the necessity of eating fresh unprocessed food has been a labor of love. I learn something new every day. I’m one of those that need some one to help with SEO. Great WIRL post. I hope to contribute again soon. Thanks Sara.
It sure is a lot of work, I never would have imagined. Noone will really ever know how much unless they do it! Thanks for sharing!
I’m going to say I’m very new to the blogging universe, but can already relate to some of these. For the most part I do agree with your argument behind linky parties. The idea of going to someone else’s site weekly seems a bit much, but with that being said, I think a well executed and planned one in the right situation can be helpful. For an example, I blog about quilting which is a very visual thing, and ran across a site that does a linky party for quilt bloggers twice a year to correspond with the large wholesale markets that happen each year. It is used as basically an online quilt show, and have seen an uptick in my traffic and taken the time to click on other blogger’s links to read about their quilts and designs. This may speak more to the nature of quilters and the quilting industry though than it does to linky parties.
Also, I would love to get the name of a good facebook group for bloggers.
Hey Jessica! Welcome to the blog world! As I mentioned in another comment, linky parties can be great if they have a genuine, authentic reason for existing…your quilt example is exactly what I mean when I say that. Link parties that are filled with “link-and-leavers” are the ones I get very frustrated with because nobody (except the host) is benefiting. I rarely hear from anyone or notice a spike in my views when I attend a weekly linkup. However, something like you mentioned with a straightforward, well executed plan sounds really awesome!
As far as blog groups on Facebook, there are SO MANY! I’d suggest finding some catered more towards your niche because you will be able to gain the most from collaborating with other like-minded individuals. If you search, you’ll find them and then try out several and commit to the few you really like.
It was great connecting with you here on WIRL Project, thank you for being a part of this conversation! Let us know if you’d ever like to share what it’s really like to be a quilter!
Thank you for the great response. I wholeheartedly agree about linky parties with no benefit to anyone but the host. I will send you a message about sharing what it is like to be a quilter!
Sounds great, Jessica! Looking forward to hearing from you!
I totally agree – I think the one thing that no one understands is how much work blogging is. People think you just start one up and immediately have readers and advertisers and commenters and everything, but it’s not like that at all. It takes a lot lot lot of work to do everything involved in writing a blog – and it can absorb all your time if you let it. Time management is key. Planning your posts and your work time to get it all done and still have time for real life!
Great points here, Melissa. First of all, thank you for your comment, support, and perspective – I appreciate that very much. I learned very quickly that blogging was more than it seemed, but it’s also so rewarding! Great tip about the time management – it’s something you need to master if you want to blog long term!
I’m not a blogger, but I have been a long time reader of many, many blogs. Most all of them are diy/decor/cooking/fasion blogs. They are not family or motherhood blogs, simply because I haven’t reached that point in my life yet. I understand how much they can be, specially bloggers that are the DIY type. First you have to create the material, document it, edit your post, and the publish it. Not too mention all of the nerdy webby stuff. With what i have just mentioned and as a reader, I actually really enjoy a [moderation] of a linky party. Here’s why… This week one of the blogs i follow is having a Summer Hour tour party. i think it’s something like 25 houses- 5 per day this week. I think this works for this area of blogging becuase its all so visual. You can immediately click on someone’s blog and decide whether or not you like their style. And if I do, i click around for a while, and add them to my bloglovin’ feed. But again, I can’t stress how i feel this is unique to the DIY/Decor genre because it’s just so visual. Every season you can click around and be inspired by different people. I havent experienced any other type of linky party…so i can’t really imagine how it would play out. There can be a party foul in my eyes though, if there are TOO many parties- i’m out. Come up with some better content!
This type of Linky Party sounds very fun, Pam! I think you’re so right – it works for the DIY/Decor space. I guess what I was speaking towards was more from the bloggers perspective than a readers perspective. I think from a readers standpoint, linky parties would allow you to explore other bloggers all in one place and find new bloggers to follow, as you said. From a blogger perspective, I am submitting my link to hopefully get a boost in traffic and the other bloggers who submit to the link party are supposed to blog hop as well, but most of the time this does not happen and I feel like I’ve wasted my time supporting people who don’t do it in return. I really appreciate you sharing your perspective and experience with this!
I think linky parties work better in the diy/crafting universe because
1) A lot of people do blog on these sorts of things ultimately want to sell goods, so even a small uptick in traffic can bring just the right person in. For me that means that person could be my next pattern tester, or purchase one of my patterns. Maybe they ask me to teach or lecture.
2) They tend to be a very visual industries so thumbnails and images in general are a huge driver in increasing traffic.
Like I said in my other comment though, I think this speaks more to the industries where they serve a purpose than the linky party itself. Also, the one I just joined offers prizes (fabric, patterns, notions, even a chance at a sewing machine) to participants.
I think you hit the nail on the head with all of it. Especially the linky parties. I have two or three I join a week that bring me traffic (my page views double on those days), but the rest I join mostly because that blogger and I help each other out with site views and shares. Bloggers that visit my site and say “thank you for linking up” and who share my post will get repeat “business” from me. They’ve earned it.
The Facebook groups can be very annoying too, I agree. They also seem to attract very selfish bloggers. I’ve noticed that unless there’s a rule that you must share other’s content, odds are high that just a few people will do it, which means I’ve wasted my time following the rules. I get nothing in return. So, no thank you, and screw you. Those bloggers that linked up, that couldn’t bother to like/comment/share on MY post even though I did theirs? Yeah, they won’t get getting crap from me ever again. They’ve shown their true colors.
I’m glad you could relate, Stephanie. I was a little nervous to confess my true feelings about all of this and you’ve reassured me that it was a good idea to let it out. Most bloggers are incredible people and are more than willing to help others and pay it forward, but some of them are very selfish, as you said, and this can be very frustrating!