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.

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14 Responses

  1. Rachel says:

    I have also noticed that blogging has helped with my career and it’s a great thing to have on my resume!

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      That’s great Rachel! I totally agree with you. A blog can really showcase a lot of skills up front and give an employer, client, etc an idea of what to expect from you. I wish I had started this years ago.

  2. Ruth says:

    These are all so true! I’ve kind of given up on Instagram. I tried to do it for fun like you suggest, but I wasn’t getting much enjoyment from it so I let it go, but I do agree with your advice. If people want to be on there, they should focus on enjoying it for what it is rather than having high hopes for their blog! I also really liked the last point about career growth, as I know a lot of people (myself included) wonder if it’s worth mentioning when applying for jobs. Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Marc!

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      I haven’t given up on Instagram, but I have stopped trying to get millions of followers. I do enjoy being creative with my pictures so that helps to keep me engaged. This year I decided to focus more on growing my blog and becoming a better writer. That is my priority. Anything else ie growth on social media is an added bonus.

      I have no idea if the blog has hurt or helped me when pursuing a regular 9-5 job, but it has definitely helped with online endeavors.

  3. First of all, Congrats on making it this far! I agree that Twitter is an incredible place to engage with other bloggers – glad to find you there and a lot of awesome writers. I love Instagram, but it’s also not a great source of traffic for my blog.

    I’m sort of a ”spur of the moment” writer too. It’s hard for me to find a niche because I love to talk about various stuff. I totally agree that we should write about topics we enjoy. And yes… ”Don’t just do it for money!”

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      Thank you Fritzie! Twitter has really helped to keep me motivated. I don’t know if I would have stuck with it otherwise.

      I also can’t seem to find a niche. At this point I’m happy to keep going on the path I’ve been on. The freedom I give myself to do whatever I want is another thing that keeps me going.

  4. Sarah says:

    I agree that Twitter is a great place to meet other bloggers and create a good blogging network. It’s great to have those people who you can turn to for advice. I have recently been putting more effort into Pinterest and it had made a huge difference, it’s still not my favorite platform, but at least it’s starting to pay off now. I need to work on using Facebook Groups as well, so thank you for the reminder.

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      I’ve been putting more of an effort into Pinterest myself. I’ve gotten a lot of people to save stuff I’ve pinned to my boards, but not much as far as my own blog goes. Hopefully I will continue to see some good results. Facebook groups will definitely help a lot. Especially ones for Pinterest and Instagram.

  5. I enjoyed reading your article. One thing that jumped at me was using hashtags on twitter. Thank you

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      Yes! Hashtags are very important. Don’t overuse them, but don’t neglect them either. Thanks for reading!

  6. mari says:

    I really enjoyed reading this honest review. I also really appreciate the fact that you didnt try to have me click on endless affiliate links like most blogs I read.

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      Thanks Mari! I really appreciate the feedback. I’m glad you got something out of it. Good to know that this was your impression of my blog. Thanks for reading!

  7. YOU’VE ONLY BEEN BLOGGING FOR ONE YEAR!!!!!! Thought you blogged for longer, when you write you sound very experienced like an ‘expert’ cant wait to see how far you go next year.
    I’ve been off blogging since Valentines day mainly because I’ve been focusing on university as deadlines and exams approach. Now that I am done I am binge reading everyones blog posts who I follow on twitter loool.
    Marc, once again it was a good read. I enjoyed it and got some perspective on a few things such as having a plan, my goal is to educate people on how to travel for cheap but I can also talk about other things which aren’t necessarily travel related. I am going to have to work on my Pinterest game, it’s difficult because it is a new social media app I am using but I will get a hang of it as well as your point on Instagram, I also do think it’s used for fun so I should be posting travel pics rather than blog content etc.
    Because I have finished university, I will use this month to write blog posts and start a YouTube channel and from June onwards I will be back on my game!

    Thanks for this post it was very useful!

    • Marc Schmidt says:

      Thanks Ricardo! Yes, I haven’t been doing this very long. Hopefully I am an embodiment of the experience I try to put out there in my writing. I worked very hard to learn about blogging. I observed a lot before I really got involved in it. I still have a lot to learn!

      Pinterest is a tool you have to keep up with just about everyday. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it is possible.

      Traveling for cheap is a very valuable skill to have. I’m looking forward to reading more from you. Keep up the great attitude and stay inspired!

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