What I Learned in my First Year of Blogging and How Much I Actually Made
Today is my first blogiversary.
Actually, I’ve been blogging for over 20 years, if you count my first Yahoo Geocities website.
Dearly Loved Child is my first “forrealsies” self-hosted website, and I must say that it’s been exhilarating.
And exhausting. And fun.
Pretty much a rollercoaster of emotions, this blog has been.
And OH—the things I am learning along the way.
WHY I STARTED BLOGGING
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I’ve been journaling since my junior high days when I scrawled bad poetry about unrequited love, to the tune of TLC and The Cranberries. I still have the journal I wrote about my husband-to-be in.
I still have the entry I wrote the day I knew I would marry him.
The words flow more freely and seem to ring truer from my spirit to the pen, than they emerge from my lips. I don’t know why, but they do. I love to write letters and greeting cards for my husband, children, and friends. I write out my prayers when I can’t decide what to say to God.
I wrote my first official blog in 2012, as a way to chronicle ten things I wanted to accomplish before my 30th birthday. If you’re curious, feel free to click here and excuse me while I cringe.
My second blog was a mom blog I started a few years later. It was the perfect outlet for newly stay-at-home-mom musings, cute kid stories, and quite a bit of oversharing.
After a few years of silence on the internet, your girl went back at it again with a new blog–this time as a journal of my deepening walk with Jesus. I kept sensing a nudge from within to share the things I was learning, so I started this blog.
WHAT I’VE LEARNED
- I’ve learned how to start my own website and get my blog up and running.
- I’ve learned how to manage my time so I can maximize my efforts.
- I have learned when to push forward, and when to pull away from the hustle and regroup.
- I have learned how to get myself organized so that I can efficiently manage my workload.
- I have learned that the message on my heart isn’t enough (on its own) to run a successful blog.
- I have learned that while success/money isn’t everything–if I want to earn an income from blogging, I will need to put in some effort to learn how to do that.
Above all, I have learned that blogging is a long game.
When I feel discouraged that my traffic isn’t skyrocketing, that my site isn’t as pretty as the others, or wonder if my opt-ins are good enough, I remind myself of the actual reason why I blog.
HOW MUCH MONEY I MADE IN MY FIRST YEAR OF BLOGGIN
In my first year, I earned a grand total of… $64.85, which just about covered the cost of hosting for the year. How ‘bout that?
Will I Keep Going?
There are moments I have wondered if I was completely in over my head.
I published 32 posts in the first year. I spent the first six months haphazardly dropping my links all over social media.
What I lacked was a solid plan, and I burned out pretty quickly.
I decided to take my time to glean wisdom in order to develop a better strategy this year. I grabbed the Genius Blogger’s Toolkit, among with some other resources to help me better learn the ropes of blogging and prepare for a slow build.
God is never in a hurry, so why should I be?
I don’t have an extensive income report, but I can offer this. I’ve seen so many Facebook threads posted by bloggers who want to earn a living from their blogs, but are discouraged because even though they are doing all the things, their numbers don’t look like the bright and shiny income reports wallpapered all over Pinterest. For the blogger who is tired and at the end of their rope, here are 9 things to consider when you’ve reached the end of your blogging rope. Because sis–I have been there.
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR BLOG ISN’T GROWING AS FAST AS YOU WANT IT TO
1) Take a short break.
Yes, I know that putting out consistent content is key for growth and traffic and all of that. BUT, the benefits of taking a moment to rest may negate the temporary fall in traffic.
- Space to think = more ideas
- A break from the blog = coming back with fresh eyes
2) Get feedback from your peers.
I get it–your blog is your baby. Deep down, you may not be willing to subject your hard work to criticism. However, it is a risk that will pay off if it leads to adjustments that will better suit your readers, and attract new ones. Another pair of eyes can more readily see things that you may not be able to. Probably because your vision is blurred from all those late night blogging sessions? Facebook blogging groups are a great place to get feedback.
3) Get educated.
There are a ton of courses, ebooks, and Youtube videos to teach you whatever you want to know–SEO, Google Analytics, Pinterest, affiliate marketing–you name it, you can find it. On a budget? Keep an eye out for free resources that are readily available from some of the top bloggers. Most of them will only cost you an email address.
4) Join a community.
The Facebook groups I have joined have been invaluable. You can share your content, glean wisdom from other bloggers, trade tips and collaborate. You need people in your corner who get it, and who will help you achieve blogging success.
5) Re-evaluate your branding.
I have read over and over that the content of your blog matters more than how it looks, but that didn’t stop me from changing my blog name, branding, and design. My traffic has increased dramatically in the past several weeks since I gave the blog a facelift. If you feel your blog needs an upgrade to attract your ideal reader, go for it.
6) Update your pins.
You will want to create a few different styles of pins for each post so you can rotate them on Pinterest. Periodically, I create new pins for each post with different headings and keywords to drive new traffic to my blog.
7) Re-consider your niche.
Some niches are more profitable than others. You can look at your Pinterest home page and quickly figure out which niches are popular these days. You can also ask: what are my readers searching in Google and Pinterest? What questions do they have that you can help them find answers for? If you are blogging about something you are passionate about (i.e. beekeeping), but no one is looking for posts on beekeeping, then you may want to think about choosing another niche.
8) Consider moonlighting.
Unless you have a full-time job and no margin in your life to fit another side hustle on top of a blog, you may want to think up a way to earn some extra cash while you grow your blog. Many bloggers are also virtual assistants who either freelance, or work remote for other companies. You can make up to $50 an hour or more, doing anything from email correspondence and editing documents to digital marketing and managing Pinterest accounts. In many cases, you can set your own hours.
Interested in learning how to become a VA? Check out this post.
9) Just keep swimming.
Most blogs are not an overnight success. There is a LOT of work that goes into building a blog, a business, and a brand. Keep your eyes on the prize and remember why you are doing this. Chances are, you have received at least one comment from someone that found your content genuinely helpful. Carry that with you when you’re up late writing and pinning. Keep educating yourself, and surround yourself with people who will cheer you on (and that you can return the favor for as well).
SHOULD YOU START A BLOG?
Are you thinking about starting a blog, but on the fence about whether it’s right for you? Are one or more of the following statements true for you?
- You love writing and have a knack for communicating with others.
- You are the resident “guru” in your family, at your job, or in your social circles.
- You’re the person people come to for advice, recipes, or beauty tips.
- There is subject matter that you know inside out, and enjoy explaining the ins and outs to others.
- You constantly have an encouraging word for people.
- You have been through personal trauma and have a desire to comfort others going through dark times.
- You have a message burning on your heart that you are dying to share with others.
- Your social media posts are eloquently written and notoriously lengthy.
If any, many, or all of the above statements are true for you, consider starting your own blog! With the wealth of knowledge available literally at your fingertips, getting a blog up and running couldn’t be easier.
For a walk-through guide to starting your blog, click the button below.
FAVORITE TOOLS AND RESOURCES
When I first started blogging, I researched until my face went numb to find resources that would help me grow my blog. These right here are at the top of my list:
Hosting & Web Design
- I use Siteground for my web hosting. Never had a problem with them. Siteground has been reliable, efficient, and affordable.
- My website theme is Divi by Elegant Themes. Elegant Themes offers a low price for annual membership, and lifetime membership for a reasonable rate. I sprang for the lifetime membership on Cyber Monday and have no regrets. Elegant Themes offers hundreds of fully-customizable, professional layouts, social sharing tools, and an email opt-in builder.
- Pretty Web Design creates stylish, responsive layouts for Divi. After tinkering on my own with Divi for several months, I purchased my theme by Pretty Web through Creative Market.
Branding & Graphics
- Canva is my fave for creating graphics and printables for my opt-ins. It is free, and easy to use.
- Creative Market is my favorite place to purchase graphics, fonts, mockups, themes, and more.
- Ivory Mix offers stock photos for free and for purchase. Get unique photos for your blogs and social media graphics.
Organization & Productivity
- Trello has been a lifesaver when it comes to organizing everything related to the blog. You can add a calendar and sync it up with your Google Calendar or iCal. Grab the app and use your phone to stay on top of things. Click here for the BEST tips on using Trello to manage your editorial calendar and social media.
- Buffer is one of the tools I use to share my social media posts. You can schedule your posts to be shared on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram for free. Get the app and manage your social media right from your phone.
- Dlvr.it is another social sharing tool I use. You can feed posts from your blog to two social accounts, and Dlvr.it will loop your posts at random.
- Planoly is an Instagram scheduling tool I just got hip to a few weeks ago. You can schedule your posts (hashtags and all) and see everything–scheduled and unscheduled–on a photo grid and calendar. If you download the app to your phone, you can share all of your photos and screenshots straight to Planoly to be saved and scheduled for later.
Courses & eBooks
- Ready Set Blog for Traffic by Twinsmommy – A comprehensive overview on growing your blog; includes plenty of cheat sheets and other resources to get you started
- Let Pinterest Grow your Email List by Megan from LoveFamilyHealth – Learn to create the perfect pin to market your content and grow your list
- Pinteresting Strategies by Carly of MommyonPurpose – Learn manual pinning techniques to increase page views not taught anywhere else on the internet
- Manual Pinning Organization in Trello by BeautyofSelah – The absolute BEST manual pinning digital organization method you will find
In the next year of blogging, I pray that I will not wander off in search of bigger, brighter things. I want to stay on the path that God has set before me. I am grateful for the opportunity to share with you, and I hope to continue on this journey with you.