10 Things I’ve Learned After 1 Year Of Blogging
I have to admit that I am a little late on creating a post like this. I’ve actually been blogging for well over a year. However, recent bouts with writers block and being busy in general have prevented me from writing new material. I figure there’s no better way to get myself going again than to talk about what I’ve learned from being a blogger. 2018 was an especially eventful year for me. If I learned about something I found valuable, I tried it out. Some of those things were applied to my blog while others were applied to social media endeavors.
Develop A Blogging Network
This point is at the top of the list for a reason. Of all the things I did last year I found this to be the most important thing I learned. Without the support of my blogging network, this would be a very unfulfilling experience. Not only have I learned a lot about blogging and life through the connections/friendships I’ve made, I’ve also been able to create networking circle that has proven to invaluable. If there’s a topic I need help with, I can usually find somebody to bounce my ideas off of. They always say that networking means a lot when it comes to careers and business. It’s proven to be true within the blogging community as well.
So how would a blogger build up their network? Oddly enough, Twitter has proven to be an incredible place. When I started out, I simply used blogging related hashtags for every tweet I created. I also advertised the heck out of my latest posts. Over the course of time I found that I was making some good friends and had created a nice, unified community around me. As I got to know bloggers and learn about their blogs I also made sure to retweet their posts. Not only does it help your fellow blogger friends out, it also shows them that you care about their content. These, as well as many other actions go a long way in helping you to develop a strong network.
Create A Plan
This point could be viewed as an ambiguous one. However, creating a plan for your blog could mean something a little different for everybody. For example, my plan last year was to put an emphasis on teaching my readers about my life and my social media endeavors. Sure, I tackled some other topics too, but these were my main points of focus. I consider myself a lifestyle blogger, but I try to make sure I narrow down my focus a little bit.
I do most of my planning on the notes app on my phone. That seems to be the most comfortable option for me. For some, creating flowcharts and using other fancy options might be the way to go. The key is to atleast take a little time to think things over before proceeding to the next step(s). Think about what your niche is going to be. Create a plan for the layout of your site. Do research on how to setup a blog. Study other blogs in order to get ideas. The key is to do your homework and plan.
Take Time To Brainstorm
The fact that I’m writing this blog write now is because I brainstormed the idea. Some blog ideas come to me out of “thin air” but most of the material I’ve written has been brainstormed via the notes app on my phone. Although I consider myself to be a very good “spur of the moment” writer, I still like to jot notes down and plan. This is especially helpful when I hit writer’s block. To be honest, I haven’t had many bouts with writer’s block, but it does happen to everybody. Sometimes the idea well runs dry after awhile.
The best way to brainstorm is to think about where you’re at in life in that moment and relate it to your niche. It may also help to develop a series that revolves around a particular topic. A lot of great ideas can be spawned from focusing on a series. My “40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years” series is the result of this type of brainstorming. I also did one that focused on the process of building a house. There are many great series ideas out there waiting to be tackled.
Go With Your Gut
For as much as you need to plan your posts, you also need to trust what your gut is telling you. This goes for all facets of blogging. Whether your brainstorming, setting up your site, actually writing the posts, or setting up social media accounts, you need to trust your instincts. This is especially true if you’re feeling burned out. I know many bloggers who have beat themselves up over taking time off from blogging because they didn’t want to lose their audience. The truth is, most of us don’t do this for a living. We all need to take a break from the grind sometimes. Maintaining a website, social media accounts, etc is very time consuming and is hard work. You owe it to yourself to trust your gut and take a break when you need it. You’ll find that your audience will still be there when you’re ready to return. No matter how you look at it, going with your gut is the way to go when it comes to your blogging career.
Use Facebook Groups
I’d be willing to bet that anybody who has read my blog over the past year are probably tired of hearing me talk about Facebook Groups. I’ve found that most bloggers I know don’t use them. To be honest, not all groups are worth your time. However, I’ve gained a lot of wisdom through the use of these groups. Whether you want to connect with more bloggers, Grow your Instagram following, or connect with fellow Pinterest users there should be a group for you on Facebook. Personally, I’ve cut back on the time I spend within these groups over the past year. However, I know these groups have been very helpful to me. I can’t recommend them enough. I will warn you that not all groups are stellar. There are some that I have left due to toxic members or page managers. Don’t let that dissuade you from using them. I still use quite a few groups and have found most of them to be very helpful even if I didn’t stay with them in the long run.
Instagram Isn’t Everything
I want to start by saying I LOVE Instagram. However, at the same time, much like a lot of other people, I find it to be very frustrating. When I first got into blogging I figured Instagram would be a great platform for me to promote my blog. The truth is, most people who use Instagram aren’t very interested in discovering blogs. It’s just not the place for it. It can’t hurt to put your blog link in your profile, but I have received very little traffic from my Instagram profile. I could probably count on one hand how many times Instagram has referred somebody to my site. My advice? Do Instagram for fun. Do it because you enjoy the creative opportunities it gives you. If you’re able to direct traffic to your blog through it, then more power to you. It’s a great place for you and other fellow bloggers to bond, but it’s probably not
going to help your blog traffic in the long run.
Pinterest Pays Off
One of my resolutions for 2019 is to start working on posting to Pinterest again. Despite my lack of activity over the past few months I have noticed that I continue to get traffic to my site through it. That’s a very good sign. This tells me that all the things I was told about Pinterest is probably true. I just need to put some more work into this. A big part of this was utilizing the pin scheduler called Tailwind. Facebook groups for Pinterest users probably impacted my modest success here as well. Although the true results of this platform remain to be seen, I feel encouraged by the results I’ve gotten.
Write Content You Enjoy
Last year I took a class that taught me all about SEO, using WordPress, etc. I gained a lot of great knowledge from this class that I plan to utilize more in the future. However, I don’t think that following all of the strict SEO guidelines that are out there is everything. I do my best to follow the help I receive from my WordPress drafts, but I think you have to enjoy the work you’re doing. I find that I don’t enjoy doing this when I focus on SEO guidelines too much.
One of the biggest reasons I labeled myself a lifestyle blogger is because I wanted to give myself the freedom to tackle different topics. Perhaps someday I will find a niche I am truly passionate about. However, at this point, I am passionate about blogging. Talking about different aspects of my life is what gets my fingers typing. I hate the fact that I don’t have a niche, but I wouldn’t be happy if I allowed that to keep me from doing something I love. I also think we can’t learn anything if we don’t challenge ourselves. My advice to new bloggers is to create a site and just write about what you know if you feel stuck and don’t have a niche. The best way to learn in the blogging world at all is by doing the work. Just start writing don’t stop learning. In another words, worry about the technicalities later on and do
whatever is fun for you.
Don’t Just Do It For Money
Here is one lesson I learned the hard way. One of the reasons I got into blogging was because I wanted to see if I could make money doing it. I studied affiliate marketing and other money making tactics quite closely when I first started blogging. It was a lot of fun, but I also found that making money isn’t everything. Maybe I am saying that because I haven’t made any, but I know I wouldn’t trade all of the information I learned, connections, and other wins I’ve experienced for money. I’ll be honest, I hope I figure out a way to monetize my life through blogging someday, but it’s not the most important thing. Being a blogger in general is a tough job that requires you to wear many hats. It’s the kind of thing you have to have some passion for. I feel that doing this for money will probably lead you to feel disappointed in the long run. Be a blogger because you love to write, you have a niche, or you have some other great idea for a blog.
Use Blog To Help With Career Growth
This might be my favorite lesson learned during my first year as a blogger. I feel like my blog is almost as good, if not better than having a resume or cover letter. It shows that I have motivation and care about my own career growth. To me, it is a place I can go to in order to showcase my writing skills and creativity. So far it has helped me to land freelance writing jobs and most recently helped me to land a social media manager side job. As a person who is in the middle of a career transition, I can’t think of a better way to showcase who I am and what I have to offer than creating content on my own site. What started out as a project I wanted to do for myself has turned into something that also helps me to get work. In my opinion, this might be one of the best reasons to start a blog.