Welcome Back + What a Year Away From Blogging Taught Me

Wednesday, 26 October 2016
welcome back blogging

I can guarantee talking from one blogger to another, we have all experienced writers block, a lack of inspiration, and running out of post ideas (if you haven't, high 5, and please share your secrets with us all). I loved nothing more than staring at a white screen, only to realise an hour later I had only written a short paragraph which could have easily been mistaken as a child's first attempt at forming sentences. DELETE!!!! I got to the point where I wanted to do anything other than blog. I would read back the posts I had struggled ever so badly to write and just think "why"? It was getting really frustrating.

As you can tell from the date between this and the last post, I took a break.

I took an entire year... and a little more.

It would be ok though. I had a plan. I wanted to reinvent Little White Socks, start a fresh. You know when you wake up on a Monday morning and you become this 'new you'; a better version of yourself even though not much has actually changed but it's mentally stimulating so you just go along with it. I started sketching down ideas of how I wanted my "new" blog to look, and somehow out of nowhere, I magically thought up a lot of amazing post ideas that I couldn't think of a week before. Who said change doesn't work? I was all ready to go. See I told you I had a plan.

Ok, ok, we all know this isn't how it actually happened. I probably changed the launch date more times than I've read over this post. The point I'm trying to make is that it wasn't as fun as I imagined it to be. It was all so overwhelming.

The first thing I had to do was go right back to the beginning and do some research aimed at new bloggers. There are billions of posts written by other bloggers talking about how to set up a blog, SEO, design and photography. Just a lot of useful tips and advice. Even though there isn't a "wrong way of blogging", I don't think I was doing it completely right. That makes no sense, let me explain. I would write a post, publish it, and I would maybe share it on twitter twice. I never wrote a search description, or gave my images a title. I never knew a DA or PA existed, let alone know what it meant. Basically pre-break, I was blogging for fun, now I want to turn in into something more, but still keep it fun.

Have you heard that @helloaycan is finally back with her redesigned blog. Check it out! #bloggers

My next call of action was to redesign. You know when you wake up and you start getting bored of looking at the same thing every morning, so you just completely rearrange your room, that is exactly how I felt about the overall design. I redesigned the logo, added a lot more colour, and tried to make it as interactive and user friendly as possible. I've made it as "me" as much as a website can be, and I am so in love with it. It also gave me a great chance to learn and understand html and css.

I've got to be honest, during my break I spent a lot more of my time redesigning rather than thinking about the actual content. I did start to get a little worried I still wouldn't have anything to blog about. One of the tips that kept reoccurring during my research was finding a niche. This can be a bit of touchy subject. Some people are all for having a niche and aiming at a certain audience, while others love the freedom of being able to write about what they want to a wider range of readers. I wanted to try this, so I started brainstorming ideas of things I liked to do in my everyday life, and I could easily see a niche for my blog. This is the basis around my navigation titles and labels, and this made it a lot easier to think of topics to write about.

This was the stage when I knew I didn't want to stop blogging and got very excited about the future. And here I am now; redesigned, relaunched and ready to go.

Now I've learnt so much, it's time to pass on my wisdom.

SO WHAT DO YOU DO IF YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED A BREAK FROM BLOGGING?

The only answer I can give is DO IT. I'm sure you don't want to be writing a post that you aren't passionate about, and I'm certain nobody will enjoy reading it. You don't need to take a year away, it could be much shorter or even longer. Don't feel guilty about leaving your blog, we all need time away.

welcome back blogging

HERE ARE SOME OF MY TOP TIPS TO HELP DURING YOUR BLOGCATION:

FIND A NICHE/CHANGE YOUR BLOG DIRECTION

Grab a piece of paper and brainstorm things you like e.g. food, music, parenting, fitness, fashion. Narrow it down to a list of 5 topics you can blog about, and from this, branch out into a little more detail. Just say you are a parent who loves fitness, music, fashion and food, you could blog about how you dress to exercise, how you juggle a family and fitness, favourite recipes, or a workout playlist... you get the idea. You might just clean up the niche you already have, or might start a completely new one. Change is always a good thing, just let your readers know so they aren't confused about the sudden post change. Like I've said above, you don't need to base your blog around a niche, but it's a good starting point to understand who you are and what you want to blog about.

GATHER INSPIRATION

The most important thing is a notepad! We don't really need an excuse to go stationary shopping do we! Take down notes wherever you are. It might be a topic you've discussed with your friends or overheard on the train. An outfit you saw and wanted to copy, or that you didn't quite understand. A recipe from a restaurant you want to recreate, or even 10 reasons why you love the sun. Never limit yourself, or be too worried about what other people might think. We love controversy, personal posts, and most importantly, the truth.

FOCUS ON OTHER THINGS IN LIFE

Sometimes we get far too focused working on our blog that we forget life outside of blogging. This works alongside gathering inspiration; we just need to do other things to realise we have a lot to share.

REDESIGN YOUR BLOG

This is my favourite thing to do. Depending on your budget or experience with coding (you can learn the basics very easily), you can completely change the whole design, just your logo, or even the colour scheme and fonts. I found it easier to draw out how I want things to be and translate this into code. This also helped with continuity and aesthetics.

RESEARCH

Like I did when I first started my break, research all you can about blogging. There is so much more to blogging than I could have imagined, and now I feel ready and more knowledgeable. I kept a little journal with some of my favourite tips as a reference too!

READ

Read books.

Read magazines.

Read blogs.

I was never a big reader before I started my blog, but after I set myself a resolution to read more, I am so in love with books. Not only does it help with blogging topics, it improves your writing too... I hope.

WHAT DO I DO IF I REALLY DON'T FEEL LIKE BLOGGING AGAIN :(

You've tried and realised it wasn't for you. If you really feel like you want to stop blogging, don't feel bad. Don't feel like you are giving up. Don't feel like you are a quitter. Blogging is not easy, and sometimes, you just lose your passion. Here are some things to think about.

COLLABORATION

Maybe you have a friend who has always been interested in blogging, or maybe you know someone who would be great at it. Invite them in. Maybe you find blogging a little lonely and love working with someone. This should take some of the stress off you as you have somebody else to share the responsibilities with.

PASS IT ON

If you no longer want to blog nor share, try passing it onto somebody else. You can even advertise for guest bloggers and run the blog more behind the scenes. You may even get your love for blogging back.

LEAVE IT AS AN ARCHIVE

If you truly love your posts and think it will benefit others, don't delete your blog, leave it as an archive. This way your previous hard work can still be out there.

To summarise, blogging is not easy, blogging is not always fun, blogging isn't all photoshoots and free things, but when you find your passion, the good will out weigh the bad.

WOW! This post is a little lengthy. I think I've used my previous yearly word quota up on one post. I hope my OG readers are enjoying the new look and new style of posts, and welcome to the new readers, I hope you'll stick around. I have something else which is very exciting coming up in the next couple of months, which I know you'll want to be a part of, so make sure you're following to find out first. Let me know in the comments below if you've ever taken a break from blogging, or thought about it, and also your top tips to anyone who is struggling with their blog.

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