A Year of Mistakes – My First Year Blogging

*The following may contain affiliate links. Click here for my FULL affiliate disclosure*

Happy Blogiversary to me! This month marks my first full year of blogging. My first live blog entry appeared on June 6th, 2016. Since then, I’ve been busy. Let’s see – since launching my blog, I’ve written 61 blog posts, 12 income reports, and produced 24 podcasts. That’s 97 pieces of content! And two years ago when I first started thinking about blogging, I thought a year’s worth of content was nearly impossible for me to think up. Still, I didn’t get this far without making some mistakes. In fact, I fucked up a lot over the year, so much so that I had to pick out my 10 worst offenses. If you’ve been thinking about starting a blog then this one is definitely for you haha!

#1 Neglecting My Email List

When I first got started, I was told my email list would be the most important aspect of my “business”. It’s a common thought that you can measure your potential income by how many names are on your email list. One name equals one dollar, or so they say. Actually, looking at my blog income, that might be true. You see my list is still on the smaller side. I think on day one, I had 30 people and still haven’t cracked 100 subs. Fortunately, I have FBA as an additional stream of income, otherwise my reports would be pretty sad.

I also didn’t send many emails. I had a 7 email welcome series for months. Once that last email was sent, then that was it. Nothing else would land in your inbox. To tell the truth, that’s kind of embarrassing. Nowadays, I’m up to about 30 emails with plans to double that number within the year. I want to make sure my email subscribers are getting a healthy dose of value and fun on a regular basis.

To join in on that fun, you can sign up for my email list here:

#2 Not Leveraging Affiliate Marketing

From the jump I knew what affiliate marketing was, but I didn’t know how to do it effectively. Like all forms of marketing, there’s a certain amount of finesse you need in order to get your links to convert. I thought that I could just post a link in a blog post and money would fall in my lap. Unfortunately, that wasn’t true.

In fact, for the first 8 months, maybe longer, not a single link was clicked. What I found out was I was doing it all wrong! For starters, I didn’t know that most people don’t notice affiliate links until they’ve seen them a few times. I also didn’t know that readers don’t trust raw links (the one with all the letters and numbers in it), because you never know what’s embedded in that long link. Plus there are legal disclosures that you need to make sure you don’t get in trouble like the one at the top of this post.

I learned all of this and more when I took a course called Making Sense Of Affiliate Marketing. (You can enroll through my link). The course was created by a blogger that earns over $50,000 per week in affiliate income. If you want more info, I wrote this helpful review not too long after completing it.

#3 Too Much Too Soon!

So I’m one of those people that wants to do everything right now! Early on this habit transferred into my blog work. First came the blog, then came income reports, then came email sequences, then my first course, and finally podcasting. All within the span of the first few months of launching my blog. It was a little nuts to be honest. And as a consequence some areas of the blog suffered.

First my emails suffered, it was hard enough to blog every week let alone think up useful emails for my subscribers. I struggled to get to 7 emails and was burnt out on it, so I stopped for a while. I tend to get side tracked. Even now I’m behind on a 15 email series and have started working on a new course haha.

Next the podcast suffered. At first everything was good because I was just ranting on whatever but then I switched to interviews… Let me tell you the hardest part about podcasting. It’s not producing a podcast it’s getting guests to commit to an hr long interview when they’re already so busy. I’ve had quite a few cancellations in this short year. Finally, I couldn’t keep up with scheduling and the blog and my emails so the podcast went on hiatus.

Fortunately, I’ve gotten better at managing it all and have outsourced my typing to save me literally hours each month. The podcast came back but on a Biweekly schedule to give me plenty of time to coordinate interviews. Plus I’m usually a few blog posts ahead of schedule so I can skip a week and work on something else if I really need to. It’s funny though as I write this I realize I just recently added a new monthly blog entry, have plans to add a new podcast segment, and I’m making changes to my content promotion and creation strategy.  Soooo maybe I’m still making this mistake haha.

#4 Using Traffic Plugins Instead Of Google Analytics

Alright so I may or may not have found this out a week ago, but Google Analytics is the gold standard for tracking traffic on your blog. They automatically filter out false traffic like bots and web crawlers that so many others include. This means that the traffic numbers I’ve been posting in my monthly income reports are actually wrong. I’m planning to make the switch to Google Analytics next month and take a hit to my ego.

Knowing your actual traffic numbers is super important for a number of reasons. For one, they allow you to track your growth. For two, they allow you to track popularity of your content. You want to know how a post performs on its first day, but even more important is how well it does days, weeks, months, or years later. With precise information, you can implement different strategies on your blog.

For instance, if a post is getting a lot of organic traffic weeks after posting, you might want to make sure it’s optimized to capture email subscribers or sales. Maybe the post doesn’t already have affiliate links because at the time, you didn’t have a relevant offering, but now – a year later, you do. You never know, when your content lives on the web, it could blow up at anytime and if you’re not properly equipped to track that, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Don’t be lazy like I was, and set it up immediately. You’ll be glad you did.

#5 Not Networking With Other Bloggers

Confession time – I’m terrible at networking with my peers. I’m an introvert and like to do things solo, plus I despise superficial conversation. So reaching out to people that I won’t build a friendship with is foreign to me. I know I need to network because that’s how you learn and grow your audience, but I wouldn’t do it much. I mean I’ve tried guest blogging, but after 3 rejections, I stopped sending emails. Luckily, I took that affiliate marketing course and got added to a blogging community where I can interact freely without an ulterior motive. Maybe I’ll find some bloggers to collab with. We shall see… But I know it is a goal of mine to meet more bloggers.

#6 I Had A Shitty Resource Page

Actually when I first started, I didn’t even have a resource page. It took about 4-5 months to get one up, then when I finally did put one up, it was terrible. There weren’t very many “resources” to check out, and of the ones I had, there wasn’t any detail as to why it was useful. After Michelle’s course, that all changed. I didn’t know that it was such an important page for visitors.

Have you seen my resource page now? Looks really good if you ask me. After taking the course mentioned above, I realized a well designed/written resource page is invaluable to me AND my readers so I got to revamping it, and boy did I dig deep! Basically, I spent two days re-writing and designing the page from scratch. The results were/are phenomenal. Now when someone asks me what I personally use for my blog/podcast, I can refer them to everything they need with detailed explanations on how I use these resources and why. As you can imagine, this saves me a lot of talking and typing plus everyone gets THE SAME information.

#7 No Email List Opt-ins, freebies, or content upgrades

Again, when I first started, I had one opt-in location for my blog – in the sidebar. Yes, the default location for my blog. It’s no wonder my blog subscribers didn’t grow for a while. I used to have to personally ask people for their emails and manually add them to my list because well, it wasn’t easy to do it by themselves.

Fun Fact: Most people will NEVER subscribe to an email list via the sidebar.

I’m sure only your most engaged visitors will do so. Why? Because the side bar is far removed from where their eyeballs are focused. Notice how you have to look away from the text in the blog itself? You don’t want people hunting for your opt-in because many potential subscribers give up quickly. Instead, inline, pop up, or slide-in forms work better.

Again, I didn’t know this starting out. Luckily, the few blogs I visit helped me realize what I needed to do. First and foremost was getting the right tools to make what I wanted to happen happen. I started with a floating header opt-in which you see at the top of the page. Next were inline forms, like the one you see below. And lastly, I added pop up forms like you’ve probably already seen it. Next, I plan to get a welcome mat, but that’ll come with time.

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Another thing I didn’t have were landing pages and incentives for subscribers. At first, I was using Leadpages to create landing pages and pop up forms but it was too expensive for the basic things I needed. Luckily, I switched to ConvertKit for my email platform. ConvertKit has basic landing pages, forms, and email management built in for one price so I couldn’t justify the added expense of Leadpages. You can get ConvertKit as your email platform as well through my link.

#8 What’s a Pinterest?

I’ll be the first to admit I suck at Pinterest. In fact, I used to think that Pinterest was just for women. While predominantly women use the social site, that’s no reason to ignore this powerful platform.

Many big time bloggers attribute much of their traffic to Pinterest. It’s kinda like a visual search engine people put in what they are looking for and they share their findings with their followers. It’s a good place for organic traffic for sure. My only wish is that I had a resource to help you master it. Unfortunately, I haven’t found an all inclusive course. So for now, here are two books that can help you, both from my favorite entrepreneur man crush, Gary Vaynerchuk. Click here to get Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, a book dedicated to storytelling on social platforms. And the follow up #AskGaryvee, a book where he digs into the many questions surrounding social media and business development in this era.

#9 No Clear Message

So I struggled with this one for nearly my entire first year of blogging. The riches are in the niches, or so they say. Ask any blogger and they’ll tell you you need to nail down a niche to write for and fast. So like any new blogger, I set out to pick a niche to write for. At first, I went with the dad blog approach, which isn’t in itself a bad choice, I just didn’t want to be a standard dad blog, so I added the spin of dad trying to build a business online. That idea flopped as I found most of my content was more business/personal development than dad related.

Not wanting to be defeated, I pivoted. My next niche choice was introversion. Again, with the same business spin. That lasted for a while but as I researched what other introvert blogs were publishing, what I saw was less than thrilling to say the least. Most of what is published on introvert blogs is the same recycled headlines: “how to use your strengths”, “x things you should know about introverts”, “careers for introverts”, just to name a few. Nothing wrong with what I was seeing, I just feel that most of what’s out there concerns operating within that introvert box. And that’s my issue as an introvert – I’m more interested in learning to stretch and get outside of that box, and since that kind of content didn’t seem popular again, I choose to pivot.

At first, I decided to keep writing what resonates with me in hopes that a common trend would appear and reveal my niche. And that’s what happened, sorta. About a month or two ago, I was starting to get frustrated. People would ask me what my blog was about and I could never explain it in a clear way. Then one day, I was on Facebook in a blogging group, and this girl was talking about her “lifestyle blog”.

I was immediately curious as I’d never heard of a lifestyle blog before, so I looked it up. This isn’t the exact definition, but basically a lifestyle blog is a generic blog. It’s like a niche for blogs with no niche. Still even with no niche, these blogs typically focus on a couple main themes, so it’s not like they just write about whatever the hell they want. Anyway, that’s how I settled on a lifestyle blog that focuses on life, business, and parenting (from an introvert’s point of view).

#10 Ignoring SEO

The first plugin I added to my blog was Yoast. It’s supposed to help with SEO, Search Engine Optimization. SEO is an important piece of your blog. With proper attention, you can increase your visibility on search engines and drive organic traffic. As a blog or website in general, the more organic traffic you can get, the better because it’s free traffic. Getting free traffic drastically cuts down on the amount of ads you need to run to get eyeballs to your website.

Anyway, as I said, I Installed Yoast on my blog and there it sat. I’ve never been trained in SEO so I didn’t know what to do with it. Late last year, blog traffic began a downtrend so I started playing with the features in Yoast. Fortunately, the plugin is idiot friendly. Everything is graded in 3 colors – red, yellow, and green. So before I would publish, I would check to have as many green ratings as I could. I want to say it has helped but I didn’t track my rankings in the beginning. All I know is after 4 months of paying attention, my website lands on page 2 for “introvert dad” and page 5 for “social introvert” when you search on Google.

So there you go, 10 things I messed up on during my first year of blogging. Now that I’ve gotten those out of the way, and hopefully saved you some trouble, I’m excited to see where I am after my second full year. I can tell you this changes are coming. This year I plan to get a whole lot better and introduce more quality content. It’s gonna be EPIC!

One last thought:

If you’ve been following since day 1,  I just want to say thanks for the support and if you’ve just started following, welcome to the party. Either way I’m just getting started so stay tuned!

Peace…

 

 

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