10 Things I Learned in my First Year of Blogging

I can’t believe how fast my first year of blogging flew and boy did I learn A LOT. I remember telling a friend in October 2012 that “I won’t launch my blog until I have at least 20 drafted and scheduled posts!” For anyone who’s been blogging for awhile now, I’m sure you’re LOL’ing. Needless to say, I launched the blog on January 1, 2013 with exactly 2 drafted and scheduled posts. However, I needed no more – I had SO much fun all year thinking up new topics, writing spontaneously, learning the ins and outs, and even taking a few blog breaks in between. I learned all about social media – the wrong and the right approach. I learned about sponsorships, affiliates, link-ups, and exchanges.

I’m by no means an expert and am still learning daily, but if you’re just starting a blog or thinking of starting one, I figured some of my lessons learned may help you in your efforts.

Here are 10 Things I Learned in my First Year of Blogging, as the title of this post indicates! I couldn’t include ALL of the things I learned, so know that this is not an exhaustive list.

10things

1 > You won’t figure out what you’re really meant to write about until the mid to end of the year (if that). The “spin” of your blog, if you will, won’t be established on day one. I figured out mine in August 2013 and it took time to start aligning my life with the high level topic. What’s my high level topic you ask? A simple & balanced life! Now, I’m guessing this “spin” might change in the future, but we shall see.

2 > Readers LOVE printables. I use bit.ly links to track my printable downloads and in January 2013 I shared a monthly calendar. I had 1400+ clicks on the calendar by the time I switched to the 2014 version. Can you believe since the time I posed the 2014 version on November 20th I have over twice as many clicks than my 2013 version from all year?! Obviously the timing is important, but printables (pinned to Pinterest especially) are super popular. Even my free washi tape download has had a decent number of clicks!

3 > Use a professional design. I launched my new blog brand on November 11th and found my traffic and followers increase dramatically at the same time. It was my goal all year to work up enough motivation to spend some money to rebrand and once we adopted Trudy, that was enough of a reason for me. I just LOVE our little family illustration on the header and the cute little one of the two pups all around – including my new signature below! I have no more desire to mess around with my blog design – and that’s so important for readers. Brand recognition!

4 > Participate in link-ups. I joined my first two link-ups in July 2013: Cara Box & Boys Behind the Blog. Cara Box introduced me to some incredibly awesome gals (Kaitlyn//the host, Elizabeth, and Avery, to name a few). Boys Behind the Blog introduced me to just as many super sweet girls who LOVE their boys (brothers, husbands, etc.). I had the opportunity to meet the Boys Behind the Blog host, Mal, in Grand Rapids in October. How cool is that? Point being, participate in link-ups to meet new people and read new blogs. It’s so fun!

5 > Keep a Post Queue and/or Blog Calendar. I have a post queue topping over 40 topics to write about. If I’m EVER at a loss for a topic, I head straight to my queue and pick something to add to my calendar. It’s just that simple. Writer’s block strikes at any time and can last for however long it wants…but if you have a list of topics you’ve already thought about (and better yet already wrote about), the block may go away a little faster.

6 > Don’t obsess over stats & gimmicks. I had a “dark period” where I obsessed over my stats for a couple weeks. It totally unmotivated me and writer’s block began. I started thinking I needed to run giveaways, bring in sponsors, spend 50 hours a week networking, etc. Then I realized — this is MY blog. My story. Do I really want a bunch of people who only care about that ONE post I wrote offering something for free? Not really. I want people who feel like they know my family and want to know more about how to live a simple and balanced life. I decided then and there that I would not check my stats more than once a week. As soon as I made that decision, I was happier for it – and still am! Obviously other blogs have different goals, but this is mine!

7 > Take a break if you need it. I took quite a bit of October off blogging for a variety of personal reasons, including wanting to love on Trudy right when we brought her home! It was such a needed break and I came back better for it. I felt a little distraught during the break – thinking I was giving up the blog altogether – but in the end it was definitely worth it.

8 > Live your life outside of blogging. A funny thing happens when you start writing about your life on a blog. You want to LIVE your life more. It might even affect your family in other ways too, such as your Husband creating a “blog-worthy” anniversary gift adventure. It’s easy to want to sit behind your computer and create content all day (I’ve done it) but the content is better when you’re out living your life.

9 > Be nice. Oooooh, just be nice. There are some UGLY sites out there with exactly the opposite mentality. I choose kindness and you should too…first year and every year thereafter.

10 > Help others. I could have been better in year one with this one so I’m ending the Top 10 with it. Promote others, be a friend, help where you know the answer to a question, comment on posts that resonate with you, lift others up, support them, help others see the world through your eyes. The blogging community is zero fun if it’s just you in a room covered with with your words and pictures.

There you have it – 10 Things I Learned in my First Year of Blogging.

Do you have anything else to add? Leave a comment below!

productivity for working moms

welcome!

I'm Jessica!

I used to glorify "busy." If I wasn't busy, I wasn't doing enough. But when I became a mama, my entire outlook shifted.

 

The only way out involved a complete overhaul of my time, money & communication systems.

 

Today, I'm doing LESS and achieving more.

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