Things I wish I had known 6 years ago
Can you believe I have been blogging for 6 whole years already TODAY?! I can't either. My mission on my 6th blog anniversary (!!!) is to share some of my experiences with you on how to start a blog! There is a long list of things I learned the painful way since my very first blog post! I am passing on my Top 3 aha moments to you today. These moments did not become aha moments for me for a long time (longer than I'd like to admit), and I am in fact still learning so much every day! As a bonus, I will also let you know 3 moments of success over the years to get us to a total number of 6 pieces of advice to match my anniversary year! 😉
Start a blog the right way
Most people probably think that 6 years of blogging is a huge milestone and that I should just celebrate and enjoy! Don't get me wrong. It's been good and I learned a lot along the way. BUT it could be so much better! And I wish I had known what I know now 6 years ago, so I could have put my time and efforts in the right direction from the get-go! In the meantime, I'll still celebrate with a bit of champagne along the journey! I hope the mistakes I learned will help you along the way if you're curious about how to start a blog yourself!
Here's what I'll cover:
My Top 3 Aha Moments:
My 3 Moments Of Success:
Aha Moment 1: Seek Out Help To Start A Blog!
"This blog is my baby and I need to save it."
I wanted for it to be successful, for it to be seen, for me to finally transition to this being a career for me! I needed my blog as much as it needed me to fix it! 😀 I realized that in order for me to fulfill my dream and create a sustainable and flexible income while blogging, I would have to start paying attention to what I am doing. For so long, I had just created with no idea in mind of how blogging actually 'works.' I felt energized because I understood blogging was what I wanted to commit to, and I also understood that I needed help! As it creepily always works out this way, ads for blogging help started popping up on my social media and I stumbled over Elizabeth Rider, a successful lifestyle and food blogger. I bought her blogging course in the blink of an eye because I just needed her to tell me what to do! Please don't wait for 300 blog posts to pass to seek help, do it now. I learned so much from her and once I went through her course, I now feel equipped to do great things! I have my drive back and I even started getting up at 5 am during the week, so I could have an extra 7 hours a week before the kids get up to be productive!
Aha Moment 2: Focus On Keywords!
Creating content on the web doesn't really serve anyone other than you if nobody can find what you are putting out there. For so long, I was blogging blindly. I was lacking structure in the way I wrote my posts. Even worse, I didn't know that what I was writing wasn't something that people wanted to read about! Or at least they didn't know yet that they wanted to read about it. What I am trying to get to is that people weren't searching for a lot of my content in the way I was writing it. However, making simple shifts in the text and descriptions could get me seen! Those shifts are called keywords and now I am making sure to research those 'focus words' before writing a blog post about anything! Here is the SEO keyword tool I like to use, which is also a tool that Elizabeth Rider recommends. Yes, it's not free if you do as much research on there as I do, but it has been SO WORTH IT! If you're looking to start a blog, in my opinion, this tool is a must!
Aha Moment 3: Resize Images!
I don't even want to admit this one, but I used to not resize my images up until not too long ago. And I use A LOT of images for my recipes, so you can only imagine what this did to my website speed! Now I resize the pixel size AND quality size before uploading to the blog. It has really helped to speed up my blog, which in turn helps it to rank better. I also make sure to name the images using keywords and my blog name before uploading them. This has been eye-opening and I wish I had known a long time ago!
Success Moment 1: Finding A Niche
I started my blog because I missed Germany and my family, the culture, and food. Dirndl Kitchen was a food diary at first, with little intent to make money with it. I thought, 'if I feel this way about Germany, I am sure others do, too, and maybe there is an opportunity for me to help anyone who misses Germany by sharing German recipes, memories from my childhood, and visits to Germany.' I loved that I was able to find a niche that fits naturally. Writing about German food and culture is a perfect match for me! I have learned cooking and baking from my Mama and Oma growing up, catered cupcakes while in college, and there wasn't much I was more excited about than creating German food and sharing it with others. I felt like adding too many other topics in, especially at the beginning stages, felt too overwhelming. If you're curious about blogging, what's a niche you could fit into?
Success Moment 2: Persistence Is Key in Blogging
Probably the most frustrating part about my blog? People didn't see what I wrote! So I went through all the effort to share my soul and passion with everyone in hopes of helping others, and it just didn't work. Instead of seeking out help (stubborn as Germans are), I just repeated mistakes. BUT I kept going. I dedicated my blog to my Oma Sieghilde and started to build a community on social media.
I just focused on creating week after week. I was a true artist for a while so to say. 😉 I was earning an income in another business as well and for some time, I felt that making money with blogging was just going to be extra money and maybe I'd hit the jackpot one day. 😀
The longer I blogged, however, the more frustrated I grew. I was looking for balance in my life. I wanted to be there for my kids, but I also wanted a way to prove to myself that I could be successful in a career (let's be honest, raising kids feels like failing a lot!). I had almost come to accept that I wasn't going to be a successful blogger and it just made me sad. That for me was the turning point because the option of quitting just wasn't one for me. I kept going. There were very few weeks (even right after having babies), that I didn't publish blog posts. Being persistent with blogging is key, and I think this is one area I am glad I naturally understood (because nobody told me this one either)! I have posted a blog post once a week when I started and I still post once a week now.
I was looking for balance in my life. I wanted to be there for my kids, but I also wanted a way to prove to myself that I could be successful in a career.
Success Moment 3: Building A Blog Community
I have been successful on Instagram with bringing German-minded foodies together and I'd love to have you follow me if you don't already! I started an Instagram account the day I started my blog website, and there I share the ins and outs about living as a German in America, German food, our home, our kids, and really anything that crosses my path and interests me (fashion, travel, you name it!). Without my little Instagram community cheering me on, sharing their stories and cooking and sharing my recipes, I don't know that I would have kept going. I am so, so appreciative of that community I was able to bring together over the years! One of my focus points for the new blog year is to work on my email list and send out a weekly newsletter with additional insights, German language tips, favorite product finds, and more! Growing my email list is high on my priority list as that's something that nobody can take away from me!
Bottom Line: Start A Blog & Don't Give Up!
The conclusion is, blogging isn't easy! And while writing about something you love may seem like a natural thing to do, there is a proven system behind blogging that will help you be more successful, while you're already spending your time and efforts on creating content! My goal is to attend the Tastemaker Food Blogger conference in 2022, as I know I still have so much more to learn! But for right now, I will focus on creating German-inspired content for those that miss Germany, while always improving and NEVER GIVING UP! If you have a blog idea, I would love to hear it in the comments below! Thanks for sticking around and reading! If you enjoyed this post, I would love for you to subscribe to my blog for German recipes and more! 🙂