It’s been one year since I launched my blog. My first blogiversary as some call it. In that year I learned A LOT. My brain hurt at a point. Almost everything I learned was about blogging. I also learned a lot about myself, my work ethic and what it takes to be a blogger. Today I’m not talking about the behind the scene stuff. I’ll save that doosy for another day.
This post is going to list the top ten things I learned my first year of blogging. I sat down and thoughtfully listed these out. Focusing on what my take away was from this past year. The learning curve was STEEP! I learned so much. It felt like all four years of high school smashed together. This could also be because I would read about 5-8 articles related to blogging every single day. I was a little intense about it.
Keep in mind this list is just what stood out to me. If I wrote down everything I learned I could fill a book or two. This list is really helpful for new bloggers starting out. This is what I wish I had known before I took the plunge. Okay I’m anxious to write out my list so here we go:
10 THINGS I LEARNED IN MY FIRST YEAR OF BLOGGING:
1. BE YOURSELF
This one seems obvious. I think we all start out being genuine. It’s when we start looking at people who are successful, we stray from our own path. We think, “Hey they are successful doing that, let me do that too.” This is good practice to some extent. You can be inspired by someone but you shouldn’t copy them. I found myself feeling like I needed to do things a certain way because bloggers I deemed more successful then myself were doing it. But what I learned is people are following me because of my unique voice and transparency.
How boring would it be if every blog was the same? We need diversity! Every voice and perspective is unique. I had to teach myself it was okay to be a peacock. Being different while still being myself is what I needed to find comfort in. It is actually very uncomfortable to be yourself online. It’s easier to just state facts without interjecting any of your personality or speaking style into it. Blogging needs personality otherwise it’s just words on a screen. Your blog needs you to be yourself, even if that means doing some discovery of who that is exactly.
2. BE CONSISTENT
In posting on your blog and social media you have to be consistent. I seriously thought i could post once a month and my blog would grow. Your blog readers need consistency. they want to know when to expect your next post. They also want to know what time. I didn’t do this. Creating a content calendar is what I did at first and then I had a baby and got off track. I felt so behind I put it off for a few months. Then finally I picked it up again.
Even though I had content on my blog, I only saw traffic spikes when I was promoting those posts. This “promoting” included sharing them on Facebook, Instagram and emailing my subscribers to let them know a new post was up. This obviously makes sense seeing your driving more traffic back. However I didn’t realize I should be scheduling a certain time and day to post on social media and sending out my newsletter. It wasn’t until I put myself in the shoes of my subscriber that I realized how flaky and unprofessional my inconsistency looked.
3. BE FRIENDLY
Blogging can be competitive, if you see it that way; I did. At first, I would see a blog and feel like I would never measure up. Or I would think “I could do better than that”. After reading a lot of blogs I fell in love with all the unique perspectives and voices. Everyone has something to contribute to the internet and the blogging community as a whole.
There is a phrase I love called “Community over Competition”. It’s about forming a community over competing with each other. So the biggest thing I learned was to be friendly. I was already friendly to those who I wanted to read my blog, but I needed to be comfortable making blogger friends and reaching out. I learned to LOVE encouraging other bloggers and women with small businesses.
Being friendly is the BEST ADVICE I wish someone had told me. Blogging alone is just that, LONELY. It is depressing and hard if your going at it alone with no one to talk to about SEO and Analytics. Even now I have a few people I can talk to, but I’m still searching for that best blogging friend. The type you talk bloggy to, and share accomplishments with, without being a tiny bit jealous. I’ll find her one day. I have actually made friends through Instagram. Real friends where we hang out and talk to each others face while our kids play. I never expected that but, it stemmed from being friendly and reaching out through DM’s.
4. YOUR EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS ARE GOLD
I focused on growing my social media followers and didn’t focus on capturing email subscribers. The truth is your email subscribers are the only people who have said ” I love you and want to hear from you again”. If your not growing your email list then your blog will be hard to monetize and grow. When I started focusing on capturing emails my list grew 90%! You know the song ” Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Well your social media followers are silver and your email subscribers are gold. If you think of it that way you’ll be set. This is the most important thing to grow for your first year of blogging.
5. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE
Being a slightly shy person I didn’t want to really put myself out there. “Wait then why did you start a blog Katherine?” Good question! I knew people would read it and see it but I thought it would grow quietly and I wouldn’t have to do much. That was the biggest lie I told myself. One of the things I did to step out of my comfort zone was applying to present a class at the 2017 Pinners Conference in Arizona. It would mean talking in front of 150-200 ladies and teaching them how to make a DIY sign.
When I applied for it, I was a mess of nerves. Not only was I scared of them approving my class, but I kinda hoped they wouldn’t out of sheer nervousness. So you can imagine my shock when I got an email a few days later saying they loved my idea and wanted me to present. After I heard that, I had more confidence and am looking forward to the event. But what if I had not reached out? Well I would be right where I am now, still wondering if I should of. As my mom used to say “Shoulda, woulda, coulda will only take you so far.”
6. BUILD YOUR WEBSITE, NOT SOCIAL MEDIA
I spend WAYYY too much time on social media. I started focusing on creating content for Instagram and Facebook and neglected my website. A BIG NO NO! When my blog started loosing page views I realized I hadn’t posted in weeks. My efforts and energy went into growing an account I didn’t even own. Yep you read that right, you don’t own your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter accounts. They can delete you at any time and your efforts will be lost. Your website is like your portfolio, it showcases what you can do. Think of it as your home base. Everything needs to be coming from it to social media. Share from it, and it will grow.
7. PEOPLE DON’T CARE ABOUT YOU
That sounds harsh, but they don’t. It’s because they don’t know you…yet. People don’t follow you because they just really love the things you talk about. They aren’t coming to your blog because they like your name and sidebar picture. Yes they could be there for a variety of reasons but the main one is because they want to solve a problem. They want value. What are you doing for them? For example in this post I am giving advice and insights I wish I had known when I started blogging. So think about what you are giving people. Because at the end of the day they follow and subscribe to you because of what you do for them. Not because of who you are.
8. YOU CAN MAKE MONEY ONLINE AS A BLOGGER
There’s so much information out there about making money online. It’s confusing and makes you ask ” Can I REALLY Make Money Blogging?”. I am here to say YES you can! Before I started blogging I made a business plan and laid out how I was going to make money. BUT then I didn’t implement them right away. Which was not so smart. I focused on getting traffic which is good but it didn’t help me pay the costs to maintain my website. Just recently I made my first buck through affiliate links. This coming year I plan to focus more on products and monetizing. Even though I didn’t make much, I believe you can make a lot your first year of blogging. At least enough to cover the costs of your hosting. You just have to work it.
9. BLOGGING IS TIME CONSUMING
Oh how I wish someone would have told me how much time it takes to do this! I have had 60+ hour weeks which I worked from home. While not taking care of my 3 toddler boys, I would be glued to my computer. It went a little something like this:
Breakfast. Bible Reading. Start Writing Post Draft. Change Diapers. Lunch. Research Post. Make Post Images. Naptime. Publish Post. Do Dishes. Clean House. Inhale Ice Cream. Kids Wake Up. Diapers. Share Post On Social. Make Dinner. Eat. Bedtime
That is more or less my everyday life. It is crazy! My time is so important to me. It is the one thing you cannot buy or get back. I wish someone had told me how much blogging would take away from my kids. If you think blogging will give you the freedom of more time, that is a big fat LIE!
10. BLOGGING IS ADDICTING
Now that I’ve just told you how blogging is a time suck, you’re probably asking “Why do you keep doing it? Why bother?” My only answer is, it is addicting. It’s exciting to put something out there and have people tell you it helped them. There are so many benefits to blogging that I love. My endorphin rise when I look at my analytic’s and I see thousands of people have read something I posted. It makes me feel like I make a difference somehow.
Yes It is a time suck but I have researched and found tools to help me cut the time I spend online. Scheduling my posts out through Buffer is a BIG time saver. I have also been working on setting a “end of work day” time. Where I stop and focus on just having fun with my kids. They are the real reason I started blogging in the first place.
Well there you have it. 10 things I learned in my first year of blogging. Thanks for reading, I hope it helped you.
If you have any questions for me or want to chat, leave a message in the comments below.