First Year Blogging Lessons: 14 Harsh Truths You Need To Know

by Theja Pk
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Last updated on March 7th, 2024

Are you considering starting a blog? That’s fantastic! Here are the first year blogging lessons I’ve learned since launching my site in December 2022 that might make your journey less challenging.

If you’re new to online marketing and content creation, like I am, you have a steep learning curve ahead. I’ve spent my life studying medical sciences, so transitioning to the business world has been challenging and intimidating.

But I can confidently say that I have not regretted a single moment of my blogging journey! 🙂

To save time and energy on trying various tools and software to make your blog successful, check out this list of the best blogging tools that have helped me along my journey. 🙂

1. Blogging is only 30% writing

Initially, I thought my writing skills were all I would have to worry about. However, I soon realized that writing, while essential to a blog, was only a fraction of what I spent time on.

There’s a lot to learn, from brand design and website setup to content creation, SEO, Pinterest, social media, affiliate marketing, email marketing, and much more.

I share this not to overwhelm you but to provide a realistic overview of what it takes to run and maintain a website.

They say “content is king” for a reason. The quality of your blog’s content can make a significant difference in how engaged your audience is and, as a result, your Google rankings. That’s why I’ve spent the last year diving deep into crafting content and conducting keyword research (more on that below) that’s not just readable, but truly helpful and engaging.

Does a year seem like a long time to focus on content marketing? Perhaps. But I share this to reassure you that the pace for mastering the skills mentioned above will vary for everyone. Don’t worry if you don’t know everything from the get-go (easier said than done, I know!).

2. Aesthetics is not as important as you think

The current theme of my site, called Soledad, is the third one I’ve used in less than a year because I didn’t understand the importance of the mobile-first approach in web design.

The majority of online users access the internet via their mobile phones. Therefore, it’s crucial to choose a website theme that’s mobile-friendly.

While attractive themes with fancy fonts and images can seem appealing (I’ve fallen for it, too), they can slow down your site, especially on mobile. And if you prioritize aesthetics over site speed, your Google rankings will suffer.

3. It’s not about you, it’s about your reader

If you’re blogging as a hobby, feel free to write about whatever interests you.

However, if you aim to attract traffic to your site and turn blogging into a business, you need to write about topics that people are interested in. If you’re writing about things no one is searching for, then no one will find you.

This is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and keyword research come into play. SEO is the strategy to get your site to rank on the first page of Google, and keywords are the words and phrases people enter into Google’s search bar when looking for information.

SEO is the bread and butter of your blog. So, even though it’s a daunting topic, don’t neglect it like I did initially.

Always think about your audience and readers first. What do they want to know? What things are they searching for on Google? What pain points do they have that you can solve?

Where to learn about SEO?

  • YouTube is a great place to start for beginners. It’s free, and there are so many people teaching it that you really can’t go wrong.
  • Gotch SEO on Youtube – There are a lot of SEO experts out there, but Nathan Gotch is the one I really love learning from. His videos are detailed and ideal for persons who are a bit familiar with how SEO works. I have used a lot of his advice and tools to improve my blog’s SEO.

4. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your blog

I began posting content twice a week while working full-time as a doctor but quickly realized it was unsustainable. Not only did I experience burnout, but it also sapped some of the joy I found in writing about my favorite books. In the end, the quality of my content suffered.

Remember to pace yourself, as a blog is a long-term commitment. If your schedule only permits one blog post per week (which is my current schedule) or even one blog post per month, choose the schedule that allows you to maintain consistency without losing the enjoyment of doing something you love.

“Consistency is more important than intensity.”

5. It won’t rain money as soon as you would like

At this point in time, I have yet to begin generating revenue from my blog.

The initial year of my blogging journey has primarily been devoted to learning the ins and outs of managing a blog and establishing a consistent process for creating content.

This is still an ongoing process, and I am continually refining my strategy and approach. But I do plan to focus on that for 2024.

It’s true that others have been fortunate enough to generate income from their blogs within the first year, but that’s not common, and if you find yourself not in that group, I want to assure you that you are not alone in this challenge.

6. Mistakes are inevitable

It’s not a matter of if you will make mistakes but when. Embrace the stage of uncertainty when you start out. If you’re unable to be comfortable with looking like a fool and making errors along the way, then it’s going to be tough to be successful.

Embrace being a beginner because it’s the first step to mastery. ~ Robin Sharma

There have been so many times when I’ve had to redo the content on my website because of things I learned along the way.

Sometimes, when I look back on old content I’m updating, I ask myself, “How and why did I think this was a good idea to publish?” and try not to slap myself upside the head for it. But hey, that’s how I know I’m growing.

7. Pinterest is just as important as Google

I have always used Pinterest for personal inspiration, including home decor, DIY crafts, and motivational quotes. Although I used it as a search engine, I never thought to treat it similarly to Google.

Pinterest is more akin to a search engine, like Google than a traditional social media platform. Its unique feature is that once you post something, users can discover it months or even years later. This gives it a longer shelf life than other platforms like Instagram or TikTok.

Initially, I underestimated Pinterest, focusing solely on Google. But, I later learned that because Google trusts Pinterest, any traffic to your blog from your pins can boost your search rankings.

So, if you can master both SEO (Google) and Pinterest marketing, you’re on the right track.

Some YouTube channels from which I learned about Pinterest:

8. No one cares what you have to say in the beginning

Unfortunately, if you believe that publishing a post will instantly attract readers, that’s not the case. It takes time for Google to trust and recommend your site to other readers.

But this is a good thing! It provides you with the freedom to experiment with your web design, content creation, and other aspects without impacting your site’s user experience or facing criticism.

“There’s freedom in anonymity.”

Due to my initially low traffic levels, I was able to switch themes and replace all my blog images without rushing or needing to put my site under maintenance mode.

Finding my rhythm in brand design and content quality took time, but I could do so free from the judgment and criticism that often come with a large audience.

9. You’re not for everyone, and that’s ok

Finding an online community that aligns with your brand’s values and content is crucial.

Write about topics that are important to you and that you enjoy writing about to connect with like-minded individuals.

There will be days when a piece of content, despite your time and effort, won’t resonate with your audience or gain much traction (cue rolling tumbleweed). Conversely, there may be days when minimally effortful blog posts receive the most engagement.

If you try to please everyone, you’ll please no one. ~ Ricky Gervais

That’s just the price of digital content creation, and it applies to blogs and social media platforms. Sometimes, it’s pure luck, and all you can do is strive to produce the best content possible.

10. Online courses are a goldmine

I have lost count of the number of courses I have gone through to understand the ins and outs of blogging. The good thing about these is that the creators have compiled all the necessary information about a specific topic into one easily accessible place.

While courses are expensive, they are a valuable investment in yourself and your future. They save considerable time that would otherwise be spent on trial and error, freeing you up to focus on other tasks.

If you’re just starting your blogging journey, I’ve got a list of courses and other blogging resources that were a huge help to me. Feel free to check them out!

However, be wary of falling into the ‘positive procrastination’ trap where you spend more time purchasing courses than actually completing them. To avoid overspending, I suggest fully completing and implementing the lessons from each course before buying another.

I can’t express the number of times I’ve purchased courses with overlapping content and wasted money.

11. Constant comparison is unproductive

At first, I was quickly overwhelmed when I compared my blog to others. I saw their large email subscriber counts, high Google traffic, and aesthetic web designs. It made me feel inadequate about my own blog.

I occasionally feel this way even now, but reminding myself to run my own race helps. As a first-year blogger, comparing myself to those who have been blogging for years isn’t productive or useful.

So, if you’re a beginner, I hope you will also keep that in mind.

12. Perfectionism is a trap

If you look up the word “perfectionist” in the dictionary, you might see my face alongside it. Perfectionism is something I’ve battled for years, and even now, it’s a struggle. However, growing older has shown me how much it can lead to unproductivity.

Previously, I would spend hours perfecting every minor detail of a blog post. Looking back, I realize how much time was wasted on inconsequential aspects that barely made a difference.

So, if you’re like me, remember, “Done is better than perfect.” You can always revise your published work. I now aim for a 75-80% perfect result that is more manageable than my previous 100% goal.

Done is better than perfect. ~ Sheryl Sandberg

This approach not only saves a considerable amount of time but also reduces mental strain.

13. It can get lonely

If you’re starting a blog as a side hustle, like I am, it can feel lonely, mainly if no one you know is doing it or has done it before.

To counter this, I’ve found connecting with other like-minded individuals through Facebook groups is helpful. I also immerse myself in blogging podcasts and YouTube channels. This helps me realize that I’m not alone in facing the challenges that come with blogging.

Blogging is a highly introverted activity. I’ve spent countless days behind the computer, typing away. But this doesn’t help with the loneliness. I’ve learned to set aside days during the week when I don’t work on my blog but instead spend time with family and friends.

14. You’ll need to dust off your leadership skills

Maintaining a blog requires significant effort. There are a lot of wheels that need to keep turning for it to run effectively, and managing it all can be overwhelming. If you’ve never led a team before (like me), now is a great time to learn.

If it’s within your budget, consider hiring a Virtual Assistant (VA) team. They can assist with tasks such as website troubleshooting, design, and social media management, freeing you up to focus on content creation.

There are numerous VA services available, including Upwork and Fiverr. However, I’ve found the most success with SmartVAs. They offer a flexible team that readily adapts to your task list, and their collaborative efforts are exceptional.

Conclusion

Starting a blog is not a walk in the park, particularly in the first year. You might make a few mistakes, but you will learn a lot and realize that you’re more capable than you think.

Online marketing and content creation may seem daunting initially, but overcoming these hurdles and seeing your blog thrive can be immensely gratifying.

Remember, success doesn’t happen overnight. Be yourself and take it slow.

Wishing you all the best wherever you are on your blogging journey!

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