The night of Sunday February 22nd, 2016, to be precise. I was sitting on my living room couch, smack in the middle of a two week holiday, questioning my decision to finally set up what has now become my personal blog, Inside Track Eventing. I had no idea how to design or build a website, how web hosting worked, or even what I was going to call my blog. All I knew was that I wanted to write, I wanted somewhere to document my journey into eventing, and I was tired of putting it off and making excuses.
It took me way longer than I care to admit to build the site, and there were times I wanted to throw my laptop out the window, but then I remembered that it was a company laptop, and I’d get in a lot of trouble if I threw it out the window, so I persevered.
One year and 41 blog posts later, here I am - blogging with a vengeance, and praying to all the gods that nothing ever goes seriously wrong with the website, as I will have zero clue how to fix it. My blog has reached almost 8,000 views, which may not seem like much - but for an amateur Irish rider who never even expected her blog to be read by anyone but her Mum (because she HAS to think I’m great) and maybe her boyfriend (apparently he has a choice), I still can’t quite believe how it’s grown. I’ve expanded my network to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and I even recently starting flexing my video-editing skills on YouTube. And people actually want to read my blog! I have FOLLOWERS, and SUBSCRIBERS. I even have wonderful communities like Haynet who let me ramble about my thoughts for their followers, too!
My blog has gained so much traction that I have now begun to work with companies who want to gain exposure for their products in Ireland - my two biggest supporters being HayLo Horse Feeder and Horse Health (LeMieux Products). As a firm over-analyser, and an impulsive shopper, I consider myself a most appropriate candidate to review and test products for these wonderful companies who make such amazing products that I NEED (*cough* want).
So, how did I get here? I’ve picked up some learnings in my first year of blogging, and I’d like to share them with you, in the hopes it will inspire anyone who wants to get blogging, to just do it!
1 Do it for you.
I never started this blog with any intention other than to document my journey into eventing. I had no aspirations regarding subscribers, views, or any form of commercial output. I just wanted to write, because I love writing, and because I’m exceptionally forgetful, I really wanted one place where I could keep track of everything I’ve achieved and learned. Don’t start a blog for the sole purpose of getting sponsorship - it should be a natural by-product of your efforts. And on the topic of doing things for you…
2. Stop caring about what other people think.
One thing I have learned, both from following blogs and writing my own, is that people read blogs because they inspire them - to improve, to do something different, to try. The most followed bloggers are honest, true to themselves, and share the whole journey - good, bad, and everything in between. Wouldn’t you get tired of reading a blog that just constantly talks about how great someone is doing and how many rosettes they are winning? Don’t you want to see how they got there, what challenges they had to overcome - or if they are great, what their tips for greatness are? If you choose to blog, you choose to share your journey with the internet - you will gain the right followers who identify with you if you are honest. Which brings me onto my next point...
3. Always be authentic.
I am a nervous rider who lacks belief in her abilities - but I’ve got a cracking sense of humour, and I absolutely adore my horse. I will always stand up for what I believe in, and I will never pretend to be someone I am not. All of my posts, both on social media and my blog, remain true to these values - I I am open about my nerves, I inject humour when I can, and my pony gets more praise than I do! I also give honest and fair reviews of every product I trial, regardless of whether I have bought them myself or been asked to review them by a company, and I will always be upfront with my readers when I am given a product to review. Transparency and authenticity are critical for me - I don’t have thousands of followers, but the ones I do have are loyal, and I want them to feel confident in buying something I have recommended.
4. Learning is a currency.
While I recommend writing for yourself, it’s likely you’ll gain followers as you blog more - and it’s important to ensure you write content that’s useful for your followers. Useful content usually has a learning, something that the reader can take away and apply (or buy!) for themselves. When writing your posts, ask yourself “am I just writing a report, or am I sharing what I learned?”. Keep things varied, with a mixture of posts across competition and lesson reports, product reviews, hints & tips articles, and even a few “just for fun” posts. And finally…
5. Keep going.
You will never get it right first time. Or second time, or… ever, really. You keep learning, trying new things, doing more of what works and (hopefully) less of what doesn’t work. Figure out when the best time to post on each social channel is. Know what posts get the best response. Take different types of pictures and edit videos in new ways. Keep pushing yourself to do more and write better.
The most important thing of all is that you enjoy yourself, and do it with passion! I love writing, I love sharing my journey on my blog, and if reading my post helps one person to give something a go, feel more confident, or find a product that helps their partnership with their horse, then my blog has been a success.
Until next time,
Please visit: http://www.insidetrackeventing.com/