Blogging Lessons Learned

We all start blogs for different reasons.  I started this blog a little over three years ago as a means to personally document our travels and keep family and friends up to date on our journey.  I’ll admit, it’s morphed into something much more than I ever expected.ButterfliesI never anticipated the social aspect of blogging and the making of some wonderful friends along the way…. what an amazing discovery.  Some of those friendships will remain cyber based while others have and will develop into more.  Thus, I’m very pleased I started the blog.

Botanical Garden

new friendships are forged – Nancy from Two Trails One Road and I enjoy a day at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, AZ

The past couple of weeks, hubby and I have been doing some remodeling on our son’s home and having a lot of fun in the process.  I know, our son thinks we’re crazy too. While painting cabinets, my mind wandered as I thought about blog material.  “What ever shall I write about?”  I thought about how comfortable I’ve become with writing and sharing.  It sure wasn’t that way in the beginning.   It took me awhile to find my style, my voice, and learn some lessons along the way.  So today I thought I’d share a few of MY personal thoughts and opinions on blogging and a few lessons learned.

blogging 1011.  First off, there’s no right or wrong way to blog.  Blogging is personal.  Some folks blog as an outlet to express themselves while others hope to monetize their site.  Some of my favorite blog sites are the ones that are educational.  I’ve picked up great photography tips as well as discovered some ‘must see’ places to visit from other bloggers.

2.  Finding my voice.  It took me awhile to find my voice and style.  I really struggled with this in the beginning.  I remember watching American Idol years ago and the judges would always tell the contestants to make the song their own. That’s easier said than done, but in the end it’s all about being yourself, being honest, and true to yourself. There’s no need to copy or plagiarise.

3.  Writing has never been easy for me.  I can’t tell you how many times I stare at a blank computer screen with severe writers block.  It took me awhile to find what works for me.  I need to visualize.

bloggingAl and I went on a fabulous hike several weeks ago and I couldn’t wait to write about it, but couldn’t seem to find the words.  A friend of ours wanted to know all about the trail and whether or not he and his wife should attempt the hike.

As soon as I envisioned myself sitting across the table having a drink with Gary, the story of that hike made it onto the blog in quick order.  So now whenever I get stuck with that blank computer screen, I visualize I’m chatting over coffee with a dear friend.

4.  White space.  It’s important to break up text with paragraphs and pictures.  By breaking up the text it’s easier to read and less overwhelming.

5.  Speaking of pictures – always, always include a photograph, cartoon, or graph of some sort to hold the reader’s attention.  Think of an ad in a newspaper.  All ads have some visual content that draws the reader’s eye in.  It’s important to add that visual content even if your blog is writing based.  That visual aid will help tell the story and keep a reader’s attention.  It’s also extremely important to display the photo or graph large enough for readers to see it clearly.

Do not expect readers to click on an image to enlarge it. Most folks don’t have the time or inclination to enlarge individual photos.  I know I don’t.  I will however enlarge a gallery when it’s displayed in a slide show fashion, IF I have time.  In many of my earlier blog posts, my photos were entered in the thumbnail or medium size format.  It was only after a couple of seasoned bloggers recommended that I post my photos in a larger format that I started doing just that.

wild donkey's

Are you listening? Yes, I’m all ears!

6.  Write an About page letting folks know what you and your blog are all about.  Before I decide to “follow” a blog, I always read the About page.  Not everyone is

blogging tips

I’m not afraid to show you the real me!

comfortable posting a photo of themselves, but I find a photo along with general information of residency to be more engaging – more relatable.

7.  Editing is a biggie.  I’ve learned to edit and then re-edit…..   proof read, reread, and spell check.

I try to do my homework on a subject by doing proper research before publishing. I do get it wrong sometimes and am never insulted when a reader enlightens me to my faux pas.  I also like linking to other sites giving my readers the option of more information if they’re interested.

Keeping my posts simple and under 1,000 words is my goal.  If I have a long story, I break it up into parts.

8.  And then there’s the social aspect of blogging; this has been the most fun for me.  Make sure your Gravatar is linked properly or other bloggers can’t visit your site. That is if you enjoy the social aspect of the blogosphere, and if not, that’s ok too.

I love receiving comments and responding, but every now and then a troll stops by…. you know, someone looking to pick a fight.  I can honestly say in the time I’ve been blogging I think I’ve only had 2 such encounters.  So embrace the positive comments and ignore the negative ones.lizard9.  Be a student….. as I read other blogs I pay attention to design, layout, ease of site navigation, and other details.  I also check to see how my blog shows up on different devices.  I use my hubby’s laptop to check how fast my site loads.  Some WordPress themes load faster than others.  You don’t want a slow site or you may not have many readers.

Design – Is the site easy to navigate?  Can a visitor quickly tell what the blogs purpose is?  What color text to use?  Black with white text versus white with black text?  A lot of blogs specializing in photography use a black background with white text.  Supposedly the photos show better.  My aging eyes have difficulty with the black background.  Thus, I personally follow only one or two blogs that use black with white text.  Give me a nice white background any day whether the blog’s focus is photography or writing.garden photography10.  Write for yourself first.  Remember this is suppose to be fun and we don’t want to make blogging feel like a job (unless that’s the intent).  Some say publish posts consistently and on a schedule. I say… post when you feel like it.

Oops, I’ve surpassed my 1,000 word count limit….. happy blogging!
BUT one last thought, my cyber friend Sue and I had a telepathic moment…. check out her recent post on “Getting more blog comments” – click here for more insightful suggestions.

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127 thoughts on “Blogging Lessons Learned

  1. Great tips! I have recently started an RV blog too and it has been quite a learning experience. Have found myslef technically challenged but am getting through, thanks to help from others. How do you get more followers? I have launched a FB page but that only has gotten a few of my friends. Thanks and safe travels!

    • Welcome to the lifestyle Beth. Yep, this technology thing can be a challenge but oh so fun once figured out. I’m only familiar with the WordPress platform thus can’t offer any real help in the follow dept. outside of WordPress. Sorry 😦 Happy trails!

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  3. I started blogging to keep working on my photography, and you are right! All of a sudden very nice connections start to pop up 🙂

    The lessons learned are great, and writing can be difficult. Write, edit, proof read, re-edit. It takes up quite a while to write one post.

    Nice to come across your website today 🙂

    Hope you have a great weekend ahead!

    Kind regards,
    Tieme

    • Thank you for stopping by. Yes, writing does take up a bit of time but I seem to have improved in that department over the years. I guess the more one does the easier it gets. I’ll be sure and drop over to your site and check out your photos 🙂

      • Hi! It does! Unfortunately, it also becomes a bit of a task, instead of a hobby.

        I’ll reflect someday whether my writing got easier along the way too 🙂

        Thank you and happy weekend!
        Tieme

  4. I’ve just signed up to your blog, so I am looking forward to future posts. I had to chuckle about the photo sizes. I suggested to a friend the other day that he makes his photos bigger, I think he was annoyed. He said don’t feel stupid but you can click on them to make them bigger. Well, yeah, I knew that. So I just told him I was lazy. He didn’t get it. Won’t be offering any more suggestions!

  5. These are all really good points, very similar to our approach to blogging. We started our blog to keep track track of ourselves but it is fun to have people we meet stop by and we love to share our experiences, mostly all good. Once we leave Texas, if the storms ever stop, we are heading west so will be checking for good destinations.

  6. I have to confess to being an RV blog junkie. I read over 50 different ones each month. Bug my top 10, I read religiously each week. You know for sure you are in that top 10! Thanks for all the great tips, sage advice, good laughs and the always amazing photos.

    • Well thanks for putting me in your top 10 and enjoying my shenanigans. I’ll keep you posted on our travels in October. We may be heading through NM via I-25 and I’m eyeing Kasha-Katuwe which I don’t think is too far from you. I’ll let you know once we figure things out 🙂

  7. Thank you for sharing your blogging tips Ingrid. Very helpful! Especially appreciated your comments on “Writing”. It’s never really been an easy process for me either. Will give your strategy of visualization a try. Thanks again!

    • You welcome, although I don’t really think you need any assistance …. your blog and writing is top notch. And let’s not forget about the beautiful photos you post. I look forward to following your summer travels 🙂

  8. I only started blogging this December so I appreciate your insight. Photo size and editing, two things I need to work in. If you are ever on my blog I would be open to any tips or ideas you may have. Thanks

  9. Loving your post and I am so glad I found you and your blog – you make me want to adventure more even if I am just arm chair adventuring with you in reading your adventures – thanks so much 🙂 Happy Day!

  10. I think you gave good advice about the pictures size. It’s something I’m thinking about, regarding my blog. But in my stats, I can see that people are clicking to enlarge.. so I don’t know. I have mixed feeling 🙂

    And yes, I agree and the blogging friendship. It’s great !

    • I still mix up the size of my photos not wanting all of them to be large. I guess it just depends on the photo subject itself. It’s nice that our blogs don’t all look the same. Thanks for commenting 🙂

  11. Ingrid – simply a brilliant post and I agree with all your points. I also started writing a blog for exactly the same reason. I now find I have more people following that I have never met than actual family and friends, who were the originally intended recipients.

    I also agree with edit, edit, edit and then proof read, but must admit to being remiss lately with the backlog of posts due to poor internet availability. Fortunately, Judi picked up a couple of typos and I have gone back to make the fixes.

    One other suggestion is to keep the writing to a basic level, which is something I struggle with. One way of achieving this is keeping sentences reasonably short, which enhances readability.

    • Very good point you bring up…. basic and short. With the adventure you and Judi are on, I admire your dedication on posting. Although, I’m sure it’s more for your benefit to document the journey, and the rest of us get to appreciate the share along the way. Happy travels 🙂

  12. Great post…you covered it all and some excellent tips. Editing my down fall and wish I had done my tags differently. I’m going to check out my Gavatar. Only after I find another avenue since I hit my 3GB of media storage in WordPress (too many photos) but made this far since first post in 2010…might bite the bullet, pay the price and go premium 🙂 as seems the easiest. We’re painting too, walls in the kids basement 🙂 Off to the camp store, last shift this week! Your photo in the flowers….a fairy buttercup…sweet!

    • Thanks C. Yep, almost done with the son’s place and he is thrilled as I’m sure the kids will be with your painting. It takes awhile to figure out what works and doesn’t in this blogging thing and the darn internet gigs always get us. Right now it’s a slow connection for me ….grrrr! Have a great summer 🙂

  13. Great blogging tips Ingrid, I agree with all of them. I am however guilty of not doing the editing as due diligent as I should. That’s the boring part:)
    Lovely photos as always!

  14. Ingrid, Great pics, i.e., butterfly and lizard and flowers—all sharp photos! Like anything wild! Like weaving a way in the natural world. Like your posts! Roger

  15. Newbie here – following you and your sweetheart’s travel has been great enjoyment – first time to comment too. We are thinking seriously about getting a RV this summer to be full time RV-er. We travel so much as it is now wherever work takes us. So a RV has been on our minds for a long while. We often rent in the area we work but sometimes our work finishes before the lease is up which is a problem. I find your blog very interesting to read and there has been helpful information too – thanks tons.
    Hugs

    • Sounds like RVing might be the perfect fit for you. It’s wonderful being able to sleep in our own bed and fix our meals. I can’t fathom staying in a hotel again.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting and let me know if I can offer any assistance in your journey to RVing.

  16. Ingrid…we truly enjoy reading every post you make. I can’t believe you don’t think of yourself as a writer. You, in my humble opinion, are an excellent writer! Your photos are terrific. I can’t think of one part of any post you need to improve on…period!

    Keep up the great work. We look forward to each and every one of your adventures.

  17. I know for sure I have offended a few peeps with my rather “strange” humor, but that is how I roll. I am not your typical old lady and never want to be. I also find some people like controversy, especially political. I try to stay away from this for fear of planting my foot firmly in my mouth and never being able to extract it…I think most of us who enjoy blogging are just novel writers in disguise!

    • I love your style and voice. I can always count on you for a little entertainment and if that means you offend a few along the way… oh, well. I know there’s a book within you…. shall I place my order?

  18. Excellent post Ingrid. I have lots of work to do on my blog and with hubby gone to his mother’s house this week, hopefully I can get it done. Love what you have done to your blog. 🙂

  19. Ingrid, thanks so much for these tips! I started my blog two years ago as a way for friends and family to follow us along to Alaska but since then I have found it is so much more than that. I know sometimes I’m guilty of posting too many pictures of the same thing when I can’t decide which is the best photo!

    I have found the best way to learn about good places to camp is by following other RV’er’s blogs and I tell my husband all the time about something one of my blogging friends wrote about! Your great information helped make our trip to the Gulf Coast and Hill Country truly memorable. I hope one day we will be able to meet in person! Maybe next year we’ll return to Texas…

    • We too have discovered great campgrounds and sights to see via bloggers. It’s turned into the best resource. I’m so glad I could be of assistance with your TX journey and look forward to hearing about the next stops…. say it isn’t Nebraska 😆 Although we’ll be seeing that state, yet again, this summer… very briefly!

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  21. This is a brilliant post and I agree on each and every one of your points… one I have had trouble getting used to is the not posting all the time… I have a feeling of obligation to my followers of posting and the horrible feeling if I stop for a while they might not come back… I have now found out they do come back, so post for fun and when it becomes a chore, take a break… you’ll be surprised the messages you get when you return… I fell wanted… Thanks Ingrid 1000 + who cares when it comes from you… I love your blog…

    • Thanks Rob. I stopped feeling ‘the need’ to blog about a year ago and if I feel technology overload, I gladly take the break. A true friend will still be there when I return as you have discovered. Happy blogging my friend and I look forward to your book 🙂

  22. Thank you for writing this for me, well said even if that was over 1000 words 🙂 I write my blog while I am hiking and usually my pictures directs where I am going with my thoughts. I still have an issue with writing short blogs like yours but then as you said, make your blog your own voice. I may have evolved in my style but I still have a lot to learn and your great post is making me ask myself, if I am within the bounds.
    Your style and photography is top notch so keep it up and we will continue to follow along.

    • Thank you MonaLiza and please don’t ever change….. we all love your style and your stories just the way they are. You provide the perfect combo of writing and photos. I have to use my photos to find the words and tell the tale as well but I really struggle in the writing department. You know what a quiet and shy person I am 😆

    • Thank you. I appreciate the nice comment. No I haven’t taken any official classes but this past year I have read books and articles on photography. Plus, I’ve been practicing A LOT which is giving my delete button a real workout. Lots of trial and error!

  23. Great tips for blogging, Ingrid. You’ve definitely found your voice — love your tip about overcoming writer’s block by imagining that you’re chatting over coffee with a friend. 🙂
    I’ve wondered with our blog if it would be better to have the photos embedded in the text, but then I can’t have the slideshow, because the photos would automatically be duplicated in the slideshow. I like the slideshow because I can include more photos without them taking up too much space in the post. Haven’t yet been able to figure out a solution!

    • Thank you and I like your blog just the way it is Laurel. The main photo in the beginning and the slide show at the end work beautifully. Plus, you always divide your text up perfectly making it easy to read. You found your niche, your style, and your voice…. no need to change anything 🙂

  24. This is a wonderfully helpful list of tips. It’s very kind of you to share your blogging experiences to help others. I haven’t been blogging long but have noticed that people rarely click on links or to enlarge photos. I still put links in for those people who want a reference, but most often make my pictures full size now.

    I have the same trouble with black backgrounds and white text. My eyes don’t cope well.

    I get quite excited about writing up a walk but like you it feels much harder when I actually sit down to do it. The easiest ones for me are the freshly walked ones. Old walks are harder to bring to life and they can feel like an ordeal to piece together sometimes! Photos are great memory triggers though.

    I also love the friendship aspect of blogging and recently met up with another blogger for a walk. It was lovely. I think the relationship aspect of blogging motivates me to keep writing on my “off” weeks.

    Congratulations on a lovely and successful blog!

    • Thank you and yes it always seems to be more challenging to sit down in front of the computer and get the keyboard clicking. When I’m out hiking, I have it all planned in my head what I hope to write but once home it’s all forgotten. So then I need to review my photos as a trigger.
      Isn’t it amazing how you can get to know folks half a world away? So much fun!

  25. Ingrid… It was such a pleasure meeting you for coffee and bagels one day. Then because we could have chatted forever… we planned a day at the Desert Botanical Gardens. What fun we had! Oh, and I must not forget… You introduced me to a great place that makes fabulous Gyros! They were so delicious!!
    But most of all, our friendship is starting to blossom all because of blogging. The community of bloggers who have made these blog friendships are extremely grateful. As we are.
    Lastly, I have been blogging for about a year and everyone is eager to learn more. It is bloggers like you, Sue and many others who are kind enough to share blogging knowledge with us in a post like this, that really shows the Support that is out there in Our Blogging Community!
    Thank You Ingrid… Thank You Sue… And Thanks to many others who extend a helping hand to all of us.
    Okay… I am ready to post a picture on my about page. Got any to share with me from our day together?? HA HA HA HA 😀 😀 😀 😀

  26. Thanks for thinking about this for all of us and sharing your conclusions. Oh, and thanks for the link to the “getting more comments” blog. I agree that editing is a biggie. Especially editing the photos. (There’s really no need to share 5 photos of the same subject.) Of course you never do that.

    • You welcome Lenore. Sharing is how we all learn…. whether it’s about blogging or a donkey trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (your experience sounded awesome), the share enlightens us all 🙂

  27. I”ve always enjoyed your blog. You give me good ideas for camping. I ♥ your photos, too. The Phoenix botanical garden is wonderful, isn’t it? I went last summer and really enjoyed the hike.

  28. Great points Ingrid. I am always surprised that some feel so much pressure to write. When I started my blog, I did so out of a desire to share some stories, document a few travels & perhaps share some perspective about aging. I have no set agenda for how many posts I write in a week although I do try to find a good balance to keep readers engaged. What I didn’t realise when I began the journey of blogging, was the wonderful people I would have the pleasure of meeting along the way & how much I would learn in connecting with this community. Thank you for being a part of that community & for sharing your story. Cheers!

    • Thank you Lynn. I totally agree about what a pleasant surprise meeting other bloggers has been. That sense of community and learning from others has been a wonderful experience. Keep those stories coming 🙂

  29. Great ideas, Ingrid! Sue also had good ideas….thanks for the link!

    If you and Al (or someone else you know) want a great work camping job in a Michigan this summer, we are looking for another couple up in Leelanau. We’re going to blog about it shortly. Our email is on our blog.

    Jim (and Diana)

    • Oh darn, I wish I’d a known about the gig sooner. We’re now committed all summer. I do love that part of MI. I look forward to your post on it and perhaps it’s something we could keep in mind for next summer if there’s an opening.

        • I’m not sure we’ll even cross the Mackinac Bridge this visit, staying on the WI and UP side but if we do venture into main MI we’ll be sure and give you a shout out 🙂

  30. Ingrid!
    Very informational… a bunch of great points … and the photos are darn swell… The butterfly shot is top notch… and it goes so well with your “personal” shot at the end. Hilarious!

  31. Very well said, Ingrid:) It is amazing how different all the blogs are. I do prefer those that do limit the amount they write. I follow many blogs and I like to be able to get to all of them. I love looking at photos but ten of the same thing is a little overwhelming. You put my thoughts into words as you wrote about blogging:) Your blog fits my bill perfectly…well written, the right length, and beautiful photos:) I think including photos of yourself is so important. It makes it more personal.

    I am sure you and Al are doing great work at your son’s and that he is extremely grateful you are there:)

    • We’re almost done with the projects on the son’s house and waiting for carpet to arrive. We may leave town though if it takes too long for the carpet to come in. It’s getting pretty warm in Phoenix and the red rocks of Moab are calling. Your photos are too enticing 😉
      I’m with you – I read a lot of blogs, and if posts are too long with lots of duplicate photos, I’ll hit delete, which is kind of sad because I know it takes time and effort to write a post.

  32. i agree with every single point, Ingrid. (but i really MUST change my slow loading theme!!!) interestingly i started to follow a blogger yesterday whom i realised was using the same ‘cubic’ theme and his blog loaded perfectly – soon annoying. i think it might be something to do with the file size of my photos.
    love your shots in desert botanical- took some friends from guernsey there last week- always a hit.
    anne

    • I had a new follower a few days ago who also uses the ‘cubic’ theme and I couldn’t load his either. My internet connection in this location is slow and there’s something about that theme that requires a good connection to load.
      I was at the botanical garden again last Tuesday hoping to see the saguaros in full bloom…. always a sight to see 🙂

  33. Ingrid I think we are very like minded. That was most generous of you to share my post. thank you. You have really summarized up some very good advice. Oh the Gravatar. I have contacted SO many bloggers about their Gravatar not working. Let’s hope many people read that one. Now blog on girl I’m all ears, like the donkey. 🙂

  34. Wonderful and informative post, Ingrid. And I agree with you on everything; I, too, have been pleasantly surprised by the social rewards. I truly enjoy, for instance, every new RV destination you take me to. 🙂

  35. I agree with everything. I’m coming up on five years of blogging, even if it has been on and off a few times, and the only other thing I found that I needed to do was to moderate all comments on each post. That is a personal thing for me, as I just felt it was the best way to go after a couple of troll types tried to take advantage. It’s really no problem, at least right now. I love your blog and have enjoyed getting to know you. Your photography is a delight, too. Makes me realize how much I need to get back my own photography these days after putting my good camera away for way too long. Lovely post!

    • Thanks D. After the past several challenging months, it’s no wonder you haven’t had the camera out much. In time you’ll be back to snapping away especially on any up coming trips. In the meantime, enjoy those Texas wildflowers. One day I’ll be in TX at the right time to see them for myself.

  36. I love your blog, Ingrid. Beautiful photos and words, nice design and great information, and your posts are published consistently. Thank you for taking us to many beautiful national parks and places! 🙂

  37. I’ve been blogging for a little over a year now. I find that my earlier posts are lacking photos. I think I’ve made improvements in that area.
    I have been thinking of doing some modifications to my blog. Your tips have given me good ideas. Thank you for your thoughts.
    Although Ron and I are still living in a house, we hope to begin RVing in the near future!

    • You welcome. It’s fun fine tuning and changing up the blog.
      We part-time RVed for a couple of years before going full-time. There’s lots of times I wish we still had a house but just not sure where I want one. The search continues!

  38. Blogging is a continual learning process, but the most important thing is that we enjoy it and hopefully others will then also enjoy visiting us. I love that photo of the “real” you. 🙂

  39. I totally agree that photos need to be large and that an About page is really important! It is amazing how many bloggers don’t tell you about themselves…or even give you their first name (of themselves or their partner). If you happened to be nearby them and wanted to try to meet them you might not even have their names to easily make contact with them!

    My experience was much the same as yours…it takes time to feel comfortable sharing with the world! But it sure is nice to have this medium to look back on and relive your experiences!

    Happy blogging!

    • You are so right Lisa….it really bothers me when someone doesn’t use a name or give a little tidbit about themselves. That doesn’t mean they have to use the real deal but something even a nickname and general info would be nice.
      Keep those travel posts coming!

  40. Glad to see you got back to the Desert Museum for the late bloomers with Nancy! Excellent tips on blogging. You’re making me feel guilty about my haphazard style. You’re posts are always engaging and it doesn’t hurt that your photography is wonderful!

    • Thank you Linda and you sure have no need to feel guilty. There’s no rules to this blogging thing. I’m just glad you blog which lead to us becoming friends 🙂

  41. Four years into my blog, I have learned a thing or two as well. Writing because i want to, is probably the biggest. I’m glad we met through the blog world, and hopefully we can meet for real again sometime in the future.

    • I too hope we meet again, but over drinks next time 😉 I can’t wait to see what new creative projects you guys come up with next. And wondering if you’ve found a new shop location yet.

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