Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Aug 10, 2016

Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started Blogging

On August 11, 2016, my little pink blog will celebrate its 4th year! Yey! ** confetti *** Hahah! Before the celebration, let me tell you a little secret. 

I started Lady and her Sweet Escapes wrongly. And it was not a walk in the park in the last four years! Yes, blogging is not that easy!

To celebrate the journey, let me share something precious - some lessons that I think can help those who are planning to start their own blogs. Because for a blog to grow, there are several important things to keep in mind.

Things I wish I knew before I started Blogging

Here are the things I wish I knew before I started blogging.    

I have to OWN my blog.

I spontaneously created Lady and her Sweet Escapes an hour past midnight on August 11, 2012. My husband who is an IT Engineer had no idea about my plan on jumping into the blogging bandwagon. He only came to know about it the morning after.

The first thing he told me was "We must purchase your domain!" Next? "It should be in a self-hosted platform." I had no idea what he was talking about. I shrugged off the thought of spending money because my interest in blogging might only last for a month! But, he insisted! So, he purchased the domain before I even realized how important it is to have total OWNERSHIP of my personal blog.

He said, "If you want to take blogging seriously; have it as a career or earn money from it, then you should have full control over your website. Having your own domain will also make it look more credible, but of course you have to pair it with great content."

So, became my very own domain on my first week of blogging. It is still powered by Blogger, not self-hosted because I'm stubborn. Hahah! I mean, because I got used to the platform and I don't want to complicate things since I'm always blogging on a rush (I have a full-time job which I love so much, by the way). But maybe, one day, before the blog turns 5 or 10, it will be proudly self-hosted.

Quality over quantity!

On my first year of blogging, I was too excited to publish a new post every other day that I never really paid attention to the content. I flooded it with photos and blah blahs. Mundane, I must say!

But the thing is, there is a huge room for growth in the blogosphere. I learned that blogging is not just about typing words and posting pictures thrice a week. It's all about publishing articles of good quality that can help, inspire, or simply put a smile on a reader's face.

There is a thing called SEO.

There are so many things to be done behind a blog post and it's all because of that thing called SEO or Search Engine Optimization! Basically, a good SEO makes the blog more visible in search engines. It's the technical side of blogging; hence to save me from all the confusion, my IT Engineer husband gladly took the responsibility away from me.

As of this writing, I still couldn't fully understand how SEO works. All I know is that a blog post should have keywords or search terms, image alt titles in photos and a good permalink. SEO is such a complex topic, so Ed still takes care of the rest of the technical things.

A photo posted by Lady Anne B. Abit (@ladyandhersweetescapes) on

I have to spend money.

A month after my 2nd Blogversary, I said goodbye to the free Blogger Template and invested in a custom-made theme. It made the blog look more professional, and importantly, user-friendly for those who are browsing in mobile phones. 

I had to shell out money for the pretty header that was designed especially for me, for the menu styling and the overall lay-out. It's a good amount that can actually feed me for a week or two, so I had second thoughts. But upon seeing the outcome; how the blog finally mirrored my thoughts and my personality and how it became so easy to navigate for the readers, I have to say, the money was put to good use.  

A photo posted by Lady Anne B. Abit (@ladyandhersweetescapes) on

I have to choose a blogging niche.

This blog was a big bowl of halo-halo two years ago! I wrote about almost everything under the sun until I learned about niche blogging. Having a niche or concentrating on a certain topic is good for the SEO. It attracts more traffic which can eventually increase readership! 

Ed and I are passionate about food and travel; hence the blog is now aptly focused on our "sweet escapes". The best thing about niche blogging is that words can just come out naturally because I'm talking about topics that I really love.

There's no such thing as perk or freebie!

I started to receive invitations to events and tastings six months after the blog was launched. I was totally overwhelmed with the unexpected "perks" that this blogging stint has brought me. Months later, the saying that goes "There's no such thing as free lunch." hit me. And that is the truth in blogging! 

I do get a meal (or just a cup of ice cream) without spending a Dirham, but I won't consider it as free. If I'm in my blogging mojo, I usually spend a little more than three hours in creating a blog post. That includes editing photos, writing an article and tweaking it for SEO purposes. I believe that the time I spent before I hit the publish button is equal or more than the cost of the meal I didn't pay for! 

With that finally sinking in, I began to be "choosy". I usually ask myself these questions before I accept any invitation: 

1. Is it something I wanted to try with or without the invitation?
2. Is it interesting for my readers? 
3. Is it worth my time?

Trust matters!

Trust is something I would never ever trade with anything in this world! I used to accept sponsored posts with external links because I have an annual bill to pay for this blog. But then, guest posts about far away places I haven't been to made my readers quite confused. I couldn't blame them because although those posts are fully disclosed, this is a personal blog with my name on it after all.  
Signing up in a free blog platform is easy peasy, but having a blog with a significant number of readers is quite hard to attain. I don't have millions, but I highly appreciate every page view, comment, direct message and like on social media. And I can only repay that trust with unswayed reviews and blog posts which are truly my own.

Time is essential.

Blogging is fun. It is actually my stress reliever. But there were few occasions when blogging got pretty ugly. It happened when I had to deal with time and pressure! As you all know, aside from maintaining this blog, I work full-time in the healthcare industry. And then of course, I have a personal life to take care of. 

Blogging requires time... lots of it if you want your blog to grow! Thus, having a schedule and sticking to it is important. I usually publish two articles per week; hence per weekday I spend 2 hours for the blog, 8 hours at work, 8 hours of sleep and 6 hours for personal stuff. Weekend is "no blog day", unless there's something I'm too excited to share.

I can't please everyone.

I know for a fact that getting a thumbs up from everybody is impossible. That's how life is naturally. But I wouldn't deny that criticisms can definitely sting like a bee. I have received a fair share of both harsh words and constructive comments. Some made me cry, a few gave me sleepless nights.

Now on my 4th year, I can say that I have grown as a blogger. I am more open to criticisms, but I wouldn't waste my time living up to other people's standards. I will simply continue to put my best foot forward no matter what.

Building relationships online / offline is important.

I am a relatively shy person. I don't really speak much to people I haven't met or just met. When I started blogging, my husband told me that I need to interact with readers and with fellow bloggers. If I want to become a better blogger, I have to come out of my shell! 

I joined several blogging communities, mingled with some UAE bloggers in events, met and became REAL friends with Filipino bloggers based in Dubai. It feels good to have a support group in this blog world and to speak to like-minded people when things get crazy.

I have already met a few readers in planned meet ups and in unexpected places. I have to admit, until now, I'm still not used on receiving random hellos in public areas. Please forgive me in case I have given you a stunned look or I got tongue-tied. I may not be able to personally say how thankful I am, but from the bottom of my heart, I am super super grateful.  

A photo posted by Lady Anne B. Abit (@ladyandhersweetescapes) on

So, those are the things I learned as the years went by and I know that there's so much more to discover. My blog's growth doesn't end here. I want to hone my writing skill, take better photos and videos, and try vlogging. The latter takes a lot of courage, so I think I'll start on Instagram Stories until I get the hang of speaking in front of the camera. :)

Whew! This is quite a rambling blog post, but thank you for reading! 

And yes, cheers to 4 years! Woohoo!    

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