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I’ve been blogging for a little over a year.  It’s been fun, frustrating, enlightening and more.  (I’m still blogging, so that’s a good sign of how I feel about it.)  However, I also wanted to share what worked, what didn’t and what’s next in this post.

First Year of Blogging

Blogging caught my attention a few years ago.  I couldn’t believe that people actually made money sharing information that interested them.  It seemed like the ultimate side hustle.

Well, there’s more to blogging than that.  But, blogging is an amazing side hustle that I’m glad started pursuing.  (I haven’t made any revenue yet from my blog, but there are reasons for that shared below.)  The path forward looks good, and I’m excited to share what’s next.

Disclosure:  This page contains affiliate links.  This means, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What Worked

  • WordPress Theme – When you’re getting started, it’s important to choose a good theme for your site.  For me, that meant one that was easy to customize, offered great support when I had questions and reasonably priced.  I found that in my Bluchic theme – Isabelle.
  • Using Canva – I use Canva to design my post images.  It’s easy to use and free!  (There is a paid plan available, but I haven’t needed to upgrade yet.)
  • Starting My Email List – I would encourage any new blogger to start building their email list sooner rather than later.  It’s an upfront and ongoing expense, but don’t miss the opportunity for your early supporters and readers to connect with you.  I’ve been using ConvertKit for my email list, and have been happy with the platform.
  • Focusing on One Social Media Platform – I started using Pinterest about 7 months in.  I should have started sooner, but I’m okay with slower initial growth as I ramp up my knowledge about how to best market my blog.  It’s time consuming to manually pin on a regular basis, although I try to do that regularly.  However, I use Tailwind to schedule my pins weekly, and that helps a lot.  I can spend one smaller chunk of time, once per week, and schedule everything for that week.  I post to Instagram also, but I focus most of my social media time on Pinterest.

What Didn’t

  • Not Enough Focus – I’ve niched down since starting this blog. While you don’t want to be too narrow in your topic that it seriously limits your potential audience, you also don’t want to be all over the place with your topic(s).  I’m focusing on the areas of side hustles, entrepreneurship, personal finance and productivity.  These are areas that I can speak to with experience, and will bring the most value to my readers.
  • Neglecting the Importance of SEO – SEO (Search Engine Optimization) should be something you’re thinking about at the beginning of your first year of blogging, not later.  It’s key to growing your blog, and I didn’t really start focusing on it seriously until two months ago.  One of the best things I did to help me understand SEO and implement better practices on my site was to enroll in Stupid Simple SEO This course has truly been worth the price, and has helped me understand and implement SEO for my site.  (It’s only open for enrollment a few times a year, so be sure to get on the waitlist if it’s not open when you visit the course site!)
  • Not Posting Consistently – While I’ve posted fairly regularly, I haven’t hit my goal of posting each week.  Part of SEO is getting Google to trust your site with consistent, quality content.  Moving forward, I plan to get back on a weekly schedule of posting a new article each week.
  • Not Having A Clear Strategy – Blogging can become all consuming if you don’t have a clear strategy.  Then, you can feel frustrated and exhausted, like you’re putting in a lot of time and energy with little to no results.  (If you think it sounds like I’ve been there, you’d be right!)  I didn’t have my strategy clarified enough for the last year.  Hope isn’t a strategy.  A plan is.
  • Too Many Lead Magnets – Okay, I went a little crazy with the lead magnets.  I like to create lead magnets, and started creating lots of them.  But, I think you can have too many lead magnets, especially as a new blogger.  (Spoiler alert – I talk about how I’m correcting my mistakes in the next section.)
  • Trying to Monetize Before Traffic – This is a tricky one, because lots of people start blogging with the hopes of making money.  (Me, included!)  And, you don’t want to monetize too late, because you could be leaving money on the table, so to speak.  So, here’s my take on monetizing.  It’s okay to sign up for some affiliates and promote those early on.  But, focus your main time and energy on building your audience and readership.  The monetization will be there, and will come in time.  I’m confident of that, and I haven’t made any money from my blog yet.  You need to establish your readership and, most importantly, trust with your readers first.
  • Not Engaging My Email List – While I did start building my list, I haven’t really been engaging my list. This directly relates to not having a clearer strategy.  When you have your blog’s strategy clarified, you can then set up your email funnels more easily.

What’s Next

The best things about learning lessons from mistakes is that you’re not doomed to repeat those mistakes.  That’s how I feel about my list of “what didn’t work”.  Here are some changes I’m making to my blog for the next quarter to improve my blog’s quality, readership, engagement and SEO.

  • Creating a Strategy – My blog plan for the next year includes a weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual strategy.  I’m setting goals for myself in terms of readership, engagement and revenue.  More importantly, I’m clearly defining what steps I still need to take to achieve these goals.
  • Improving My SEO – This is probably the number one thing that new bloggers overlook, but shouldn’t.  I definitely did, but am so glad I realized it before too long.  Two immediate changes I’m making to improve my site’s SEO are:  creating a silo and keyword research.  For a deep-dive on these topics, I can’t recommend the Stupid Simple SEO course enough.  (I had never even heard of a site silo, and didn’t really understand enough about keyword research.)  I was making a lot of mistakes and hurting my SEO without even knowing it.  Fortunately, I’m correcting those mistakes early on and can avoid them in the future.
  • Consolidating Lead Magnets – I’ll be downsizing my lead magnet offerings this quarter, and focusing on just one printable lead magnet and my free SMART Goals course
  • Cultivating Engagement – With my email list, I’ll help to cultivate engagement with my readers.  I’ll also be expanding to other social media outlets that will encourage readership and engagement.

I’m excited and re-invigorated to see what the next year brings.  Blogging is a process, so don’t get discouraged if you’re not where you want to be – either with traffic, revenue, or both.  Instead, take a step back and do an assessment of what you’ve accomplished so far.  Then, look ahead and decide where you want to be a year from now.  Your path is the distance between these two points.  Start mapping out your journey!

Related Posts:

How to Start Your Blog Today

How to Write Your First Blog Post

3 Steps to Simplify Your New Blog Plan


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6 comments on “The First Year of Blogging – What Worked, What Didn’t, What’s Next”

  1. Hi Jen, great blog! I’ve been checking out some of your posts.

    In this one, I really like what you said about having a clear strategy. I’m a bit guilty of throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks!

    One thing I’m learning is that it’s probably a good idea to relate your blogging strategy to the product you sell.

    So, I’m going to add that to my own “What’s Next” list.

    Cheers and thanks for the inspiration!

    • Thanks so much, Jon!

      I think it’s really easy to use the “spaghetti method”, especially as a new blogger. There’s so much to do that developing a strategy can get overlooked.

      Excellent point on connecting your blogging strategy to your product! I’m learning that more focused is generally better, and to be patient about expanding my product offerings.

      Keep up the great work with your blog!

    • Hi Christina,

      Thanks for the comment, and you’re welcome! It’s great that you’re focusing on SEO so early on. I wish I had started sooner, but I still caught it early enough that it’s not a monumental undertaking to make changes.

      One thing that has been really helpful is creating silos for my site. I’m not sure how much you know about SEO. I knew just some very basic things before I started the SEO course that I’m taking. Creating silos can really help with SEO. Before I did this, I had about 15 categories . . . for a little over 30 posts. Yikes! I learned that you should have, ideally, about 3 to 5.

      So, I niched down and focused my blog’s topics to: Side hustles, personal finance, entrepreneurship, productivity and (of course!) blogging. These are my five “silos”. I recategorized all of my posts to align with one of these silos, and then only link to other posts within the silo. (Posts that are in the “side hustle” category only get linked to other posts within this category.) I’m still working through this process, but have already seen some small increases in organic traffic.

      The SEO course that I mentioned in my post has really saved me time in implementing SEO on my site. I’d highly recommend it if you’re looking for a course on the topic.

      Best wishes on the process, and let me know how it’s going!

  2. hi I thought I would take a moment and comment, your post caught my eye on pinterest because I am there! no money. I have been a blogger for many years and although I focus on the writing, I dabbed a bit in the affiliates. never making money, even with changing up my layouts making it more attractive, I like designing by the way, nothing works. I also am frustrated with the mailing list thing as it would have it no one every subscribes. so there you have it. thanks for reading and good luck!

    • Hi Cathy,

      Thanks so much for the comment! I wanted to share what the last year has looked like for me because it can be tough for new bloggers to start making money, and it’s so easy to get discouraged. For most of the year, I didn’t have a clear, actionable strategy. I think that’s really key. I have a nice looking site with good writing. But, if there’s no (or not enough traffic), it’s all of little use.

      Pinterest has been excellent for driving traffic, as shown by you finding my post on there! 🙂 But, I realized that I also need to focus on SEO. I’m working through the process of auditing my site, setting up my silos and doing keyword research when writing my posts. The keyword research won’t necessarily change what I write about, as I want to write for my audience. But, it will help me optimize my posts so that they get better ranking on Google. My email list is slowly growing, and I think increased traffic will help that along.

      I hope these tips helped!

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