Happy June my friends! I can’t believe we’re already into one of my favorite months of the entire year. Hallelujah! It’s officially summer in my book and I couldn’t be more thrilled. And today is extra special because I’m kicking off a brand new 5-part series that is dedicated to starting and growing your own blog. I’m calling it the Beginner’s Guide to Blogging and every Thursday in the month of June I will be covering a different topic related to blogging. I actually got the idea for this series from YOU lovely folks. Remember that reader survey I did a while back? Well I was seriously shocked at how many of you said you’d love to see more posts about blogging. High five, you guys ROCK. I absolutely love talking about blogging, so I’m more than happy to oblige. Today is the first post in the series and I want to talk about 10 things to do in your first 90 days of blogging. I have A LOT of info to share, so let’s get right to it!
1. Decide to go for it.
Ok, this first step assumes that you’re still on the fence about starting a blog. I know it can be a difficult decision, it certainly wasn’t easy for me to take the plunge, but here’s what I recommend if you’re struggling with the decision. Ask yourself which you’ll regret more: not trying or going for it regardless of what happens. Really, it seems simple but I think the answer to that question will tell you what to do. I asked myself that same thing and it was instantly obvious to me that starting a blog was at least something I had to try. I was of course worried about failing. Or what people would think–especially my friends and family. But I decided to push all that aside and do it. So that’s your first task. Be honest with yourself and do what you feel your gut is telling you to do. I have a whole post about 10 things to know before starting a blog, which I’d also recommend checking out. And of course my step-by-step guide to starting your blog is super helpful once you decide to go for it.
2. Determine your focus: who and what.
One of the best things you can do now in your first 90 days is establish a very clear focus for your blog. Ask yourself who you’re blogging for and for what reason. This will put you in one of two categories: 1) you’re blogging for personal reasons and it’s primarily for yourself, family and friends or 2) you’re blogging for a greater audience and hoping to earn an income one day. Those two things are incredibly different and you need to make that distinction now. Without a clear and dedicated focus, it will be difficult to establish a loyal audience from the beginning. Anyone that comes to your blog should be able to figure out what it’s about in less than 60 seconds. Now, let me clarify something: figuring out your focus doesn’t mean you’re locked into that forever. It’s totally do-able to transition your blog content over time, slowly adding in new things here and there. But in your first 90 days, when everything is fresh and new, you need to stay laser focused on what you’re writing about and why.
3. Build your content before going live.
Before I ever hit publish on my blog for the very first time I had about 5 posts written and on my site. That way I had content to share from day one. I highly recommend doing this and there’s a few reasons why: 1) once your blog is live, for the whole world to see, you’ll want readers to have something to actually look at. Having a handful of great posts done and already published will give you that content you need to get started. 2) You can start pinning your content right away and driving pageviews to your site. I’ll get into more detail about Pinterest and all that jazz later in this series, but trust me–you want content on Pinterest ASAP. Start pinning your photos NOW. Just make sure those first few posts are stellar and build from there with new and fresh content.
4. Create a schedule for yourself and define your GOALS.
This is a big one for me and it’s especially helpful when you’re just getting started. I’m a huge advocate for writing down your schedule and defining goals at the first of every month. You’ll definitely want to do this when you’re just getting going with your blog. Figure out what kind of schedule you want to keep and stick to it. Be consistent! Do you want to publish 2 posts a week? Maybe 3? That number is completely up to you based on your time/resources/caffeine intake. Commit yourself to that schedule for the first 90 days and then take time to re-evaluate how to move forward from that point.
5. Focus on building quality content and great photos.
Great posts and awesome photos are what drive page views to your blog, so definitely focus on building the best content you can in those first 90 days. By this I mean lots of amazing photos (I’ll talk about that soon!), posts that are helpful and informative, hot topics, easy to follow tutorials, etc. Whatever it is you’re blogging about, try to focus on writing evergreen content in those first 90 days. Evergreen content is a term you’ll hear a lot in the blogging world and it basically means writing posts that will be useful to your readers for a very long time. Typically personal posts and things of that nature don’t qualify as evergreen content. But a great DIY tutorial or a great recipe are things that can bring page views to your blog for months and months. Even years. For example, I wrote this easy DIY bakery sign tutorial in the very first month of LVN and it’s still one of my most popular posts.
6. Give yourself some grace.
In your first 90 days you will have no idea what you are doing and that’s OK. Don’t compare yourself to bloggers that have been at it for years, that will only lead to frustration. Instead, remember to give yourself some grace in those first few months. Heck, I look back at posts I did in my first 6 months and cringe. But it’s ok and I was learning. You are too. Over time you will get better and better at creating great posts.
7. Create an email list.
From day one you should have an opt-in somewhere on your blog for people to sign up for your newsletter. I started with MailChimp and I still use them. You’ll want to start collecting names and email addresses now, even if you don’t have any plans to use it for a while. And if you’re really on it, try creating some kind of opt-in incentive that will give your readers a little “thank you” for signing up.
8. Start using Google Adsense now.
I’m going to do an entire post about monetizing your blog, but you should go ahead and get started with simple ads on your site from day one. In my opinion, the best place to begin is with Google Adsense. That’s what I did and it worked very well for me. Once you’ve got a few posts going and you’re feeling good about things, you can start manually plugging in small ads directly in your posts and in the side bar. Just do a quick search on YouTube to see exactly how to do this, but it’s actually very simple. Don’t go overboard with it, people get turned off by too many ads, but a few here and there will start earning you money from day one.
9. Hustle, hustle, hustle.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: hard work and dedication is the foundation of any successful blog. You’ll have to put lots of long hours in to make it grow. And not just in your first 90 days, but from here on out. But the good news is that it won’t feel like work if you love blogging. If it’s your passion and something you enjoy, I promise you will love it.
10. Educate yourself.
I’ll be honest, you’re going to feel a bit overwhelmed in your first 90 days of blogging. If you’re anything like I was, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a completely different world where words like “widgets” and “plugins” seem like a foreign language. But don’t freak out. I repeat, don’t freak out. You WILL learn. Do your research and educate yourself as much as possible. There’s a ton of free info out there that can help you navigate the tech side of blogging. And if all else fails, just YouTube it. Trust me, that’s the fastest and easiest way to find a solution for just about any problem.
Whew. That was a lot, right? I hope I didn’t overwhelm you. There’s a lot more I could say about your first 90 days, but I better stop here. I am so excited about this new blogging series and I really hope it helps those of you that are just getting started! I plan on talking about photography, social media, earning an income from your blog, and more.
Here are a few other blogging posts you should check out:
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