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I have been blogging on and off and about five years now and I'm just going to be honest, it wasn't a piece of chocolate cake.
In fact, most of the time it wasn't even a piece of carrot cake.
Sorry carrot cake lovers.
That being said, I've learned a lot and am obviously still blogging so it wasn't all bad.
In fact, a lot of blogging I loved and still do.
But I'm writing this post to show you it's not all rainbows, butterflies and chocolate cake.
Sometimes you get stuck with carrot cake.
I've had my fair share of blogs that never saw the light of day.
Others were thrown about the internet a few times here and there and were maybe seen by one more person than my mom.
Everyone's point of view and opinion of what success means to them is going to be a bit different.
I have since created two new blogs, the one you're reading now and this one (still a work in progress) and I'm brought some highly valuable lessons with me to my two new blogs.
Oh, I'm also creating a third so stay tuned for that if you like lifestyle stuff.
And since I want you to actually stick around and read this post I'm going to get right into it.
This was probably one of the tougher lessons I to learn and I had to learn it quickly.
When I first started blogging I was blogging about whatever the heck I wanted, what I enjoyed, what I found interesting but of no particular value.
I was literally putting a few random words on a page and calling it a blog post.
I wasn't thinking that if I wanted to use my blog as a business and not a hobby or personal blog then I needed to actually think about what my audience wanted.
Not just what I wanted.
It took me a long time to figure this out.
I didn't understand why no one but my mom was reading it.
Then it hit me, I wasn't providing any value and I had zero direction.
So even if people were coming to my blog they were bouncing right away because of well one, they didn't care about why I thought my dog was adorable with his Christmas sweater on and two, it didn't give anything in return.
No value, no entertainment, no nothing.
But once I figured that out…after yes, three unsuccessful blogs that were literally just about what I wanted them to be about, everything changed.
As I said, blogging is about teaching others and if your audience doesn't want or need to learn about “how cute my dog was today”, they aren't going to read it.
Blogging is giving the people what they want and until I did that, my blog didn't grow.
Helpful Resources: To learn how to actually write blog posts that your audience wants and gets some value out of, you can check out this post and this post.
Oh man, I used to avoid other blogs and other bloggers like the plague!
I kept thinking of them as my competition and let's face it, I was stubborn as heck and I didn't want to learn from them.
But they've been blogging for a whole lot longer than me and a lot can be learned from seasoned bloggers.
I didn't want to collaborate or join Facebook groups with other bloggers and I sure as heck didn't want other bloggers to read my blog.
What a mistake!
The fact of the matter is, you can't do this alone.
Well, you can but it's lonely and tough.
Collaborating, growing and learning from other bloggers is imperative to the success of your blog.
But don't go too far into looking at what other bloggers are doing and play the comparison game.
That helps no one.
I was so excited to launch my blog.
I had everything set up, I had five blog posts with catchy titles (or so I thought) and clicked publish.
I sat back and waited for the heaps of traffic to come rolling in.
Alright, okay, no worries, so I kept writing and writing and writing.
I deleted that blog and tried again…and again.
This was devastating to me.
I thought people would just show up at my door excited to read what I had to share.
I was like that house that has all their lights off during Halloween but is patiently waiting by the door with loads of candy.
Nobody knew I was home.
My marketing strategy was zero.
Literally, I wasn't sharing my blog posts anywhere so why would I expect people to show up??
I had no idea that I actually had to share my blog posts for people to read them. I just assumed that once it was on the internet people know it was there.
This one stung quite a bit but you live and learn.
I didn't start using social media for my blog until this blog. YES.
And at the very beginning, I didn't even know what SEO was.
I now utilize Pinterest and SEO to drive thousands of views every single month.
Helpful Resources: If you want to grow your blog, you have to show people it's there. Pinterest is one of the best places to start when it comes to growing blog traffic and getting your blog out there.
You can check out this post and this post for more on Pinterest. And if you'd like to dive into SEO (search engine optimization) which is SOOOO important, you can sing up for this free SEO Bootcamp.
That sounds like I'm contradicting myself.
When I first started blogging I was blogging five to six times a week but my posts were only about 300-500 words on a good day.
My posts weren't super informative, I wasn't giving any value and I was driving myself crazy trying to blog that much.
I started to dread writing posts, I became inconsistent and frustrated.
At this time I was also not getting any traffic and spending hours on my blog only to get nowhere.
Today, I write two blog posts a week, two because I'm slightly obsessed with writing and each post is 1,000-1500 words long.
Some of my posts are closer to 3,000 or 4,000 words.
Not only does this allow me to teach and make my posts as valuable as possible, but it also allows me to write more while writing less frequently.
In my eyes, blogging is about quality over quantity.
Which is something I didn't focus on before and my results reflected that.
All in all, I found what worked best for me and my audience which is extremely important.
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And if it is broke, fix it.
The first time I even realized making money from your blog was a thing was when a family member of mine asked if I was making money blogging.
I said no but soon became consumed by the idea.
Why this idea had never crossed my mind before, I'm not really sure.
Probably because I wasn't really paying attention to other bloggers writing about making money.
Keep in mind, I didn't realize I even could monetize my blog until my third “failed” blog.
Let's get one thing straight, you do not, I repeat, you do not have to ever monetize your blog. That is your choice and your choice alone.
And you also don't have to be in the “make money blogging” niche.
The reason I even wanted to make money blogging in the first place was so that I could be a full-time blogger because I love it (and I am).
Anyway, I went off on a rant but the point is, I didn't even know it was possible and when I did I was able to share resources and tools with my audience as well as make some money.
Helpful Resources: If you would like to learn a few different ways to make money blogging you can check out this post, this post, and this post.
Growing my email list was probably one of the most difficult lessons I had to learn.
I thought emails didn't matter.
I thought as long as I had followers on social media I was good.
I didn't realize the importance of email marketing and once I did, I didn't understand how to grow my list.
I paid for ads, I spent hundreds of dollars and got ZERO leads.
I didn't realize I had a list building gold mine sitting right in front of me!
My blog is the biggest driver of growth for my email list and it's free.
I don't spend money on ads, I don't waste time and I do it all on autopilot.
Helpful Resources: Your email list is such an important asset but it's not as easy to build one as it used to be. Check out this post to learn how to actually build your list the right way.
While I look back at these past blogs as unsuccessful, I will always see them as lessons learned.
I'm always improving and once you know better you do better right?
So whether you are just starting out or are trying to take your blog more seriously look at everything as a lesson that can be learned and improved on!
Are you new to blogging or have you been blogging for a while? Tell me below!
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I loved this post! I am a new blogger and questioning the process. I have thoughts spinning in my mind about next steps. I feel that I have so much to learn. This is a very exciting world for me because I found a true passion. Looking to learn as much as possible.
Thank you so much, Kelley! I completely understand! Blogging can be quite overwhelming at first but it’s so much in the long run! The biggest thing to think about is what are your goals for your blog? Do you just blog for fun? Are you blogging for a business? Are you trying to build passive income? Asking these questions can really help you get a clearer idea of what direction to take next!
I have had the idea of blogging since December 2017, it is now april and I have yet to do it. I am also an over thinker and I have been reading and doing all the research I can on how to have a successful blog. I am so hesitant because I do not want to fail so I want to make sure I am doing what I need to and I am doing things right. I have my domain name, a niche, but I am lacking how to go about starting it and after that, how to manage it. That’s what I am most hung up on is how to manage it. I need help but unsure where to look. I have read only a few of your blog posts but I love them and might subscribe. Thank you for letting me know through your writing that I am not the only over thinker and that I can to I can be myself through my blog.
Thank you so much, Stephanie! I’m so glad that my blog posts have helped you!! If you’ve got your domain name, a niche and a place to write, then the next step is really just to start writing! Other than that I do think it’s important to think about what the goal is for your blog. Are you blogging to help others? Are you blogging just for yourself? For a business? This can kind of help you think about the direction of your blog. But the easiest thing to do is just start writing! I completely understand the feeling of overwhelm when first beginning but honestly, once you just start writing and enjoying the process, it’s so much fun! And I post a new blog post once a week and every day I go into the blog to reply to comments and I also market my blog but other than that, there isn’t much maintenance required. If you have any more questions about what to do next with your blog don’t hesitate to ask! I’m so excited for you to begin blogging!!!
Thanks for sharing this post! I am a new blogger I always wanted to be a blogger but never did then I finally got the courage to start three months ago! It has been a tough road but a very fun and exciting! I was so happy to finally start and I’m working my way up slowly. I loved this blog post I am definitely going to pin it on Pinterest! Thanks for sharing!
Congratulations on starting your new blog, Kelsey!! That’s so exciting!! Blogging can be a bit overwhelming at first but just focus on one thing at a time and make sure you are enjoying the process! Thank you so much! I really appreciate it and I’m so glad you found this post helpful! Good luck on your blogging journey!
I just started blogging, I haven’t even hit publish on my site. I have posts written, but I am having difficulty with setting up my WordPress site and linking my MailChimp account and just figuring the whole setup process. It has turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be. Nothing comes easy, and I am not giving up!
I know there’s a lot to think about when it comes to blogging and it can be overwhelming. What are you having trouble with on WordPress? Setting up a blog has a lot of moving pieces but it’s important to just focus on one thing at a time! I put my focus on three things, adding opt-ins that people can sign up for throughout my blog posts, a marketing strategy and writing blog posts and titles that my audience is searching for. Writing a list of three things to focus on can help reduce the overwhelm a bit. I hope you get your blog up and running very soon!!
I completely relate myself with your articles. My thought process was same until I realize that it doesn’t work in that way. It’s been a year I have started my blog and in my earlier days I didn’t realize that I’m doing everything wrong and now after a year I realized all the points that you mentioned. I just feel you have written my story. 🙂
Wow, thank you so much! Your words mean so much to me. I’m so glad I was able to write in a relatable way because I completely understand what it feels like to think you’re doing everything right and find out later you weren’t. It’s kind of heartbreaking but these are all lessoned learned and I’m learning new things every day! Thank you so much for your kind words!
This is an awesome post. I am a bit skeptical about the email list, but I think it is time for me to start one. My blog is a few months old, so I am still learning. Great advice.
Thank you so much, Serena! If you don’t mind me asking, what makes you skeptical about email lists? Blogging is really fun but can a bit to get off the ground, keep writing and learning and you’ll get to where you want to be!
Love the honesty! I’m seeing slow growth on my blog, I Spy Fabulous, but it’s definitely more work than I thought (and I’m an experienced copywriter!). I definitely agree with you that collaboration is big – but I’m noticing with so many new bloggers flooding the blogosphere, it’s hard to make those authentic connections. Have you written at all about how you find them and build relationships? Thanks again!
Thanks, Erica! I agree, it can be tough out there for bloggers to find those real genuine connections but I haven’t personally written directly on this topic. I do find the most connections through facebook groups geared towards bloggers and while not everyone is looking to help each other in those groups, most people are.
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