I confess: being a beginning blogger hasn’t been as much fun as I thought it would be.
I’d been studying blogging for over a year and I thought, Hey, I can do that. So I finally pulled the trigger and bought a domain name and set up hosting with Siteground.
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After all, as a freelance writer I’d built a six-figure business in a couple of years. How hard could it be to start a blog and turn it into a booming online business?
Turns out, it’s A LOT harder than I thought.
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As a beginning blogger, I thought I knew everything there was to know. Bloggers like Elna Twins Mommy and Suzi at Start a Mom Blog were my go-to gurus for blogging tips and advice.
They made it look so easy and I was pretty confident that I’d be able to start a blog and build an audience fairly quickly.
Needless to say, I was overly-optimistic and I waayyy overestimated my abilities as a beginning blogger.
After three months of blogging, I’ve made a little progress but nowhere near what I expected.
My Pinterest views are climbing but my blog traffic isn’t where I’d like it to be. And I’m still struggling to nail down the perfect lead magnet to attract readers and grow my email list.
To be honest, I’ve thought about quitting more than once. But for now, I’m sticking with it.
And in the meantime, I’m sharing the hard truths I’ve learned as a beginning blogger as a way to help other newbie bloggers get started on the right foot.
7 Lessons Every Beginning Blogger Needs to Know
1. Blogging takes time.
If there’s only one thing you learn as a beginning blogger, it’s this: blogging is really hard work.
There’s such a steep learning curve with blogging, or at least there was for me. I knew how to set up the basic framework for a WordPress blog and write blog posts. But I was (and sometimes still am) totally lost when it comes to the techie side of blogging.
Not to mention actually promoting your blog and getting traffic. I’m still figuring out Pinterest and trying to build a presence on Twitter while also staying active in the many Facebook groups I’ve joined since starting a blog.
Can you say overwhelming?
As a beginning blogger, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that if you want the results that the big-time bloggers are getting, you’ve got to put in the time and effort those bloggers did when they were starting out.
Right now, that’s my biggest struggle. Between running a successful business online already and raising two kids as a single mom, I’m stretched thin most days.
So the takeaway for you if you’re a beginning blogger? Set realistic expectations early about how much time you can spend on it.
If it’s only an hour a day, then so be it. But commit to showing up for that hour every.single.day and making the most of it. It may take you longer to get results but being consistent can eventually pay off.
2. You need a strategy.
Blogging without a plan is like taking a newborn on a road trip and leaving your diaper bag at home. If you’re not prepared, you’re going to end up with a big pile of crap on your hands.
I started out as a beginning blogger with no real strategy, other than setting up posts and messing around on Pinterest. Three months in, I’ve gotten some results but I’m sure I could be doing better if I’d started with a watertight plan.
If you’re not sure how to focus as a beginning blogger, my best pro tip is to focus on two things and two things only — content and promotion.
There’s a fairly simple formula to follow:
- Brainstorm post ideas that speak to your target audience
- Outline, write, format and publish those posts
- Get your posts in front of the people you want to read them
Looks easy, right? Not so fast.
You have to give serious thought to what your target audience’s biggest pain points are and write content that solves their problems. And it has to be engaging and provide clear takeaways, so they’re dying to come back and read the next thing you post. But first you have to get them to your blog, which means having a plan for promoting your content and driving traffic.
People aren’t just going to show up out of thin air. Attracting your core audience starts with doing things like making connections with other bloggers, establishing your presence on social media and building up a following, being active in Facebook groups and making Pinterest your bestie for life or longer.
It all comes down to strategy and if you don’t have a clear outline for getting from A to B, you’re going to end up totally lost.
3. Learning without doing is pointless.
The great thing about being a beginning blogger is that there’s sooo much information readily available to guide you every step of the way.
Want to master Pinterest? There’s a course for that. Need to grow your list? There’s a course for that, too. Plus tons of cheat sheets, checklists, workbooks, e-books, webinars, YouTube videos and blog posts about any and everything blog-related.
The bad thing about being a beginning blogger and having so many resources and tools is that it’s easy to get caught up in learning about blogging, without ever putting anything you learn into action.
And you have to do that if you want to make it past the beginning blogger stage. But it’s hard, I know. You think — I’ll just take one more course or sign up for one more masterclass and I’ll be ready to go. Only you never launch your blog or work on promoting it because you’re bogged down in learning.
I love learning about new things but at some point, you have to make the leap from learning to doing. And just so you don’t put any more pressure on yourself than you already are, let me give you some advice: forget about it being perfect.
Do it ugly, do it scared, do it even when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing. Do it super slow, one step at a time. But do something.
4. You have to run your own race.
One of the biggest obstacles to watch out for as a beginning blogger is worrying about what every other blogger on the block is doing.
You’re feeling pretty good about your progress then you notice that another blogger who launched two weeks ago already has 1,000 followers on Instagram. Meanwhile, you’ve got 30.
Or you read a blog post about a blogger who grew their Pinterest account to 1 million views in a month, while you’re struggling to crack 10,000 views.
Then there are the bloggers who post income reports. These reports are meant to be inspiring and most of the time, they are. But on days when my page views are measured in the single digits, the last thing I want to read about is how some other blogger is making $50,000 or $100,000 a month.
Do you get where I’m going with this? Comparisons are everywhere in the blogging world and you have to make a conscious decision to avoid them. Otherwise, you end up feeling like everything you do isn’t good enough and you’ll want to quit.
That doesn’t mean that you have to stop reading income reports or following your favorite bloggers. It just means that you need to keep your eyes on your own paper and focus on doing you, instead of using someone else’s success as a measuring stick for your progress.
5. You’ll get some things wrong.
Perfectionism can be just as dangerous to you blogging success as comparisons. Because trying to make it everything you do as a beginning blogger absolutely perfect is a HUGE waste of time.
Listen up: you’re guaranteed to make mistakes as a beginning blogger.
Some mistakes might be small, like publishing a post with a type or two. Others might be big, like setting up an automation to deliver your opt-in freebie to your email list…and forgetting to attach the file to the freebie. (That might have happened to me. 🙂 )
Mistakes are great, though, because every time you make one as a beginning blogger you learn something. The more you learn, the more you grow as a blogger.
Getting things wrong can also help you find your way. You might start off in one direction and think that’s going to be your path but find out that no one wants to read about what you’re writing about, or that lead magnet you spent hours and hours on gets zero clicks from would-be subscribers.
In the beginning, blogging is trial and error. Some of what you do will stick and other stuff won’t. And that’s okay.
Experiment. Try new things. If something’s not working for you, ditch it. If something is working, then fine-tune it. And if you make a mistake, learn what you can from it and move on.
6. No one will love what you do as much as you.
You could have the greatest blog in the world, with millions of followers and hundreds of subscribers and be recognized as THE influencer in your niche, but you know what? There’s always going to be someone who thinks you suck.
And in the beginning stages of blogging, you might be churning out what you think is the best stuff ever and getting unhelpful (or even hurtful) comments. Or worse, your blog is greeted with nothing but silence.
It’s hard feeling like you’re creating something that’s awesome and no one appreciates it or notices it.
When you get hung up on who’s not loving your blog, remember what YOU love about it. Remind yourself why you started a blog, what you want to achieve and who you want to help. And focus on finding your people and ignoring the naysayers.
That doesn’t mean you should tune out criticism completely, though. Constructive criticism can be helpful when you’re a beginning blogger.
I had several more experienced bloggers take a look at my blog and point out things that I had missed when I was getting started. It may not be totally comfortable for you, but don’t be afraid to ask other bloggers for feedback. And if you’re offered good advice, take it.
7. Blogging isn’t for everyone.
The most important thing I’ve learned as a beginning blogger is that you have to treat blogging like a business, even if making money from it isn’t on your radar.
That goes back to what I talked about in the beginning. Building a blog as a business is all about time, effort and planning. You have to be prepared to not get the results you were expecting and bounce back ready to try something else.
And here’s the hardest truth of all: some beginning bloggers won’t make it.
It’s not because their blog niche is all wrong or their content sucks. It’s because they’re not approaching it like a business from the jump.
Here’s what building a business is really like, from my own experience:
- It involves working a lot of hours and sometimes feeling like you’re getting nowhere.
- You’re constantly in hustle mode; even in your sleep you’re dreaming about the next step you can take in your business.
- The self-doubt factor is always there nagging at you, telling you to just give it up already.
- It can take months (or even years) for the real money to start rolling in.
Once you get past all that hard stuff and get established, running a business feels like a cake walk compared to the early days. It’s like having a baby; you forget the nine months of awfulness because you’re all caught up in that new baby glow.
Bottom line? If you want to gain real traction as a blogger, you have to be all in; you can’t do it halfway.
What Have You Learned as a Beginning Blogger?
Every beginning blogger’s experience is different and I’d love to hear what lessons you’ve learned along the way, or what challenges you’ve run into on your blogging journey so far. Hit me up in the comments and tell me about it!
And remember to share this post with another budding blog superstar if it helped you!