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50 Lessons Learned As A New Blogger

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I love any reasons to celebrate. So today, we’re celebrating because this is officially the 100th post on this little blog! It feels like I’ve written way more than 100 posts since starting this back in the Spring. But at the same time, it feels like I was hitting the “publish” button for the first time yesterday. One thing I know for sure is there have been a boatload of lessons learned as a new blogger.

In honor of 100 blog posts, I wanted to do something fun. I considered throwing it back to a celebration in the style of the 100th day of school. But I decided against sticking 100 pieces of pasta to construction paper or dressing up like I’m 100 years old.

Instead, I decided to do something I love to do, sharing insights and things I’ve learned. So today, I share with you 50 lessons learned as a new blogger. I was going to make this list 100 things, but it turns out that’s just really challenging to come up with. So this is the best I can do. Thanks for sticking with me through 100 posts. Cheers to 100 more!

  1. It is not easy. No matter how many websites out there make it look simple, there are so many more moving parts than you could ever know from simply viewing a website.
  2. You need to do more than write.  The creation of the content is only one small aspect of blogging. There is also social media, marketing, emails, and trying to drive traffic to the site. Each of which takes time, effort, and know-how.
  3. There is freedom in writing.  You really can say whatever you want to say (within reason). Your blog is a place to speak your mind, and you should do so however you see fit.
  4. Not everyone is going to like it.  And that’s okay. Not everyone likes banana pudding, but who are we to judge?
  5. Give it away.  Create printables and other freebies and give them away. Provide value for the people who are coming to your blog. It will pay dividends on the back end.
  6. The posting schedule needs to be reasonable.  I started off posting every day and quickly got burnt out. Posting 1-3 times a week seems a much more manageable cadence.
  7. Motivation is something you create. I don’t always want to write a new blog post. But once I force myself to do it for 5 minutes, I generally get into the flow.
  8. Writing about what you love is always easier than writing what you think other people want to hear.  Passion comes through in writing, and readers can feel when it’s forced or inauthentic.
  9. Vulnerability is always going to be scary.  While hitting the publish button gets easier in time, putting yourself out there doesn’t.
  10. Define your why, you will need to refer back to it constantly.  I started this blog to create content that can both provide an escape and help people learn something. I remind myself of that daily.
  11. Niche down or go crazy. It’s easy to paint with a broad brush, but honing in on a few topics makes it much easier to create quality content.
  12. You can’t start a blog just to make money.  Because the reality is, it’s not going to make money for a while if it ever does. Go back to #10.
  13. I have more to say than I thought I did.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could fill 100 blog posts with coherent words. I guess my husband should be happy I have somewhere to channel all this.
  14. I’m more cautious with my words.  Words have meanings. And when you’re writing for other people to read them, it’s better to be especially careful than to say something you didn’t mean to say.
  15. Writer’s block is real.  Some days I just can’t make the words. And it’s those days that I gracefully step back, let my mind wander, and trust that I can come back and pull something together after a reprieve.
  16. Use your resources.  Other bloggers put helpful information online for bloggers. Find a site that discusses aspects of blogging that you’d like to know more about. The free content in blogs is out there for a reason. Consume it!
  17. Create a content calendar.  If I could tell 6-months-younger Brooke one thing, it would be to create a content calendar and posting schedule. Having a plan makes it far easier to create targeted content.
  18. Follow people who are further along.  Find a blogger or two who are where you want to be one day. Look at their sites and how they do what they do. If you’re feeling extra friendly, reach out, and try to establish a relationship.
  19. Not every post is going to be a winner. In fact, most of them may only be read by your family (Hi Mom, Dad, MIL, FIL!) But you have to write the losers to eventually write the brilliant posts that you’re proud of and that will (hopefully) be viewed by hundreds or thousands of people.
  20. Invest in a writing tool.  Grammarly* is my tool of choice, which has a free and paid version. I opted for the paid version after realizing the value of making sure each of my posts was error-free as possible.
  21. You will post blogs with errors. It’s going to happen, even if you re-read every post 47 times and scan it with Grammarly. Rely on your sweet husband to do double-proofreading and call you out when things aren’t perfect. He’ll be happy to do so.
  22. Pay for a logo.  I started by creating my own logo, and the difference between the initial logo and my current one from Fiverr* is laughable. Some things are better left to professionals unless, of course, you moonlight as a graphic artist.
  23. Try new layouts.  I think I switched the configuration on this site 3-4 times before purchasing a theme. WordPress and similar sites have crazy flexibility. And odds are good that you won’t know what you like best or what works best for displaying your posts until you mess around with it a bit.
  24. Take advantage of plugins.  Tools like YoastSEO and WPRecipeMaker are game-changers.
  25. Edit after you publish.  Once a post has been out there for a few months, go back and see it with new eyes. You will likely find edits to make the content more engaging, especially now that you’ve got some more articles under your belt.
  26. Make a stance on ads and pop-ups.  Personally, I can’t stand it when I go to a site, and I have 2 ad videos playing and a pop-up in my face before I’ve read the first word. I promised myself I would never do that to my readers, and I plan to keep that promise. But if that’s something you want to use to monetize your site, figure out the best way to approach it before jumping in.
  27. Have an email opt-in.  It doesn’t have to be aggressive with an in-your-face pop-up. Sometimes simply adding in your opt-in to some posts or putting it into a sidebar on your home page is a nice subtle way to have people sign up for your email list in which you promise not to spam them with sales-y nonsense.

  28. See what I did there?
  29. Ask for support/sign-ups/sales.  You won’t get anything unless you ask for it, so you can’t expect to build an email list to use for future promotions unless you put it out there to people. The longer I do this blog thing, the more I realize shameless self-promotion is part of it.
  30. Tell your friends. At first, I was hesitant to tell friends about my blog. It felt so new and uncertain, and I didn’t know if blogging was dead in 2020. (Spoiler alert: It’s not. Great content is always in.) But now that I’m more comfortable as a writer, it’s easier to talk about it with my people.
  31. Tell your uber driver/server/grocery store check-out clerk when applicable.  Be proud of what you’ve created, and don’t be afraid to spread the word that you’ve created content in a specific area if you think someone might benefit from it.
  32. Sign up for affiliate relationships for things you know and love. Affiliate programs help monetize a blog, but they are also a great way to support the companies you believe in. Fiverr*, Thrive Market*, and Grammarly* are a few of the platforms with which I have relationships. I use them, support them, and believe they can help other people, so I promote them.
  33. Use real photos when you can and stock photos when you can’t.  Sites like pexels and pixabay have been amazing when I don’t have the time, energy, or creativity to create a photo for a post.
  34. Seek inspiration where you are. Many of my post ideas come from things I’m going through or thinking about. I was trying to pull together this year’s Thanksgiving menu, which resulted in my healthy Thanksgiving swaps article. Two birds, one stone.
  35. More is more.  When it comes to blog posts, more information is often better. Studies have shown that posts over 2000 words tend to be the most well-received by readers. So take time to do more long-form content from time to time. (As a point of comparison, this post clocks in at 2152 words.)
  36. Quality is the priority.  Readers visit a site to come away with something more than when they arrived. Make sure to give a nugget of quality information in every post or something actionable for readers to do or think about.
  37. Use internal links. Someone reading a post about 50 lessons learned from starting a blog might also be interested in becoming a freelance writer, but they might not know unless you link the post to check out.
  38. Make posts easy on the eyes.
    • Breaking up a post with sub-headings, images, bullet points, and lists is a great way to ease the burden of scanning through a lengthy post of just numbers.
  39. Create an “about” page.  New readers might not know why they should listen to you when you talk about the importance of strength training for women. But if they can go to your about page and see that you’re an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, it lends a bit more credibility to why you’re an expert on the things you discuss.
  40. Fix site speed issues. When I first started this site, I used BlueHost, and I had some serious loading issues on mobile. It took up to 10 seconds to load at times and caused many people to abandon before hitting the site. I switched to SiteGround for faster hosting and have been incredibly impressed by the peppiness since then.
  41. Take time on headlines.  Using a tool like the headline analyzer in WordPress can help you determine if your headline is too long, too short, or not engaging enough.
  42. Analytics don’t mean much at the beginning. Hooking up google analytics or a similar tool is essential, but the first few months of blogging aren’t going to tell you much. Create a recurring calendar event to check analytics weekly to look for significant changes (total traffic dropoff, 100% bounce rate, etc.); other than that, don’t even waste your time waiting on the numbers to tick up higher.
  43. Security matters.  Use a plugin like Wordfence or similar to make sure your site is protected from attackers. Even a simple blog like this gets attacked daily.
  44. Make sure to require approval for comments.  If you fail to do this, spammers will add some unsavory links to your posts without your acknowledgment.
  45. Be kind to yourself.  The average blog takes years to get a legitimate following and build a community. Give yourself grace and remember that every day you show up is a step in the direction you want to go.
  46. Back it up. Use a tool like Updraft Plus to back up your site. You put a lot of time and energy into creating, editing, and publishing content. It would be a shame for that to all go away without being able to restore it.
  47. Ask your audience for ideas.  I want to write about things that I care about, but that will also help you. So leave me a comment with a topic that you want to know more about in the realms of freelance, personal finance, or healthy living.
  48. Figure out where you need help. Not every aspect of blogging will be your favorite. I love to create content, but I don’t enjoy promoting it. Promotion is an area where I can look to partner with someone else to fill the gaps.
  49. Don’t stop believing or learning.  Keep upping your blog game by consuming content, understanding trends, and giving your audience what they need. Don’t give up hope in your dream, especially early on.
  50. It’s worth it.  It may not feel like it when you’re in the trenches creating content and working on your blog behind the scenes. But every life you can impact with your content and every person who leaves your blog a bit better than when they arrived is worth every second.

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