For today’s WAHM blog hop “helpful tips” theme, I’m sharing a few of my best blogging secrets that have made my life easier over the last few years. Pretty Opinionated is turning 5 in January! Five years of ups and downs,  experimenting, growing and changing. The great thing about being a blogger: there’s always something new to learn. So these blogging secrets and helpful tips aren’t just for new bloggers, but for anyone who’s open to learning something different! I hope you find them useful!

My Best Blogging Secrets & Helpful Tips

# 1 Always be Yourself

I wrote quite a bit about this in my tips for selling yourself without selling your soul, but it bears repeating. Don’t try to be something you’re not, or you’ll stress like crazy. I am not a food blogger. I can make you easy recipes for people who can’t cook, but that’s about it. Same with crafts! I no longer spend hours trying to make something I know I can’t make. Instead, I write like me for people like me! Write from your soul and you’ll be just fine!

#2 Invest in Yourself

If you check out my post on financing your blog,  you’ll see a pretty decent list of what I pay for and what I do myself. The second you have the extra cash flow, start investing in your site. Don’t wait years like I did. Whether it’s a new camera with your tax return to take better pics or a great scheduling tool, make a list of things you want to get, then chip away at it when you have the $2.

#3 Think for Yourself

Don’t look to other bloggers to set the rules regarding how to write great content, what you should buy or shouldn’t (I jumped on a bandwagon to buy into a class and was so upset to find that it wasn’t even remotely what it I thought it should be based on the description or blogger chatter), how you should take pictures, what you should do with your graphics, design, etc. Sure, you can get advice and inspiration, but at the end of the day, you need to do your own research and decide if their way really works with your ideals or personality.

#4 Research on your own before you invest in classes (unless you have more money than time!)

Before you plunk down $50+ on a class, do a bit of research to see if the information is out there already. When it comes to knowledge, just about everything out there has been said by someone in a way that doesn’t cost a dime to access. None of us invented the wheel. Classes are good for beginners who don’t want to spend time researching, though, because it does save you the time of looking for the knowledge on your own. So I guess it depends on whether you have more time or more money to spend!

#5 Other bloggers are your peers, not your competition

Well, sometimes they’re your competition! Mostly, though, they’re people who are always in the same boat as you. They’re the ones who can tell you the ins and outs of pretty much any blogging tool you’re thinking of getting before you get it (but remember rule #3, you still have to do the rest of the research and decide if it’s worthwhile!). They get your love/hate relationship with Facebook and understand why you’re already baking holiday cookies in July. I’m not saying you have to be besties with every blogger in your niche, or read every one of their posts. Just, you know, interact. Be part of a community. Even if it’s with just a couple cool bloggers you click with!

#6 Accept that best laid plans don’t always work out

Last January, I spent 6 hours working on a 4-month editorial calendar. I was SO ahead of the game! Ideas galore! I wrote about four of those posts. Other things came up. Different ideas, different reviews, inspiration, obligations. It’s great to have a plan. It’s also important to be able to cope when that plan gets blown to pieces.

#7 Love what you do, but admit that sometimes you hate it

I LOVE my site. It’s my pride and joy (aside from my son, of course). I worked SUPER hard to make it what it is today. Some days, though, I hate it too. Like the days when I have a ton of deadlines looming and all I want to do is go plunk down on the couch in front of Netflix and binge on Vampire Diaries (which I JUST started, so I have a long way to go to catch up!).  It’s okay to not love what you do every single second of every single day. But really, you should love it most of the time, otherwise, why put your soul into something you barely tolerate?

#8 Don’t be afraid to change your mind

If you wake up one morning and decide you want to take your site in a totally different direction, go for it! Yes, it’s hard to transition an audience over to a new theme, but if you bring passion to the new idea, they’ll come.

#9  Big or small, new or old, you always have something to contribute and something to learn

Don’t think that just because you launched your blog this week, you don’t have anything valuable to add to the discussion. I made the mistake of thinking that I needed to be blogging for years before I earned the right to try to be helpful. I’m super shy, though! If you’ve been blogging for years, don’t think you know everything, either. I don’t care if you’re super successful and living in a mansion off your blogging income: the day you stop being able to learn from others is the day you start your decline into obscurity.

#10  Relax more!

Seriously, if it’s all work, no play, you’ll be crazy as a Stephen King character locked away in a secluded motel in the winter!

For more helpful tips posts, visit a few of my favorite bloggers:

Do you have any great blogging secrets? Tell me in the comments! I’m always open to learning more!