*Please note this post may contain affiliate links, The opinions in this post are all my own and based on my blogging experiences *.
As I approach close to a thousand followers on WordPress for my blog, I look back and recap the seven lessons I learned, that helped me grow as a blogger. This may perhaps help new bloggers in their journey. As mentioned in some of my earlier posts, I am a self-taught blogger, learning along the way. It has been an exciting journey so far. I am reminded of my first blog post which had a quote from Karen Lamb “A year from now you may wish you had started today.” Today it's been more than three years since that day, and so glad that I started then. I had no idea where it will lead me, and am taking one day at a time even today.
How it all began? I wanted to follow my passions that I had been putting on the back burner for a very long time. After taking a break from my job as a software engineer for more than a decade, thought of it as the right opportunity. I was always passionate about photography, cooking especially baking, finding inspiration from quotes among others. Blogging seemed like a great way to showcase my work. In due course, I added a section for blogging tips and resources as well. They were mostly experiences from what I learned, hoping beginners looking for such information would benefit from them. Below is the compiled list of my lessons learned in my blogging journey.
Research and choose the platform -
- The first step is to do your homework on the platform you want to blog on. I started with WordPress.com the free platform, as I wanted to see if blogging was really my interest. It's one of the best decisions I made. This platform helped me meet like-minded people who are very encouraging and where I learned a lot.
- After about a year, I moved to the self-hosting on WordPress.org as I learned some of the limitations of using the free site like choosing the look and feel of your site, monetization, plugins, ownership, etc.
- Choose a domain and Web hosting provider that is known for its reliability, fewer downtimes, speed, security, and good customer support. Some of the popular ones are Siteground, Bluehost, HostGator, InMotion, etc
- Invest in a professional-looking and well-designed theme. If budget permits, it is a good idea to invest in a good theme, as it will reward in the long run. I chose a moderately priced theme at that point and now have it is on my list to upgrade in the future.
- Visually appealing photography for blogs is a necessity if applicable to your niche. Since my niche is mainly about cooking and photography, it definitely needs eye-catching photography. I invested in a prime lens in addition to the kit lens to improvise my photography. However, there are also great stock photos that you can obtain for free if photography is not your interest.
- Some other blogging tools that can help with blogging are Grammarly, Canva, PicMonkey, Collage maker tools, and Snapseed.
Blog what you are passionate about -
- It is important to blog what you are passionate about, lest you lose interest and motivation. If there is no passion involved in the work, it will directly affect the content you write and publish. It should not be something you are forced to do.
- When I started blogging, I had read how only single niche blogs can be successful especially in the long run. However, I wanted to write on various topics and went with it, as that was my interest. I believed writing on one topic or niche would seem monotonous for me. Just follow your interest and see how it can benefit your audience as well.
Create quality content-
- Content is always important. Your readers will visit your site only if it is useful to them. It has to be something that interests them or a solution to their question, be it any niche.
- One of the sure recipes for success for a blogger or influencer is by asking how I can make my posts useful for my readers. It has to be something beyond the blogger's own needs. So for example, if I'm writing a post on tips to use a camera in manual mode, or a recipe to make a cupcake. It has to be such that the reader is able to do it by himself and beneficial to him. If it helps to put together step-by-step pictures or photographs or videos, go for it. I am yet to venture into making videos and that is definitely on my to-do list in the future.
SEO and Keywords are very important -
- SEO is optimizing your content for search engines. Keywords are very important as well and researching keywords before writing any post is a must. There are many free tools out there that help you do this as well. This is something that bloggers should not neglect, it helps you grow your organic traffic with search engines like Google.
- The majority of people turn to search engines to find solutions to their problems. Your content may be great, but if you didn't pay attention to keywords while writing the post, it may be of no use as there is no one to read it. If your content is SEO friendly and is ranked high by the search engines, it can reach a wide range of audience and be a source for unlimited traffic.
- Writing a post of 1000 words or more is another way to improve SEO. There is a possibility to have more occurrences of keywords that will help the post and blog to be found by search engines.
- After taking steps to improve my SEO, using WordPress plugins like Yoast I did see some improvements in the rankings of my posts. This is definitely beneficial in the long run. For a long time, I had not bothered much with SEO and had to revisit my old posts to make it SEO friendly.
- Be mindful to not make it over-optimized because you want to connect with your audience, so write for your readers but optimize for search engines.
Importance of Pinterest to drive traffic -
- When I first used Pinterest all I did was pin a few images from my latest post to Pinterest. I assumed it would be repinned by other users. This strategy does not work.
- You will find a post under blogging tips on my site on the basics of Pinterest strategy to drive traffic to your site. Research about it online and implement them. This definitely helped in driving traffic to my site.
Promoting Content and Engaging audience -
- Blogging, writing excellent content, photographing, planning for the content of the next post is only about 25% of the work, the remaining majority percent is networking, social media promoting, marketing, reaching out to influencers, writing guest posts, and sponsor posts.
- Engaging with your audience is very important that I cannot stress enough. Reply to comments on your posts. Return the favor and visit the posts of other bloggers and comment on their posts and create a nice rapport.
- With a trusted and loyal audience, bloggers or influencers can become partners with brands in the long term and can help reach an audience easily. The brands are hence on the lookout for such influencers and do not want to miss these important selection criteria. There are many influencers out there who made it big with the support of a great audience. One such instance of an influencer who made it big is very inspiring.
Researching , Tracking your blog growth and Monetization-
- Research on topics that you like to improve and grow on, it could be blog monetization, content writing, creating, and read e-books. Learn from experienced bloggers, invest in e-books.
- Use tools like Google Analytics to keep track of how your blog is growing and try improvising it. This tool gives in-depth information about your audience, page views, and important metrics. Compare results with the past to see how you have grown and where you can improvise.
- Blog Monetization is very enticing for most bloggers. It can be distracting in the beginning when your blog is new as it may hardly bring in any significant earnings. In addition, it may give an unwelcome experience to your audience. However, as your blog grows and you have many visitors, you may want to consider running ads. There are also opportunities with affiliate marketing, sponsored posts, e-books, and ad companies that can make a significant amount. However, be patient monetization does not happen overnight for most folks. It may even take years. Keep focusing on delivering and promoting good content. The rest will follow.
- As you learn and grow, know there are always other bloggers better than you. They are where they are due to their effort, hard work, and resources invested. It is motivating to learn from their successes. The blogging world gives opportunities to meet many talented, knowledgeable, and selfless bloggers through online communities, groups, and social media platforms. They are all usually very helpful and ready to share their knowledge.
Blogging is definitely a lot of hard work, but very rewarding as well. It sure has opened up the door to a lot of opportunities. I would love to hear if you have any points to add, in lessons learned in your blogging journey in the comments below. Thanks for reading!