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I’ve been wanting to start a blog for years. I always feel like I have so much to share and get frustrated by having to wait for other people to say “yes” in order to share it. I’ve even sat down and started one a few times. I would write a couple of posts, feel lost, search the internet for answers, and end up overwhelmed. And then I would stop.
This time around, two outside factors made me extra determined. The first is that I got some big “no’s” from organizations that I really wanted a “yes” from. The second is that I became a mom. And I realized not only how precious my time was with my daughter, but how important it was that I set an amazing example for her.
I’m just over a month into my current blogging adventure. There has been a lot of ups and downs, but I still feel as passionate about it today as I did the day I started. In fact, I often have to force myself to close my computer and do other things! I’ve also picked up a lot of valuable information along the way. To help other bloggers who are just starting their journey – and to remind myself of how far I’ve come – this is what I learned in my first month of blogging.
Finding the Right Niche is Super Important
I originally started a blog that was in line with my day job. It’s a work I love and I thought I could easily turn it into a website where I offered tips as well as a consulting business. The idea came together really easy but every time I sat down to work on it, it felt like work. I had a really hard time sitting down and doing anything, always preferring to do something else.
Based on a class I was taking (more on this later), I decided to also start a travel blog. Traveling has been a passion of mine since I took a job as an au pair in Florence Italy when I was 19 years old. I didn’t get married until I was 34 and spent most of my 20s and early 30s traveling the world. When I did get married, my husband was excited to join me on my adventures, and we’ve had several amazing trips. I’ve always loved telling my stories and sharing the tips I learned, and I thought it would be a fun creative outlet.
That blog – which is this blog – is the one that I can’t stop writing. While it is not the obvious choice, it is the one that makes me happy. Which means that, for me, this is the one that I need to focus on.
It Can Become All Consuming
Finding the niche that you are passionate about has a bit of a downside. Not only can I not stop working on my blog, I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ve lost hours of sleep as I lie in bed with ideas running around my head. I’ve found that I have to have my phone nearby so that I can jot down my thoughts, otherwise they won’t leave me alone.
I also find that I have to be really careful about taking breaks. I originally planned on only working on this when my baby daughter was sleeping. She’s almost 5 months now and is in the cutest stage, of which I don’t want to miss a moment. But I’ve found that it’s been too easy to let the work creep into her awake periods. It’s also been too easy to let my other duties slide (like cleaning the house…).
There Is So Much to Learn
I was attracted to blogging because of the writing aspect. It’s one of my strengths. But blogging is so much more than writing posts. From setting up your website, to making sure everything is compliant, to creating a social media presence, there are so many different things that go into making a successful blog. It’s like that old tree falling in the forest conundrum: if you write a post that no one ever sees, are you really doing a blog?
It’s Important to Get Help
As I mentioned before, I’ve had a few false starts as a blogger. As I was contemplating starting a new one, I knew that I needed some help. I didn’t want to waste hours and hours of precious time searching the internet to learn the basics of blogging. I wanted to spend those times actually blogging. So I searched for a teacher. A mentor. Someone who could show me the ropes and get me up and running fast.
There are a lot of them out there. Many bloggers are taking the time to share what they have learned. After researching and interacting with several of them, I chose to take the Blogging Blastoff course from Heather and Pete Reese from It’s A Lovely Life. There are several reasons I chose them:
- Heather and Pete have a Facebook community of new bloggers, which is full of helpful (and free) information.
- They offer a free 5-day crash course to get your blog up and running. Taking that step and doing it was, I found, one of the hardest parts. But they give you the information you need to have the confidence to do it.
- In both the crash course and the Facebook community, there are lots of videos of Heather and Pete, which means I got to know their personality. They also interact frequently with the bloggers through messages and comments. It was very easy to see that we were a much better match than any of the other bloggers that I had interacted with.
- I found the information valuable enough that I took both their 30-Day Blogging Blastoff Course and their 21-Day Travel Blog Blastoff Course. These were the best decisions that I made all month. Both of these courses were chock full of valuable information. Each day I was walked through a lesson and an assignment that taught me how to set up my blog correctly, how to create blog posts that would be found, how to use social media, and how to find the best opportunities to monetize the blog. It was, as the name suggests, something that blasted off my blog. I’m so much further along than I ever would have been if I had tried to figure this out myself. Which has given me the confidence to believe that I will be able to attain all the goals I have.
You Need to Take A Breath
With all the information I learned through the courses, it could have been easy to feel overwhelmed. And, in truth, sometimes I was. I always want to be 100 steps further along than I am. I have to continuously remind myself that this is a marathon, not a sprint.
This requires that I stop and take a breath. Instead of trying to everything all at once, I am choosing a few things to focus on that will have the biggest impact. Which, right now, means making sure that the foundation of my blog is solid. Maybe one day I will have 10,000 Pinterest or Instagram followers. That will be awesome. But for now, I need to do first things first.
You Need to Find Your Tribe
No one understands the ups and downs of blogging better than other bloggers. Finding and following other bloggers on social media has been super helpful. Not only do I learn from them every day, but I am inspired by them. It’s a warm and welcoming community that does many things to help each other out.
You Need to Celebrate All the Little Wins
My blog post was viewed 100 times. I had a pin shared on Pinterest. Someone liked my Facebook page. A reporter wants to share one of my stories. All of these little wins build up to big wins. Each one lets me know that I am doing the right thing.
Are you a blogger? Share something you’ve learned during your journey in the comments below!
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