Tag Archives: new to blogging

What I Learned in My First Month Blogging

I started this blog because I had a deep desire to do something creative. And since I always loved writing, I figured this would be the best option.

But, the problem was that I started as a complete beginner. I knew nothing!

I spent my first few days of blogging reading a bunch of articles on how to blog.

After about a week of reading, I began to realize that this was going to be harder than it looks.

There was so much to learn!

And I clearly didn’t have a plan.

So, I figure I could give you a run down of the things I learned in my first month plus some resources I currently use.

I broke it down into 3 sections

  • The Basics
  • The Semi Advanced
  • The Weird Fun Stuff

The Basics


My first couple of blog posts looked like a scribbling that a proud 5 year-old child handed to his or her parents. You knew something was there, but you weren’t quite sure what it was.

I quickly learned that I needed a clear topic and an outline. Then, all I needed to do was color (write) in the different parts of my blog post. This made writing a blog post much easier.

Plus, it made them much easier to read.

(The above pic is suppose to be a cat!)

But, then I ran into my next problem. I wasn’t sure how long my blog posts should be. Should I write 1000 words? 2000? 250?

Since I tend to over-analyze everything, I decided to dive into a bunch of research on this topic.

The best answer I got was from Marlene van de Rakt at Yoast. She suggests that you have a higher chance of ranking in Google if your posts are 1000 words or more.

Her reason for this is clear. She says “– in lengthy text, Google just has more clues to determine what your text is about“. So, I need to give Google as many clues as I can to get the highest ranking possible.

At this point I began to think that maybe I had a solid footing. That is, until a new bandwagon rolled into town.

It was a shiny glitter photo bandwagon.

This photo bandwagon brought with it new stats and a scary new world. I couldn’t help but to run over to the wagon to see what new things lay in store for me.

I quickly found out that photos were important. In fact, according to Jeff Bullas “Articles with images get 94% more total views“. But, there was a problem.

I couldn’t just go out and snatch up any photos I wanted to use on my blog. There was this thing called copyright law that protected photos.

What makes this even harder is that some photos may be free to use, but you aren’t allowed to modify them. Or, maybe there is a restriction that prevents you from using the photo commercially.

I learned that I need to be very careful before using a photo. I needed to read and reread all of the terms before using one. But, to be safe, it would be best if I just use photos that I create.

Well, that covers the basics. Now, for the semi advanced stuff…

The Semi Advanced


I can’t begin to tell you how many sleepless nights I have had due to SEO. Every time I watch a YouTube video on this subject, I have flashbacks to my Economics class in college.

I would sit there staring at my teacher, knowing that what he said was important, but my brain just couldn’t process all of the information being thrown at it.

So, first things first. I learned that SEO is important. Especially if you want to be a professional. And there is a ton of resources online. But, it all comes down to a couple of key points. The points are:

  • Select a keyword
  • Check search volume of keyword
  • Study competition for keyword
  • Write a high quality awesome blog post around a keyword
  • Optimize the blog post
  • Market the blog post like it’s the best thing ever written

While this may sound simple. It’s not!

A good free resource that I found to be helpful is the Google Keyword Planner. It helps me find keywords and it gives me an idea of search volume.

Moz Open Site Explorer is also a great resource I found where I can compare my blog against the competition. They also have some great information on keyword research.

But, I can’t go crazy searching keywords all day on Moz. They only have a limited amount of free searches I can do. So, I try to do my searches strategically to get the best results.

I have found that optimizing my blog post is fairly easy. I just follow the tips that Marlene van de Rant suggests to do in her article here .

But, then I ran across this crazy statistic. According to Mediakix, “there are more than 440 million blogs in the world“.

How am I going to stand out with a number that big? My blog is so puny and small. My only chance to stand out is to get a niche, and fast!

At least if I select a niche, I narrow down who my competition is. I am no longer competing against every blogger in the world!

Plus if I have a niche, it would be easier to monetize later if I decide too. I would at least have a topic to write an e-book about. Further, the people who follow my blog will already be interested in the topics I write about.

But, then I noticed something that all of the cool bloggers were doing. They were using infographics. And I want to be cool. So, I found this free App called Canva where I can make an infographic. Here is one I created for this post.

As you can see, I’m still in the learning process.

But, before I can publish anything I need to run my content through a plagiarism detector. Everything that I write is original, but I like to be safe.

I actually tested out a number of plagiarism tools, but only one passed every test I threw at it. I currently use PlagScan. They do have a limited free trial (a few credits) but the costs is fairly reasonable in my opinion.

One final thought I should include is social media. I have unsuccessfully added social media into my blog marketing. The reason for this is that I’m focusing on writing my content right now.

Trying to learn a social media platform would be too much for me right now. But, I do visit other blogs and leave comments. I have found that this helps me connect with other bloggers who will often check out my blog.

Plus, if you leave a comment or question on websites, it will sometimes count as a backlink back to your blog.

I wouldn’t go crazy doing this, but grabbing a few backlinks couldn’t hurt.

If you aren’t sure where to check to see if you have any backlinks, the place I check mine is the Google Webmasters tool. It’s free to use and you can see find some interesting stuff pertaining to your blog there.

Now for the weird fun stuff…

The Weird Fun Stuff


The fact is that no matter how great or original my idea seems, it probably has already been written about at least 17 times. This hit me hard in the beginning.

I kept thinking that my ideas were the greatest ever!

That is, until I searched my idea on Google and found that it has been written 17 times before (one about 10 years ago).

Which brings me to another thought about my “great ideas”. Why do I always have my greatest ideas when there is no paper around?

It never fails. Everytime I come up with an idea, finding a piece of paper to write it down on is the most difficult thing I have ever encountered.

And it doesn’t matter how many times you proofread your post. As soon as you hit publish, grammar and spelling errors will magically start to appear throughout your post.

Add to this, your family and friends will not be excited as you are about every post that you write. In fact, they may not be excited at all. So, it becomes increasing difficult to find someone to proofread your blog post.

But, I have learned one trick that makes me sound smarter. It’s called a thesaurus. The only problem is you can use it so much that you end up with the original words that you started with!

Plus, you will inevitably come to a point where you have to trash a 2000 word post because it makes no sense. This hurts! So much work and it was all for nothing.

But, I will close this post with one final thought. While creating a blog from scratch is a lot of work, it comes with a sense of satisfaction. You created something from nothing.

You not only write content and find pictures. But, you have to go out and tell the world about your post and hope they come check it out.

While the work never seems to end, I think it’s something that is fun and I plan to continue doing it for a while.

Thanks for reading…

You can check out my first blog post “Confessions of a First Time Blogger” here if you want to see how far I have come.

Or, you can check out my most popular post “Why Your Blog Needs a Small Following” here.

Why Your Blog Needs a Small Following

Have you ever wondered if all this effort is worth it? You work all day at your regular job, come home, and write until 2am. Hit the publish button and…

3 people read your post.

Ahhhhhhhh!!

Or…

Maybe you recieve a lot of views but nobody ever comes back.

Am I crazy?” You ask yourself…

“Why am I doing this?”

There are countless people online that will tell you that they can help grow your traffic and your site can be a success.

They will give you countless tips such as hopping on social media and promoting your site.

But…

I’m personally tired of reading about a man or woman who grew a website to 100,000 views/month in 8 months.

This kind of info seems to permeate every site I read these days. This is not the real world. They talk about how they made $50,000 last month and how their system can work for you.

Sure, there are plenty of people who can do that. But, most of you don’t have years of experience to lean on. You aren’t experts on SEO, CSS, and all the other blogging abbreviations.

You just type your thoughts onto the screen and hope that people will find you and read what you wrote.

Or, maybe you have a solid understanding. But, you are not an expert.

If you are an expert, you can stop reading now and go create a blogging empire.

As for the rest of us, I will continue…

It would be nice if there was a roadmap that you could follow.

The truth is you may spend months writing on your blog or website and have little to show for it.

So, what is the answer? Do you just continue to construct posts day after day hoping that people will find you?

You want to be heard, dang it!! (G rated version)

But, it seems few people are listening.

Here is a thought…

You are exactly where you need to be.

This may be hard to hear. Maybe you don’t want to hear it. But, you may not be quite ready for the big show. There are numerous reasons. None of them are things that you can’t change. Let’s take a look at a few.

Writing Skills

Writing is like most other things in life. It takes time to get better. You must develop as a writer and find your voice.

But…

“I am an excellent writer!” you say.

Let’s inspect deeper…

Various Other Aspects

  • What about your SEO?
  • Is your site easy to navigate?
  • Are you posting regularly?

These are some foundation things you may want to look at. I examined a bunch of blogs that had over 1,000 followers. I noticed that most of them posted consistently. They also had easy to navigate sites.

Most of these things just take time to learn. You should take the time to look at it if you want to be successful.

Structure and Content

  • Have you researched what people are interested in reading?
  • Is there a better way to structure your content?

These are important too. Try to take the time to see if your content is something people are interested in reading. Check out some blogs or social media and see what people are talking about.

Also, make sure it’s structured in a way that it is easy for people to read. Most of us learned in school that you need an outline for a paper. It’s no different when writing online.

These are just a few pointers. There are many more. I am not an expert. I’m still learning. But, I will try to go into more dept in a later post.

So, the next question is…

What is the rush?

Why are you thinking about things like driving traffic from social media to your blog if it is sub par?

Maybe you need a small following right now while you hone in your skills.

Take this opportunity to work on your instabilities. Do it while your traffic is low. As you get better, hopefully your traffic will increase.

If it doesn’t and you have everything laid out perfectly. Then, it may be time to drive some traffic to your site.

Spend this time preparing for when your traffic spikes. You want to take advantage of this situation. Work on pursuing the next level.

How much would you regret if you weren’t ready. You suddenly get 10,000 visitors and you have nothing to write because you haven’t researched. Or, none of your visitors can navigate your site to find articles.

Take this time to prepare and practice. Your time is coming and you want to be ready.

So, how can you prepare?

Content

Well laid out and polished content is king. You want to make sure you are working to get better. I noticed that the all the bigger blogs have excellent content.

I am not going to lie and tell you I have this all figured out. I’m learning right along side you. But, I understand when I visit a site, I want great quality.

Can you remember a time when someone was genuinely interested in you? When someone clicks on your blog or site, this is your chance to show them who you are and what you are about.

Don’t just throw some words on the page. Take some time to think about what your reader would love to learn about you. Make it entertaining.

Your reader’s time is valuable. Don’t waste it! Don’t let them open your About page and it has nothing about you on there (I’m guilty of this).

Short Post

Have you ever read a post that you were very interested in and it ended up only being 300 words. Such a let-down. You wanted more! But, the author just quit writing for whatever reason.

I’m not saying all your posts need to be long. But, if it’s something you know people are interested in. Give them something to read.

Hitting Publish Button too Quickly.

So, you finally created a post that you know people will love. Wait! Don’t hit publish. We are all so excited to get our words onto the internet.

Take a few hours or a day to think about your content. Are you leaving any questions unanswered?

That is how I wrote this post. I typed it out and then stepped back for a day and thought about it. I added a few things and rewrote it. Next, I thought about it some more.

I kept refining the material. Making it better. I didn’t publish my first draft. I crafted and polished it. I didn’t publish my second or third draft either.

You may be reading this and telling yourself this guy’s writing sucks! That is ok because I know that this is my best. I gave it everything I had. I didn’t take any shortcuts.

If you write poetry, write the best poetry you can write.

If you write about your life, make it interesting and fun.

If recipes are your niche, get creative and make me want more.

If you like writing short stories make them amazing.

When I post something, I want people to be excited to read it. I want my readers to know that I spent time considering what they want. Mostly, I want people to know that I value their time.

How do I do this?

I try to lay out the best posts that I can possibly write every time.

My site may not have the best theme. The structure of my posts may not be perfect. My content may pale in comparison to the best bloggers.

But, I gave it my all. I gave my 48 followers the best that I could write.

Maybe you should do the same.

Good luck out there…