Before we start: If you are interested in starting a blog of your own, I created a tutorial that will help you start your own blog easily. In addition to the low pricing, you will receive a free website domain (a $15 value) through my Bluehost link if you purchase at least 12 months of blog hosting. For what it’s worth, my blogging income did not take off until after I switched to self-hosted WordPress.
Having a new blog is so exciting!
I remember wanting to work on it every single day, obsessing over every pictures, every graphic, every sidebar image, every comment, every social media post. I changed the look of my blog about a million times, worried that not enough people were reading it, and tried every single blog traffic strategy and blog writing strategy I could get my hands on.
I liked the work but quite honestly I spent most of my time spinning my wheels and getting very little in terms of results.
I was busy (very busy) but not at all productive. And with a brand new baby, that wasn’t a good use of my blog building time.
Believe me, the struggle of a new blogger is REAL and I totally have been there. That’s why I think it’s so important to get really clear and focused on doing only a few activities during your first year of blogging but doing them REALLY, REALLY well.
So what should a new blogger focus on in their first year? Let’s break it down (oh, and I have an even more in-depth, free email course about growing your blog as well! Scroll to the bottom to sign up!):
Find a niche and write content you love!
There is a lot of advice floating around out there blog topics that bring you the most money and most readers…but guess what?! Over 90% of bloggers stop blogging within their first year, not because blogging is too hard but because they don’t love what they’re writing about!!
So before we get into any “technical” aspects of your first year of blogging, I want you to give yourself time to figure out what you LOVE to write!
That’s right – you don’t have to commit yourself to one type of writing or only one topic (unless you want to!). The first year needs to be all about figuring out what makes you tick, what makes you excited to get up and write a new blog post, and how to consistently write posts that you love!
That being said, good writing takes good practice and the first year of blogging will give you plenty of awesome opportunities to practice the craft of writing if you create a “schedule” and stick to it!
Make a commitment to posting at least once a week (2-3 times a week is even better if you have the time!) and just do it! By consistently writing posts and trying new things you’ll find your sweet spot and start creating the content you were meant to write. Just give yourself time to get there!
Create your own eye-catching graphics that make you stand out from the crowd.
Learning how to create your own graphics is one of the best skills you can acquire during your first year of blogging. Yes, content is king but graphics are queen – you need the visual graphic element to draw in readers & capture their attention.
Thankfully, there are plenty of [FREE] online programs to help bloggers like you and me create stunning graphics with little difficulty.
While it would be my style to write a big, long tutorial right here, I went a little out of my comfort zone and wrote a blog post and created a hands-on, step-by-step video to get you started! (WATCH RIGHT HERE or click the video below).
Installing Google Analytics & WordPress Plug-ins.
One of the best things I did for my blog was install a few key plug-ins. All the plug-ins I am about to recommend are FREE and generally very easy to install (specifically if you are using WordPress!). Some of these items (like Google Analytics) will help you understand your audience better, some will help you get your blog seen more, some will make less work for you, and some will help block spam and keep real readers on your site for longer. All wins if you ask me!
Here are the only plug-ins you really need during your first year of blogging (don’t go crazy, too many can really slow down your blog and get frustrating if there are any tech issues):
1) Google Analytics
Google Analytics is the gold standard when it comes to tracking your online traffic. If you hope to make money as a blogger (through sponsored content, advertising, affiliate marketing, etc…) then you need to be at least aware of how much traffic is coming to your blog and where it is coming from. The best way to do that is through installing Google Analytics and getting really used to using it!
While installation is pretty self-explanitory, it often helps to have someone walk you through the process so if you’re feeling stuck, go ahead and follow along: Here’s a good tutorial to help you out!
2) “Yoast SEO” Plug-In
If you are using WordPress (which I REALLY hope you are!), then you are going to want to install the Yoast SEO Plug-In.
What is it? It’s a FREE plug-in that ensures your blog posts are full of the kind of keywords that makes GOOGLE drool and help you to be found when people are searching for your content.
If you are going to install nothing else on your blog, install the Yoast plug-in!
3) “Sumo” Plug-in
Sumo is one of those plug-ins that can do everything for you! Once you download it (only use the free version!), it gives you the ability to include ‘pop-ups’ and ‘bars’ to capture email addresses.
You can even check your Google Analytics right from this plug- in. If you visit my website, you’ll see a bar at the top of my site that I made with Sumo. I also made my “join my Facebook page” pop-up with Sumo (all for free, all in less than 5 minutes!).
4) “Spam Destroyer” Plug-in
This is a plug-in that will ensure your new website doesn’t get overridden with spam comments. This is generally something that new bloggers discover and feel extremely frustrated with – there’s nothing worse then getting notification that you have new messages or huge traffic only to find out it’s all spam! The spam destroyer has been a total win for me and all but eliminated the spam comments from my site.
5) “Inline Related Posts” Plug-in
One of the best ways to keep people on your website is to download the Inline Related Posts. This plug-in directs people to other blog posts on your website that may be similar and equally interesting. This plug-in will automatically include similar blog posts right within the body of your posts, making it simple and easy for readers to stay on your website and keep reading your kick-butt content 🙂 The best way to help this plug-in work is to make sure you have each of your posts filed under a “category” and include a few “tags” for each post – this makes it easy for “Inline Related Posts” to recognize similar blog posts!
Let’s talk self-promotion, shall we?
There are a million different things I could tell you to do in the first year of blogging but if no one knows your blog exists (ie: no one can find you online) NONE of it matters!
So let’s make sure you have a social media presence that ensures you are findable AND draws people into your blog!
There are plenty of social platforms out there so I’m going to be very clear and break down the THREE social media platforms that you need to start using today in order to grow your blog.
One important note: For each of these platforms I STRONGLY recommend you set up a BLOG ONLY account. I realize that might be frustrating if you already have a strong personal presence on any of these platforms but growing a BLOG following is critical and there is no better time to start than right now while your blog is still new!
[If you are looking for help in growing your online presence or even setting up your accounts, make sure you visit my YouTube – there are tons of tutorials on there for you!]
Start your email list.
My #1 regret in blogging is not setting up an email list and actually emailing my readers early on in my blogging “career”.
In fact, I didn’t set up an email list until I was 6 years into blogging and even when I did set up a list, I did not email them with any regularity (I’m still kinda bad at this to be honest!).
I do not want you to make the same mistake that I did, so let’s set up your email list TODAY.
First Step: Choose an email provider
There are literally 100s of email providers out there but please do not think that all email providers are created equally. If I was setting up my email list today I would use:
I’m not going to bore you with the differences (but if you want to know email me and I’d be super happy to fill you in!) because the fact is you need to choose an email provider, sign up and start building an email list right away.
The reason people don’t succeed in blogging or even begin to meet their goals is that they don’t take immediate action and I refuse to allow you to fall into that category! So let’s set up your email list TODAY.
If you choose to set up a (free) MailChimp email list then this tutorial will walk you through the steps.
If you would rather start with the best email system out there (and yes I’m biased) then I highly recommend ConvertKit. In fact, the reason I grow my email list by 100 new subscribers each month is because I use ConvertKit (but don’t worry. If you’re not in the market for a paid email provider, begin with MailChimp and switch to ConvertKit when you’re ready!). *If you’re worried about the cost let me know and I may be able to swing a few free months so you can test it out! Just send me an email!*
But I hear you asking: what in the world do I send my subscribers once I’ve set up my email list?
Well, I’m glad you asked because I want you to be better at this than I am. In fact, I want you to be so good at emailing your list that people actually get excited to see your name in their inbox!!
Here’s the key: it’s not exactly WHAT you send your list but HOW OFTEN you send something to them.
Just like my first email on creating great content, the key to growing an email list is to nurture it with consistency.
So here’s what you need to decided:
- How often can you commit to emailing your email list (no matter how many people are on it)?
- What is ONE item of value you can give to them in your email?
Even when you only have 3 subscribers, start getting serious about emailing your list NOW. Just like that writing muscle memory, the better you’ll get at it. And then, when you have 3,000 subscribers, sending out a regular email will be a breeze:)
To sum it up, during your first year of blogging, once you should be focusing on:
Creating great content
Growing a community of really dedicated readers
Communicating with your readers in multiple ways
With those strategies in mind, ignore the rest of the noise out there and simply create some AMAZING blog content, develop your social media strategies, and really ENJOY the process of building a blog (without focusing on traffic or all the other “noise” out there on the internet). I’ll be with you every step of the way!!
I also have a FREE email course all about how to grow your blog! Sign up below to get really in-depth advice delivered straight to your inbox!