The 10 things I learnt in my first month as a blogger
Today marks 1 month of my new blog, which you’re reading this post on now. I have blogged before, however in terms of dedicating time to properly understanding how to write blogs people read, utilise platforms such as Pinterest and join communities with other bloggers, this is my first proper ‘blog’. I wrote this blog on the beach in Toulon in France so used this picture as I think it’s a motivating thought that blogging can lead you to being able to work anywhere.
It’s been a steep learning curve with a lot of work resulting in some success, but a constant reminder that there is more to be done to create a successful blog that people not only read one, but go back to reading (and these people not just being my family and friends!).
Starting a blog is quite daunting. I don’t mean just the initial barrier of ‘I’m going to to put myself out there and start a blog’ (see my post at the beginning of my blogging journey) but also the wide variety of skills you need, and are expected to have, to make your blog successful. There are plenty of resources from successful bloggers, mainly US based, teaching people how to blog, from the simple setting up hosting, to growing your traffic, to monetising your site.
The problem is, although all this information is hugely valuable it can be hugely overwhelming for a new blogger causing huge panic and ‘I can’t do this’ syndrome. This is definitely how I felt after I started researching ‘how to’ blogs having set up my blog, Instagram, Facebook page and Pinterest. It was certainly a baptism of fire, but a needed one as the slight overwhelm and pressure pushed me to work hard, to push myself through those starter days so that I can one day look back at all I’ve learnt. I’ve decided to do this post one month in, as I feel I can best empathise with those people at the beginning. So here are 10 of my top learnings from one month as a blogger, I hope these can be of value, however if they aren’t or I’m speaking in tongues (which so many bloggers do! I intend to upload a ‘blogger glossary’ in the next week) then please email me and I will do my best to detangle your brain.
1. Get Started
Something is better than nothing. New bloggers spend a lot of time planning, re planning, researching, researching some more before actually putting words on a page, uploading them, and sharing them for others to read, this is essentially all a blog is. My first learning is to get some content written and then start the whole setting up a blog, designing it, promoting it bit as once you start this bit you may actually forget you need content for your blog to be a blog.
2. Learn how to set up a site properly, or get someone to help you, or pay someone (but don’t pay much)
There are so many blogs in every niche imaginable so if you want your blog to stand out it needs to look good, having good branding and a good user experience. Find some blogs you like the look of and use them for inspiration in designing your site. Think about a colour palette, fonts, general wording in detail at the beginning because otherwise you’ll be starting in a mess. Website design at a basic level isn’t that tricky once you’ve got the hang of it. So spend time learning and practicing before you ‘go live’ to prevent you damaging the first impression your reader will have of you.
3. There is a lot of information out there and it can be overwhelming, try not to get overwhelmed
When I started by blog, I did just that, started my blog. I designed a site, created a logo, put content on it and that was it. I then started researching how to make a successful blog, how to gain traffic, how to use Pinterest effectively and was extremely overwhelmed by the huge amount of information there is out there and how much I need to learn to make my blog successful. I would say, find one blogger who blogs about blogging who you like, for me it is Eden Fried (and hopefully one day you’ll read my blogs!), and read all of the information on their site. One person won’t have everything but at least it means you’ll cover MOST of the bases you need to cover as a blogger. I like Eden as she is a fairly new blogger (couple of years) and writes about things she has recently learnt/done. Some very successful bloggers forget what it’s like at the beginning so they speak to their reader with a lot of assumed knowledge. So focus on one source of information rather then trying to read hundreds of articles which regularly overlap.
4. Set time aside in your week
Something like 97% of blogs fail, mostly because people start them and think it’s an easy way to make money and make a name for themselves online. In fact, it’s not easy at all, it’s requires a lot of hard work, a lot of time and a huge variety of skills. So prevent yourself from being one of those failed bloggers and officially set time aside in your week to blog. I have a small table in my One Note which sets up everything I need to do for the month to ensure I am achieving what I want to achieve, maybe try this, but be prepared that it is a lot of work, especially alongside a full time job.
5. Be organised
There is a lot to do, a lot to learn and a lot to read, you need to be super organised. This is organised with everything, from your to do list, to your blogs, to your research. I use OneNote at work and I love it so it was my natural go to. I really recommend using it to keep everything in one place. The app is also brilliant and enables you to have somewhere to dump ideas, thoughts, even write parts of blogs while on the move.
6. Don’t compare yourself to other bloggers
We all do our best not to compare ourselves to others in every aspect of our lives, and blogging is no different. It’s easy to fall into the trap of ‘oh that person is doing so much better than me, I feel rubbish and unmotivated’ try to resist this. Everyone is at different stages of their blogging journey and with hard work and dedication, you can get to where they are. Also, don’t forget, just as in most parts of life, people mostly only show the good stuff, not the failed posts, the late nights, the mean comments, so don’t get sucked in.
7. Have goals, list them, and work to achieve them
I think this is really important when you’re in the early stages because it keeps you motivated and keeps you working hard. I recommend setting realistic monthly goals which you can then (hopefully) achieve, and increase. This helps with point 6 because it keeps you grounded on your own success, not other peoples. I set my first month goals as:
- At least 15 blog posts (usually my goal will be 15 but as this is my first month I wanted to ensure I had a wide variety of posts) – achieved
- 1000 unique visitors – achieve 1012
- 2000 views – didn’t achieve 1735
- 30 Pinterest followers – achieved 33
- 1000 Instagram followers – didn’t achieve 835
In my opinion, it’s a good start, and my first months goals were quite high, but I’m choosing to see this is a good thing, rather than focusing on the areas where I didn’t achieve my goals.
8. Learn from mistakes/failures
It will happen that you’ll do something and it won’t work or won’t achieve the outcome you wanted. I’ve written blogs which I thought would be a huge hit and they weren’t popular at all, but have written others which I didn’t think would be popular and were really well received. Learn from the good times and the bad so you don’t repeat the failure. If you’ve tried a few times with a type of blog post and it isn’t popular, make a change, do some research and try again, blogging is a lot about trial and error. YouTube started as a dating site…
I’ve spent very little time in my life thinking about Pinterest until the last month, where I’ve thought of little else. Pinterest is THE blogger platform and something you need to learn early on. Pinterest is not a social media tool, it is in fact a very powerful search engine with over 100 million users. There are a variety of things to learn about Pinterest which aren’t, in my opinion, as intuitive as some other tools. I recommend making an account, converting it to a business account and then learning how to use Pinterest effectively. Until my post is up I recommend Eden’s post, here.
10. Learn by doing
As mentioned, there is a lot of information out there, but don’t just passively read it. Split your screen and try out what you’re reading. I also really recommend using YouTube tutorials to ‘do stuff’, particularly if it’s to do with WordPress Configuration or anything complicated, it make’s it so much easier having someone guide you through it. Remember, it’s really great to learn all this new skills as they can be applied outside of your own blog. You can maybe change your career and move into Social Media Management, or Virtual Assistance. Learn as much as you can building your own blog and then use this knowledge to help others.
My suggested focus for your first month (in order)
- Write five decent blogs, at least one in each section of your site, proof read them and make sure they’re good. If you don’t do this first it’s likely you’ll get over excited once your site is up and start promoting too quickly
- Spend time on the name, branding and design of your site. Look at other sites, find out what you like, what you want your site to say, talk to people
- Set up your blog social media, it may be Instagram and Facebook or neither and join Facebook Blogger Group, they’re a huge support for new bloggers
- Set up Pinterest and learn how to use it
- Spend your time reading, learning, planning blogs, but don’t just keep writing blogs, learn how to write good blogs and how to attract traffic
Thank you for reading this post, I plan to post along my blogging journey to support and motivate new bloggers. Please leave any questions in the comments below