My little baby blog is celebrating its one month anniversary today! To celebrate, I thought I would do a wee bit of a reflection about what I have learned so far about this whole blogging gig. While this is solely based on my own (in)experience, if you are new to blogging or considering it, I hope that this reflective piece will help others. I’m big into lists, so I figured I would assemble a top ten list of things I learned my first month of blogging, suggestions I have for others, and just general little nuggets of wisdom I have gleaned this past month. Let’s get started!
- Blogging is a lot of work. I can see how it could easily consume your life! But I have to say, it’s so incredibly fulfilling and rewarding and even cathartic on many levels, so it’s totally been worth it. Would I ever give up teaching to become a full-time blogger? No way. Do I love doing it in addition to my teaching gig? You bet! I do have to say I am a bit nervous about school starting back up and still having enough time to devote to this pet project of mine and my beloved students. I have to admit, I have used my summer time wisely, and I have stockpiled some blog posts so I have them ready to roll in case I don’t have time when the back to school craziness starts.
- Avoid the temptation to kick out new posts too often. Yes, you want to build your content and your website, but you need to find a nice rhythm of posting. I committed to posting at least once a week. I certainly don’t want to abuse my privilege as a blogger, and I don’t want to give my readers anything but the best of my writing. I also don’t want to overwhelm my readers with too much at one time, otherwise you run the risk of annoying your readers. You definitely want to avoid watered down posts on your blog. Just because you have something hot off the press, it doesn’t mean you should fire it off to your readers right away. Give it some time to marinate! You may end up regretting posting something too soon for a variety of reasons, so it’s better to just hold onto some content rather than hitting the publish button too soon. As a new blogger, it can be super tempting to churn out a lot of content in a little time just to fill your blog, but it’s going to take time and patience. Just relax, and fill your blog content with quality not quantity.
- Figuring out the monetization of your blog can be much more difficult than it should be. I definitely did my research (hello, I’m an English teacher – I teach research!) and I was very confused about something as simple as Google AdSense. Nothing makes you feel like an idiot faster than not being able to figure something out quickly. I had to read and reread articles about Google AdSense and even watch a couple of videos before I felt confident enough to try to get it up and running. Even as I am typing this right now, I am unsure if I am doing it right or if it is working properly! But hey, at least I tried.
- Consider ordering business cards for your blog. I ordered mine yesterday! I can’t tell you how many times my blog has come up in conversations lately. I know darn well I can’t depend on someone to remember what my website name is, so if I have a business card, I can definitely hand it to them and drum up some more support for it. Brilliant! It’s also one step closer to proving to myself and others that this blogging gig should be treated like a business (because it is!) and a business card is a perfect representation of my professionalism.
- Patience is a must in the land of blogging. I am definitely pretty tech-savvy on a basic level, but add in all of this new stuff on WordPress and Google AdSense, and I’m left feeling pretty inept some days. Lucky for me, I have a thirteen year old who will gladly roll his eyes at me and then help me whilst muttering under his breath about how I don’t know anything. I’ve also had to learn to have patience with having my blog take off like I want it to and I know it eventually will. In my fantasy land, I just thought that you would publish your blog and BOOM, your blog would take off and you would have so many people flocking to your blog virtually salivating just waiting for your next post. Ummmm… nope! It takes hard work, patience, networking, and even then, nothing is guaranteed as far as the loyalty of your readership is concerned. Maybe someday I won’t have to beg and plead to have anyone and everyone come visit my blog; until then, I’m at least nice about my begging and pleading! Hey, we all have to start somewhere – so I am employing the no shame in asking/begging/pestering routine daily.
- Self-doubt and questioning of your sanity are buy one get one free when it comes to blogging. After I started this blog and published my first couple of posts, the self-doubt immediately started creeping in on me. You know, those negative thoughts about what if no one supports this blog, what if no one reads it, what if I am terrible at what I am doing? Yes, you will doubt yourself. You will second guess yourself. You will beat yourself up for things you feel like you should or should not have done with your blog. You will start to feel slightly to moderately crazy for even choosing the blog life. But, you know what? That doubt and questioning of your sanity start to go away and are quickly replaced with confidence, a sense of accomplishment, and pride knowing you are chasing a dream of yours!
- Pinterest will be your best friend for blogging resources. To all of the other bloggers before me who have taken the time to post their goodies on Pinterest – THANK YOU! I salute you for your hard work and your willingness to help those of us completely new to this whole blogging stuff! Tapping into someone else’s expertise is highly recommended. Chances are, if you have a question about blogging or you are looking for a “how to” guide on something blog related, someone has likely created a pin for it and has posted it on Pinterest. I have found better information on all things blog related on Pinterest than I have just from trying to hunt around for the information on my own.
- Settle into a routine for writing and blog posting. It’s been very important for me to set aside time for blogging and to choose at least one day a week where I will post my new post. I have committed to doing at least one new blog post a week. It helps to keep me accountable for the upkeep of my content, and it helps my readers to stay engaged as well. I’ve developed a habit of settling in each night by turning on the TV for background noise, kicking up my feet, and then firing up the laptop to check my blog for comments, take a look at my website statistics, do a little campaigning via social media, answer emails, and then jotting down ideas for blog posts or tweaking unpublished posts. I’ve also found that if I am not in the mood to write, I just pull the plug on it and come back to it later. I like my writing to be organic and genuine rather than forced and trite. I find that since I have established this nightly ritual, I have really come to look forward to this sacred time each evening – it’s quite relaxing!
- You can, and will make mistakes – and that’s okay! Yep – the first day of my blog, I accidentally deleted the whole thing. The. Whole. Thing. I nearly cried. I was so excited to go live, and I dutifully did my first post, my about me page, and put some pics on it. I went live, and then I went into my account and tried to download something, and BAM, my blog was totally gone. I panicked and tried to undo it, and then I realized I was totally out of my league and got tech support involved. Thanks to the lovely folks at Bluehost, they were able to totally recover everything I worked so hard on and then subsequently quite easily deleted! Phew. Crisis averted. I am a self-taught blogger who did a lot of pre-work via research and took advice from current bloggers, so I am totally willing and able to make mistakes. The key is to learn from those mistakes and then hopefully avoid those same mistakes in the future.
- Relax and embrace the experience. It can be so tempting to become psychotically obsessed about the data generated from your blog and plugins like Google AdSense. I am totally not doing my blog as a money-making venture; I truly want to make a difference in the lives of my fellow teachers. Now, if I happen to make some extra income off this blog of mine, that’s great because I can recycle it right back into my efforts to provide bigger and better giveaways. It can also help to defray my costs of operating this little blog of mine. So, if I make some extra moolah from it – that’s great! But, if you are truly in the blogging business for money-making purposes only, good luck. It certainly isn’t a get rich quick scheme, and even if it is somehow miraculously producing gobs of money for a blogger, I can guarantee there was some serious hard work involved! Also, beware of all of the weirdos who come out of the woodwork emailing you trying to sell you their business propaganda promising you that if you buy their product, your traffic and income will skyrocket. Just ignore them and delete their emails. Some of these vultures can be very annoying and persistent. But, the solicitation will ease up in a couple of weeks and you can be free to work your own magic! You don’t need their empty promises anyway!
So, there you have it. Month one of my blog done and in the books and on the web! I plan to look back each month and reflect on what I’ve learned and think about what my plans are for the upcoming month. The teacher in me likes to reflect on my past experiences and develop some goals to make Teacher Sweepers totally epic! Have any questions about blogging in general? Ask them below! I will answer them honestly and genuinely without sugar-coating anything. Also, if you would like advice about starting your own blogging adventure or if you want to be a guest blogger here at Teacher Sweepers, email me: email@example.com.