Oui In France is over 4 years old now, and when I started blogging, I didn’t have much of a vision for the blog except “just get started and see what happens.” I often learned things as I went along — and still do. Sometimes it’s best to just take action and get started because if you wait until everything is perfect and you are 100% ready, you may never actually start. But looking back, there were some mistakes I made along the way (and probably others I still make) so I’m sharing those with you today. Maybe you’re a blogger or on the fence about starting a blog.
Blogging mistakes I made when I first started Oui In France (and a few things I got right)
Let me preface this by saying there’s no one right way to blog. Some people have story- or photo-focused blogs. Some people blog anonymously. Some people blog sporadically. Some blogs are really niche. Depending on your goals for your writing and your blog, you may do things differently than I do and that’s OK. I’m not an expert and am sharing my mistakes in the hopes it’ll help you. For me personally based on my blog goals, here are the mistakes I made and a few things I got right.
Blogging mistakes I made:
Not choosing uniform social media handles
When I first created Oui In France in 2012, my Twitter name was a combo of my first name and my blog’s name. A few months in, it dawned on me that my Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter accounts should all be the same — a simple Oui In France and not something else. It’s cleaner, easier, less confusing for followers and is how you should set up your social media from the get-go from a branding perspective.
So Don’t be @Francegirlsrule123 on Twitter and then @Yournamehere on Instagram and then something else on Pinterest. One name, ideally the name of your blog, and stick with it. Even if you don’t plan on using all the social media platforms, sign up for the name when you start your blog so no one steals it.
Not focusing on the power of images and optimizing them
These days, I use a combo of photos I’ve taken myself and stock images and try to include at least one or two photos in every post. But back in the early days, I’d leave out a feature image, use small images and be inconsistent with fonts and colors. Even the best words get lost if readers see blocks of text and no images to break up the words. Visuals are a key element of a blog post, so now you’ll see the title of the post on the feature image along with another supporting visual in the post. It just looks better from a visual and consistency standpoint.
Not always replying to comments
After I had been blogging for a while, I realized how important it was to respond to readers who kindly took time out of their day to comment on what I’d written. In the beginning, I thought it was overkill to respond to everyone but that’s not the case at all. Now I do my best to reply to everyone who stops by (or close to it). Thank you.
What I did right when I first started blogging:
Had a logo created that perfectly encapsulated my vision for Oui In France along with a site theme that stood out
You don’t need to pay someone to create a custom logo and you certainly don’t need to buy a theme to start blogging. But if it’s important to you to have a certain look or feel to your blog and it’s more than just a “sometimes hobby” that you may quit in a few months anyway, by all means spend a little money upfront to look good from the start.
The designer I worked with created a logo I love and that set the tone from my first post. 😉 Some people blog anonymously or write for themselves, but if your blog is for your readers, make sure it’ll visually appeal to them and stand apart.
Adhered to a consistent posting schedule 99% of the time
Nothing is more of a letdown than really getting into a blog just to have the blogger flake out a few months later. Posts become sporadic or nonexistent… no heads up, no warning, just crickets on the blog. Because I know it irks me, it is really important to not leave my readers hanging and that’s why I made it known from the early days when you could expect to see a new post. My schedule of posting twice a week (usually Monday/Wednesday) has more or less stayed the same over the years. I think there were only 2 or 3 times in over 4 years where I missed a posting day and it was because I was sick or traveling.
Sometimes I’ll be a writing machine full of inspiration and have been so tempted to hit publish on a post on two consecutive days, but I’ve held back.
Because other times I’ll be too busy with other things going on and have no time to develop content, so those posts in the draft folder come in handy when you need them the most.
Wrote in my authentic voice from the beginning
Blogging is completely different than formal or academic writing. It’s conversational, and depending on your blog and its focus, blog writing may not be what you’re used to. For me, it was important to write authentically from the start and not try to sound like anyone else or write like someone I’m not.
To that end, I add spaces in my posts where I’d naturally pause in a conversation and use line breaks and headings to create emphasis or distance. I make sure the words I choose actually sound like something I’d say in real life — exactly how I’d say them. From Day 1, it was important to me to write how I speak and make sure the real Diane shines through. Developing my blogging voice hasn’t been easy, but with practice, it does get easier and I feel you do get a sense of my personality through my writing.