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Woohoo, it’s a giveaway day at Sunburnt Saver! I hope you’re having a fantastic day so far and are ready to continue the blogiversary party!
In case you didn’t read my last post, July marks the first full year since I’ve been blogging at Sunburnt Saver! To celebrate, this whole month I’ll be discussing everything related to blogging, including things I’ve learned, how to be a better blogger, and so much more.
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Today, I’m going to talk about the 12 awesome things I’ve learned in 12 months of blogging. Obviously, writing “the 1 thing I’ve learned in 1 year of blogging” didn’t have the same appeal, and that’s why I’m doing 12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of blogging! 🙂
Stick around for more too – there’s a giveaway at the end!
1. Get a niche
While blogging to blog is a fun and creative outlet, if you want to blog to gain exposure for your writing, work as a freelancer, or transition to your own business, get a niche.
What’s a niche? Think about what you want to write about: is it personal finance? Great! Find your niche by breaking down “personal finance” into what you really want to talk about: is it retirement? Do you want to talk about millennial finances? A niche is your specialty, what your blog will (mostly) be about.
It’s okay to deviate from your niche every once in a while (after all, you’re human!) but try to relate any off-topic blog posts to your niche as much as possible.
2. Networking is really everything
Make friends with other bloggers! You don’t have to be their bestie, but reach out, comment on their blog posts, chat with them on Twitter. Beyond establishing a relationship with really cool people, you’re putting yourself and your blog out there as someone real and credible.
Also, by reaching out and showing people you’re engaged, people are more likely to think of you when it comes to passing along work and/or clients. In this short year of blogging, all but 2 of my clients have come from referrals from my PF-blogger friends. That’s networking!
3. Try to find a mentor, and actually work with them!
Something I still struggle with doing, but finding a mentor early in your blogging journey will be so beneficial. It can be anyone – a veteran blogger who’s been blogging for 3+ years, or a newbie blogger who’s been blogging for 6 months. Just pick someone whose style you like and who you’ve established a relationship with (by tweeting, emailing, commenting, etc.)
Before emailing your mentor, decide what you want to focus on. Do you want to talk about profiting from your blog, or are you more interested in making your blog a central location for your freelance writing? The type of work you want to get from your blog will determine the types of questions you ask your mentor, so you need to do some homework ahead of time. Don’t waste your mentor’s time.
Don’t be mad if your mentor doesn’t have time to email you back promptly. Chances are, if you like this person as a blogger and entrepreneur, so do a lot of other people. You’re not the only one on their “to-email” list 🙂
4. Listen to your gut
This hasn’t happened a whole lot to me yet, but when I’ve ignored my gut saying “don’t do this”, I’ve been burned. If you get an email from someone about work, affiliate links, sponsored posts, etc. and you feel unsure about it, listen to your gut!
Especially as your blog grows in popularity, people will email you out of nowhere looking to send you products, post ads on your site, or even get you to do work for them – for free. While some of these free publicity seekers can be worth it at the beginning, most aren’t.
5. Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle
I’ve seen this quote around the blogosphere a lot, and I constantly have to remind myself of it. You may have gotten into blogging because you saw other people be successful at it and thought, hey! I can do that! So you start up your blog, write a bunch of amazing content and… crickets.
The thing about looking at other people’s success then starting your own blog is just that – you’re starting your blog and you’re looking at someone else’s 1, 2, 3+ years of blogging and success. You can’t compare your first 6 months to someone else’s 1.5 years of blogging, because you’re not in the same place. They’ve had a year and a half to build up their network and blog content; you’ve had 6 months.
That’s not to say some people don’t experience extraordinary success in their first 6 months: sometimes posts go viral and the blog blows up in a matter of months. That’s awesome when it happens, but there’s something to be said for slow and steady content creation. And don’t forget about all that networking!
6.What do you want from your blog?
Figure out what you want from your blog at the beginning. Do you want a community, advertising revenue, a platform to draw in clients? All of that can be possible, but not at once. Figure out what one thing makes you passionate, and don’t apologize.
7. Try out things beyond your comfort zone
I was into social media before blogging, but I wasn’t that into it. However, like it or not, social media is one big way to share your content and engage with your readers, so you have to at least try it. Surprisingly, I found I really, really like social media once I started my blog (PS – Follow me on Twitter and on Pinterest!)
The biggest surprise I resisted forever and regret ignoring for so long? Pinterest! As I mentioned in my blogiversary stats post, my biggest traffic driver is Pinterest, and it only keeps growing. I always thought personal finance didn’t need fancy images but, once I gave it a try, I realized adding professional, readable images to your site seriously improves engagement.
Pick something that scares you, like website design, making a logo, starting a mailing list, and give it a try! You never know what you’ll like or be good at and, who knows, maybe you could turn those talents into another side hustle!
8. Organize your time as efficiently as possible
Especially if you’re blogging in your spare time, after work, you have to prioritize your work. List out what’s most important to you, like creating great content, contacting potential clients or advertisers, or making awesome graphics, and ruthlessly cut down the rest.
Hate responding to emails? Create pre-made responses in your email client and save them in drafts, to copy and paste later. Hate scheduling tweets and other social media shoutouts? Check out scheduling clients like Buffer, Hootsuite or Tailwind, and devote an hour each week to scheduling.
Eventually, you may want to hire a virtual assistant to help you cut down on the tasks you really hate but, at the beginning, make a list of things you have to do, stick to it, and get on with your life. Don’t let yourself get sucked into the blog vortex – it will only cause burnout!
9. Don’t let mean people get you down
Some people will comment on your blog, tweet at you, or send you mean emails. Sometimes these people are just randos on the web, and sometimes they’ll be clients (who you’ll probably want to drop as soon as possible, unless they usually are never like that).
If someone is unnecessarily rude or cruel to you, don’t let it get to you. Sure, it sucks to be told “you suck” or “your the worst writer ever” (and yes, I wrote “your” and not “you’re” because usually people who criticize your writing can’t spell), but keep in mind where it’s coming from. If it’s some completely random stranger, take it for the weird Internet trolling that it is. Hey, if you get hate mail, that means someone is reading your stuff, right? 😉
If you get constructive feedback (even in a mean way) from a client, try to appreciate it for what it is. If you really did mess up on something, own up to your mistake and offer to correct it. Some clients will write you off, but others will realize your worth and will want to continue working with you. Just don’t make that mistake in the future, ever. 🙂
10. Know your worth, and make sure other people know it
If you’ve got skills and experience beyond the average person (say, your background in a tough subject, like science) and apply for science writer jobs, toot your own horn! You’ll likely be a faster and more efficient writer than someone who knows little about the topic, so argue for that $50 pay-per-post even when someone (with no experience) is offering $25 a post.
11. A nice design can help your blog get attention, but it’s the content that keeps them coming back
This pretty much goes without much commentary. A nicely designed website can draw people in, but you’ve got to have good content to keep people coming back. See: #1 Get a Niche if you’re wondering what to write about!
12. Reach out to people!
Like networking, but more fun. If there are people you’re really impressed by on the web, let them know it! Some will be too busy to really connect with you, but everyone likes being told they’re awesome. Not enough people are told “you’re really great and your post resonated with me”, so be that person! It can make someone’s day 🙂
Now that I’ve shared the 12 things I’ve learned in 12 months of blogging, it’s time for a blogging-inspired giveaway! To celebrate Sunburnt Saver’s Blogiversary, I’m giving away 2 awesome blogging books that helped me be a better blogger:
Ruth Soukup’s How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul and Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett’s ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income.
If you’re interested in this giveaway, check out how you can enter below! Good luck!