It’s a new year, and I’ve officially been blogging for 365 days since yesterday! It blows my mind that it has been that long. Does time always move this quickly?
Since I officially began last January, so much has changed. My entire viewpoint of what blogging is and how it works has dramatically changed.
For example, when I first started I thought of my blog as my business.
Now, I think of it simply as a platform for my bigger, larger-scope business to use.
And that’s just a minor detail. Here’s some of my biggest lessons from one year of professional blogging.
It’s all about relationships.
Sounds cheesy, but in this world, it’s so true.
When I first started blogging, I thought I could just produce content that I thought was awesome, slap it up on Pinterest, and watch the viewers role in. Many people make it seem like that.
And while producing awesome content and advertising is of course important, the real value of blogging comes in relationships.
For example, months ago, Dixya from Food, Pleasure, & Health personally reached out to me on one of my posts. We ended up meeting in person to get coffee, and now we’re in a mastermind together with 2 other awesome bloggers. They help keep me accountable to my goals, and we share all types of information so that we can learn from each other.
Having like-minded individuals around me on the same journey has been unbelievably helpful. And I’ve learned so much in such a little amount of time from them.
In addition, I’ve been able to meet other bloggers around the metroplex by following the example Dixya set for me. I’ve reached out, met others in real life, and started real relationships with people. And blogging is WAY more fun this way, too. 🙂
Real relationships with my “followers” (‘friends’ is more like it) and the people I follow helps in every aspect of my blog. On Pinterest, getting to know people via email before asking to get on their amazing group board can swing open some very big doors. On Instagram, I’ve been able to really connect with other creatives that are in the same boat as me, or are hoping to be. So many opportunities have been opened, but only in proportion to my willingness to really engage with others.
Useful content is not just viral content.
There’s so much behind-the-scenes work that producing useful content entails. When I first started blogging, I was just writing things that I thought people were searching for or wanting to read.
And while yes, viral content is very important for being discovered, it’s not the only thing that matters. In fact, that’s really just the beginning of the process.
For content to actually produce results (and by that, I mean monetary results – results that allow you to keep blogging), the content has to lead somewhere. Unless your primary monetization method is advertising (which is easier to implement but definitely harder to make a serious living off of), then page views do not matter as much as where those page views lead.
If those page views aren’t giving me real relationships with people, then they’re not going to matter. If the person clicks on a post, reads a bit of it, and then leaves, what use is that to me? I have no way of engaging with them.
This was a hard-learned lesson after almost 9 months of blogging.
I was so focused on constantly creating content that I didn’t realize that what I was producing wasn’t actually getting me any closer to my end goal.
Marketing is hard.
There’s a lot that goes into successfully marketing your blog. It sounds simple (make a few advertisements, post about it a few times, maybe pay for an ad or two), but it’s definitely the hardest part about blogging! Why?
- It’s all about relationships (see first point), and relationships take time.
- People have to interact with you a lot before they ever think about buying something from you or taking you up on an offer.
- You’ve got to be very strategic and very consistent.
- There’s a lot of different avenues you can take, but you can’t take them all. Finding the best route for you is largely trial-and-error.
- You have to find your people, and that’s not as easy as it sounds.
- It takes up a lot of your time.
Successfully marketing your blog, email list, product offers, etc. all take time, testing, and force of will. As a blogger, you’re doing everything. There’s a lot to learn.
You learn every day.
Taking that last sentence, you get to learn something new constantly! Since you’re the one doing everything, there’s never a shortage of research that needs to be done.
I really enjoy this fact about blogging, and it’s why I want to continue to stick with it into the foreseeable future. The more I learn, the more opportunities I see.
I’m an entrepreneur, not a blogger.
Changing my viewpoint from “blogger” to “entrepreneur” has been a really helpful mindset the last few months. It opens up new avenues for growth that I didn’t consider before because they weren’t specifically in the “realm of blogging.” With a more open mind about how to move forward and turn my passion into a money-making business, I’ve made much bigger strides in getting to my end goal.
Always keep your mind on the end goal.
There’s so much that you can do in the blogging and online world that it can get very overwhelming quickly. Why do you think I took two hiatuses from content production this year? I needed to recenter myself on what mattered.
For me, it meant re-evaluating what I was spending my time on. The things that I was focusing on weren’t ultimately moving me toward my end goal – being a (monetarily) full-time blogger – in the fastest possible manner. Going forward, I’ll be spending my time on only those things that will bring me nearer to that goal.
The easiest example of this was my hard focus on page views – when those page views weren’t (largely) adding to my email list or connecting me with others. It’s time for a change.
Lesson learned, 2017.
As I look back, this year was a good one. I achieved stable growth in page views and really got my feet wet in the blogging world. I learned what good, useful content was and began to really connect with those in my target audience. I learned to look outside the digital world to real, live people for support and help. And I’m really, really optimistic about this upcoming 2018 year.
Here’s to the end of the hiatus, and getting back into action!