Hello and welcome,
I have officially reached my one year ‘bloggiversary’ and what a year it has been. I have learned so much in just 12 months about something I knew nothing about.
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I started off just wanting to write and reach out to other mums who are brutally honest about parenting and its ups and downs. I had no idea all the lessons I needed to learn to continue blogging.
As a result of these lessons learned and finding out the ins and outs of how blogging works, I have gone from a naive person who just wanted to write to self heal and entertain, to savvy business woman (ok maybe not quite!!) who has learned that blogging allows you to run your own business and ‘side hustle’ and make some money!!. Who would have thought??!!.
I have to admit though, that I still love connecting with other mums out there who just ‘get it’ and know where I’m coming from when I write an article about having a shitty day or the general challenges (and sometimes joys) of parenting. That’s where it’s at for me.
Here are my top 8 lessons learnt in my first year of blogging:
Blogging involves so much more than just creating content for your blog.
What this title really means is that blogging is about so much more than just writing a blog post. Sometimes that is the easiest part of the process, creating interesting content for your readers. I didn’t have any idea that I would need to resemble an IT guru, photographer, graphic designer or a Social Media Manager.
I consider myself to be almost IT illiterate. Yes, I am all over Facebook and my smartphone but other than that I had no idea how to create an email opt-in or how to install relevant plug ins for my website or create graphics for your pins and the many other tasks you need to do to maintain your website.
I had to learn all of this on my own and the majority of the time I would have at least 2 kids sitting on me demanding my attention whilst someone else was shouting ‘mum mum mum mum mum’ whilst another child needed me to take them to the toilet. I really struggled with the IT side of things. It literally felt in the beginning that I was just constantly battling Word Press and trying to learn it’s functions.
Choose Self Hosting over a Free Website
Understandably when you start blogging, it is a labour of love and probably isn’t bringing in any income however it is costing you money so you are trying to keep costs to a minimum. Completely understandable however I would recommend you self-host your website. That way, all of your information is your own. Your posts, your email lists and everything you have put so much time into creating, is yours.
If you have a free website and the company was to shut down, you would automatically lose everything because you don’t own your own content.
When you are setting up your own self hosted website, I would also recommend that you use Bluehost as your hosting company. Bluehost allow you to set up your own free domain and you then choose the package your monthly hosting package. There are competitors of Bluehost that do not offer a free domain.
If you would like more information on starting up your own blog, read my article here.
Start an email list from Day 1.
I cannot stress this point enough of how important it is to start an email list from the day that you start your blog. Your email list is invaluable, it contains the details of your loyal followers and potential customers.
If you are wanting to monetise your blog, email marketing is the one of the most successful forms of marketing
Email can be used to keep in touch with your readers via newsletters you create, sending out your blog posts and once you start to monetise, you can email out special offers that your affiliates are offering.
I was clueless about how to grow my email list and have only very recently started concentrating on it. The key is to create a ‘freebie’ or an ‘opt-in’. What this means is creating a document that would serve your readers (my opt-in is a kids resource bundle containing 5 invaluable printables). You need to offer something to entice your readers to subscribe to your blog.
I use mailerlite for my email service and it is free to use up to 1000 subscribers.
Make sure your blog is legally compliant
When I started my blog there was a lot of fear and discussion concerning the GDPR and I had absolutely no idea what that meant. Upon further research I discovered the meaning and it nearly made me end my blogging career before it had even started.
I didn’t know how to create legal pages that fully covered my interests and I certainly didn’t want to leave myself open to any form of litigation and at this point, it was all seeming too hard.
I started asking questions of other bloggers and was very relieved to find out that there were legal documents that you could purchase, that were written especially for bloggers.
Phew, what a relief!!. I started researching and found some legal bloggers charging upwards of $700 for these documents and I definitely didn’t want to outlay this much money as a novice who wasn’t making any income and was doing it for the love of writing.
A fellow blogger steered me in the direction of Amira from aselfguru who is a practising lawyer and also a blogger. Amira created a bundle called ‘The Legal Bundle’ that contained the three necessary templates required by ALL bloggers and the price was quite surprisingly, very affordable.
What a lot of bloggers don’t realise is that having these pages in place is not optional, you must have them, period.
Here is an explanation of what is required and why:
Terms & Conditions Policy: Even though people rarely read these pages, you still need to have them in place. People visiting your website need to know the Terms & Conditions that they are visiting under, therefore they have no recourse if they decide they are unhappy with something or threaten you will legal action. Unfortunately we are living in a day & age where everyone wants to sue for the silliest of reasons.
Disclaimer Statement: A disclaimer on your website protects you from legal liability for content you publish. It informs all visitors to your website that all content published is for educational and informational purposes only.
I mentioned above that you need to learn the aspects of social media and use it to your advantage. Pinterest is known as the mother of all social media when it comes to blogging. Once you publish a blog post, you will then want to create a pin and start circulating it on Pinterest. If you only want to learn one form of social media then let it be Pinterest instead of Facebook, Insta or Twitter.
When creating a pin on Pinterest, you do so via specialised websites and apps to meet the regulations required. I recommend using Pic Monkey, they have a huge variety of templates available for customising and they look very professional. You can trial it free for 7 days!!
Another option you have is to use your own photographs and creating your own pin. To do this you would want to have beautiful photos on hand, not just fun pics taken on your iphone.
A couple of months into my blogging journey, I purchased a set of curated stock photos from Styled Stock Society and they have been invaluable. I have used them to style my website and have also created many pins from them. I also use them in all of my blog posts to break up the text and they look absolutely beautiful and add a professional and stylish touch.
If you are really struggling to create Pins that are inviting to readers, you can purchase the Pinterest Template Bundle and you will receive 30 different templates in 3 different sizes that are easily editable and with a video tutorial.
As well as using Pinterest, I also set up pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and used these platforms to promote blog posts, deals from my affiliates and just to keep in touch with my readers and fellow bloggers.
Join Facebook Groups for Bloggers
In my experience, the blogging community is a tight knit one and for the most part, people love helping out their fellow bloggers. I have personally learned so much from other bloggers and love helping people starting out.
There are many groups on Facebook for bloggers but the one that is especially close to my heart is aselfguru – A Biz Blog Community. This group was started by fellow blogger and now amazing friend, Amira from aselfguru.
In this group, as well as many others, there are daily reciprocal threads. For example, Monday may be Pinterest Day, so you would share your pin on this post for other bloggers to repin and you reciprocate by repinning their work.
This is a great way to get your work out there and read by people outside of your own audience. The idea is then that people from outside of your circle share your work to places it probably would never have gone and you expand your reach and gain new readers.
There are also generally threads for Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Blog Posts. It is also in these groups that you meet and interact with other bloggers.
Fellow bloggers are worth their weight in gold. They help you, support you, can answer your questions, share your work, mentor you and you can do the same for someone else. It all works on a reciprocal basis but the blogging community really is amazing and we love nothing more than to see our peers succeed.
Investing In Your Future And Education
I saw a term used by another blogger ‘you can’t blog for free’ and I loved it. Obviously you don’t want to be spending too much money as a new blogger but you do need to invest some dollars into educating yourself.
That’s not to say that you have to take every course out there (and there are many!!), you just need to pick a course/courses that you believe offers what you want and need to learn, especially if you want to monetise.
I would recommend you choose courses from bloggers who are fairly well known, are successful and have served their time.
As a new blogger, there is so much to get your head around (as mentioned above) and a lot of people are working on limited time because they are either working full time, parenting, at college etc, so investing in your education is a must.
You don’t have to spend too much money, but I definitely believe, especially if you plan on monetising, that there are certain things that you need to learn to be able to do this effectively.
The courses that I took were BLOG-CAB-U-LARY Plus which was absolutely brilliant. It explained blogging terminology, blogging processes and was and still is, such an awesome resource.
It allowed me to pour my concentration into content creation and saved me from hours upon hours of worrying and stressing out. Especially in the early days, it’s so easy for you to fall behind in writing because you are so overwhelmed by all the other tasks at hand.
The second course I took was Ready, Set, Blog For Traffic which was created by very well-known Mommy Blogger Elna Cain. This course is a Pinterest based course that is suitable for ALL bloggers, from beginners to long term bloggers.
It was from this course that I was able to learn about the importance of driving traffic via Pinterest, the benefits of joining group boards, how to join group boards and a huge list of group boards accepting contributors. It also included video lessons and tech tutorials, swipe files, guest blogging guide, ready to use templates, backlink information and so much more. You can also take advantage of a payment plan with this course.
Another resource I have invested in is Tailwind and you can try it for free!!. Tailwind is a tool that allows you to save time scheduling to Pinterest and Instagram, tells you when the best time to post is based on engagement rates, allows you to find out when your audience is most active, allows you to join Tribes on Pinterest, maximise your reach, measure your success and be more informed and efficient and last but not least, it saves you loads of time that manual pinning takes.
To date, the majority of my affiliate sales made have been made via Pinterest.
Blogging is a labour of love
Not a truer word has been spoken, it really is a labour of love but that love is so magnificent when your hard work starts to pay off and you gain email subscribers, start getting positive comments on your posts, your stats start rising and you start to see the fruits of your labour.
If you are starting your blog to monetise, please know that whilst this is most definitely possible, it isn’t going to happen overnight. There are many six figure bloggers out there (just search Pinterest) but they didn’t have success overnight.
It was the result of hard work, many failures before success, hours upon hours of work, educating themselves and most of all believing in themselves. If you are prepared to work and work and then work some more, you will find success.
I really wish I had of read an article similar to this when I first started out blogging, it would have freed up so many hours spent on minute tasks and battling WordPress.
Time is money and I cannot calculate all of my lost hours that I could have used much more productively. You live and you learn.
If you are just starting out with blogging, have a read of my article Blogging For Dummies for a comprehensive and simple step by step guide to starting your own blog.
In this last year since starting my own blog I have learned so much about myself. I have learned my limitations and there are many!. I’m hopeless with IT, have a short attention span (thanks to my four darlings) and I’m not great at following instructions.
I have also learned that I have many strengths including perseverance, resilience, passion, creativity and readiness to learn new things.
You too will learn many new things about yourself and learn your own strengths and weaknesses. Once you know what they are, you can then work out how to work around them and turn them into strengths. Awareness is the key.
Six months into my blogging journey, fed up with my constant battle with Word Press and banging my head against the wall, I found somebody who specialises in Word Press and is very well versed in all areas of IT to assist me with my many technical issues.
Since then I haven’t looked back. This gentleman has now formed his own business and serves many bloggers like myself. It’s the best thing I have ever done. If you too would like to enquire about IT assistance with blogging, contact WpStairs.
They can help you with anything from creating your own website from scratch, recommending and installing themes, email marketing, graphic design including email opt ins and pin design, monthly management, general IT duties and social media management.
Thank you very much for sticking with me to the end, I wish you the very best of luck on your journey and please feel free to message me if I can help you with anything.