In 2021, I will have been blogging for five years. When I just started out, my inbox would full up with friends and acquaintances looking for advice on how to start blogging themselves. Of course, I shared what I knew, but looking back, it wasn’t nearly as much as I know about the topic now, as I had not realised then that blogging was a thing, let alone a thing that is so lucrative, it become a job for many people.
My blog has grown, sure, but much more than just in audience size. Those changes include me as a person, my blog design, domain, purpose and even audience. My approach to blogging has also changed. When I decided to make use of its potential, my view point changed.
How I Started Blogging
For my newer subscribers, I started my blog back in 2016. At the time, I was pregnant and had stopped working a few months before. This was during the heights of the Zika Virus epidemic. In fact, just a few weeks before I realised I was expecting, the Ministry of Health had issued an advisory to women, recommending delaying pregnancy for six months. By that time, my horse was already through the gate. So I was home, doing nothing but letting my body do its thing and grow baby.
I nearly went mad with nothing to occupy my brain. So, I wrote down my feelings of when I found out I was pregnant. My friend, who had come by to check on me that day, said it read like a blog. My husband had a soccer blog, so I looked into it and started it up on a free WordPress sub-domain, posted my little musings, and shared it to Facebook. And voila! My Facebook connections loved it. They read and shared, and asked for more, so I continued. Within a few months, my blog hit 10,000 views from dozens of countries!
Now that I’ve been in the waters for a fair bit of time, I thought I might share some tips about blogging in 2021 that I think will be useful.
Your ‘Why’ is Important
If you mean to blog, for a good bit of time, you why is important. You don’t have to blog because you are trying to make money as most blogs provide a guide on how to do. You can blog simply because you want to share because its therapeutic to you. Because you want to document. Of course, your ‘why’ will determine what you want to blog about, how often you want to blog, and what the ‘success’ of that blog means to you. My blog started out as a personal documentation and sharing platform. I would write down my random musings, experiences and how I felt about them. My audience loved that, and even now, the most wonderful comments I get on my blog are the personal stories and feelings people, mostly women, are keen to share in my direct messages on account of my posts. That is a beautiful thing. A part of my blog that I cherish, and as such, even with adding the lifestyle component to my blog, the personal part of it remains a big part of my ‘why’.
Mistakes I made Blogging: Tips to Help you.
I say mistakes, but I do not truly consider them mistakes, as my why was a big reason behind them. However, I recognise them to be not in the best interest of my blog in terms of growth. Here are five things I wish I knew differently about in the beginning of my blogging journey and tips to help you along faster. Bear in mind, I’m a WordPress blogger, so most of what I am about to share is what I learned about the platform. I’ve used Free, Personal, Premium and Business Plans, so I’ve moved through the platform’s capabilities quite a bit.
Mistake #1: Blogging when I felt like it.
The insomnia was crazy when I was pregnant and nothing to exert my energy after the extreme exhaustion dwindles out. So, a thought would pop into my head at all odd hours, I would write and publish them right then. If my thoughts weren’t up and running again for another two weeks or a month, so be it.
Tip #1: Be Consistent
Consistency is not an indictment on frequency. However, in order to stay relevant, consistency helps your subscribers know what to expect from your blog. If you are only going to post once a month, try to do it around the same time so that even if your subscribers aren’t able to read it right away when you publish, they will think ‘Hey! So and so would have posted a blog post this week.’ They’ll come to check and be pleased that there is in fact a new post, just like they suspected. So in that way, consistency helps.
Mistake #2: I didn’t fully learn SEO
I knew the basics on optimising with SEO but didn’t really dive into the nitty-gritty until a while after I started blogging. I even thought I was doing a good job; Until I upgraded my WordPress plan to the Business Plan so that I could use Plugins. Knowing its importance, Yoast SEO was the very first plugin I installed. A lot of my posts had “okay” optimisation, but I was able to update the SEO on most of my top rankig and recent posts, but it’s difficult to go through hundreds of posts and re-write them, so a lot just gets left.
Tip #2: Learn SEO
Learn Search Engine Optimisation for your blog, if your intention to maximise traffic to your blog and eventually monetise it. You can also use a provider that will allow you to use Plugins. Most blogging platforms don’t allow this on a free sub-domain, so if you can afford the investment, I’d say do it. Now that I have the Yoast plugin, writing and optimising during writing is a breeze. I also now have a much better idea of what works for my audience.
Mistake #3: Upgrade your website to using Plugins Sooner rather than later.
I use WordPress (as a person on the more non-technical side). With WordPress, you need a Business Plan or an E-Commerce plan for your site to be able to install Plugins. In retrospect, I took way too long to make the upgrade.
Tip #3: Upgrade and Use Plugins
Plugins are useful if you intend to monetise your website in a number of ways. They include monetising with Adsense, Integrating the use of an external mail list (you have to manually add them back 10 at a time and ask the email users to accept the invitation with WordPress. Not only is it a pain, its inefficient and a certified way to lose subscribers.)
Mistake #4: Not using a third party Email Marketing Management Tool sooner.
This one may be less important if you don’t plan to monetise, but if you want the option in the future, you should have an email list. There are a few benefits to this. I didn’t think of building an email list until I wrote my novel and needed one. You’ll own your email list and can monetise it separately. With WordPress, your email followers are there, but you can’t send them campaigns directly, only blog post updates.
Tip#4: Use a third party email service.
Use a third-party email management system. Some of the more popular ones are Mailchimp, ConvertKit and MailerLite. I’ve used MailChimp, but unfortunately, the platform’s user-friendliness, decreased exponentially over the two years I spent using them. Things just became unnecessarily difficult to locate, I found myself googling the location of tabs that used to be readily visible way too often. Embarrassingly too, my blog updates weren’t being delivered to my mail list and it took me two years to realize this!. I needed a Plugin (there we go again, right). Don’t be a me, eh?
Eventually, I searched for another option than MailChimp. ConvertKit was often recommended but I found it too expensive, so I am using MailerLite now and I like them a lot so far.
I hope you find this tips useful if you intend to start blogging or if you were, like me and decided to change the blog’s direction.
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