I have been blogging since April of this year, though it is only recently that I decided to turn it into more than a hobby. While my guest writing projects are going extremely well, I want to bring more focus to Baby Kaiju. After all, I link to my blog on Instagram and Twitter, and links to my blog are also included in my author bios. It’s time to focus more on the blog and make it work for me. Here are 6 lessons that I learned in 6 months of blogging.
Lesson 1: Setting Up a Blog is Easy
When this blog started in April, I had to master the ropes of WordPress, domain mapping, setting up an email server on my domain. WordPress does sell a package deal, but buying the domain through a Japanese site was a far more affordable option. Plus, I liked being able to hide my personal information from domain name lookup services that search the whois database for domain name registration information. Other places where you can register your domain also offer this service, but it typically costs extra.
Lesson 2: Initial Costs Are Low
The truth is, you don’t need a lot of money to get started. I spent a grand total of 1,382 yen (right under 12 USD) for a sign up of 2 years. One year with WordPress’ personal domain hosting package set me back 4,320 yen (right under 40 USD).
My rental email server is where I incur the most costs, at 1,620 yen a month. Truth be told, I like having a personalized email address. It makes me feel so professional when I send emails to clients. I’ve been exploring more free image sites as well as programs like Canva that lets me make graphics for free. For Canva, I’m seriously thinking about upgrading my account, but we’ll see.
Lesson 3: WordPress is the Way to Go!
It’s perhaps unfair to make this claim when I have only ever worked with WordPress. But, if you plan to make your own blog. I highly recommend WordPress. Why?
It’s all in the plugins.
Going beyond the plugins, WordPress powers a quarter of the web. If you plan to take your blogging to the next step by guest blogging, chances are that the CMS used could be WordPress. Over at Best Living Japan, I use WordPress to upload my articles. This experience at Best Living Japan/using WordPress now comes in handy as a writer for Baby Gaga.
Lesson 4: Finding a Theme Can Take Time
It seems like “mommy bloggers” are everywhere, so why not do it? It’s easy to see the lure of blogging: Real moms, just like you and me, become stars. They get lucrative sponsorship deals after venting about covering up while nursing in public, or sharing hilarious photos of husbands taking directions a little bit too literally. And, even though the web is filled with mommy blogs, there’s always space for you to share your voice.
In my case, I’m still struggling to find my blog’s voice/theme, but after using Instagram, and thinking seriously about my career as a content creator, I feel like I’m making headway. So, while Baby Kaiju is named after my daughter, the direction I’m taking this blog in will be as follows: navigating life in Japan and motherhood, while embarking on a new career as a content creator.
Lesson 5: Bringing in Traffic is a Challenge
I definitely had a naive idea that it must be so easy to put a few photos on Instagram and get thousands of likes. Write a post, hit publish, Google will just direct traffic to your site -HA! Traffic is something all bloggers struggle with. In my case, I’ve been creating eye-catching graphics for Instagram to draw attention to my blog. I also made a Twitter account and have been using it to interact with other mommy bloggers and tweet my latest posts. But, directing traffic here when I have nothing to show can be problematic.
I admit, my blog has taken a backseat to ahem, things that actually pay. But, I’m actively putting in effort to change this. Last month, I only posted twice. Now, I’m learning from my mistake, and I am planning to be as professional with my blog as I am with my writing projects. To get a head start on 2018, my goal for December is setting a theme every month and writing posts weekly. I’m also going to redesign the blog layout as well as make more graphics for my reference posts: Japanese celebrations for baby and pregnant and giving birth in Japan. I also have a few projects – an ebook and a product launch – lined up that will hopefully bring more traffic to my little slice of the web! Lastly, I’m branching out into Pinterest to see where that will get me.
Lesson 6: Blogging Can Be a Rewarding Experience
Don’t let blogging intimidate you! It’s never too late to learn the necessary skills. What I don’t know, I just Google it. I never imagined that I’d learned how to set up an email server on my on domain (in Japanese, no less!), or learn how to make snazzy graphics. I’m constantly learning new skills that truly make me employable. Don’t believe me?
I got my first chance at guest writing for Best Living Japan and GaijinPot simply by submitting a few posts as writing samples. One post is about my experience taking my daughter to Kameido Tenjin, one of Tokyo’s most famous shrines. Having Best Living Japan and GaijinPot on my resume helped me land a writing gig at Live Japan, and I’ve got several articles scheduled to be published in December.
And not too long ago, I accepted a major translation project that will have me doing some graphic design in the final stage. I’m getting a hang of things and would love to do more guest writing, but at the end of the day, little Kaiju is my priority. I need to make sure I’ll have time to take care of her as well as write.
What lessons have you learned in your journey as a blogger?