Happy Two Years to The Millennial Ma! We have completed 730 days around the sun, witnessed a leap year, and bagged a role in an apocalyptic movie called Coronaworld. Congratulations, TMM!
Honestly, though? I am secretly amazed to have hit the two-year milestone without giving up amidst the chaos of life. From penning thoughts about the transformational role as a new mom, to making video content for millions of viewers @Motherly, to sucking you guys into a doibora addiction and making you spend money on way too many books, it has been a remarkable journey of storytelling and community spirit through shared experiences and interests. I was lucky enough to work with both local and international brands, make friends out of followers, and despite the unsteady peaks and troughs, turn my blogging aspirations into a reality. I am grateful for the community I have built, for the people who have supported, encouraged and guided me, and for the invaluable lessons I learnt along the way.
TMM might be two years old but I have been dabbling in blogging since 2015. My first blog, www.lattesandtravels.com, was a mishmash of food, travel and personal anecdotes. Back then, I did not have a clear sense of direction and lacked consistency. In retrospect, I wasn’t disciplined enough. I struggled to keep Lattes and Travels alive, and eventually it became stagnant.
When I got pregnant with my son and started following mommy bloggers on Instagram, I found a renewed desire to blog. I brainstormed a name, got a logo designed on Fiver, bought a WordPress domain and opened an IG account. TMM was born in May 2018, a few weeks before Aryan.
For a saturated industry, blogging is still a curious, mysterious landscape. I see a lot of parallels between blogging and baking – at a glance, both look deceptively simple. Mix wet + dry ingredients and pop into oven/take a bunch of photos and post with some hashtags – kinda makes you think that anyone can do it. You don’t need specialised skills, nor is it rocket science. But therein lies the great mystery – not everyone can be a great baker or blogger.
I can’t tell you what ingredients + method goes into baking a successful blogger. Many established influencers have courses/ebooks claiming to do that. I myself am learning the ropes and trying to get better everyday. But as someone who has spent a significant amount of time trying to grow a blog, I have gained some valuable lessons. On my second anniversary, I thought of sharing them with my followers, especially those who may want to start a blog, or just want some insight into the ins and outs.
- Know your ‘Why’
Why do you want to blog? Is it to make money? To promote your business? To have a creative outlet? To voice your opinions? For activism? Knowing your why with honesty and clarity is the first step to the whole journey. Blogging requires a lot of patience and self-discipline, as with any job that has a freelance element to it. Knowing your why is a MUST to navigate this complex, oft-lonely space.
- Give it time
Let’s be real. If you open a blog today, chances of you hitting 10K in 30 days are slim. Building a blog takes time, and patience, and love. Be ready to invest for a good while before you see any return. Bear in mind that the world wide web is a very, very saturated space. Be willing to learn, grow, and improve your skill sets.
- Consistency. Consistency. Consistency.
I keep going on and on about this, but consistency is THE main formula for growing, and retaining, an engaged audience. That is not to say post crap and hope people like it. But if you don’t show up fairly regularly on your social media channels with quality content, the momentum can be very rapidly lost, undoing your hard work.
- Visuals matter.
Instagram is THE most visual social media platform out there. We gotta accept that, whether we like it or not. I know it can be very frustrating – trust me, I have been there myself. Maintaining a post aesthetic can be a pain in the backside. It stops you from posting some brilliant photos and can seriously curb your creativity. But the overall look and feel of the blog plays a huge role in convincing a visitor to follow you. A minimum semblance of feed consistency, even in the form of a fixed VSCO filter, can give them a reason to hit the Follow button.
- Don’t waste time complaining about things beyond your control.
I get it, the algorithm sucks. Shadow banning sucks. Poor reach sucks. But pay attention to WHY these things may be happening to you. Try workarounds. Be honest to yourself – is your content good enough? Can you make it better? Find ways to adapt and evolve. Remember that having this FREE platform to market your skills is a pretty cool thing. Don’t take it for granted.
- Plan your content. For most of the past two years, I was here, there and everywhere with my posts (and sometimes still am), but the minute I tried being more organised, it made a massive difference to the whole experience. It’s one thing to get fab ideas or to be a terrific writer, but another to channel them into concrete posts. I know, because that is the reason I failed with my first blog despite having a lot more free time. I simply wasn’t organised. So jot down ideas when they hit you, set deadlines for blog posts like monthly digests/newsletters that need to go out early ever month, get a planning app to improve your feed aesthetics. Pre-write captions and have some stocked up photos for days when you are uninspired (cannot recommend this enough). No matter how consistent we want to be – there will be days we wont be in control and this is when you need your organisational skills to bail you out.
- Numbers matter…
They do, lets not deny it. The maths and stats dont lie. Brands pay you according to your following, people are more likely to follow you if you look like a big influencer and for many, big numbers equate to credibility. More followers translate into more engagement which means more exposure/reach for your post.
- …but Numbers aren’t everything.
At the end of my first year, my following was > 2k. At the end of my two years, I am < 2k short of swipe up status. Its slow growth compared to some, massive growth compared to others. In all honesty, I am not too hung up on it. When you focus on creating for joy, have an engaged audience who care about your content, get approached by brands who recognise your value, not just your following count, numbers don’t matter so much. In fact, after realising how many bloggers have inflated following counts and ghost followers, I take them with a pinch of salt.
- Check yourself and your content.
Proofread your blog posts. Reread your caption. Think twice before sharing that on-the-fly moment on your stories – do you absolutely need to? Being mindful of your posts is a great habit to practice.
- Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Make that video you have been thinking about. Say yes to collabs that might be out of your niche but have the potential to expose you to a new audience. Doing the same, safe things might get you same levels of engagement but if you are looking to grow, you have to push the boundaries.
- Take breaks.
I will put up my hands and admit that this is easier said than done. In a bid to be consistent, I have typed words when my brain was beyond fatigued – and HATED the process. It didn’t feel right. Sometimes I have had to chase a deadline and I was just. so. uninspired. These days come to all of us. Recognise them, know they are a sign of fatigue, and step back. Take some time out to evaluate what’s working and what’s clearly not. Give yourself space to heal and come back when you feel better. Make use of work done in Point 6 to get through these bumps.
- Set boundaries and protect your mental health.
There is not enough talk in the blogging community on how much these numbers-engagement games can mess with your head. The influencer industry still remains shrouded in mystery and competition/negative energies can stand in the way of your growth, even demotivate you enough to want to quit. Putting yourself out there can make the most confident person feel vulnerable. Do what is necessary to protect yourself. Set boundaries and no-go topics. Say no to work that does not agree with your values and aspirations. Ignore people who step out of line to ask questions or make comments that are not worth your time. You have every right to protect your privacy. YES, EVEN WITH A PUBLIC ACCOUNT.
- Value your Blaudience.
I blog for myself but treat it as a two-way journey. While my goal is to create original, unique content, I do so with my followers in mind. Followers want to gain something by following you, and they are more likely to stick around for content that is useful or inspiring for them. Ask them from time to time what sort of content they expect to see and align them with your personal interests. Take the time to reply to DMs, comments and questions. Yes, its a hell lot of work, so do as much as your time allows (as a toddler mom, time is of the essence here!). In the race for new followers, don’t forget the blaudience who loved you from your OG days. Blogging is a lot about networking and community spirit so remember to appreciate those who take the time to write to you.
- Researching is just as important as creating content.
It’s taken me a while to accept that the time I spend brainstorming, researching ideas and reading up on blogs that inspire me are all part of the process. I don’t always have to be creating content to feel productive.
- Keep exploring new ways to grow.
There is so much to Instagram growth beyond asking for shout outs and setting up engagement pods (both of which I stay away from). Recently I am trying to dabble in Pinterest and grow an email list, both touted by successful bloggers as key strategies. I am passionate about organic growth and constantly think of ways to achieve that.
Finally, enjoy the process, and stay true to yourself. Create for YOURSELF, first and foremost. Don’t let the number of likes take over your creative joy. You dont need to be a world class writer, photographer or buy the expensive ‘it’ bag to be a successful blogger. You are your biggest asset. Remember that.
The Millennial Ma