Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Welcome to the World of Blogging

Many of you reading this will already be bloggers in some guise - you may not even realise you are!

Regular & long standing readers will know why I started my blog, but in a nutshell, it was to create a space to look back at competition reports to see our improvements as we progressed across the seasons & throughout the winter.


Team Tunnah Eventing launched on 9th October 2012. I had my digital marketing knowledge & experience in my back pocket, but really blogging back then was nowhere near as popular as it is today, especially in our equestrian niche. I've just taken a few minutes to read back through my first ever post - I thought I would be severely shocked & a tad embarrassed. I'm not at all.

My blog has always truly been in my own personality, my own style and about me & my horse. This is one thing that looking back, I'm quite proud that I have maintained throughout. My visitors like my posts & I've had good feedback on my style from industry experts.


One of my proudest moments was to win the Equine Blog Awards in 2016 & be awarded Equestrian Blogger of the Year.



My blog is a hobby but whether you have your own business from blogging, enjoy it as a hobby, or use the micro blogging environment of social media without a website, many equestrians use blogging in some form to report their experiences, look for recommendation and share their successes.

Over the last 12-18 months, I've had a number of people asking me about why I blog & what I've learnt doing it along the way. I also often get asked how easy it is to get started so this post is aimed at any budding bloggers out there... & my advice, JUST GIVE IT A GO!



Why do I blog?

Very simply, I still use it as a way to looking back at progress of our training and competitions, as well as using it as a way to reflect on our less than average performances!! People viewing my blog are able to see that your training curve is less than perfect - there are peaks & troughs along the way - & I hope that when someone is having a bad day, they can see others have them too.

I started blogging back in 2013.  I had recently returned to the saddle after a 17 year break and found writing everything down gave a fantastic timeline of our journey together - Gemma Hague (Going Dutch Dressage)

A passion for writing can be a key motivator when considering starting a blog with many bloggers fuelling their childhood enjoyments. Andrea Parker explained that her favourite subject at school was English and she really seized the chance to express herself in a creative way!

At the end of the day I write because I love it and I find it very cathartic, especially at the end of a competition day  - Reena Ellis (Journey of an Amateur Eventer
Today, I have broadened the topics that my blog covers, and frequently include posts about the everyday products that I use on the yard, as well as covering any equestrian events that we go to on foot.

In fact, my top three posts of all time are all within the new extensions of my content.

  1. A-Z of Everyday Equestrian
  2. Q&A with Tina Wallace
  3. Inspire with Yogi Breisner

Blogging doesn't need to be about making money, getting free products or have a resulting sponsorship for you to be successful. Personally, I enjoying speaking to brands, services, events and campaigners about what's top of their list to gain a better understanding of what's taking place across the equestrian world, building up relationships along the way.

So, how easy is it to get started?

Very!

You don't even need a website - Victoria Brant uses her Diary of a Whimpy Eventer Facebook page to update her fans & followers with all her news, using longer format posts, photos, videos & injecting a big sense of personality!!



Your starting point just needs to be to pick one particular area, as Roosa, from Roosa's Horsey Life, agrees: 

Choose the topic that is right for you - Riding? Equestrian style? Product reviews? Then pick a name that suits you and your blog 
Orla also agrees that there are three core things you should consider when taking your first step:

  • Where will it sit?
  • What should our first posts be about?
  • What is a good name to sum us up? 


This is one way to do it, but if you want a website too, Blogger.com or Wordpress.com both offer solutions using a subdomain option (e.g. http://teamtunnaheventing.blogspot.com). However, for a more professional feel, you can upgrade either to a self hosted option to give you your full domain (e.g. www.teamtunnaheventing.co.uk).

Sounds complicated? It really isn't, I upgraded in 2-3 easy steps, at a cost of about £20 a year. In fact, Ruby fell into blogging completely accidentally as part of a project for a university course & soon found herself compiling several posts every week!

Image credit: Jason Bax

Both Blogger & Wordpress offer easy-to-use interfaces so it is very straightforward to add your photos and videos, as well as typing reporting. Plus there is an abundance of templates available, so there's no need for your blog to look like everyone else's!

Along the way, Google also becomes your best friend - ask it any question about your blog, and you'll learn as you go along! Plus, there's now an Equestrian Bloggers community group on Facebook with lots of us there to help!

What do I like most about blogging?

Pretty much everything - from learning new tips and tricks to looking back & doing our monthly round-ups to set our goals for the next month.

Gemma Hague finds writing her content very therapeutic by getting everything that she has done, and has planed to do, written down (even if not all of it makes it to the live site!). 

There is a very strong and tight equestrian blogging community from across the world, most of who are happy to support other like minded bloggers. This is something that Roosa Rantanen loves about being a blogger, making many new friends from all over the world since beginning to blog. Roosa is from Finland & as I am based in the UK, this enjoyment is certainly ringing true for the two of us!!

Meeting people is definitely a motivator behind many equestrian bloggers, as Reena Ellis mentioned that she now has a few very good friends that she has solely met through her blogger activity.

Blogging keeps me busy and I like feeling like what I am doing matters. EquiPepper blog is dedicated to ex racehorses and changing the negative stigma around them. If I can change one persons opinion on them or improve how someone looks after and manages their horse, then it has been a success - Ruby Peppers (Equipepper)                   
Coming from a small town, Andrea Parker (The Sand Arena Ballerina) took a lot of support from the online community as well as being able to feel like she could really share those exciting time with others who would get excited with her!


Living in a small town where passionate riders (you know the ones who live and breathe horses) are few and far between, it's easy to feel alone, or at the very least not understood. My work hours also mean that I often come out much later than other riders, thereby missing those opportunities to connect. After an awesome ride I'll come home bursting with excitement only to give my ever patient partner a blow by blow of the ride. And while he is exceptionally supportive and try's his best to understand he doesn't fully 'get it' 

My biggest learning since starting to blog

I've learnt a lot along the way, but one thing that stands out is keeping up with current trends & the ability to test things that I can then take through into my day to day profession. I've learnt a number of different ways & new techniques that social media have evolved and enabled me to get my blog more noticed, pushing new people to it.

Orla from the No Bucking Way blog (I just LOVE that name - quite jealous I don't have it myself!) has had to learn to put herself out there & not worry about how she thought her blog would be perceived
The support we have received from friends, family and the equine blogging community has been great so far which has made us really excited about the future of the blog!

Top tip: you have connect with other bloggers and become engaged with the community. This applies not only to share your latest posts, but is needed to share ideas, hints and reach out to others for support. I was pleased to hear that Roosa also agreed with me!

Gemma summed this up nicely, identifying that her blog was slow, clunky and limited, and just overall needed a refresh! In the process, Gemma quickly learnt the importance to also understanding your blog

I love that I can analyse my visitors - from which country they are in, to what time people visit. I can also track my SEO results, which all very important for making and keeping your blog successful.

I recently wrote a post as part of my Blogger's Corner section, highlighting how easy and quick it is to get Google Analytics and Search Console set up to support you understand your site's visitors and where you can make improvements to your blog.

Post Contributors

Throughout this post we asked the same four questions to a few equestrian bloggers across the community, and have brought forward their response. It was quite refreshing that although we all have very similar responses, there is uniqueness to us all within our blogging experiences.

Gemma Hague - Going Dutch Dressage
Roosa Rantanen - Roosa's Horsey Life
Ruby Peppers - Equipepper
Andrea Parker - The Sand Arena Ballerina

Be sure to give their blogs a regular read - they all offer a unique story to their own equestrian activities!

Pin this post if you've found it useful to get going with a blog of your own!



4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I loved creating it and hearing everyone's replies! Thanks everyone for taking part!! 🙂

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  2. Loved this, will be sure to come back to it to improve my blog :)

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