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5 Lessons I Learned During the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

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I've taught scores of other soapmakers how to blog for their business, and Modern Soapmaking is hugely supported by my blogging efforts. It's always been an important part of my business, even before soapmaking became my entrepreneurial focus. Yet, I still learned some new tricks while participating in the Blog Your Brand 30 Day Blogging Challenge. Surprise!

 5 Lessons I Learned During the 30 Day Blogging Challenge

Lessons I Learned During the Blogging Challenge

Despite being a bit of a blogging nerd, I used the blogging challenge to test a couple theories and opinions, as well as brush up my blogging skills. (If you are interested in the cold hard data and statistics, I wrote about how the thirty day blogging challenge affected my website traffic yesterday.)

Today's post is all about what I personally learned, so let's dive in:

Lesson #1: Blog post images are still an unmastered science for me.

Awhile back, I started to use featured images on my blog posts that convey the title through text and held consistency for my brand image rather than standalone imagery with no text. As a general rule, it appeared to have a positive impact on click throughs and social sharing, as it was easy to tell what the content was about.

 A "no text" version of this blog post's featured image

However, I used this blogging challenge to do a little playing around, and found that some of my posts did better with standalone imagery - depending on the type of content. I don't like the missing branding opportunity and inconsistency of featured images with no text, but it made it easier to use Facebook advertising without worrying about the (lame) 20% rule for text on images for sponsored posts.

This is something that I will still be messing with as I move forward, especially with the upcoming rebrand of Modern Soapmaking.

Lesson #2: My email newsletter list is starting to rival Facebook... sometimes.

When I teach soapmakers marketing as a general topic, I usually advise that they should focus on various marketing platforms in this order: Your Website > Your Email Newsletter List > Your Blog > Your Social Media. 

With Modern Soapmaking, I tend to follow this priority, but sometimes, it ends up like this: Website > Blog > Social Media ≈ Newsletter. And when it comes to social media, Facebook is always my priority focus because that's where a lot of my audience lives. For a long time, Facebook was responsible for a majority of the traffic on new blog posts, and my email newsletter would trail behind... very far behind.

Throughout the blogging challenge, my email newsletter drove more traffic initially, but they didn't share posts very often with other people. (What's up with that, guys?!) In comparison, when a post hit my social media channels, it usually didn't drive as much traffic initially, but a larger ratio of readers shared the post.

However, unless a post was popular on social media in the first place, the traffic from my newsletter list kicked Facebook's butt (until search engine traffic started kicking in.It's an interesting shift to see!

Lesson #3: My content is hefty, and that's a-okay.

Depending on who you talk to, ideal blog post length varies, but I've always taught that quality and value override length when it comes to blogging. However, there's always that little voice in the back of your head that pops up with doubts.

My normal blog posts sit around 1200 to 1600 words, and news or update type posts tend to bring the whole average down to 1057 words a post. During the blogging challenge, this didn't change at all; my posts ranged in length from 800 words to 3,000 words. And I'm happy to report that length still doesn't show any correlation to how well-received a post is! Hurray!

I'm no longer going to worry about delivering shorter posts, out of concern for content to be shorter and easier to digest. Unless statistics in the future show me otherwise, word count is going straight out the window as a statistic I worry about.

Lesson #4: Perfection is not necessary, just click the Publish button already.

When I sit down to write a blog post, I tend to create an outline to cover a specific topic, and then write to fit the outline. Sometimes, this includes a little bit of research to see how I can deliver new content that isn't out there or put a new spin on topics that are covered often. No matter what though, I was spending anywhere from six to eight hours on a blog post, between writing and editing.

All that editing I was doing? It was overkill. I didn't have the option to spend so much time on writing blog posts during the blogging challenge when I needed to post daily. I had to force myself to stop being such a damn perfectionist and just click Publish! 

This didn't stop me from fixing grammatical errors I missed or adding other information into posts later, but it stopped me from sitting on content for so long. Say 'goodbye' to drafts sitting around on my harddrive for months before seeing the light of day!

Lesson #5: My content shift and focus is (generally) being welcomed.

When I first started Modern Soapmaking, I heavily focused on soapmaking content. It didn't take long for me to realize that I really didn't want to write "another" soapmaking blog. I started to mix in personal development and business focused posts among the soapmaking tutorials and such. As time has gone on, I've shifted more and more focus away from soapmaking specifically, and more towards helping soapmakers in business conquer personal and business challenges.

This year, I've been especially nervous about the reception of that focus shift, and the blogging challenge helped me test that. During the blogging challenge, I wrote more about my life as a mother and entrepreneur as well as touching more on my expertise with various parts of marketing. As a general rule, those posts were equally as well received and that's given me the confidence to continue moving forward with mixing it up.

What I Learned from My Readers During the Blogging Challenge

I asked my subscribers and followers to answer a short survey about their experience with my participation in the blogging challenge, and here's what I found:

Timing, Satisfaction With Frequency, Quality of Content

I suspected that daily content for Modern Soapmaking was going to be overwhelming for my audience, and for the most part, readers agree. My blog posts are much too long to be consumed daily, and that makes sense, because y'all have lives - am I right? Ha. Honestly, this is a relief as I couldn't possibly keep blogging daily without hiring an assistant to manage other facets of Modern Soapmaking.

While most readers didn't keep up with Modern Soapmaking's new content on a daily basis, they were happy to have plenty of content to dig into when they had time. As such, I will likely start blogging more frequently than I was before, but I will definitely not be blogging daily. (For now, anyways!)

I was worried that readers would feel there was a decline in my content's quality as I stopped spending so much time editing. However, that just wasn't the case! See Lesson #4 above!

 Top Ten Blog Posts from the Blogging Challenge, ranked by readers

Top Ten Favorite Posts From The Blogging Challenge, Ranked by Readers

  1. How to Know When You Are Ready to Start a Soap Company of Your Own
  2. The Struggle is Real: What to Do When You Don’t Feel Like Doing Anything
  3. Kenna’s Top Ten Essential Oils for Soapmaking + Starter Essential Oil Blends
  4. Calculating Your Essential Oil Usage Rate in Soapmaking (& Following IFRA Standards)
  5. 12 Tips to Help Spruce Up Your Website for the Holidays
  6. Controlling Trace in Cold Process Soapmaking (Without Letting it Control You!)
  7. Favorite Essential Oils for Beginners From Industry Leaders
  8. How to Extend the Shelf Life of Base Oils for Soapmaking
  9. Six Business Lessons My Six Year Old Helps Me Remember
  10. Why No One is Too Small to Follow the Labeling Rules & Cosmetics Regulations

Congratulations to my Blogging Challenge Partners!

As you know, this blogging challenge was hosted by Indie Business Network in the Blog Your Brand Facebook group, and I did not go at this alone! While I came across my own challenges with being sick through a good portion of the challenge and having major website issues, other bloggers pushed through holiday craft shows, personal emergencies, crazy weather, power outages, and so much more.

I'm sending lots of love and high fives to my fellow bloggers who participated in the last 30 days of blogging with me:

Tomorrow, I'm going to go enjoy a very relaxing blog-free day. Thanks to my fellow bloggers and y'all for following along, I have a lot of new ideas and content to work on. :) If you have any topic requests, feel free to pipe up in the comments below!

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