I always loved to write, but I never knew how much I really loved it until I started blogging. It’s now been over a year since I started blogging. In that first year, I learned so many things. In fact, I’m constantly learning new things. That’s something I love about blogging. There’s always more to learn and a new challenge to be better. Looking back, I wish I had more information at my fingertips when I started. Last year would’ve been easier. Today I want to share with you my biggest lessons in my 1st year of blogging because there have been so many. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
Blogging is Work
Blogging is work. Really hard work. On the outside, it may look easy but there’s much more that goes into it behind the scenes. If you’re thinking about blogging, make sure you know what you’re getting into. Reach out to other bloggers and ask them the pro’s and con’s of blogging. Chances are if you’re considering blogging, you have the tenacity to do it and be good at it too. What You Need to Know Before Starting a Blog is helpful resource for you to read so you know what you’re getting into.
Read Other Blogs
I never read any blogs before I started blogging. I’m probably the only person that’s ever started a blog & never read or followed one before that. Once I began blogging, I realized other blogs were excellent resources for baselining myself against. They’re great for blogging how to’s, ideas for formatting posts & website layouts. They’re also great for generating content inspiration and finding out what’s popular in your niche. When I started blogging, I googled best “health & fitness blog. That’s how I discovered many of my favorite blogs. My advice is find other blogs similar to the topics you blog about and start reading them on a regular basis.
Schedule posts to publish in advance including social media. I truly don’t know how people can write posts the day of. I have a full-time job and I like the peace of mind of getting up, working out then going to the office without having to worry about my blog. It’s on autopilot. Doing it beforehand, removes the stress of getting it published and seen. Remember prime time for posts to be read is early morning. Mine are usually scheduled to publish between 3-4:00am. I also use Hootsuite for scheduling social media and Latergramme for Instagram to promote posts in advance. Read up on How to Blog & Work 9 to 5 for more tips on balancing it all.
Deliver Quality & Consistency
Consistency is key to getting your blog noticed & bringing readers back, but never sacrifice content over quality. When it comes to writing, quality is king. I realized a few months in that my writing wasn’t as good as I thought. It took practice to get better and I’m still practicing. Sometimes posting less often can help you focus on quality. At the end of the day, your readers will have more respect for you for posting interesting and useful content than posting just to post.
Setup Google Analytics
Create a google analytics account from day 1 of birthing your blog. Google analytics gives you in-depth view of your readers, where they’re coming from, what they’re interested in, demographics, popular posts, etc. It’s a wealth of information that helps you strategize. I didn’t do this right away and I really regretted it. Also most brands will request screen shots of your google analytics. I had to piece mine together last year and it was a lot of work. Blog Genie’s Cheat Sheet is a great resource to get you started.
Install ads on your website as soon as you buy the domain. I waited months before setting mine up because honestly I didn’t know I could put ads on it and make money. Ads won’t generate much revenue, but it is free money. Consider if one of your posts went viral all the money you could’ve made with ads. To give you an idea, I make ~$50 or less a month on ads. That could really “add” up if one post went viral. The ads on my sites are Google Adsense, Amazon Affiliate and Blog Her.
Stay A Week Ahead
Always have week 1 posts drafted and scheduled a week ahead so your focus can be on creating content for week 2. Things come up unexpectedly in life. You can’t plan everything and in those moments this strategy will save you. This is also helpful if you go on vacation and want to avoid pre-vacation stress. For me, this was a lifesaver because I work full time. When I started blogging, I had no content in draft to pull from. I wrote all my posts on the weekend and writing 6 posts in two days was too much work. Over time I build up my content and eventually got me in the stay ahead a week routine. Now I have enough content drafted (~10 posts at any one time) that my focus can be on week 2 or 3 posts. Writing 2-3 posts is a much better balance than 6 and has allowed me to do more freelance work too.
Manage A Blog Calendar
Get a notebook with a calendar and pencil in posts for the month. Yes, I said month. ‘t helps to look at the big picture and strategize what content to publish and when for the month. It helps you visualize your content and move similar topics to the same week, see holidays coming up and avoid posting like recipes in a given week. I found a calendar particularly valuable when I began doing sponsored posts and freelance projects. It really helps having deadlines on the calendar so you can balance the work and plan for it appropriately. You don’t have to get a fancy calendar. A simple one will do the job.
Focus On 1 Thing
Stay focused on the task at hand (as best you can) and get it done before moving onto the next thing. It’s easy to get distracted as a blogger – reading other blogs, receiving comments/emails, getting social media pings, etc. The world wide web is a deep dark place with a vast amount of content. When I started blogging, it overwhelmed me. I would click one place and suddenly 3 clicks later I was somewhere else, two hours had gone by and I hadn’t finished what I set out to do. I call it blogger ADD. Now I remind myself to focus on getting one task done before going back to whatever caught my eye. Focusing will forever be a challenge. We all have our own challenges.
As soon as you can, register your blog in communities like Healthy Living Blogs, Blog Her and apply for ambassadorships such as Sweatpink, Girls Gone Sporty and Fitfluential. Theses help to promote your blog and the ambassadorships open up sponsorship and project opportunities.
Set Virtual Boundaries
Schedule time for blogging and set time constraints. This is the key to getting things done and having a life. The world wide web is a pool you can easily drown in. Suddenly it’s Saturday night 7pm and you haven’t dressed or eaten all day because you’ve been writing or cruising other blogs. True story! I was injured for many months and had this luxury. Now I set times for getting virtual & real life things done. The real challenge is convincing yourself there will always be more to do to be a better blogger, but those things will still be there tomorrow. Remember you’re still a person and need to experience life outside the computer. Those experiences will make you a better blogger.
Connect and network with other bloggers. Comment on their posts regularly and go to blogging conferences. When I began blogging, I was amazed what a powerful ally other bloggers can be. They defend you, recommend you and support you. Other bloggers are good resources to build you up or even ask questions. Not to mention they can become some of your best friends. Of all the opportunities my blog has opened to me, the one I’m most grateful for are the friendships. That was not something I expected when I began blogging yet it has become the one thing I value most.
More Blogging Resources
What are your biggest lessons from blogging?
Linking up today with Amanada @ Running with Spoons
Lots of Health, Food & Love,