I often read that a good number of start-up blogs don’t make it through the first year of blogging, but I have made it through my first year, accoutered with so much vigor and enthusiasm and ready to confront the years ahead.
It feels just like yesterday when I put up my very first blog post which was on December 31, 2015. It was a test post to see how it appeared on the site and it was subsequently followed by this post on solo travelling.
How I started
First thing I did was decide on an available domain name for my website, then I purchased one with Namecheap which cost me $6.06. I signed up to WordPress.com, a free blogging platform that allowed me set up my site, but with certain restrictions. I paid $13 to map my unique domain name (www.wakaholic.com) to this platform.
The reason why I started on the free platform was because I thought I wasn’t ready to commit to a self-hosted blogging platform since I had limited knowledge at the time. One of my regrets was not beginning on a self-host platform; however I’m glad I eventually did in my first year of blogging.
After months of reading thousands of resources and asking millions of questions, I was ready to take control of my site. I opted for a shared hosting account and purchased one with Namecheap which cost me $19.88 (the first year) for the Professional Shared Hosting Plan. I became accustomed to words such as Search Engine Optimization, Keywords, Affiliate Marketing, Email Marketing etc.
These are some of the Lessons I Learned in my First Year of Blogging;
1. Blogging is HARD.
When I started blogging, I didn’t think it was going to be easy; however I never imagined that growing traffic would be as hard as it turned out to be.
Then you ask, what is hard about blogging?
Knowing your target audience, writing helpful articles to engage them and timeously promoting these posts on the right platform as well as optimizing them for search engine are the tough aspects of blogging.
There are no guarantees that each strategy would work, so you have to keep trying until you figure which one works best for each post. Sometimes it’s so difficult to decide on a topic to write about, other times you are completely overwhelmed and do not have enough time to write all you want.
You have to constantly find out what keywords people are searching for and write articles to provide those answers. Even then, it is not a walk in the park. It may take months and sometimes years of staying consistent to achieve remarkable results.
This is why most people hire SEO experts to do this for them but as a start up blog, my goal was to reduce the cost of blogging to the nearest minimum, so I had to learn to do it myself.
2. I have acquired essential skills and will surely become better.
When I started blogging, I knew nothing about blogging. But in the first year of blogging, I gained extensive knowledge and acquired skills in areas unrelated to my core business and I love it. Did I mention I have been to Aviation School too? There you have it!!!
This was incidental to the Wakaholic Adventure, a group travel service I launched in my first year of blogging. I received training on the platform required to make my own reservations and prepare tour packages for these events.
I read hundreds of articles on blogging and watched numerous podcasts as well. Some offered useful information while others were only interested in selling their resources. I read them all and subscribed to hundreds of newsletters on blogging, followed numerous travel websites, joined travel communities/forums and signed up on various social media platforms. The aim was to acquire the knowledge, experience and inspiration required to be successful in blogging.
3. Networking is vital
I reached out to a good number of people in the business; some were kind enough to acknowledge my mails while others didn’t even bother with a response but I didn’t stop. I engaged members in various forums who offer freelance services as well as friends, to review my blog and give me constructive criticism and they did.
With each feedback, I got better. I personally designed my site to look exactly the way I wanted, developed advanced creative abilities, and learned how to work with codes, themes, plugins, graphics, apps and other techniques to give my blog its unique look.
This post would not be complete if I fail to acknowledge two people who made my first year of blogging easier than it would have been. Mfon Abel of Trendiee.com, who is always available to respond to any IT related issue and Anita Solomon of anitasolomononline.com the online business guru who encouraged me to move to a self-host platform while offering free counselling on how to grow my blog traffic.
These two were always available to respond to my numerous questions and lend their support whenever I got my fingers burnt.
4. There are numerous resources online for FREE
I must say that there are millions of resources online to address every aspect of blogging and online business but you must be careful not to acquire so much information such that implementing them becomes difficult.
5. Blogging is engaging and time consuming
Part of achieving set goals is to develop a daily habit that supports your vision. Likewise, to succeed in blogging, you have to be passionate about your niche to give it the required attention. I use to be a TV addict, but the past year has seen me cut down drastically on the amount of time I spend in front of the TV to focus on research, writing articles, promoting my blog post on different social media platforms and planning my next travel adventure.
It is almost impossible to achieve any results when you are not active on these platforms so I had to grow my social media presence in communities with similar interests. This requires a lot of patience as it can be overwhelming with a day job and other commitments.
6. Staying consistent is the sure path to success
It is often said that “if you want to be successful, then you must be consistent” and these words are my mantra. I have learned that to make it in the blogging business, I have to remain consistent, developing myself everyday and offering more than I did the day before.
My first year of blogging was enlightening and i can’t wait to see what the next year offers.
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