Here are some tips for first year bloggers, from 19 experts who've been where you are now - and know what it's like.
Your first year of blogging is like scaling a sheer rock face.
Your biggest enemies are going to be fear and self-doubt.
But everyone was once a first year blogger, even the experts.
So I went to them and asked them:
This is what they said:
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Prioritise strategies/tactics based on their effectiveness. Get clear on your goals and exactly what will help you get there as fast as possible.
Here's an example:
If email marketing will get you to your goals faster - focus on that & push email sign ups more than encouraging social media followers.
That means optimizing your blog accordingly. For example, your sidebar probably shouldn't be packed full of social widgets. Of course, make your social profiles available (e.g. in your footer) but they shouldn't be the main focus.
Here's why this is super important:
The majority of people that visit your blog probably won't return. And social networks are full of distractions, so it's easy for visitors to get side-tracked with something else rather than following you.
A good way to approach this is to invite your readers to follow you on social media after they've joined your email list.
Get CTA's into your welcome email, and at various stages of your auto-responder sequence.
Note, I discuss the above in more depth in this post over at Blogging Wizard.
Pick a niche and stick with it. I can't tell you how many people I saw quit after 10 posts and seeing 0 visits, or after a year and only doing X, Y, or Z. For some people, success comes in copious amounts and is immediate. If you are a good looking young man/lady that writes eloquently and has tons of cool toys, the odds are stacked in your favor (but not required).
Personally I blogged for 2-3 years before I saw any sort of tangible results. It took another 2 years for things to really start popping, but when it finally happened it really popped. I'm not saying its going to take 4 years, but I am saying you need to stick with it.
Also don't take shortcuts. It is tempting to spam the living bejezuz out of people on social etc and buy a ton of backlinks, but its just not the way to go.
Pick a niche, and stick with it. Don't flip flop around. Blogging has not made me famous by any means, but it has allowed me to connect with other like minded people around the world. It has driven business to my company, and given me a satisfaction I never even knew existed. Good luck!
The most valuable advice I would give to someone in their first year of blogging is a tip I received from a prolific blogger named Pat Flynn over at smartpassiveincome.com.
When writing content for your blog you shouldn’t over-do the amount of self or ego you present. What you should lead with in the main, is quality content that helps. You should only consider a deep share of yourself when you have an audience that are asking for more. Showing your value is far more endearing to your audience than boasting about what makes you great, or how much of a bad day you had. Quality first, ego last.
Create content that is useful to the reader. Digital marketers and bloggers are dealing with the evolving online consumer, who is inundated with more than four hours of digital media, advertising and entertainment content (monetized) per day, according to a report from Nielsen in 2016. It can be compared to an arms race, and the most interesting, useful and authentic writing tends to rise to the top and get read, while unentertaining, proprietary or blatantly advertorial content gets lost in the shuffle.
Readers have many expectations of quality content. They want to learn something new, and be informed so that they are concurrent with trends and what everyone else is talking about. They want to weigh in with family and friends in conversation. Whether the blog is corporate and commercial, for a charitable cause or activism, or strictly for entertainment, the reader expects to walk away with insights they can use in their life, or to have a very interesting conversation, at the very least.
The best thing I learned is to look at each blog/article as an opportunity to deliver an experience, information, entertainment or learning that is valuable to the reader. That’s how you grow audience, and reap the rewards of monetizing.
It's not easy to build an audience. In addition to publishing your blog on a regular basis, it's also important to promote your blog posts via different channels. Remember this is a journey.
Pam Didner is a marketing consultant, author and speaker, whose international book, “Global Content Marketing”, is the first to offer an accessible, comprehensive process to scale content across regions.
In addition to speaking and consulting, Pam teaches at West Virginia University and the University of Oregon. She shares marketing thoughts at pamdidner.com and contributes articles to The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Content Marketing Institute, and other publications.
Build relationships in your niche. Having connections in business is as important as having good friendships in real life.
The most valuable advice I would give to someone in their first year of blogging is this: Before you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, ask yourself, “So what?” Reframe your perspective to literally put yourself in your audience's shoes. Ask yourself: Why should they care?
This will probably be repeated by a few people, but the best piece of advice for your first year blogging, is to write every single day. I certainly don't mean to post every day - but you should get in the habit of writing something every day. You will get better at writing, gathering your thoughts, putting them into words - and this will be critical for success.
When starting out as a first-year blogger, I would say its important to have a system to follow. Sometimes you can get caught up or distracted in other parts of the online world and I think having a single focus, with a system in place to follow helps to reduce those distractions.
The most valuable advice I would give to someone in their first year of blogging is the time-saving power of batching your blog posts and newsletters.
I used to write in between strategy calls with clients and in-person meetings, but have found my productivity is highest when I block off entire days for writing. It's a practice that not only helps me write content for my blog but also for clients, which keeps me in a flow and rhythm I love.
Kayla Hollatz is a copywriter and brand strategist for creative entrepreneurs and small businesses who want content that connects and converts. She's also the founder of #createlounge, a Twitter chat collective turned full-blown community that empowers professionals and business owners to embrace everyday creativity. She can frequently be found fighting Minnesota winters with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.
My path to success went like this:
I found a mentor I resonated with. I emulated him. I took massive action. Once I saw results, I began experimenting and forging my own path.
My blogging style is quite different from most, so I had to eventually break free and start testing things for myself.
So my advice to a first year blogger is this: you have to find what works for you. And when I say that, I mean that you have to find what makes your heart sing, because when you love what you do, it shines through in your content.
Henri Junttila is a writer, coach, and teacher over at Wake Up Cloud, where he shares his step-by-step framework to doing work you love. Henri has lived his passion since 2004, and helped others do the same since 2009.
The most important piece of advice for a first year blogger is to be clear on why you are blogging and plan out how you will be consistent and stay motivated, how you will promote your brand or grow your audience and also how you will monetize your blog. A lot of bloggers just jump into blogging without thinking about these things and later quit. So planning out these details in advance will help you succeed.
Brian Lang is the founder of Small Business Ideas Blog, where he shares business tips as well as experiments with digital and content marketing techniques. Brian has been an online entrepreneur for over 10 years and started with SEO and e-commerce, but has also developed expertise in social media and content marketing.
Most people see blogging as a get-rich-quick scheme. They expect major results after a few posts or a few weeks.
The truth of the matter is that it will never happen. You won't make money from directly writing for your blog. However, your focus on stellar, consistent content will open the door to paid opportunities such as advertising, affiliate marketing, speaking gigs, reviews, and writing for other publications.
So, my best piece of advice would be to focus on a long-term strategy. Build solid relationships with your readers. Give a lot without expecting too much from others. And after a few months or a year, you will start reaping the reward of your hard work.
Cendrine Marrouat is a photographer, content creator / curator, and author living in Winnipeg, Canada. She is the author of 9 books, and the founder of Cendrine Marrouat Photography and Social Media Slant, a blog that helps small business owners and solo-preneurs figure out the basics of social media.
There are a number of points that can prove to be of value to rookie bloggers, but the most valuable is to – ‘make the writing conversational’. This retains the interest levels of the target audience and increases the shareability. When accompanied by a catchy headline and outstanding research, the blog may also earn maximum visibility, especially on social media channels. The best part is that this tip works for both long-form and short-form content.
Hiral Rana works as a social media manager at E2M, a digital-marketing agency. She has over five years of experience in the field of digital marketing and social-media marketing. She wants to play an intrinsic role in the evolution of social-media marketing by exploring its wealth of possibilities and opportunities. She’s a music lover and an adventure seeker. (https://twitter.com/IamHiralRana)
My top piece of advice for a new blogger would be to network as much as you can. Attend conferences, make friends with other bloggers, engage with readers and bloggers on social media, and more. You can learn a lot about the blogging world and build relationships at the same time. Plus, who doesn't want to have more friends who understand what they're doing? 🙂
Be passionate but patient. If you're not truly into what you're writing about, your audience will probably see through it. You won't get return visits, shares, or engagement.
As the web grows, it becomes a much more saturated and noisy place. There's a ton of competition, so you need to be passionate enough about your topic and the growth of your blog to not only stay consistent and current, but be 10x better than your competitors (assuming you're trying to be competitive).
Odds are you won't get much traction in your first year, so you need to love your topic so much that you're not deterred.
Just get started.
You don't need to be an expert or guru. You don't have to have a brilliant idea or product.
You don't need to have everything figured out. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Launch. Go. Ship. Get work done.
Treat it like an experiment. Figure out what works and what doesn't and learn along the way.
Focus on building relationships. And play for the end game.
Hustle. And be patient.
Blogging is a journey. So go forge your path.
Eli Seekins is the founder of Launch Your Dream. He helps entrepreneurs turn their passion into a business. He’ll help you start your blog with a boom, get noticed quick, become an authority, and make the money you deserve. Check out his FREE Job To Blog Virtual Summit — where 25 expert bloggers teach you how to quit your job, start a blog and make money doing it.
Build on your content. Put in your heart and soul into it (without resorting to witchcraft). Seriously - people will feel a piece of content without a soul. It's cold, there's not much value in it, and it just won't get shares and attention. You want to blog? You want your posts to go the distance? Do it right the first time.
Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker, an SEO company in the Philippines and Qeryz. A start-up, data analysis and urgency junkie who spends his time inspiring young entrepreneurs through talks and seminars. Check out his personal blog where he writes about starting up two companies and life in general.
I believe every blog post that you write should have a purpose. Whether that be to build your email list, sell a product or service, or have someone book a call with you, your blog post should be working for you.
The key is that you can only pick 1 goal per blog post, and the large majority of them should be focused around building your email list. Create 1 signature freebie that is high value and high quality, that you can promote in multiple blog posts, and you’ll be golden!
Summer Tannhauser teaches online entrepreneurs and bloggers how to increase their audience, influence, and revenue through the power of Pinterest and passive income strategies. She believes in working smarter, not harder, by utilizing the powerful combination of Pinterest and blogging strategy to grow your email list, increase traffic, and ultimately create more revenue for your business.
Wrapping It Up
First of all, a huge thank you to the 19 experts who contributed to this post on tips for first year bloggers!
I've tried to summarize their tips into bite-size pieces of advice.
1. Have a Clear Plan
One of the key tips for first year bloggers is: have a clear plan that allows you to set priorities – there are so many different techniques, so many different pathways to success, that if you don’t have a clear plan you’ll just go from one ‘shiny object’ to the next.
2. Be Patient
Prepare yourself for the long haul and remember that just because you can’t see evidence of change, doesn’t mean that your blog is not progressing towards your goal. It may take 2 to 3 years before you see any real results.
3. Stay The Course
One of the most important tips for first year bloggers is 'stay the course'. If you keep changing direction because you’re not seeing results fast enough, you’ll never get anywhere.
4. Give More Than You Get
Whenever you start writing a blog post, ask yourself: “how does this help my audience?” Give more than you expect to receive. To paraphrase Brian Clark, success comes from taking what you know best and sharing it with others for their benefit.
5. Outstanding Content
Create outstanding content. There is so much content being produced now that you won't get noticed unless you produce something out of the ordinary. And you do that when you put your heart and soul into what you’re writing. That could mean writing something that moves people or inspires them. Or it could mean writing the most thorough guide on XYZ that anyone has ever written.
6. Blogging Is A Journey
Of all the tips for first year bloggers that I've come across, this is probably the most important - remember that blogging is a journey, a journey of discovery. Always be open to learning new techniques, new ways of doing things.
7. Build Relationships
Network, make friends with other bloggers, and attend conferences. As Jon Morrow says: “If you’re struggling, it isn't because you're a bad blogger. It's because you're trying to do it all by yourself.” Succeeding online is not just about content - it’s also about connections. If you don’t have the connections, your content will never get noticed.
8. Write and Write
Get in the habit of writing every day, even if it's just random thoughts for your next blog post.
9. Keep Your Focus
There are so many things to distract you on the Internet, so many different techniques, so many different niches. If you flitter around like a butterfly from one thing to another, you will never succeed at anything.
10. Find What Works For You
Find what works for you, what makes ‘your heart sing’. Because when you find that place, people will see the passion in what you do, and they’ll want more of it.
11. Getting Traction
Don’t expect to get traction in your first year. Having that mindset will help you stay the course and save you from discouragement.
12. Blogging Is An Experiment
Getting started is more important than having everything worked out. Treat blogging like an experiment and discover as you go along what works and what doesn’t work. Remember…blogging is a journey.
Download '7 Action Tips' To Get More Traffic In Your First Year of Blogging