It’s been four years! That’s a fairly long time in blogging terms, isn’t it? So, I thought I’d share five things that I’ve learned thanks to this very blog!
1.) Better Photography Skills
Go back and look over some of my earliest posts. (Go on, I dare you! 😉) I’m pretty amazed at how far my camera skills have developed in a relatively short space of time.
I know there’s still progress to be made (there always is in life!) but without blogging, I wouldn’t have learned how to manually control a DSLR. I wouldn’t even know what ISO, shutter speed and aperture really are.
I’ve had a DSLR since my late teens, but I only used it in Auto mode until I started blogging, because I found the prospect of manual controls so daunting.
Wanting to improve my blog photos forced me to seek out tutorials from other bloggers and YouTubers to help me understand how a camera actually works, and how to get the best results out of it.
It’s incredible how far your photography skills progress when you force yourself to take control!
2.) What The Hell SEO Actually Is…
Just in case you’re as clueless as I was when I began, it stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Basically, getting your website to come up highly in results on search engines like Google.
To be fair, I am still pretty clueless about SEO. I just do what my SEO optimisation plugin, Yoast, tells me to do.
Even in the age of social media traffic overtaking traffic from search engines, it’s still really important to optimise your posts for both mediums.
Sites like Google still bring a steady trickle of traffic to this blog on a daily basis, so I’ve realised the importance of making sure that posts on here, particularly evergreen ones (stuff that’s relevant for a long time) are SEO’d up to the eyeballs.
3.) Social Media-y Skills
Let’s not for a second imagine that I’m some kind of social media expert, but blogging has forced me to sharpen up my otherwise very blunt skills.
And while I still find it difficult to tread the line between ‘spammy’ and ‘not pushy enough’ when it comes to self-promotion, it’s the main way to get your blog posts read these days.
Before I started this blog, I had Twitter, which I barely used. I had a personal Facebook account, without any Pages. I had an Instagram account, which was private with a handful of followers. And that was it.
Having this blog means I use Instagram and Twitter more, and I’m on even more platforms, like Pinterest.
These days, I tend to use Instagram the most, which brings the majority of social media traffic to these parts. I also use Buffer to schedule my Twitter and Facebook posts, which is super helpful if you’re as terrible at social media as I am! (There are plenty of other options too, in the form of Hootsuite, Tweetdeck or SocialPilot.)
4.) How To Use Photoshop & Lightroom
(Without Resorting To Curling Up In The Foetal Position.)
Before this blog came along, I’d used Photoshop once. It was at school for my GCSE in Graphics and our teachers never actually bothered teaching us how to use it. Those who were skilled at graphics had the software at home already, and the rest of us were doomed to fail, so they didn’t think there was any point in bothering.
Photoshop seemed absolutely terrifying to fifteen year old me. And Lightroom? I’d never even heard of it!
I avoided both programmes like the plague for years because I’d assumed they were too confusing and intimidating for my little mind to handle.
When I started this blog, I initially used PicMonkey.com, but after finding a really old version of PS for free online and forcing myself to play around with it for ages, I slowly started to get to grips with it.
There were loads of helpful blog articles and tutorials online that have really helped me to hone my skills with both programmes, and now I actually enjoy editing pictures. (Who knew?!)
Three or so years on, and I’m editing all my pictures in Lightroom. Photoshop’s now reserved for designing bits and bobs, and for more major photo editing too.
So, if I can face PS and LR, so can anyone!
5.) How To Conquer WordPress
When I started in 2014, I was on Blogger. When you’re starting out as a blogger, especially back in the good old days, you were faced with two choices, really: Blogger or WordPress.
I opted for Blogger because I found it tons simpler.
I’d had short-lived and ill-fated blogs on both Blogger and WordPress.com but always found Blogger easier to use.
Last September, I tentatively made the leap to WordPress self-hosted, and I honestly haven’t looked back!
I’d never have dreamed, four years ago, that I’d have taken to blogging on WordPress so easily.
The advantage of WP is having more control. You get endless customisation options, plus there are heaps of plugins to help put your own mark on your blog.
Again, if I can handle WordPress, I’m sure absolutely anyone can!
Are you a blogger too? What skills have you picked up in your time?