Some of my favourite posts to read by other bloggers were those about their first year of blogging. Reading about other people’s wins always gave me a wee serotonin boost as well as giving me some much needed inspiration for what my own blog could potentially accomplish. I read those posts and thought to myself “this could be me in a years time”. However, there was one key fact I wasn’t keeping in mind back then and that’s my astounding procrastination abilities.
I’ll be candid with you all here and admit that many of the blogging tools I was confused about in January 2021 I’m still just as confused about in January 2022. Have I checked for any broken links? No. Have I taken time to learn what in the hell SEO is? Fuck no. Have I set up an email so people can subscribe to a newsletter? Nope. Have I researched how to effectively use social media as a blogging tool? No. Have I even actually been consistent with posting? You guessed it, the answer is a big fat NO.
At this point you’re probably thinking that my first year of blogging was a disastrous failure, but you’d be wrong. It wasn’t exactly a roaring success but considering that I’m only a hobby blogger I’d say year one actually went pretty well. For starters, I actually managed to set up my own blog which was a challenge in itself (who knew buying a domain would be so complicated?) the first blog theme was pretty ugly and disorganised but it did the job. I still remember the wee bubble of pride I felt the first time I saw my blog page up and running.
Naming the blog took me an embarrassingly long time, I’m not exactly known for my decisiveness, I think I spent a good two weeks just trying to choose the name. It maybe doesn’t seem that important but your blog name is essentially the essence of the brand. I needed something that would let people know what the blog was about, but also something memorable. I had no idea what I wanted my niche to be (still don’t to be honest), I just knew I wanted to document my experience of coming out in my mid twenties. And so the blog name “Baby Gay Days” was born. The blog name will probably change as my journey continues but for now it fits quite well.
My first ever post was simply titled “About the Blog” (real punchy and original, huh?) I typed it out in about half an hour, did a quick skim for errors and hit publish. It was so chaotic and unorganised, and I should probably go back and tidy it up a bit, but we all know my powers of procrastination probably mean that come 2023 it’ll still be on my to do list. Once it was published I had no idea what to do with it. I hadn’t a clue how I was meant to get anyone to actually view the blog post. I had just set up my twitter account and didn’t have a lot of reach on it yet, and as such only got one measly view from posting about the blog on twitter. But as I started following and commenting on more blogs I noticed that in return I received more follows and views.
As I approached the second month of blogging I discovered the wonder that is twitter comment threads. My engagement soared when I started using them, not only did they allow me to gain engagement but they provided me with a space to meet other bloggers. I was soon deep in writing and blogging twitter, and was swimming in a sea of posts about how to be a blogger. I read a million different posts that all gave various hints and tips on how to improve your blogging game, and honestly not many of them really helped. I’m not saying the posts weren’t good, they were, but every time I read another post I found myself getting different advice, this lead to an endless list of tasks that I would ultimately never do. My advice to those starting out is find one or two bloggers who really know their stuff and follow their advice. You can always research other ways to improve once you’re a bit further into your journey.
In the early days I stuck strictly to twitter for blog promotion, I hadn’t come out to anyone except my closest friends and I was worried people from real life would find the blog. After a while my comfort with my new found sexuality grew and I realised that most people in my life would be accepting, and so I decided to use the blog as a way of coming out. I still remember how much my wee heart was racing when I posted about the blog on my personal instagram account, but I’m happy to report that the nerves weren’t needed. Most of my instagram were people I had met through pole dancing and I could not have asked for a more supportive group, my dm’s were inundated with messages of love and support, as well as some congratulations on my writing style. Posting on my own instagram massively helped me grow the blog, a lot of people then followed the blog instagram and started regularly viewing the posts. I can absolutely guarantee some people from real life were looking out of sheer nosiness, and a few just to be judgemental and gossip but honestly who cares, all I have to say is cheers for the views peeps.
Fairly early on in my blogging journey it became apparent that I wasn’t that focused on blogging, as much as I was on just writing. I had no time or patience for the technical side of blogging, I found the promotion of posts dull and unfulfilling. But the actual writing process I loved. I could sit for hours getting lost in my laptop just tip tapping away on the keyboard, I found writing easy, the words flowed naturally and the ideas came flooding in. It was at this point I started looking into writing competitions and litmag submissions. I never expected anything to come of them, my writing, while good enough for a wee personal blog, wasn’t quite up to professional standards; but then I got a submission acceptance. Someone actually wanted to publish a piece of my work on their site, I was overjoyed.
The blog was getting off to a cracking start, I was posting at least twice a month and keeping up with all my fellow bloggers, I was sending off as many submissions to various comps etc as I could manage, and then I got dumped. Should I have let something as trivial as my first lesbian heartbreak derail my blogging journey? Probably not, but we all know by now how badly I took it, and let’s be serious, healthy coping mechanisms have never been my thing. I switched out blogging for getting wasted and serial dating, and sure I was getting plenty content from all the dates I was going on, but I just couldn’t find the motivation to actually sit and write them down. On the plus side I now have heaps of stories to back date and write up (silver linings and all that crap).
Despite my lack of continuity I still managed to keep pretty good view stats, and it’s mainly thanks to a tweet that blew up. The tweet going semi viral was both a blessing and a curse, a blessing because it drove massive numbers to the blog, and a curse because sadly those numbers included people from real life who I didn’t want finding the blog (like exes, and nosey family members). My blogging suffered after this, I was too aware of who was reading my blog, and felt like I could no longer write, or even tweet, as freely as I had done before. I struggled to put my real feelings down on paper, the posts I was writing and rewriting just never felt authentic and eventually I just stopped posting for a while.
I’m not sure exactly when I decided to stop focussing on other people’s opinions of me, but eventually I got my blog mojo back and started drafting up some new posts. At the end of the year an online publication reached out to me and offered me some regular freelance work, I was thrilled. I had never been paid for my writing before, it felt like one of those moments where I realised that maybe just maybe I could be a real writer. The freelance work hasn’t went as smoothly as hoped (but hey that’s freelance for you) and I’m currently waiting to find out what will be happening going forward, but I’m hopeful that it will all come to fruition soon enough.
I wouldn’t say it’s been your typical blogging journey and as far as advice goes I definitely don’t have anything solid for the newbie bloggers. All I would say is just to enjoy the process; blogging is confusing and time consuming but at the end of the day you get out of it what you put into it, so just relax and see what happens, the blogging community will be there for the journey always cheering you on and supporting you.