The 5 Things I've Learned Since Starting a Blog

March 26, 2018


¡Hola! Today I thought I'd list out for you 5 things I've learned since starting this blog. The inspiration for this post comes from all of you! I get a lot of questions and requests for advice (even though I truly think I'm still just a rookie at this!) about blogging. We can definitely do a Q&A in the future if that is something you would like to see!

A little background on The Girl on an Island before we start: 
I started The Girl on an Island in 2016. I had just taken my USMLE Step 1 (the first of three medical licensing exams you need to pass to become a doctor in the US; more on the logistics of this and other exams at another time). Just so you get this gist of it, I had studied 18 hours daily for months to take an 8 hour exam that would test all my knowledge in basic sciences and set me up for future residency opportunities. After you take the test, you have to wait 3-4 weeks to know if you even passed it. THREE TO FOUR WEEKS! Three to four weeks of not knowing if you even passed, remembering all the questions you might have gotten wrong, killing yourself with the suspense! Am I being overdramatic? Maybe, but I was definitely going through a lot of anxiety. What did I do to get my mind off of it? I started this blog! 

It was the best decision I made. It kept my mind busy and I throughly enjoyed it. I had always wanted to start a blog, since my college days when I followed countless little blogs that are now huge influencers, and this was the perfect time to do so. The weeks went by and I got my score: PASS! I kept the blog going without real rhyme or reason, just because I loved it, until I had to take a 6 month hiatus to focus on surgery rotations. Medicine and surgery will always be my first priority. Now that I've graduated and have a little time to kill before residency, I've dedicated myself to growing my blog. It has definitely been a crash course and everything I've learned as been 100% self-taught. I'm slowly getting the hang of things even though I learn something new every single day.

Now, let me stop babbling and let you in on what I think are the top 5 things I've learned since day one.


Having a blog takes up A LOT more time than you would think. First of all there's the time it takes to set it up. You need to settle on a name, figure out your niche (very important! more in #5), set up your page/theme, set up all your social media, etc. Once you're all set up, there's the time it takes to prepare your posts. Some posts come easy to you, some posts take a little more time. Some days you're inspired and can even prepare posts in advance. Some days you have no idea what to write about. A post like this one could take me a couple of hours but a fashion post where I'm sharing my street style takes much more planning. I need to take photos during the weekend when (and if) my husband/photographer is available, then I need to edit images, choose the best ones (the hardest part because I always love too many!), find links to the clothes I'm wearing, and finally, write a short post too! I recommend you try to prepare all your posts in advance and schedule them to publish automatically (key word: try!). Start off with one post per week then more if time allows. Don't sacrifice quality for quantity.

Then there's the time spent sharing it! Posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. takes time. There are sites that you can use to schedule these in advance also but they charge you and since I don't use them I can't recommend any for you (sorry!). Keeping up your social media presence takes time but this is where you can engage with your readers the most (more in #4). We all know the struggle of aiming for a perfect Instagram feed! Try to not hold yourself to some image of perfection. If you're like me and doing this in your free time, don't compare yourself with people who's sole job is having the perfect Instagram feed.

Finally there's the time needed to be patient. You don't start a blog and suddenly have thousands of views and followers. When I started I would get roughly 35 views daily and I'm pretty sure they were all my mother. How did I grow my blog? Be keeping at it and sharing! Don't be afraid to share with your friends and family. Have them share it forward. Comment on your favorite bloggers posts and leave your own blog's link. Sooner or later, people will start to notice. The key is consistency.


Ok, so I know I just said that the key is consistency but... Let's talk about your life, not just blogging. If you're like me and this is more of a hobby because you have a serious, time-demanding job that actually pays the bills, this blog is should not be #1 on your priority list. Is it important? Of course it is! It makes you happy therefore, by all means give it all the time and love that you can. Just remember that there are other things in your life that come first. 

I'll use myself as an example. Soon after I started this blog I began 6 grueling months of surgery rotations. This was the most important thing in my life at the moment because I wanted to enter a surgery residency. I put the blog to one side and focused solely on kicking surgery butt! It was hard because of many reasons but it payed off! Now that I have time I'm working on the blog. As soon as I enter residency though, my posting schedule will have to accommodate that. Now, if you want to start this so that it becomes your full time job, I am not the best person to give you advice on that.

How do you accomplish a balance? Prepare list of possible blog posts, write them in advance, schedule them to publish automatically. Basically what I explained in #1. Be organized. If you work during the week, prepare your posts on the weekend. If you're still a student, your studies come first! I would prepare posts on weekends when I don't have to study intensely or on holidays. Find what works for you!


There is so much to learn! When I first started out I wasn't close to anyone who had a blog. I knew a couple of people but I didn't feel comfortable asking for advice. I'm a very "learn on my own" kind of person. Google and Pinterest are my best friends. I google everything from "how to grow your blog" to "how to host a giveaway". There are so many blogs out there with amazing creators that have written down everything for you step by step! Pinterest is also great for searching help on blog related issues. Just put whatever you need help on in the search bar (e.g. "how to start a blog") and boom! Thousands of images with direct links to step by step advice from fellow bloggers. There are also tons of free workshops, webinars, and newsletters from expert bloggers that you can take advantage of!

I started out by looking for posts on the blogs I already loved, trusted, and had inspired me. Look for blogs that are similar to your niche because all types of blogs (e.g. fashion, food, lifestyle, tech, etc.) may have different advice on the same matter. Keep a folder with the most valuable information that you may need to check back on in the future. If you share style on your blog, keep a board with your favorite type of street style photography so you can show your Instagram husband/boyfriend/friend/photographer what you're looking for. The important thing is that you keep learning and continue to research so that your blog grows. There is a huge learning curve to all of this so don't beat yourself up. You'll learn from your mistakes and your blog can only get better.


As mentioned in #1, having a social media presence is key for your blog to grow. I recommend having your personal account separate from your blog in platforms, such as Instagram for example. Use your social media to share new posts, behind the scenes snaps, amazing deals you just found, etc. If you've never been a fan of social media, tough luck! I would really recommend you need at least a Facebook and Instagram page so you can connect with your readers and get your posts out there.

ENGAGE with your readers. The whole point of this is to create a community. I love when I receive a DM on Instagram asking for advice on medicine, with a comment on my outfit, anything at all! Always respond! Like every comment! Not because you feel like you "have to" but because you want your reader to know you read their comment and create a bond with them. Whenever someone leaves a comment on my blog, I reply and make a point out of checking their blog out and leaving them a comment in their latest post. This is my way of saying "Thank you for stopping by my blog and being so kind enough to leave a comment! Let me be kind enough to return the favor!". This is also how I've found more amazing blogs to follow!


The most important thing I've learned is to stay true to myself. At the end of the day, this blog is for you. Its your escape, its your hobby, so it should be about what makes YOU happy. Obviously you would love to have readers that follow along with you but if you stick to being true to yourself that will happen naturally. Don't try to put out an image that is not you. That'll just take more time and effort to achieve and at the end of the day you won't be happy and your reader's will notice. 

If you take anything at all from this long-winded post, let it be this: Be genuine


There you have it! Are these fool-proof ways to become instantly famous? No. These are the top 5 tips that I can share with you that I know will at least make your blogging experience pleasurable both for you and your reader.


Do you have a blog? Leave your link below and I'll be sure to stop by and say hi!

Con amor,
María Eugenia



13 comments

  1. I definitely understand the struggle. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    http://www.cupofscarf.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi lovely! Thank you for commenting!
      I passed by your blog and read your latest post on Red and Denim! Found no comment section so here goes: I love this look! Especially the red with that wash of jean!
      x ME

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  2. I definitely love all your list esp be yourself.
    I believe readers are coming back to your blog because of this.

    Much Love, Jane | The Bandwagon Chic
    New Vlog Entry!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment!
      x ME

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  3. I can absolutely relate to what you said above. I'm rather new to blogging and between my full-time job and other obligations, it's difficult to find balance. Thank you for sharing your view on this topic.

    E // https://www.ohlalatkes.com

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    1. I'm so glad you found it interesting! I adore your blog and can really tell how much work your putting into it while really shinning through! Thank you for commenting!
      x ME

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  4. Me encanta todo!! se que me sera de demasiada ayuda con esta vuelta a mi blog.
    love,
    Valeria Cid (a poscidtive smile)

    http://www.aposcidtivesmile.com/2018/03/marzo-14-bday-post-ice-cream-museum.html

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Me alegra que lo encuentres useful! Exito con tu blog! Sabes que soy fan!
      x ME

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  5. Blogging definitely takes time and more than you realise at the time but its so addictive - probably because I enjoy it x

    franklyflawless.com

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    Replies
    1. I know, I am definitely addicted too!
      x ME

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  6. Loved this, it's so much more time consuming than people think it is, but also so enjoyable! I've just (properly) started mine, and it's so easy to get wrapped up with wanting to make everything perfect. Thanks for the helpful advice!

    https://phoebemw.squarespace.com

    P x

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    1. Having a little corner of the internet just for you, your style, your life, is just a piece of heaven! Good luck with your blog!
      x ME

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