What I’ve Learned From Blogging

Hi friends, today is my blog’s 3rd anniversary! I started Welcome to Aly’s World in 2014 because I wanted an outlet for my writing. I didn’t know what I was doing, I just wrote about whatever I was interested in at the time. In the summer of 2015, I started to take blogging more seriously. I scoured Pinterest for posts on how to run a blog. I learned a lot, and I put what I learned into action. I became part of the college blogging community. I love this community because we’re all so helpful and supportive of each other.

Over these three years, I’ve learned a lot about blogging. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share what I’ve learned!

It’s good to learn the rules, but only follow them if you want to

Just as I said in my New Years’ Update: Blogging My Way post, there are plenty of people everywhere who will tell you how to run your blog in order for it to be “successful”. I’m not even going to lie: I’m one of them. But just like every other creative endeavor, you are allowed to bend the rules. It’s good to learn the rules, though, so that you can know where, when, and how you can bend them. Ultimately, you don’t have to follow anyone’s advice. You can run your blog however you want to. So when you read a post giving you suggestions on how to run your blog, take those suggestions with a grain of salt; take their advice only if you want to.

Your blog can grow with you

When you blog for a few years, you will grow and change. So should your blog. It wouldn’t make sense to keep blogging in a certain niche just because it was the same niche you were in last year. I’ve seen people transfer from being college lifestyle bloggers to travel or blog/business building bloggers. That’s totally okay! If you’ve grown and changed and no longer like writing about what you’ve been writing about, then start writing about what you do want to write about. You are not obligated to write about something just because that’s what you’ve always done.

Blogging is a community

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that blogging is a community. An isolated blogger won’t get very far. However, if you’re part of a community of bloggers who are engaging with each other, more people will read your posts, and you’ll have many more posts to read!

Now, how can you be a part of a community? Simple: find others in your niche, reach out to them, and respond to them when they reach out to you. Find others in your niche through Twitter chats, Pinterest group boards, or Facebook groups. Message them! Chances are, these bloggers will be happy to receive a message from you.

Just do it

If you’re considering doing something, just do it. For example, when I started Welcome to Aly’s World I wasn’t sure what direction I wanted to take it. But I still started it and posted whatever I wanted. This didn’t produce great posts or many pageviews, but it helped me get the blogging ball rolling. After publishing a few mediocre blog posts and reading about how to improve my blog, I decided to implement certain things I learned from those posts. I worked on improving my website and the quality of my content. Now, a lot of those original posts have been deleted, and I am producing much better, more helpful posts. Don’t be afraid to start!

Those are the things I learned after 3 years of blogging. It’s been such a great ride! Here’s to another wonderful year of this blog!

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How to be a Creator, not a Consumer

Hi friends, I recently read a post by Sam from Smart Twenties about the difference between being a consumer and a creator. Sam raised a great point that caused me to think about my own feelings on this issue. With access to so much material, it’s easy to be a consumer. You have as much consumption material as you want. Being a creator, though, is a different story. Creating requires time and effort. Specifically, for bloggers, there are so many posts out there on how to run a successful blog. You can read them all, but if you don’t take the step to become a creator rather than a consumer, then those posts won’t help you.

Note: In this post, I focus on blogging as a creative project, but these principles can apply to any creative project (ex: writing, graphic design, music, videos…)

How to Be a Creator, not a Consumer| In today's media heavy world, it's easy to just be a consumer. But do you want to be more than that? Here are some tips to help you stop being just a consumer and start being a creator.

Limit your consumption

Consuming from other sources is a good way to get ideas for your own projects and to help you improve your ideas. Consuming information from blogs or from other educational sources can help you improve your craft. For example, reading articles about how to run a successful blog will help you improve your blog…

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Plugins that’ll Improve Your Blog

Hi, friends! I’ve seen many of you talking on Twitter and Facebook about useful plugins, so I put together a list of plugins to help you improve your self hosted site. I personally use these plugins often and love them. Here are some plugins to improve your blog.

Plugins That'll Improve Your Blog | Here are some great plugins that'll improve your blog!

Want to improve your blog? These 6 plugins will help you! Click To Tweet

Disqus

Have you ever had trouble commenting on a blog that uses a different platform than yours? I’m a WordPress user, and sometimes it’s difficult to comment on Blogger blogs. Plugins like Disqus or Commentluv that work across multiple platforms solve this problem. So even if someone is using a different platform, as long as they have Disqus, it’s easy for anyone to comment. It’s also organized and aesthetically pleasing.

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How to Write a High Quality Blog Post (+ A Free Worksheet!)

Hi, friends! I’ve been reading posts about how bloggers create high quality blog posts. The knowledge I’ve learned from these posts has inspired me to write a part 2 to my popular post “How to Create Great Content for Your Blog”, about a blogging process that’ll help YOU produce a high quality blog post. Here is the way to construct a great blog post, from start to finish.
"How

Outline Your High Quality Blog Post

  • Bullet point outlines: The first step to writing a high quality blog post is writing a “bare bones” outline in bullet point format. These bullet points can become the post’s headings. Starting with an outline keeps the post organized and makes sure the ideas flow logically.
  • Do your research: It’s a good idea to do a quick search on Pinterest to see what has already been written about this topic. This helps make sure you’re not copying someone else’s post, and it can also provide inspiration for new points to cover in your own post.
  • Divide the post into headings: Once the headings are established, use sub-points to add details to support your main points (like in a high school English class!). Then, turn the sub-points into complete sentences. These sentences will make up the paragraph that goes underneath that heading.
  • Transfer to paragraph form: When you feel the post has enough detail, remove the bullet points and sub-points to make the outline look more like a paragraph.
  • Add the intro and conclusion: Don’t forget to write the introduction and conclusion/call to action for your post. I’d recommend saving this part until the post is in paragraph form, because it’s much easier to introduce and conclude a post that already has some sort of substance. At this point, the outline should start looking like a blog post.
The first step to writing a great blog post is a great outline. Click To Tweet

Editing

  • Proofread: Edit and proofread your post for spelling and grammar errors.
  • Proofread again: Read it over one more time, but this time, look at the “big picture.” During this reading, make sure the post, as a whole, is coherent and makes sense. At this point, the actual text of the post is finished!
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Why You Should Switch to Self Hosted

Hi, friends! I’ve noticed that many of you are considering the switch to self hosted on WordPress.org. I was afraid to take the plunge and spend money on my blog, but a few months ago, I finally did. It was so worth it! I love the freedom that self hosted provides. Making the switch is a big decision, so I wanted to help those who are still on the fence. Here are a few reasons you should consider the switch to self hosted.

Why You Should Switch to Self Hosted| Have you been considering switching to WordPress.org? I was afraid to do it, but I finally did and I love it! Here are some reasons why you should switch to self hosted.

Still on the fence about moving to self hosted? Here's why I think you should go for it! Click To Tweet

Your content belongs to you.

When you’re on WordPress.com, your content belongs to them. You are at their mercy in that they can deactivate your blog at any time if they believe you have violated their terms of service. When you are self hosted, your content belongs to you and only you…

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