As I sit here on my laptop writing this post it’s almost 4 PM, my other half is hanging out the clothes on the line, and we are both discussing our plans for the evening. I have to check the calendar to remember that it’s a Tuesday afternoon.
We tend to lose track of the days as neither of us feels any pressure to make it through the week and reach Friday. We are both full-time bloggers and our lives have completely changed for us in a way that we couldn’t have ever imagined.
I’ve been blogging in one capacity or another for over 6 years and my partner has only been part of the journey for a bit over 6 months, but what we both have in common is the struggles we have had to overcome in our first year of blogging. There are ups and downs throughout this journey, and if you’re just getting started on your blogging journey we wanted to share with you 5 struggles we had to overcome during our first year blogging.
The First Year
Yaya: When I began blogging there was really no rhyme or reason in my writing, it was more of a creative outlet. I had a corporate job and I never thought that this could ever be a career. I wrote about self-help, shared hauls, and made online friendships that I keep to this day.
I suppose my first impression of blogging was that it was an amazing hobby that allowed you to connect with like-minded people. It was a more comprehensive version of a chat-room for me (yes, I’m part of the AIM/Yahoo! messenger generation) and I thought it was just a really fun form of self-expression.
The first challenge that I faced within my first year was finding my focus and streamlining my thoughts and ideas.
James: My experience is probably a bit different to that of someone who is completely new to blogging. I’ve indirectly been involved in Yaya’s blog life since we met, back when she had her first hobby site and since then she has always bounced blog ideas off me so I’ve been fortunate to have learnt a lot through her.
When I decided to quit my secure council job and work with Yaya there was still obviously a lot that I needed to learn how to do myself. I had occasionally helped Yaya write posts/articles but I had no idea how to use WordPress, promote what I’d written.
But the aspect of blogging I’ve had to put the most time and work into developing is SEO. For the first few months, I used to draft posts in WordPress and hand over to Yaya when it came to sorting out the photos and the SEO.
Let’s Talk SEO
Yaya: SEO was something that I had to really struggle to come to terms with. I had no idea what I was doing and for my entire first year, I wasn’t SEO focused or compliant, really. There were no headings in my posts and it was all a bit haphazard really.
I began blogging on the Blogger platform, like many of us do. I had a .blogspot extension and didn’t know what SEO was or what it could do for me. Frankly, it took me about 4 years until I moved to a self-hosted WordPress site that I discovered the magic of SEO!
James: Getting my head around SEO as a whole was quite difficult. And the best way to understand it was for me to break it down into small pieces. I started with learning how to ensure that my snippet and meta descriptions were catchy and SEO compliant and that I had a good focus keyword for my posts.
But I knew that that was just the tip of the iceberg. I’ve recently read a few good SEO guides written by experienced Bloggers, and that’s really helped me. For example, I’ve never thought of simple things like making sure that the paragraphs are no more than a few sentences in length and making sure that you have an alt text description for your images.
The next step is for me to take an intensive SEO focused web course. I think this will really help my posts and give them more of an advantage and reach a larger audience. Which at the end of the day is a big part of SEO and what we all want to achieve.
Social Media + Blogging
Yaya: The first year I thought that any social media sites that I used were completely independent of my blog. I focused on keeping in contact with my blog buddies on my social media sites but didn’t really think about marrying the two.
My first year as a blogger was all about growing and nurturing relationships on social media and I suppose that has helped me get to another level and understand blogging a bit more in depth.
James: I found it difficult firstly, to keep remembering that I needed to promote all our posts on all our social media platforms and to make sure that I had a good introduction to them. I found it difficult to get my social media posts read by new people and get new followers until I discovered various blog RT accounts and hashtags, which really helped.
Organisation and Prioritising
Yaya: One of the most difficult things during my first year as a blogger was prioritising tasks. I sat at my computer whenever the inspiration managed to strike and didn’t bother to organise the tasks of taking photos, editing them, writing the text, etc.
I would start writing, and if I had an image that I wanted to accompany the text, of a product, for example, I would take a photo at night with the flash on and upload it to my post. I didn’t really think nor did I prioritise the order in which things needed to be done to be done well. I basically just winged it and that was a big mistake I made.
James: Probably the biggest difficulty I have is how to effectively organise my time. I’m good at multi-tasking eg: hopping from writing to working on SEO to being on social media to applying for opportunities. But I really don’t do any of those tasks to my full potential when I do that.
The hardest part of organising my hours into specific tasks is not to turn my attention to something else that’s already been scheduled for another time. For example, I’m working on Twitter and promoting old content and suddenly I see that an email pops into my inbox about a new campaign – do I leave what I’m doing and respond to the email? No, because even though I might think that that the person who has emailed me is going to frown on me not responding right away the reality is that they’re not.
Finding Your Audience
Yaya: During my first year, my audience was primarily those focused on self-help and self-care. As the months passed and I got more into blogging I was writing about anything and everything I was interested in, and that alienated my initial audience because I really didn’t have any niche areas that I was discussing and it was all a bit random.
The difficulty was to know what areas to specifically focus on in order to get repeat readership and grow. I decided on lifestyle and travel because they both encompass a variety of different topics which gave me the freedom to be multi-dimensional.
James: My biggest hobbies are sport, movies, and music but I haven’t got to the point yet where I’m writing what I’m most passionate about. That for me is hard because I’m constantly thinking of when and how I’m either going to include these subjects in our blog or I’m going to create a brand new one. But for me, the way to deal with this has been to remember that everything is a work in progress.
As you can see everyone’s first year blogging is different but we will all eventually succeed if we remember that there are no shortcuts to success and that what you put in will be what you get out.