Everything I Learned in my First Year Blogging
It’s been a year since I started blogging full-time. A lot of that time was spent trying to get a hold of what was happening around me, but even more of it was spent growing and learning to take everything one day at a time.
I debated for a long time about whether or not to post this. I really want to encourage you to start your blog NOW so that by this time next year you can be bringing in some extra income.
If you need the extra push to get started, consider this your push!
First, a little bit about me:
Less than a year ago, I thought that it was a joke to be a “full-time blogger.” And now here I am making a nice little part-time income from it. I started getting serious about my blog in March 2016 and it’s been a wild ride from there.
I work from home, between 10 and 20 hours a week. I am a homeschooling mom of 3 boys ages 5, 2 and 1. We live on one low income, and my husband works second shift. We don’t have any family close by to help watch the kids so that I can work and they can babysit.
If you only remember one thing about me, it’s that I’m not special… not even close. I’m so average. I’m not a millionaire (far from it!), who can invest thousands of dollars into a blog. I don’t have the time to spend 24 hours a day working on my blog. I don’t have an English or journalism degree. And I’m definitely not a grammar pro (thanks to a free app called Grammarly, I don’t have to worry about looking like an idiot when I post things).
I do love to write and I love to help people. And I’m really good at cutting out spending and finding new ways to save money. Through my blog, I have a way to help people find answers to their questions about how to save money, live on a budget, and get in control of their finances.
By writing about what I love, I’m hoping to be able to provide my family with a second income, while getting to stay at home with my children.
Now sit back, get comfy, and break out the pen and paper. Because this is a LONG post!
Everything I learned in my first year blogging
- Blogging is a lot more involved than it looks!
- Posting daily might be a good way to get more content out there, but it’s really stressful.
- Starting costs practically nothing (like $3.49/month… and that’s it.)
- Get social media accounts for your blog.
- Really start figuring out what you want to write about. If you want to write about fashion, a post about dog food will throw people off.
- Don’t get discouraged if you have 0 pageviews every day! You want to build up awesome posts so that when you DO have a lot of pageviews, you can have content that people will want to keep coming back to read.
- Take this month to figure out the technical stuff about how to post, how to add pictures, plugins, etc.
- Apply for Google Adsense. It will take a while to get approved, but these will be the first ads on your site.
- Get the full Month 1 rundown.
- PicMonkey.com is your new best friend for making images for your posts.
- Start having fun with making things like your signature for the bottom of every post and email. Make a watermark of your blog name or link for every image.
- Pixabay.com is the only place you should be getting your images. You don’t want a copyright lawsuit!
- Link parties are fun.
- Start connecting with Facebook blogger groups.
- Join affiliate sites to start learning about affiliate sales (Amazon, ShareASale, and Commission Junction for starters).
- Apply for Infolinks for more ad revenue.
- What else happened in Month 2 here.
- Start building an email list using MailChimp (which is free until 1,000 users)
- Hone your message. What’s your #1 topic? Make a freebie for your email that fits this topic.
- Start making “friends” with other big bloggers by following them and sharing their posts. Also, comment on their posts while linking back to your own site.
- Follow all of the leaders of your niche on Pinterest!
- Get ideas for posts from your niche leaders’ posts. Anything that strikes a chord with you, make a post about it.
- More happened in Month 3, too.
- Keep adding more posts (at least 3 each week). Stick to a schedule for posting. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Make a plan and stick to it.
- Set aside 30 minutes each day to Pinterest repinning. The more active you are on Pinterest, the more followers you will get.
- Start applying to group boards.
- Start using BoardBooster (it’s free!) and start getting used to how to schedule pins.
- (Hindsight note: Having a Pinterest guide from a super-popular blogger really helps you know exactly what to do instead of just trying to figure Pinterest out on your own.)
- Month 4 was a doozy, thanks to the holidays!
- Start working on a “plan.” Where will you spend the most time? What are your monthly goals? Is there something that is taking most of your time? What can you get help with?
- Find products you love and see if they have affiliate programs. Join the affiliate programs and every time you mention your favorite products, you can earn a commission!
- This is the most important: don’t quit! If you’re trying to make being a blogger into a full-time gig, don’t quit now!! Almost every blogger who starts, quits by month 6. Dig deep and keep going!
- Don’t let fear stop you from blogging!
- You made it!! WOOT! Now the real fun starts!
- Make sure that you have at least 50 posts that are amazing and will represent your blog and brand well.
- Get into the habit of sending weekly emails to your email list. Not to sell to them, but to give them information! You want your subscribers to STAY subscribed. If all you do is bombard them with sales emails, you’ll lose subscribers as quickly as you gained them.
- Make sure to load up your most-popular posts with links to your other posts and affiliate links!
- Invest in a site design. Once you start getting serious, you’ll want to make a good first impression.
- Get HelloBar or SumoMe to help boost your email subscriptions.
- Keep growing Pinterest and using your Pinterest strategy with BoardBooster.
- Add Facebook strategy into your scheduling. I got the “industry standard” guide that helped me to understand Facebook and the ins-and-outs of how it worked.
- Work on perfecting your Pinterest “style.” Include a watermark for your blog on every blog post image. Use the same or similar fonts and colors in all Pinterest images.
- How to get your husband’s support starting a blog.
- Start applying for guest posts to big bloggers’ sites. This will get you exposure, even if it doesn’t pay.
- Switch to ConvertKit for email. They’re the best and every blogger I know loves them! You get a lot of bang for your buck with them, for sure.
- Once you have more than 50k pageviews a month, apply to CleverGirls, SITS Girls, Mom It Forward (if that’s your niche!), Activate (formerly Sverve), and other sponsored post networks.
- Master Pinterest like a pro!
- Go back over your “plan.” What do you need to change? What needs your attention? What needs less attention?
- Start taking the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course. Affiliate marketing is a HUGE way that bloggers make money and this course is from a blogger who makes $50k/month in affiliate sales. Yeah. I signed up the day it came out. It’s made a huge difference!
- Keep applying for guest posting opportunities. But don’t let that interfere with your own posting schedule.
- How bloggers make money.
- Shop around for new Ad Networks. AdSense is great to start, but you want to make more than $1 per 1,000 pageviews.
- The Blogger Network (now Monumetric) accepts bloggers with 50k or more monthly pageviews.
- The SECOND you hit 80-90k monthly pageviews (and it’s still going up), apply to AdThrive. They’ll only accept you once you have 100k monthly pageviews, but it takes them a while to get to everyone’s application.
- Cry a little when you get accepted and go from making $1 to making $10 per 1,000 pageviews!! (or $10/ month to $100/ month for 10,000 monthly pageviews… That’s a BIG difference!!)
- There’s a big difference between Adsense and another Ad Network.
- Never. Stop. Learning.
- Make sure that you’re subscribed to these bloggers for their best tips:
- Start A/B Pinterest images for your best posts. See which style or title brings in the most readers and repins.
- Ask to be added to more group boards.
- Check your BoardBooster analytics to make sure that your boards are all performing well. Delete groups that aren’t performing well.
- $1,286 income report!
- Go back over your goals from your 6- and 9-month plans. Did you meet them? Exceed them? What did you learn? Where can you learn the most? What’s taking up the most time? Is there anything needs more time? What does your income look like? Where is most of your income coming from? Where do you want most of your income to come from?
- Keep learning, growing, earning, learning again, planning, analyzing, and learning some more.
By the end of my first year, I have 500,000 total pageviews, 90-160k+ monthly pageviews (July was a slow month!), 1.5 million+ monthly Pinterest impressions, and a few thousand email subscribers.
My top 5 most popular posts so far:
- 11 Expenses to Stop Spending Money On
- Essential Oil Rollerball Recipes (This is the post that brought in ALL of my income from Amazon affiliates until I joined a big Ad Network!)
- The Only 5 Things Your Newborn Really Needs
- How Does a Family of Four Survive on $17,000 a YEAR (Part 1)
- 8 Ways to Stop Spending Money You Don’t Have
It’s been a wild ride and I can’t wait for the next year!
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