I could have named this post so many things:
- What to expect when you’re blogging
- How to survive your first year of blogging without burning out
- Why the first year of blogging sucks for most of us
Sound pretty dismal, don’t they? Well the first year of blogging in general is pretty damn dismal. You don’t have any traffic, your social media channels are tiny & you’re already running out of ideas to write about.
But you should stick with it, and let me tell you why:
Like many other ‘hobbies’ your blogging skills grow & develop with time, and the payoff isn’t immediate.
Just because it’s published online doesn’t mean anyone has seen it yet – it’s still there waiting to be discovered. The more time and effort you put into creating decent content the more likely it is to get picked up, read & shared by someone else.
10 Challenges You’ll Face In Your First Year of Blogging
I don’t care what anyone has told you – blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. And since most people don’t see much of a profit their first year they give up – often around the 6 month mark. But don’t give up just yet – if your heart is in it for the long haul it’s worth toughing out that first year. It gets easier after – I promise.
1. Traffic Isn’t Easy to Come By, Unless You’re Willing to Pay For It
If you want to see some decent traffic numbers in your first couple months of blogging you’re probably going to have to pay for it. Facebook, Google & Bing are all popular choices – it’s up to you whether you want to purse paid traffic or not.
If you’re blogging about a specific product and are confident that you can get a targeted audience to your site I don’t see why not. If you’re starting an online business treat it as such – and paying for traffic/ads is going to be part of that strategy.
On the other hand if you’re a personal blogger, or one that’s sharing information or tips rather than products it might be wiser to wait it out. If your content is good in time you will start to see some traffic, but it’s not quick. Most of the blogs I’ve started fall into this category and I can tell you the organic traffic is nothing to write home about those first 6 months – and it usually takes a year for it to really start picking up.
2. Your Call to Action(s) Won’t Get Much Action
Not many people leave comments compared to the number that read a post, and not many will sign up for your list either. While those numbers might be tiny at first don’t get discouraged. I don’t know many people that get any comments at all on their first few posts. Unless you’re a business woman (or man) doing a lot of pre-selling or have a built in audience from another endeavor don’t expect too much action on your calls to actions – at least not yet.
3. You’ll Spend Inordinate Amounts of Time Tweaking Your Website
I know, I know – I did this for months. I got so tired of not being able to easily customize my sites that I gave in and bought the Genesis themework. This decision isn’t for everyone – but if you’re like me and spend a lot of time doing little CSS tricks & changing things around constantly looking for a themework that’s easy to customize might be a wise option.
4. You’ll Feel Overwhelmed by All The Blogging Advice Out There
SEO, PPC, content marketing, plugins, growth hacking – ahhh, it’s a lot to digest. But the good thing about blogging is that the core of it – the writing – will stay the same. You have a goal with your articles – keep that in mind and keep on writing.
In your down time start to learn about one new blogging idea or strategy at a time. You’ll burn yourself out if you try to take it all in at once. At it’s heart blogging is about your communication & writing skills – and if you’ve got an important story or tip to share that’s worth putting effort into.
All of those extra blogging tips will come in handy, but you don’t need them all right away. I wouldn’t spend any money on any online courses or books to help you with SEO or marketing – there’s so many sites out there will everything you need – it just takes awhile to read through it all. Not to mention so many of the techniques & ranking factors change over time – that book you buy today could be irrelevant tomorrow.
Spend a lot of time during your first year thinking about your content strategy – all those blogging tips you’ll be learning can be applied later.
5. You’ll Wonder if it’s Worth All The Time & Effort
If you started blogging to make money I don’t blame you for wanting to give up. Running a blog that produces content on a regular basis takes a lot of time & effort – and you’re probably not getting much in return.
And if you don’t feel attached to the content you’ve created (as in if it was all just done for money) you probably should try something else. Blogging isn’t an easy way to get rich quick.
But if you’re proud of the work you’ve written, happy with those articles you’ve posted please stick with it. The internet is full of garbage – if you’re creating good quality stuff you’re providing help to the rest of us – whether you realize it or not. In time good blogs grow and they start to see a return on all that effort.
And the crappy blogs? Well they just fade away and get replaced by different ones.
6. You’re Going to Second Guess Your Strategy
When I started blogging I thought producing at least one new article a day was a decent way to get ranked. You know what happened after a few months? Nothing, absolute silence.
Turns out both Google & regular people don’t like crappy short posts, even if they’re turned out quickly. Every once in a while I’d luck out and rank for a new keyword, but it wasn’t long before it was taken right away again by someone doing it better.
After those first 3 months I started focusing on quality rather than quantity – and by the end of my first year my traffic had grown to over 5,000 visitors a day. It took a lot of work but it’s all thanks to creating some decent articles – not just a ton of posts.
I completely changed my strategy and it worked in my favor, but it’s important to remember that changing gears like that doesn’t award instant gratification. It was still 6 months after creating “good” stuff that I started ranking for much at all.
7. Your Friends Will Get Sick of Hearing About Your Blog
For the sake of your friendships join a blogging group or two. Somewhere you can share your questions & struggles with like minded folks. Not only will you make some new blogging buddies but you’ll be keeping your friends from rolling their eyes every time you ask about that new background.
8. Your Brain Will Be Overwhelmed by Content Ideas
One of the best things you can do for your blog (and your sanity) is to pick a few small topics & stay within them. Sounds weird doesn’t it? But I swear – if you limit yourself to a few topics rather than one huge one it will make things so much easier.
Let’s say you’re starting a blog about cats. Such a big open topic, right? You can write about health, behavior, tips, etc… But what starts to happen over time is you’re going to feel overwhelmed by the possibilities. You’ll have no idea where to focus because you haven’t set up any limitations on content.
Instead of just blogging about cats make your blog about cat behavior. Focus on scientific studies & research. Offer some basic tips on helping with behavioral problems. When you stick to just a few areas within a big topic it’s much easier to come up with content ideas. Rather than thinking “frak what am I going to write about tomorrow” you’ll be thinking “what kitty behavior haven’t I written about lately or could I expand upon..”
So cats might be a bad example but you catch my drift. Creativity often comes when we’re forced to think of different ways to view/talk about the same old topic – and it’s easy to get overwhelmed without restrictions.
9. You’re Going to Forget All Those Great Ideas You Had Earlier
Keep a journal handy so you don’t lose all those ideas as they come in. Sometimes it’s in the shower, sometimes it’s during breakfast & other times it’s while you’re out to lunch with workmates. Be prepared for those good ideas as they come in and write them down.
How many times have you come home from work, get set up at the computer & find that you’ve completely lost your train of thought? You had a perfect article idea 6 hours ago… and now it’s gone.
Get a little notepad or scrap book so you can easily jot down ideas throughout your day. Once a good idea is gone you might not be able to get it back.
10. You Might Get Kinda Lonely
I spend a lot less time “in person” with people than I did before I started blogging. Some of it’s just the nature of technology these days, but a lot of it has to do with the writing itself which is a solitary activity for most of us.
Remember that your blog will be there tomorrow, and it will be there next week. While it’s important to stick to some sort of posting schedule (once or twice a week perhaps) you’re “real life” is still important.
If you start to ignore your real life engagements for blogging not only will you lose friends – you’ll find that you’ve lost a lot of your ideas as well. One of the quickest ways to get yourself motivated to write again is to go out and experience the world. Don’t shut yourself in for the sake of your blog – you won’t be doing it any favors in the long run.
Here’s my top picks for articles that anyone struggling with a new blog should check out. They’re insightful, contain actionable tips & best of all they might just be that inspiration you need to stick with it.
- 5 Realistic Benchmarks For Your First Year of Blogging
- 21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic
- An Open Letter to Bloggers Struggling to Get More Traffic
- 11 Beginner Mistakes that Cripple Blogs in Their First Year
What Challenges Did You Face When You Started Blogging?
How long did it take for blog to “take off” or get some decent traffic? Did you feel like quitting after 6 months? Are you glad you stuck with it?