Imagine a sheer, smooth rock face. It’s not completely smooth – there are some indentations, some cracks and fissures, but there’s nothing that will give you a toehold.
You take a piton (a metal spike) from your waist belt and hammer it into a narrow crack just above your head. That’s going to be your next foothold.
You look to your left and then to your right.
There are many others on this rock wall, clinging for dear life and desperately looking for their next foothold.
Now and again one of them falls, but you don’t hear anything. There’s no drawn out cry as they tumble down into the abyss below.
Although you don’t want to think about it, nine out of ten people with you on the rock face are going to fall.
Further up the mountain, way above the rock face, are beautiful gently sloping alpine pastures dotted with wild flowers. Refreshing streams come tumbling down these meadows. The people here are relaxed and smiling, basking in the morning sun, drinking in the fresh mountain air.
The Ascent of YR1
If you hadn’t already guessed, the rock face is the first year of blogging. Think of it as the Ascent of YR1.
It’s a grim fact, but 95% of people who start a blog fail and give up in the first 12 months.
The gently sloping meadows above the rock face are where the experts hang out.
They were on the rock face once as well. But they reached the top and pulled themselves over the edge of the abyss.
For them the terror and self-doubt is over. They’ve discovered what works and they just keep doing it, over and over again.
Click here to download the First Year Blogging Resources & Checklist PDF
What's Your Strategy?
So how are you going to handle the Ascent of YR1?
How are you going to stay the course when success is still a long way above and all you can see is the slippery rock face in front of you?
The answer: by chiselling out footholds in the rock face. Each foothold is a goal that you should aim for in your first year of blogging.
Foothold #1 – 100 Blog Posts
Blogging is all about creating content. It’s content that is going to bring you traffic and make you a success.
So get in the habit of writing! Aim for 2 blog posts per week.
That’s 100 in your first year.
This is the most comprehensive guide I've seen on how to write blog posts that readers love reading: Ramit Sethi's Ultimate Guide to Remarkable Content.
Foothold #2 - Five Pillar Posts
Aim to write at least 5 Pillar Post articles in your first year. What are they, you ask.
Pillar Posts are long-form posts that will act as the foundation of your blog. They are typically 1500 to 4000 words in length.
A pillar post covers a topic in such depth and so thoroughly that people will be linking to it for years to come. A good methodology for creating a pillar post it to go to Google and find the top 5 ranked posts on a given subject. Then analyse them and:
- Find gaps in the topic that none of them covers and fill those gaps.
- Synthesize the information in all of them to make a post that is more complete than any of them
Here are some different types of Pillar Post articles:
- The ‘How-To’ Article – walk your reader through a process (e.g. how to set up a blog)
- The Definition Article – explain a particular concept (e.g. Content Marketing, Domain Authority, Influencer Outreach)
- The List Article – (e.g. 25 Ways to Grow Your Traffic, 15 Ways to Get More Backlinks, 8 WordPress Plugins You Can’t Do Without)
- The Resource Roundup – this is a form of content curation. Do a survey of the top 15 articles on a particular topic. Summarize each one in 2 or 3 paragraphs and provide a link to the original article.
- The Ultimate Guide – these are usually ‘How To’ articles but they are so comprehensive that they become evergreen content that people will refer to for years to come (e.g. The Ultimate Guide to Street Photography, The Ultimate Guide to Remarkable Content, Ultimate Guide on Building A Trustworthy Testimonial Page).
For more information on how to write Pillar Posts, read Yaro Starak’s How To Write Great Blog Content – The Pillar Article.
Foothold #3 – Get 500 Subscribers
The reason an email list is so important is that you need to be able to get your posts in front of your audience whenever you want.
And the only way to do that is by having a subscriber base. That way you’re not dependent on Facebook (or any other social media platform) or Google.
A subscriber base of 500 gives you a solid foundation for your blog.
To learn exactly how to build a profitable email list, read Derek Halpern’s List Building 101: How To Build An Email List…And Actually Make Money From It.
Foothold #4 – Do 5 Roundup Posts
Relationships with other bloggers, especially with Influencers, are the #1 factor for breaking through in your first year of blogging.
Roundup posts are a great way of developing those relationships. Reaching out to experts in your niche and asking them to contribute to your roundup article will get you known and build those relationships that you badly need as a first year blogger.
Here's a recent roundup post that I did: 27 Experts Reveal Their Most Powerful Blog Promotion Techniques,
You'll also get a huge spike in your traffic as those experts share your roundup article to their followers!
For more information on how to write roundup posts that get a ton of shares, read Brian Lang's Ultimate Guide to Creating an Expert Roundup Post That Gets 1000s of Shares.
Foothold #5 – Get 25 Comments on your Blog Posts
Commenting on blog posts is what makes blogging so powerful as a marketing medium. When commenting on blog posts first appeared, it changed websites from being one-directional broadcasting instruments to interactive communities. Commenting is what allowed bloggers to build a following.
But comments can be hard to get, especially when you don’t have any. A blog post without comments looks like a dead-zone and so people move on, without leaving a comment.
But there are some good techniques to get the ball rolling.
=> Don’t be boring
- Avoid 3rd person, passive-tense writing.
- Personalize your writing by using the word ‘you’ as much as you can. This way your blog post becomes a conversation that will continue in the comments below the post.
=> End your article with a question:
- “What do other people think about this? Let me know your take on it in the comments below.”
- “I’ve probably left out some information. What other tips can you suggest? Let me know in the comments below!”
- “Have you had any experience with this (tipis of the blog post)? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!”
For some very clever ways to get more comments on your blog posts, read Jon Morrow’s article, 14 Devious Tactics for Getting More Comments on Your Blog Posts.
Foothold #6 – Get 500 Social Media Shares
Install a widget that prominently displays social media shares (such as the Social Warfare Plugin for WP) and try to get 500 social media shares across all your articles.
Social media sharing forms part of the Google algorithm, so this will give you higher rankings in the search engines.
For some very handy tips on how to get more social media shares for your blog posts, read Neil Patel's 8 Ways to Get More Social Shares Without Annoying Readers.
Foothold #7 – Get 500 Followers on Twitter
Twitter is the #1 platform for bloggers to engage with each other. It’s a great medium for forming new relationships with people in the same niche. There it is again, the ‘R’ word!
To learn how to quickly build up a large following on Twitter, read Tim Sae Koo’s 9 Dead Simple Tips to Get more Twitter Followers.
Foothold #8 – Write 5 Guest Posts
In your first year of blogging, publishing posts on your own site is a bit like singing in the shower – it sounds great to you, but there’s probably no one listening. Guest posting, on the other hand, is like singing in a Karaoke Bar or, if you’re lucky, like singing on America’s Got Talent.
Your problem is you don’t have any traffic, or not very much. So you need to tap into someone else’s traffic. And a very effective way of doing that is guest blogging. Not to mention building your authority and building relationships with other bloggers.
For insider tips on how to get guest-blogging opportunities and how to write winning guest posts read Kristi Hines’ Ultimate Guide to Guest Blogging.
Foothold #9 – Get 100+ Visitors a Day
Reaching 100 unique visitors per day is an important foothold in your climb up the steep face of YR1.
It shows you’ve cracked the nut of how to get traffic.
Now you just need to rinse and repeat. Work out what it is that got you 100 visitors a day and do it better or do it more. If you can get 100 a day you can get 200 a day, all the way up to a 1000.
To find out how to get 100+ visitors a day in your first year of blogging, read Chris Lee’s How To Get 100-500 Visitors A Day Right After You Build A New Niche Site.
Make a Small Profit
Aim to make a profit in your first year of blogging, however small. Even if its just a few thousand dollars, or even just a few hundred dollars.
That’s huge progress in your journey to the summit.
Remember, if you can make a few hundred dollars you can make a few thousand dollars – it’s just a matter of scaling it up.
To see exactly how one blogger made $73,339.06 in his first year of blogging, read Matthew Woodward’s Monthly Blog Income Reports.[Note: click on the individual monthly links from August 2012 through to July 2013 to see how Matthew generated this income during the first year of his blog]
Don’t Give Up, Its Going To Be Difficult
Finally, the most important thing of all. Don’t give up! Accept that it's going to be difficult and keep going.
Here’s an interesting fact. Given that 95% of people give up in their first year of blogging, if you simply refuse to give up, you are putting yourself in the top 5%. That’s a huge advantage!
And on those days when nothing seems to be working and you feel like quitting, remember these words from a former US President: