What You Can Learn from My First Year of Blogging

Lessons Learned My First Year of Blogging

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Lessons from My First Year of Blogging

I can’t believe my first year of blogging has passed already!

I published this blog’s first articles on October 1, 2018 and now here we are one year later.

WOW. What a ride.

Blogging has been a fun, frustrating, challenging and rewarding experience … I certainly learned a whole lot, that’s for sure!

Which is great news for you because you get to learn from my “noob” blogging blunders (as well as my wins).

If you’re thinking about starting a blog in 2020, there are definitely some important matters to consider and some challenges you should be prepared for.

Here are some of the biggest lessons I learned during my first year blogging. May they help you on your way to blogging success!

* This post contains affiliate links. I am an Amazon Associate, a Bluehost,Thrive Themes and ConvertKit affiliate, meaning that if you click on a qualifying  link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission. Please read the Disclaimer for more info.*


Beginner Blogger Tips

First, let me start off by saying that when I started this blog, I had absolutely no prior experience.

No coding skills, no marketing degree, no idea what a blog even was!

Everything I’ve managed to do is self-taught through research, trial and error and perseverance.

(And because of Thrive Architect - thank goodness for this indispensable tool!)

So, if you’ve been on the fence about starting a blog because you’re scared of the technical stuff just know that if I can do it, you can do it too.

It’s not easy but as they say, nothing worth having ever is.

Which brings me to my first year blogging lesson #1:

Blogging is Hard

The struggle is real, people.

Blogging is no joke.

I had done tons of research before starting this blog so I thought I had a pretty good idea of how much work it would be.

Well.

I was wrong.

It’s waaay more work than I anticipated.

Being a blogger is not just about writing blog posts and publishing them to your site.

At least not if you’re looking to make money blogging.

If you’re serious about making a side income or quitting your 9-5 to become a full time blogger, you gotta have skills!

Bloggers are Jacks of All Trades 

Some bloggers have another person – or whole teams of people even – to help them.

But, that’s just not financially feasible for most of us who are just starting out in the first year blogging.

So, if you’re a solo blogger team of one like me, you have to be a jack of all trades.

Here are some of the skills I’ve had to learn in order to create and maintain a successful blog thus far:

  • Writing
  • Copywriting
  • Marketing (SEO, social media, content upgrades, email sales funnels, research)
  • WordPress
  • Branding
  • Graphic design
  • Managing all these roles at once, especially when starting from scratch, can be overwhelming.

    And it can also be thankless – during your first year blogging, your audience is pretty small so you may not get much feedback, traffic, sales, etc.

    … But, you still have to keep putting in all the work.

    So, be prepared to wear many different hats and to work hard without any immediate significant gains.

    That’s probably why 90% of bloggers give up before the one year mark (in fact, they usually quit after 2-3 months).

    🥳 *If you've made it past this point, Congratulations, you are in the top 10%!*🎉🎊


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    Blogging is Like a Roller Coaster

    My first year blogging has been full of ups and downs.

    There were times when I felt on top of the world – some of my blogging benchmarks include:

  • Designing my website
  • Getting my first email response
  • Publishing my first post (here it is! --> What’s Your Definition of Success?)
  • Getting my first comment
  • Putting a picture of myself on my website and writing an About page
  • Getting my first 100 email subscribers
  • Receiving my first “fan” message
  • Being accepted into Pinterest groups/Tailwind Tribes/Facebook groups
  • Getting to 1k followers on Pinterest
  • Increasing my blog traffic from 0 to over 9,000 pageviews/month
  • Reaching over half a million monthly viewers on Pinterest (and over 50K engaged audience)
  • 3D Success Pinterest 800k

    But, I also had a lot of struggles during this time. The biggest one has to do with something I still have to become more comfortable with –self-promotion.

    Marketing is Essential During Your First Year Blogging (and beyond)

    I managed to keep to my schedule of posting once a week on Mondays, but I sometimes fell behind on my marketing efforts.

    Because traffic is fickle, this is definitely something I would point out to new bloggers.

    It’s not enough to write your article and publish it. You must decide how you will go about marketing your post once it’s complete.

    Or else, no one will even know it’s there! Do you know how many blog posts are published each day?!

    I was astonished when I read that approximately 2.75 million blog posts are published per day on WordPress alone.

    your blog is like a needle in a haystack

    My marketing strategy thus far has included:

  • Pinterest
  • Tailwind (an automated scheduling tool for Pinterest and Instagram) & Tailwind Tribes
  • Facebook Groups
  • Twitter
  • ConvertKit 
  • I’ve mainly focused on Pinterest because it operates as a search engine (much like Google), so you can rank for keywords and it drives free traffic.

    Plus, I get to create graphics to go along with my posts which I discovered that I really love doing!

    *Update: How I Get Over 1 Million Monthly Views on Pinterest

    I just feel so comfortable with the platform now that I’ve been working with it for a while … but I know that I will need to branch out into what now accounts for 80% of all internet traffic –

    Video.

    Fast-growing and in-demand, video is the marketing medium of the future (and of the present!) After all, people watch an average of one billion hours of YouTube videos a day.

    Which brings me to the next first year blogging lesson:

    Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

    Some of the world’s most successful people have cited their ability to do what’s uncomfortable as the key to their success.

    Feeling uncomfortable is a sign of opportunity.

    Opportunity for triumph, for growth.

    All personal development stems from a desire for change. Which is inherently uncomfortable for most people.

    You’ve got to be able to step outside your comfort zone and persevere through those difficult times in order to succeed.

    If you’re willing to do things that others are not, you’re at a huge advantage!

    So, even though I get anxious and extremely uncomfortable at the thought of doing video, I am going to do it anyway.

    Even though the thought of networking scares me, and even though I’d rather not develop a stronger presence on social media, I am going to do those things anyway.

    Why? Because that’s what I need to do if I want to grow and be successful.

    So, if you have been scared to start a blog, pursue your dream of becoming an entrepreneur – or really, if you’ve been scared to do anything because of:

  • Being criticized/judged
  • Fear of failure
  • Lack of confidence
  • … remember that if you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.

    Here are 50 Motivational Quotes to Boost Your Confidence if you need some inspiration!

    Be Open to Self-Improvement

    Maybe it’s just because I’m in the personal development niche (I don’t think so), but I have grown so much as a person since I started blogging!

    It’s not surprising to me because I’ve grown the most from challenging, scary experiences in my life.

    Some of the most epic life lessons I learned in law school.

    And while I was living abroad in The Hague getting my master’s degree, and while I was pretty much living off the grid doing seasonal work in Wyoming.

    So, no wonder blogging promotes personal growth – it’s a huge undertaking, one that’s not for the faint of heart.

    Your blog will become a huge part of your life. If you stick with it, it will be there through all of life’s highs and lows and it will be there as you change and grow as a person.

    Be open to this growth and getting to know yourself on your blogging journey.

    “The lotus is the most beautiful flower, whose petals open one by one. But it will only grow in the mud. In order to grow and gain wisdom, first you must have the mud --- the obstacles of life and its suffering. ... The mud speaks of the common ground that humans share, no matter what our stations in life. ... Whether we have it all or we have nothing, we are all faced with the same obstacles: sadness, loss, illness, dying and death. If we are to strive as human beings to gain more wisdom, more kindness and more compassion, we must have the intention to grow as a lotus and open each petal one by one.” - Goldie Hawn

    Have a Strategy (or at least a rough game plan)

    have a rough game plan your first year blogging

    Some people just dive right in their first year blogging without a plan.

    Not me. Because I had done a ton of research for months and months before I even decided to purchase a domain, I had (sort of) a strategy going in.

    I knew I wanted to write long-form blog posts. They’re good for SEO, desired in the personal development niche, and just naturally my style.

    I also knew I wanted to be consistent and keep my promises to my readers.

    And I knew the topics I wanted to write about would revolve around stress & anxiety, personal growth and conquering fear/developing confidence.

    But, I didn’t really have a solid game plan when it comes to monetization other than that I decided not to:

  • clutter my website with AdSense and other low-return advertisements
  • promote products/services that I hadn’t tried/would not personally recommend
  • try to monetize before building an audience and focusing on blog growth
  • It’s important to note that although it’s wise to have a general strategy going in, you won’t be able to plan for/anticipate everything.

    A lot of knowledge is gained through experience. Sometimes the only way to get to the right answer is to just get in there and get your hands dirty.

    That’s why I accomplished my goal of creating my first e-book and getting it up for sale during this first year of blogging.

    Learn by doing – see what works and what doesn’t. Change your strategy along the way.

    But, whatever you do …

    Start Before You’re Ready

    Many high-achievers struggle with perfectionism.

    When you’re focused on the details, it’s really easy to get distracted away from what’s truly important.

    And as you try (in vain) to get everything “perfect”, time is passing.

    Time that could be used to get the ball rolling.

    In the words of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, “Done is better than perfect.”

    Waiting too long may lead to it not happening at all!

    You’ll probably never feel 100% ready anyway. And even if you did, it wouldn’t matter much because everything will change once you get in the trenches and can see how everything really works. 

    If you’re having trouble taking that first step, try chunking your big goal down into manageable, bite-sized tasks that you can easily accomplish one at a time.

    Wondering what goals to focus on during your first year blogging?

    It depends on what you want to accomplish.

    If you’re a hobby blogger, you don’t really need to have a strategy other than to write what you want to write.

    Or if you became a blogger purely to spread your message and you’re not looking to monetize at all, then your focus may be slightly different (p.s. kudos to you, love that!)

    But, if you are planning to (eventually) make money from your blog, then you may be wondering:

    • How long before a blog becomes profitable?
    • How much can you realistically make blogging?

    Or you may have questions like:

    • How do I succeed in blogging?
    • How do you even earn money blogging?/How do beginner blogs make money?

    Well, the short answer to all of those questions is it depends.

    Niches like “finance” or “weight loss” are generally more lucrative than niches like “personal development” or “mental health”.

    Depending on the size of your audience and their willingness to purchase what you’re selling, you may be able to make $10,000 a month blogging or you may not be able to make anything at all.

    As for earning money from blogging, I actually had no idea that you could monetize a blog when I first started out!

    But I’ve learned that blogging is unique in terms of its virtually limitless potential for financial success.

    10 Ways to Make Money Blogging

    10 Ways to Make Money Blogging pin

    Bloggers can make money in several ways. Here are some of the main ones I’ve come across:

    • Ads: You can place either cost per click/pay per click (CPC/PPC) ads or cost per 1,000 impressions (CPM) ads on your site. Google AdSense is a popular network for these ads. But, keep in mind that these ads can take away from the user experience and you may not make decent money until you have a really large audience.
    • Affiliate Marketing: You can earn money by promoting others’ products. Programs like Amazon Associates allow you to get a commission whenever someone buys something you have listed on your blog. Some bloggers earn thousands of dollars a month on affiliate advertising alone.
    • Book Deals/ Speaking Engagements: Having a successful blog means marketing and exposure. You may be approached with book deals or speaking engagements, which can be very profitable in addition to bolstering your reputation.
    • Coaching/Consulting: If you are an expert in your niche, you may offer coaching or consulting services on your blog. Pricing varies greatly based on niche and experience; however, I’ve seen monthly coaching packages go for over $1,000.
    • Courses: Once you have cultivated an audience and determined what their interests and needs are, you can create an online course (or many). Courses are becoming increasingly popular as more and more people turn to online learning. I’ve seen bloggers charge anywhere from $97 to $997 for courses.
    • eBooks: Writing a book on a certain topic can allow you to grow your audience, especially if you offer it as a freebie in exchange for your audience’s email addresses. You can also sell eBooks on your website and they will help to enhance your reputation as an authority in your niche. I’ve seen eBooks go anywhere from free to $47.
    • E-Commerce: You can sell physical products on your website as well. Depending on your niche, you can make some serious profits if you’re willing to take on the challenges of ordering, storing, packaging and mailing the physical products (or delegating those tasks to someone else).
    • Freelance Writing: Although you can definitely land freelance writing gigs without a blog, it is way easier to land better, higher paying writing jobs with one. Be sure to put a Hire Me/Work with Me/Contact Me page on your site so recruiters know you are available and they can reach out to you.
    • Membership sites: Once you have a loyal audience, depending on your niche, you may want to start a membership site, which allows you to collect a recurring monthly fee from each member. Monthly memberships typically range from about $30-$100. I’ve also seen lifetime memberships go for $500 and up.
    • Sponsored posts: You can get paid to write reviews of products and services.  You may get contacted by advertisers or you can find and contact them yourself and make anywhere from $50 to $5,000 a post depending on your authority in your niche.

    Examples of Blog Goals/ First Year Blog Goals

    The cold hard truth is that you probably won’t see much of a profit during your first year blogging.

    A lot of those blog posts you see about “How I Earned $100,000 in One Year Blogging” are actually written by bloggers who have been around for a long time.

    They may have been only blogging for a year on that blog, but they’ve had like 10 other blogs before that and they started over a decade ago.

    So, just be wary of these claims and be careful not to set your expectations too high your first year of blogging!

    It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get to that level of success with blogging, just like with anything else.

    Remember that every expert was once a novice.

    You probably won’t be able to master it all during your first year of blogging, but there are definitely some things you can do to set yourself up for success, for example:

  • Learn WordPress
  • Set up Google Analytics
  • Get 100 email subscribers
  • Write 5 cornerstone articles
  • Get 100 visitors/day to your blog
  • Learn basic SEO/install Yoast SEO plugin
  • Create at least 2 pins per blog post
  • Get 1k followers on Pinterest
  • Join 3 Facebook groups in your niche & share your content (when allowed)
  • Write a guest post
  • Collaborate with another blogger
  • Comment on other bloggers’ posts once a week
  • Craft an “About” page
  • Get to know your audience/get feedback
  • Narrow/sharpen your focus
  • Clarify your message & brand
  • Create & sell your first product

  • Want to know which tools & resources I use on the blog?
    Check out my Resource Library! 


    Beware of Blogger Burnout

    A lot of work goes into launching a blog.

    Then, once you’ve got it launched, get ready to work even harder.

    Because the more you accomplish, the more you have to do to maintain (and then surpass) your current accomplishments!

    Many times, on this journey, I’ve found that as soon as I got a handle on one thing, I had to learn how to do another.

    To be a successful blogger, you definitely need to be willing to learn.

    Blogging is a continuous process of learning and implementation. Trial and error.

    It’s a constant grind.

    Because of this “never-ending” quality, bloggers can feel overwhelmed and eventually burn out.




    I know I’ve been there!

    Sometimes, it’s all just too much to handle. To prevent blogger burnout, be sure to take breaks when you need to – especially if you are highly sensitive like me.

    Remember, your physical and mental health always come first. 

    *Check out this post for self-care tips. 👇 
    23 Self-Care Tips for the Introvert/HSP/Empath


    Over to you … what was the most important lesson you learned during your 1st year blogging? Tell me in the comments!

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    Lessons from My First Year of Blogging

    Share this & help someone else!

    About the Author

    Kalliope Archondis, JD, LLM. 👋Hi! I'm Kalli, lawyer turned freelance writer and founder of 3dsuccess.org, a personal development blog dedicated to helping you reach your goals and achieve your definition of success - without all the stress & anxiety. You can read more about me & 3D Success here.