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What My Wife Has Taught Me About Blogging After Just 3 Months

Next week marks the 3 month anniversary of Vanessa (my wife) starting her first blog at Style and Shenanigans.

It’s been a fascinating process to watch her plan, launch and grow her blog.

Some might imagine that being married to ‘the ProBlogger’ means she’s constantly being told what to do and being given secret tips and advice – however I’ve been remarkably restrained in my involvement and very impressed by what she’s intuitively built already.

While she’s not got a huge readership – it continues to grow and it has already opened up some pretty cool opportunities for her.

In fact having watched her over these last 3 months I have been somewhat inspired and learned a lot and in this post want to share some of the things I think she’s done well that have helped her to grow her blog’s traffic and profile already.

My hope is that in doing so it’ll help others at the beginning of their blogging journey to get their blogs rolling.

1. Focus Upon Community Management

Perhaps the #1 thing that I’ve been impressed with so far is Vanessa’s commitment to engaging with her readership.

This has shone through in a number of ways including:

  • writing in an engaging style – most of her posts end with a question that invites comment
  • every comment on the blog is responded to
  • every comment on her Facebook Page is responded to
  • every incoming Tweet to our Twitter account is responded to

This is partly just who Vanessa is (she’s very engaging and inclusive in real life) but was something that probably stretched her a little too. I remember in the early days when she would get comments from people she didn’t know for the first few times it was certainly a bizarre feeling for her to engage with them – but she’s fully into the swing of things now!

Interestingly she’s now well and truly passed the tipping point of having more ‘strangers’ reading her blog and following her on Facebook and Twitter than she has ‘real life’ friends.

2. Personal/Personality Driven Content

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 8.15.43 pmI wrote a few weeks ago about Vanessa’s first foray into including a few ‘selfies’ on the blog. These more personal ‘Everyday Style’ posts have continued and have been received well (they’ve been the most commented posts on the site). In fact her ‘Everyday Style’ series of posts have become something she’s become well known for of late.

Other experiments with a more personal style of content included a post about a dinner party we threw for a few friends and a couple of posts about a short trip we took.

And then there’s Facebook…. this for me has been one of the most fascinating parts of the journey because her blog Facebook Page has gone ‘off topic’ and into a more personal space than I would have predicted.

There are certainly the predictable updates that are links to new posts on the blog – but mixed in are plenty of slightly more personal updates. Photos from things she’s doing, questions, funny family moments, personal quick tips and random off topic humorous posts.

The result is that she’s got a page with pretty high engagement – in fact if I had the engagement she had on my pages relative to how many people were ‘liking’ my pages I’ve be over the moon!

3. Helpful Content

The other key thing that I think is going to work in Vanessa’s favour is that the bulk of her content on the blog is ‘helpful’ and solves problems for readers.

V is what Malcom Gladwell would describe a ‘Maven’. She is a gatherer of information, a watcher of trends and LOVES sharing what she finds. She’s been doing this on the topic of style in her friendship circles since before I met her and her blog is an extension of that.

The bulk of her content reflects that and is basically her curated collections of different themes of fashion and home wares.

Her typical posts feature a collection of suggested products on a colour style or brand theme and the comments I see on them are often people saying thanks for the suggestions.

Update: She’s also experimented with seasonal posts – for example Kris Kringle Ideas for Christmas.

Also of interest to me is that I’m starting to see readers leave messages asking for advice on particular areas based upon her posts.

4. Understanding the Audience

Her 7am post - got decent engagement.

Her 7am post – got decent engagement.

This morning Vanessa was posting an update to Facebook at 7am and I suggested that it might be a bit too early in the morning for her readers to be checking Facebook.

She responded that it was one of her best times of day and that when she posted that early she often got a lot of responses by 8am as people checked their phones over breakfast.

I had my doubts but as I ate my porridge I watched the comments come in on Facebook and the blog and realised she had her finger on the rhythms of her readership perfectly.

Also of interest is that she’s already noticed that some days of the week seem to get more comments on posts than others and that certain types of Facebook updates at certain times of the day get more interaction.

This is golden information!

5. Getting OFF her Blog

I’m always talking here on ProBlogger about how important it is to ‘get off your blog’ if you want to grow traffic and to monetise your blog.

Vanessa has intuitively started to do this without much prompting at all.

It is a challenge – she’s a busy person with 3 active boys (two home during the day), working a day a week, involved in a variety of community activities etc – but she’s going beyond just writing content and responding to comments.

This has happened in a variety of ways including:

  • when she’s mentioned brands or other sites in her posts she lets them know (this has already led to one brand suggesting that they might like to work with her and others linking up to her blog!)
  • reading and engaging on other relevant sites/Facebook pages
  • involvement in a small Facebook group for other bloggers in her niche
  • responding to opportunities that other bloggers and media have already offered her to guest post on them

By no means is it easy to get everything done (and there will always be more that you can do) but I’m always amazed at what happens when you push open doors and get active about engaging off your blog with others.

The key lesson here is to not just build a great blog and expect good things to happen to you. You need to take some initiative and get off your blog to see those good things come into being!

6. Involving Others

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 8.22.52 pmIt was several years after I started blogging that I even considered the possibility of other people writing content on my blogs. That’s not the case for Vanessa.

Just 3 months in she’s already had two guest posts. Both have been submitted by the one person – a good family friend – but both posts have added something to the blog that V couldn’t have written herself.

The key is that she’s found someone who writes in a similar voice and that the posts have complemented existing content on the blog (for example this post from Mandy on toys for Girls was a follow up to one V wrote on toys for boys).

7. Visuals and Creating Content for Social

CR-CollageA couple of weeks ago I shared some great image creation tools that I use to create visual content for my blogs. Vanessa is also a convert to PicMonkey and Canva and a regular feature of her posts are collages of the products that she’s talking about.

I suspect that the visual element of her blogging will only evolve in time but these simple collages have been really popular with readers and I think are a big part of the reason that her Facebook Page has had great engagement.

Visual content is gold – particularly on social!!!

Lots More to Learn

By no means am I suggesting that Vanessa has arrived or is a poster child of blogging. She has a lot more to learn (as do I). I just have loved watching her growth and development in these early months.

What did you learn about blogging in the first few months that has stuck with you ever since?

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Drew says:

    I’ve been trying to “get off my blog” more recently and its been a weaning process. A content schedule has helped me a lot since it keeps priorities in line while a the same time forcing me to go get off my blog and find new inputs from others for content. Thanks for the post!

  2. Nikhil says:

    Hi Darren,

    Great post I enjoy this post reading. There are lost of new new thing you describe in this post. thank you for this awesome post with a great things to learn.

    Nikhil :)

  3. Vukasin says:

    I’m really glad to hear that Vanessa is rocking the blogging world. If she blog become only 1% good as yours Darren, she will have something amazing. I’m sure that there are plenty of things that you can teach her when it comes to blogging, right?

  4. Jessica says:

    I’m a sucker for well-written blogs by other moms (not mommy-blogs). I love the style element and love that her Facebook page has a lot of children’s books on it! A total book-mama here. Tell your wife she’s doing a great job! Keep at it!

  5. If V reads problogger.net since the very beginning, odds she will succeed are pretty high. According to this post, she definitely will.

    Also, this article sends me a message – there’s no success recipe. Everyone can be succesful in their own way. As I see, Mrs. Problogger does a lot of things differently that Mr. does.

    And one final note, It’s apparent she does that because of passion. And that’s a huge win.

  6. Tonya says:

    Haha! Now that you mention it I clicked through to this post around 7am as I checked my FB over breakfast – and I would also be one of V’s FB followers!

  7. Steve says:

    My wife has been blogging on WordPress and the fascinating thing I’ve noticed is the massive level of engagement women have on primarily Facebook. It is almost a micro-blog in itself. That social word of mouth seems to be like rocket-fuel among women. Good on them!

  8. It sure does sounds like a lot of blogging fun is happening in the Rowse household! I really like the fact that she responds to every comment, tweet and etc. I think we bloggers needs to focus on that and evolve to make that a part of blogging…. even if its just to thank a person for commenting on our articles. I know a lot of comment replies could become overwhelming though but not so much if we do it by habit! Great post :)

  9. Kamal G says:

    Wow,Really Awesome post,i think she is very quick learner Good Work Darren Rowse,Keep rocking thanks a lot for sharing.

  10. Mandy says:

    I am a huge fan of V’s blog, I have loved her flair for everything stylish for 20 years. I am also extremely thankful for the opportunity to have contributed to this blog. What an honour to be given the chance to write on someone else’s pride and joy. Thankyou to you both for your support and encouragement. And, yes I check FB every morning at 7am before/during and after morning shenanigans. V is right on the money!!!

    • Thanks Mandy. Didn’t expect to find you here! Thank you for your kind and generous words, I am feeling the love. Thank you for sharing your experience with me and the SnS community – we are all the happier for it and will approach future fundraising shoots with a more open mind in future!!

  11. Donna says:

    I have loved watching Vanessa’s blog and voice develop and it helps that I love the blog. I met her at Problogger and she is gorgeous! Good on you for being restrained….I think she is motivated enough for the both of you anyway! So cool she can experience your passion for it from the other side of the keyboard! Go Vanessa!

  12. Julian E W says:

    Looks like blogging runs in the family lol. I have learned a lot from this post. Awesome job

  13. Ravindra says:

    Nice to see that both husband n wife are into blogging.. u will have better understanding on what to do and what not to.. Yes… i agree with the time to post on social media.. that really matters.. Thanks for the tips ;)

  14. Adeel Qamar says:

    Really happy to see both husband and wife standing in the same cup. I was not aware of your wife’s blog but when i checked, it was really impressive. And the way you have explained her in this post is awesome. Learning much from you and your wife :)

  15. Mahesh Mohan says:

    The family that blogs together, stays together? ;)

  16. Jimmy says:

    Its really a nice post to go through…really inspired with the efforts shown by that lady and really impressed how both the people (Husband and Wife)…are making blogging as a part of their life….this is something very rare to be found and seen….so it was really motivating and appreciable one….

    Thanks for sharing..!!!!

  17. Alex says:

    Looks pretty good actually. I am glad she has quickly realized how her community works and it’s the best thing ever. Best of luck.

  18. Thank you Alex!

  19. Edson Hale says:

    Before visiting her blog I was expecting a glimpse of Darren there but I was much amazed to find it quite different from Problogger.net. Being its regular visitor for the last five years I never had a little doubt of your contribution in her blog’s design, appearance or layout. It means she is applying her own blogging skills to grow it and surely she will do as I got an impression by casting a cursory look at home page.
    During my initial days of blogging I was quite formal in writing a post and tried to put as much information as possible. That is why I remained a stranger for my readers for the subsequent two years. But now after facing lot of failures and bitter experiences I can develop good rapport with my readers in a month or two whenever I start a new blog. This is only because of several great blogs including this one which taught me everything regarding blogging. Best of wishes for your wife and a big thank you Darren.

  20. Scott Cofer says:

    Congrats to your wife, Darren! Nice blog … I like the clean, easy-to-read-and-explore design.

    Love point #3. With so many blogs focusing on “content marketing” and selling/monetizing it is refreshing to see that she is focusing on helping readers FIRST.

    Best Regards,
    Scott

  21. kathyj333 says:

    Most of the time I feel like I’m such a weak blogger. Right now I’m going through some major burnout.

  22. Ash says:

    I’m married to Probloggers sister, and this probably isn’t said enough at family gatherings, but I’m amazed at these guys and their passion for community and how that translates onto blogs! I surprise myself being engaged in SnS and the fact that I’m a 30 something father of 2 probably explains why I loved the toys posts, but have also enjoyed posts about holidays, and day to life that we can all relate to. As I said, this isn’t said enough, but I’m proud of you guys and what you achieve in your worlds! Well done!

  23. Raghav says:

    I totally agree with the point where you have to reach your audience on time, if they respond better at a particular time, then it is important to be there..

    Say thanks to her for these lovely tips…

  24. Jealous. I’ve been struggling with mine for almost a year trying to get more engagement from readers but thus far it’s nonexistent.

  25. James says:

    Hi Darren,

    This is a truly inspiring post for married couples to learn from. I’m particularly impressed with the public acknowledgement you gave to your wife.

    Now, the number one point you raised on she leaving room for comments and feedbacks from readers, I’m sure fired and propelled up the site. I have gained this information and would implement it also on my blog. My blog is almost 2 months old and still lagging behind.

    Thanks ‘ Darren the legend’ for sharing this helpful and inspiring post.

  26. Great job, Vanessa! I am near the end of my 2nd month of blogging, and the most valuable action that I have done (after creating great content, of course), is to engage in other blogging communities related to my own by posting worthwhile comments. I stumbled across a great blog not totally in my niche but related to it that has huge traffic. I genuinely love the blog, so I started adding my two cents to some of the new posts. My blog readership instantly increased, and the readers that come from that blog stay even longer on the site than my Facebook referrals. Of course, I’m on the search for more blogs like that!

  27. Mariusz says:

    I think Woman are better bloggers becuase they care much more about social media than a man. And nowadays, Social Media is very important to create succesfull blog and keep it alive.

  28. That Vanessa, she knows whats up!

  29. Hi Daren…thanks so much for the info and introducing me to your wife’s blog…have a question about her Facbook page about her blog…I’m trying to get going with my blog AGAIN!…is what she has considered a business page or is it personal…not sure how to sign up to promote what I am trying to do…she has it down to a science – the best I have yet to see…thanks so much for your help!

  30. Dani says:

    What I’ve learned from Blogging (similar to subheading 5. Get off your blog) is that it is not enough to write great content. You’ve got to put yourself out there,engage with readers, and build a community/following.

  31. Sonia says:

    Darren, it’s really wonderful to see how proud you are of Vanessa!
    I am a huge fan of Style and Shenanigans. It’s like catching up with a great girlfriend over coffee (or a champers!) and having a chat – we share ideas and stories, give each other tips and best of all, we have a laugh.
    Vanessa is also a wonderful supporter of my blog and I truly appreciate the friendship we’ve developed.

  32. Yassmina says:

    Great post Darren. I always learn something from you. What you have noticed in your wife’s way of blogging inspires metro get involved with my readers which I ashamed lay neglect. I know this would attract more interest in my content. Thanks

  33. Praveen says:

    Hi Darren,

    Its really impressive post which i never read and all the things you just explained are really smaller yet considerable. i would just like to thank you and madam.

  34. This is the era of customer satisfaction. If your readers are happy then obviously you get that loads of traffic.

  35. Many readers are reading this post is with a sort of “well, duhh, of course her blog is having such a successful launch with a nice high traffic site like pb sending thousands of visitors her way.” And, it’s true that everyone starting a new blog should look within their network to find people that are willing to support them in a similar way. But, what really carries the weight with this post is Vanessa’s eagerness to reply to these comments. It’s one of the great forgotten tactics of showing who you really are and your true interest in helping people. That is what will make her blog so much more successful than others in her niche. Keep up the good work! Also, I’ll just throw in that hubby/wife web teams are awesome! My wife and I have been exchanging support for more than 15 years online now. I encourage the teamwork approach for all married couples.

  36. John Taylor says:

    Well, The Second Point that you mentioned “Personal/Personality Driven Content” is so important, not just for Fashion and Lifestyle Blog like she has, but for all niche blogs. I mean, readers like to read posts written by people they know, instead random people. What I believe is; If Readers know blogger personally (Through Personal Pictures Posted, Family Pictures, Personal Social Media Link Added at bottom of post) they trust us more and feel more comfortable to interact with blogger.

    This one is a small point, but many professional bloggers miss this and just write generic content all the time with not letting people about their personal life.

  37. shai tzadik says:

    I loved it Darren,
    It looks like she’s really in to it, and she’s doing it just the best!
    i truly think women are better bloggers and that’s for sure.

  38. Jenny says:

    She’s learned more in 3 months than I have in 3 years. LOL love her blog!

  39. Drewry says:

    I never knew until now you were married and your wife started a blog. Also, I always tell people when creating content whether it be in the form of blog posts, articles, discussion forum threads or webpages, be yourself when you write. Don’t focus on keyword density or trying to rank for a specific search term or phrase in page 1 of Google. Allow people to see your writing as your genuine personality. It’s a good thing you said the same thing in this blog post, because he goes to show that being yourself in your writing, even if people at times may not understand you when reading your content, will see you are a genuine person. Well, I’m not going to write a book here, but I’m glad to see you and your wife are blogging. Bloggers and Internet marketers are silent rockstars, because were just as big as US politicians. :-)

  40. John Zee says:

    Great tip ,,,Understanding audience is the difficult thing for new blogger … Like casual visitors .
    Overall all the tips are helpful , I wish i could have a wife :)

  41. Hi Darren,

    The community management tips you described at the beginning impressed me the most. Asking questions to readers is a great tip and easy to do. But responding to each comment on blog, Facebook and Twitter takes much time and effort. I appreciate your wife for doing that.

  42. Manish says:

    totally agreed with you

  43. Yassin says:

    I wanna stress a thing, you don’t have to please everyone. it’s your blog after all. make something you’re really passionate about, right with style ad people will follow you.if you want people to worship your content then write life changing material.

  44. Lee Belcher says:

    Engaging in social media activity is for me the most important part of building a successful website/brand. Too many people these days concentrate far too much on useless numbers than actually building a community. Gaining people’s trust and customer relationship is what will separate you from the competition in this day and age.

  45. I just loved this article. You are really blessed man to have such an intuitive wife. Stay happy. :)
    Real problem for me is to “Get ON the blog” i.e. I write once a week ( especially on weekends ) and the rest of the time I am doing other stuff.
    So, can you suggest me ways to actually get on my blog? !!!

  46. Annie Craven says:

    Thanks for sharing these great tips! It’s great that you let her do her own thing and it looks like she is doing a great job! She is being herself and I think that is important, she is being real and people respond to that. Good for her to be able to respond to all comments, I will be really impressed once her followers grow if she can keep up.

  47. Denisa says:

    Hi there! Thanks for great article! I found my myself in writing my blog, but yes..actually, I was very lost in the first months and annoyed with coding, formating and so..

  48. Rick Barlow says:

    Well, this post has finally shaken me out of my rut and put me back on track to work on my blog. The past few months have been distracting, but Vanessa’s example is just what I have needed.

    Thanks.

  49. Congrats to your wife! Although, she does have unlimited access to one of the greatest blogging brains of all time. ;-)

  50. Karan Lugani says:

    Involving other is one of the essential point in blogging. Your wife has rightly pointed to it. She and you both are quite lucky. :)