with Courtney Slazinik
11 Lessons Learned in My 1st Year of Blogging

I know this is a photography tip blog and not a blogging tip blog but you know how much I like to share lessons learned. I wanted to share with you guys what I’ve learned in my first year of blogging.

1. That I actually love to learn about blogging almost as much as I do about photography. This surprised me!

2. A great plug-in can save me a ton of time. Some of my favorite plug-ins are:
What would Seth Godin Do – puts the box at the top of the post for new readers
Avatars-I love seeing your pretty faces when you leave comments
CommentLuv-I really like seeing the title of your latest post so I can check them out
Comment Reply Notification-I realize not everyone comes back to check my response to their comment so this is a great way to email back my reply
LinkWithin-Shows other posts you may like at the bottom of the post

3. Having a blog calendar is a life saver. If you are like me you come up with your best ideas in the shower. I have actually written ideas on my mirror with a dry erase marker. I have a monthly calendar that I write all my posts on.

4. Try to stay at least a week ahead. Since I have about a month’s worth of posts done at a time, I have no excuse not to write at least a week of them ahead of time. This helps me when I don’t feel like writing or am crunched on time.

5. Schedule my posts. It is fantastic to not have to worry about hitting publish and my post is just posted automatically at a certain time.

6. My mom is my spelling police. If I’ve been really distracted or lazy when I was writing then I have a ton of spelling mistakes. I’m also the worst speller in the world so I appreciate the morning emails from my mom with just misspelled words in it. Thanks Mom!!

7. I finally know the difference between than and then. Don’t read too many of my early posts. I think my mom wrote me every day with just the word “than” in the email. She would call on the phone and just say “than, than, than”. Then again, I got a phone call this morning informing me of a “than” mistake. Maybe next year I’ll know the difference.

8. It’s okay to not answer emails on the weekend. I used to make myself available 100% of the time. However, I’m slowly learning that as much time as I put into this blog I need to allow myself some time off on the weekends. In fact, I’m thinking of giving myself some “office hours” so I’m not working on things as much in the evening.

9. I don’t have to reply to every comment and visit every blog that visits. When I first started I felt the need to comment on everyone’s blog who visited me and reply to every.single.comment I received. I started to get so overwhelmed with it all so I gave myself permission to not put that kind of pressure on myself.

10. That you guys are truly amazing readers. I would never have imagined that so many of you would be sharing my blog with your friends and readers. I have not done any advertising for this blog it has all been word of mouth. THANK YOU!! You make all the hours and work I put into this blog totally worth it!!

11. I get more out of this blog than you do. Seriously, I love teaching so much! I do miss being in the classroom some days but I wouldn’t trade staying at home with my girls for the world. This blog allows me to teach and feel like something other than my kids “mom”.

  • September 13, 2011 at 10:13 AM

    I need to set up the auto comment reply thingy. I haven’t done that yet and it would be a great way to free up some time!! Great tips!

  • September 13, 2011 at 10:15 AM

    I’ve been blogging for three years now. I don’t schedule my blogs, but I TRY to do one every day. I’m thinking about taking weekends off, too, however.

  • September 13, 2011 at 10:29 AM

    Awesome post! I love your site ..I was happy when I stumbled across it :) Congrats on being a year old, Click it up a Notch!

  • September 13, 2011 at 11:29 AM

    You are so organized! You go girl!

  • September 13, 2011 at 1:02 PM

    I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is what you said about replying to comments. It’s so hard not to feel the NEED to visit each and every person that comments and reply to each and every comment that you receive. It’s hard to take that kind of pressure off, but it’s so important! And I love your tutorials! Congrats on your first year!

  • September 13, 2011 at 2:20 PM

    I love learning from you! Your tips and information are wonderful. Your blog definitely makes me smarter :)! Thank you for sharing.

  • September 13, 2011 at 10:41 PM


    Thank you for this post! Even though it is not strictly about photography, I learned several things! Love it. I would love to hear more of your blogging tips every once in a while!

    Congratulations on your first year!

  • September 14, 2011 at 6:23 AM

    Courtney, you’ve taken this blog such a long way in one year! It’s awesome that you’re enjoying the actual blogging aspect of blogging (something I haven’t gotten in to yet). It is also great that you feel you get even more out of writing this blog than anyone else gets, because we get so much from all that you write!

  • September 14, 2011 at 8:21 AM

    These are great tips! I am jut getting into scheduling posts and it is a great time saver! I need to look into some of the plug ins, but suspect I will be limited until I self-host…which I haven’t done because I’m not sure what it all entails.

  • September 14, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    You have had an amazing first year! It has been awesome to watch as CIUAN has grown and changed. I’m excited to keep following along :)

  • September 15, 2011 at 9:02 AM

    I do many of these things and totally agree that keeping a blogging schedule is GREAT!!!

    My husband and mom are my grammer police. Sam laughed pretty hard when I read him #6 and #7. My mom has been trying to teach me when to use “I” and when to use “me” for years.

  • Wendy Ortiz
    March 9, 2012 at 6:49 AM

    Hi Courtney,
    I happen to stumble on your blog and I’m not even sure how. I love all the tips and tricks you have to offer. I currently am taking photography classes at home and blending it in with what I learn from you, it’s awesome. I was in the process of building a website and keep hearing about blogging. I was wondering what blog sites you recommend that are easy enough for someone with no experience, to start. I really want to get serious now with my photography, especially since I feel like I’ve lost my creativity. Thanks again for this awesome site.

    • Courtney
      March 12, 2012 at 7:55 PM

      I LOVE WordPress! I used to use Blogger when I had a personal blog. I switched to WordPress when I started this blog and find it so much easier to understand. Plus, they seem to have so many more option for your blog. It is free unless you decide to buy your own domain name and are self-hosted. That is what I did and am glad I did because there are a lot of plug-ins that are available to self-hosted wordpress sites. Buying your domain and getting it hosted does cost around $60-70 a year I think. I bought my domain through Godaddy.com and am hosted through Bluehost.com. You can also find a lot of free templates to use. There are a lot of fabulous ones out there for photographers like SLR Lounge. Hope that helps!!

  • September 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    I thought I was the only one on a lot of these. Good to know I’m in good company in my blogging routine. :) On my calendar I keep a list of what hops I want to participate in & what’s coming up on other’s blogs. Then I jot down what my post is on the other side of the date too so I can keep track. Everything from campaigns to other commitments & when payments are expected all go in my editorial calendar. I would be lost without it for sure.

    • Courtney
      October 2, 2012 at 11:25 PM

      Love the idea of keeping track of blog hops and all the other things that go into blogging! Glad to hear I’m not the only one as well :)

  • January 2, 2013 at 11:40 AM

    This is a truly outstanding post. The apps really got my attention. I assume you use WordPress? This would be the second time in two days that I’ve considered switching over to WordPress.
    Number 9 is the one that always gets me, as I really beat myself up with the guilt. I’ve been blogging since 2007, and I still can’t give myself a break with the guilt trip!
    You’ve got a new follower – If the rest of your blog is as good as this post, I’ll want to visit often. :-)

    • Courtney
      January 7, 2013 at 9:18 PM

      Yes, I use WordPress :) Welcome :) Thanks for the comment! And yes, we need to give ourselves a break and quit beating ourselves up over the little things!

  • March 28, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Super helpful. Thanks for the tips!

    • Courtney
      April 2, 2013 at 4:23 PM

      Glad you found it useful! Blogging can be so much fun :)

  • September 18, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    These posts could not be more timely! I’m just getting my website going and sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I’m doing it all wrong. I have high hopes but it definitely gets overwhelming at times. Thank you for the tips and advice – for blogging and photography! You’ve been helpful in both :) Oh, and I have to agree with you on the shower thing – I’ve decided I need to keep a notebook in there so I can scribble my ideas away as soon as I step out! ^.^

    • September 23, 2013 at 9:46 AM

      So happy to hear you found it useful! Congrats on your new site! And I think it was Skymall where I saw a notepad for the shower :) Maybe that is what we need ;)

  • Sue Akers
    May 3, 2014 at 9:07 PM

    I am starting a blog-website, (working on it now). You have been someone I really admire and ALWAYS make time to check out your FB and website. Not so good on google yet. But I was going to write you and just say thankyou for your blogs. Photography is my hobby that I LOVE, and I am going to start sharing that part of me more. I know its ok, not everybody is going LIKE it and that’s ok too. Thanx Courtney.

    • May 5, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Awww, thank you so much :) I appreciate your kind words. Have fun with your site and sharing your work :)

  • Brita Long
    July 28, 2015 at 12:34 PM

    Balance is so important. Just because I blog or use social media on the weekend does NOT mean I need to respond to everything. While I still try to reply to all comments, some fall through the cracks. Same with checking out other blogs. I have some return visitors whose blogs I try to check out 1-2 times a month, but overall, their blogs don’t interest me the way mine does them. That’s okay! I know I have a few blogs I love to read who only comment on mine maybe once a month.

    My blogiversary post goes up this Thursday. I’m including links to 7 posts on lessons from the first year of blogging, including yours. Thanks so much for sharing!

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