What I learned from two years of blogging

two years of blogging

Thanks to Facebook’s memory function, I learned that Sunday was actually my two-year blogversary. Two years ago, I was just far enough along in my pregnancy to be comfortable to announce to the world that I was with child. We hadn’t even picked Harley’s name yet, we didn’t even know we were having a girl yet. I didn’t have a proper theme for this blog at this point – I was just using a free WordPress theme until I proved to myself that yes, I really did want to do this blogging thing and that I could stick with it. Now, two years of blogging later, I have learned so much – about blogging, about myself.

To celebrate Born Geek’s second anniversary, or blogversary, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve figured out so far, and some of the things I’m looking to work on and learn more about going forward. I tried to do a Facebook live about it on Sunday night, but honestly I just failed – no, I’m not being hard on myself about the video or something, it’s just that Harley was really having a hard time with teething and generally being a demon child, which made my Facebook live a whole lot harder. 

Two Years of Blogging lessons – Technical stuff

I knew going into this journey that there was a lot of stuff I didn’t know. It’s been interesting running a blog for the past two years, mainly because I’ve learned that a lot of the things I thought would be easy were a lot harder than I imagined, and the stuff I thought I’d really struggle with ended up being way easier. After a month of blogging, proving to myself that yes, I really did want to blog and I did have the capacity to stick with it, I wanted a pretty, fully functional blog. I reached out to Sam from Tech Girl, and she got me onto The Words Agency to help me out. If you are in need of help getting your blog to look all fancy and professional, I’d highly recommend reaching out to them. They were super affordable and made it all just work easily and seamlessly. Two years of blogging later, and I still absolutely adore the look and feel of my blog, which is a big win in my books.

If you didn’t notice above that I mentioned the free WordPress theme thing, yes, I blog using WordPress. If you’re wondering about what technology to use for your blog, I can definitely recommend WordPress. Look, it’s not perfect, but it’s pretty damn easy and reliable. Plus, there are a million plugins! So, whenever I have a new whim about wanting to add a widget, change font or update some kind of functionality, I just shop for the right plugin and most of the tech stuff is handled for me through plugin magic.

That said, I have broken my site. Once. I was fighting with my settings. You see, I always use a featured image on every blog post. I think it’s important to add something visual to everything I write – it helps people connect to it and sometimes can help illustrate my points… plus it’s important for Google to know that the content is high quality. Go figure on that one. Anyway, I always had the feature image, and in order for it to look sexy in my scrolling feature bar at the top of my site, it needs to be a certain size. However, it was cropping instead of resizing when displayed in my actual blog posts. I tried to fix the issue myself based on some random articles I found online, and instead, I pretty much killed my entire site. It was because I edited a file type I shouldn’t have and left in a comma where I shouldn’t have, thus breaking EVERYTHING. I cried, I begged Dean to fix it and he didn’t know how. Eventually, my friend and boss at my day job helped me out, fixing it even though it was a Sunday afternoon. Lesson learned – don’t fiddle with code you don’t understand!

While WordPress has been very kind to me, I haven’t had the best of luck lately with Facebook Live. I absolutely adore doing live video. It’s a wonderful way for me to connect with people in real time, it’s fun to do, and some days it’s easier to go live for 20-30 minutes and then carry on with my normal life than it is to sit down and write all the words I want to say. However, OBS, the application I use to go live on Facebook, doesn’t always play nice with Facebook. When it screws up, I pretty much have to cancel the stream and restart using the native Facebook Live browser set up, which makes me lose my mind a bit. I really need for Facebook to up their game when it comes to streaming, or I need to figure out another solution, but at this point, I don’t know what that will be.

A year ago, I decided that I was ready to take my blog to the next level, and I had my logo designed for me by Designwave. I absolutely adore it! It still makes me so happy to look at my logo. I feel like it captures my geeky side, along with the parenting stuff, and makes my ethos and “brand” (I hate referring to my blog that way, but hopefully you know what I mean) clearer. It’s still one of the best investments I made and wasn’t nearly as expensive as some of the other quotes that I got. Plus, I think it makes some people take me a bit more seriously. At least, I like to think so.

Looking back at two years of blogging from a technical standpoint, I’ve come a long way. My blog looks so much better than it did in those early weeks, and I really love this little slice of the internet that I call my own. While I’ve become more confident doing things myself, and I’m happy to handle a lot of the tech on my own, I do see that some of my favorite things are actually set up by professionals, with me just able to run with it thereafter. Perhaps I should actually keep that in mind with the video stuff, too. I’d really like to do a lot more video, but maybe I should rope someone in with a lot more experience to at least get everything set up correctly, and then I can run with it from there.

Two Years of Blogging lessons – Creative aspects

blogging

Two years ago, I was committed to blogging five days a week, Monday through Friday. It was something I stuck to, almost without fail, for about a year. As Harley got older, I struggled with the schedule more and more, until we get to now. I feel like I’ve become an unreliable blogger. I just don’t always have the time and energy to write like I used to. I still have tons of ideas, so much that I want to share with everyone, but it’s just so hard with chronic sleep deprivation, chasing after a toddler all day, and now with the chaos of moving. It’s not a (good) excuse, but it is the reality of what’s happening. I keep promising myself that I will write more frequently, but it seems the hours in the day run out before I can even get started. Preschool has helped a lot, but I simply don’t always have the time to blog that I’d like, and when I do, I’m often too tired to formulate words, instead collapsing in front of some trashy TV on Netflix.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I have learned a lot in the past two years. I learned to love my drafts. When I have inspiration, I start the posts I want to write. Even if I only get a few sentences out, that blog can sit there and remind me until it’s written. Or at least that’s the idea. I don’t always continue to find the topic interesting days and week later, but it helps to get the thoughts out when inspiration hits.

I mentioned above that I always use a featured image. This was a stumbling block for me in the early days. I wasn’t too sure how many photos of Harley I wanted to share – it felt like sharing too many pictures would somehow take away from what I privately shared with her. Then again, in those early days, she was still super tiny and I often only had a couple hours with her in the ICU, so it made sense that I was protective of the little time we had together. Soon, that perspective shifted and now I’m happy to share loads of pictures of her – not every one I take or send to friends and family, but a lot. I also learned to embrace Pixabay, a free source of high-quality images that don’t require attribution or subscription. Those are the images I’m using on this blog post, in fact.

Two Years of Blogging lessons – Surprises

I think one of the biggest surprises for me was finding such a wonderful community that I actually wanted to be a part of. I didn’t read mommy blog before falling pregnant, and even once I knew I was going to become a mom or after Harley was born, I didn’t always enjoy reading mommy blogs. That might sound awful, but I’ve come to embrace that, too. You see, this place where you guys get to join me in my head won’t appeal to every reader. Not everyone is going to like me or care about the topics I want to write about. And that’s okay! Similarly, I’ve found some wonderful bloggers who have become friends. Women who write about parenting in a way that I really like or appreciate, or cover topics that appeal to me, or who simply use language in such a great way that I don’t mind reading about whatever random stuff they might want to talk about.

But even more importantly, I’ve come to appreciate the audience of readers who take the time to read my words, to like my social media posts, to watch my live videos. Some of you might not even comment or engage with my content, but silently lurk, occasionally reaching out via email or sending me a private message rather than posting a public comment. When I started this blog, I didn’t know who would ever want to read it. Aside from my mom (Hi mom!) and a few friends, I simply didn’t know who would care. But the response has truly surprised me. Old friends have popped up to say they read what I have to say, and so many awesome people from across the internet have found me and joined me, Dean and Harley on this journey.

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  • Cecilia Leffew

    Congrats on 2 years of blogging! That’s great that you stuck with it through all of those challenges. I’m just starting out on my blog and struggling with time management. I find Pixabay to be a great resource as well. I love your logo. Very stylish.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      thanks so much! time management is definitely tricky – i think the biggest thing is consistency. Even if you don’t have time to blog every day, try to stick to a set routine so that people have a rough idea of when to expect new content from you.

  • Melissa Javan

    Well done on the two years of blogging – yor it’s harder for me to blog nowadays too, with my 19 month old around.

    • Zoe Hawkins

      yeah, toddlers take up WAY more time than babies! hectic