Lessons In Blogging: UsedYorkCity Turns 2!
Guys! We’re so happy to be celebrating UsedYorkCity’s second anniversary this week! It’s crazy to think back on this little idea I had two short years ago and how much it’s grown and all the fun we’ve had with it along the way!
I started the site as a creative outlet to share my love of and adventures in NYC with others…and to show other New Yorkers and tourists that tons of fun really CAN be had here, even on a shoestring budget! Truth be told, I’m pretty sure at the beginning it was just my mom and sister reading (with the occasional drop in from the boyfriend), but over the course of the past 24 months I was able to make connections, both online and off, and form some incredible relationships with others, helping to make this site something I’m so, so proud of. And then came you guys! The loyal readers, who we are so happy to share this space with!
In celebration of our 2nd anniversary, I thought I’d share a few lessons in blogging I’ve picked up along the way. A heartfelt thank you to all of you that have taken this journey with us, and we look forward to sharing many more chapters to come.
Lessons In Blogging, 2 Years And Counting
1. Write everyday. Even when you’re tired, your day-job is stressful, and you have 10 loads of clothes to haul to the laundry mat. Cause like everything in life, practice makes perfect. Okay, not perfect, but it sure makes you better. That being said, I’ve found it’s so important to write something daily, as it also keeps the excuses at bay, cause let’s be real: there will ALWAYS be excuses. Just remember your reasons for starting the blog in the first place, and the writing will come from a place of love, not duty.
2. Have an editorial calendar. I, in fact, did not have one of these the first, oh, six months of the blog. I did what you would call “wing it”, publishing articles as they popped up. While I know my calendar does and will change, it certainly makes for much more streamlined content when you can see where you’re going and where you’ve been.
3. Have inspirational blogs, and be able to pinpoint what in those blogs attracts you. Notice there is a fine line between inspiration and imitation, and I caution you not to lean too far to the latter. You want your voice and content to be unique and fresh, thus other blogs should be viewed for the purpose of identifying things you find pleasurable. A minimalistic layout? Regular columns? Heavy on the photography, light on the words? Inspiration blogs help you to define the aesthetic and voice you are striving for.
4. Say yes. Yes to collaborations, yes to events, yes to guest posting, yes to connecting with fans over Twitter, yes to an eager young intern that wants to learn the ropes…you get the idea.
5. …but realize when you need to say no. If a collaboration is a real stretch for your brand. If you see little benefit for your site and your personal growth. If you’re over extended and the timing isn’t right. If it’s a review of something that you wouldn’t personally recommend a real life friend…(unless it’s a negative review, but as you guys know, we try to focus on the positive stuff we love here at UYC…you have Yelp to read all the bad reviews on!)
6. Network. I’ve met some of the coolest people through this site…many of whom I’ve never actually met in person, but who have been amazing cheerleaders and sources of wisdom, and who have been constant assurance that spending so much time and energy on something simply because you get a personal high from it is not only okay, it’s awesome.
7. Finding your voice takes time. One of my biggest fears in starting this was over-sharing information about my personal life on the internet. Over the years, I’ve refined the balance of sharing information about NYC and traveling with just enough of a personal spin. Rule of thumb: if I think it’s over-sharing, it definitely is, so don’t post.
8. Try new columns. Seriously, some things I’ve kicked off have been huge hits, and are now regular staples on the site. Others, not so much. But in order to know what works, you need to put your ideas out there. I’ll be honest: there’s columns I’ve tried that I thought would be huge and weren’t, and vice versa.
9. Once you have your logo/theme, don’t mess around with it (too much). This may be a personal thing, but it drives me bonkers when I go to a blog and voila! The setup has changed, the logo has changed, even the direction of the content has changed. I’m not saying that this doesn’t take a while to pin down, but just take your readers’ feelings into consideration. If there’s an occasional big structural overhaul, that’s okay, just have the courtesy of warning them ahead of time. (Is this just my weird hangup, or do other people get annoyed with this too?)
10. Analyze the data. Constantly. Yes, comments and shares may be nice, but numbers are what speak. Not only to potential advertisers and sponsors, but to YOU developing your site to the best of your ability. By looking at the numbers, you can decipher what posts resonate with your readers, what readers are constantly going back to, what key words are being searched for, what times are the best to send out Tweets…the possibilities are pretty endless. The better grasp you have on the hard data, the more you can refine your site to exactly what it is people want to spend their time on.
I’d love to know, fellow bloggers, what lessons have you learned through blogging? Do share below!
Thanks again for taking this ride with us, guys. Here’s to the next 365 days!