Today is exactly one month since I became a  new blogger and published my first blog post on goodlifebetter.com and man, has it been a crazy month. 

In keeping with my Type A personality, I wanted as a newer blogger to do it “right.”  This meant reading blog posts about WordPress, blog posts about SEO, and blog posts about blog posts, taking courses, listening to podcasts, downloading eBooks, joining private Facebook groups, joining Pinterest, attempting to figure out how to use Pinterest, setting up an email list and so much more.

It has been energizing, scary, and, most of all, overwhelming.  In this post, I share some of the early decisions I made and a few of the many things I have learned.

Choosing a Host for My Blog and Creating My Site

Before choosing a host, I did some general research on which company is best for a WordPress site.  I have a website for my side hustle with iPage and like them, but for several reasons—book-keeping among them—I didn’t even consider iPage for this blog.

I looked at costs but more important to me was customer service.  I had played around with WordPress before and found it baffling so I wanted someone who could walk me through installation and customization.

A name that kept coming up on blogger Facebook groups was SiteGround so I checked them out.  For some of the other sites—HostGator, Bluehost, and DreamHost—I found some positive reviews but also some really negative ones.  The reviews of SiteGround were almost universally positive.  So I went with SiteGround

I looked at the price options and boldly decided to go all in and purchase a two-year professional plan.  I likened it to burning the ships when finally coming ashore to ensure the crew knows going home isn’t an option.  Sure, I can stop posting but that would be wasting money and I hate to waste money.

So far, I have no complaints about SiteGround The service is reliable, the speed is great and if there has been downtime I haven’t noticed it.  And they took care of WordPress installation for me so I didn’t have to worry about it.

Learning WordPress

WordPress itself hasn’t always been intuitive but I feel like I am getting the hang of it.  Things I would have thought would be easy—changing the font of the headline, for example—ended up being very time consuming.

However, between the books and the courses, I feel so much more comfortable with managing my site that I even edited some of the code to change a font color.  It was an awesome feeling that was not in anyway whatsoever negated by the fact I discovered a much easier way to do it later that day!

Two books that I found helpful for WordPress that you can check out are:

  • Step-By-Step WordPress for Beginners by Mike Taylor.  It wasn’t very expensive and included access to great training videos that were super helpful.
  • WordPress To Go by Sarah McHarry.  This is another fast read that helped me make sense of customizing WordPress and how to use Plugins and Widgets.

My first month of blogging was a roller coaster ride! #BloggerLife #GoodLifeBlogger

SEO and Site Security

There are recommended Plugins for both SEO and Security (that are free) but I decided to purchase an annual professional subscription with JetPack.

I found a good discount code that knocked it down to around $150 for the first year.  It is definitely overkill for the number of visitors my site has had to date but I liked the customer service that came with it and have already had one 15 minute consultation that helped me understand the SEO features better.

Now, I know where to write meta descriptions of each post that Google can pull from (as well as Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook).  I am working on identifying key words that I can organically incorporate into my posts and meta data.  I find both aspects a bit challenging—identifying and incorporating—but believe that this will come more naturally with time.

Email Marketing Provider

Deciding on what company to go with for my email marketing also required some investigation.  I researched two of the free options (you have to start paying once your list reaches a certain number), MailChimp and MailerLite.  Of the two, MailerLite seemed to have the better reviews.

Among the paid services, I researched ConvertKit and GetResponse.  I couldn’t find many negative comments about either of them and decided to go with ConvertKit mainly because that is the service a good friend of mine uses for her blog, My Adaptable Career, and I could use her affiliate link.

So far, ConverKit has been great.  I have received lots of helpful advice from them on capturing emails and staying in regular contact with my list that I am working on implementing.

New Blogger Lessons Learned

The first new blogger lesson I learned is that I need to give up on the idea that my website will be perfect (whatever that means).

I may want to do it all right away and all at once, adopting the practices I am reading about that promise to boost my email list and page views, but that just isn’t possible.  I suppose I could have drafted the site in beta first and waited to launch until it was just right but that defeats the whole purpose of my blog which is to help people by sharing what is working for me.

The second lesson I have learned is that the web is full of free and low-cost advice to help bloggers realize their dreams and if I try to consume all of that advice all at once I will drive myself nuts.

The second lesson I have learned is that the web is full of free and low-cost advice to help bloggers realize their dreams and if I try to consume all of that advice all at once I will drive myself nuts.

This probably first hit home when I woke up one night and realized I had been dreaming about sidebars.  Sidebars!  And this was a night when I actually fell asleep.  Many nights I have been so full of ideas and creating to-do lists in my head that sleep didn’t really come.  That isn’t sustainable, especially because I still have both my full-time job and my side hustle demanding my time and energy.

The final lesson I have learned as a new blogger is that pacing yourself is key when it comes to blogging. 

Most—if not all—of the bloggers I admire have been blogging for at least five years.  Comparing my start to their middle will only make me feel like a failure (I didn’t come up with this idea but I am not sure who to attribute it to).

My “To Do” List (and “To Don’t” List)

How am I acting on this knowledge?  I created a list of the five things I can focus on in the first 90 days.  If it isn’t on the list, I can’t focus on it.  The five things are:

  • Publish a total of 30 quality posts, each at least 1,000 words long, one on Tuesdays and one on Thursdays.
  • Plan and draft posts at least two weeks in advance.  This allows me to be my own editor because it gives me time between drafting and editing so I can more objectively read what I have written.
  • Set up a bank account for my blog business and request a tax EIN number I can use for affiliate marketing programs.  Also, sign up for affiliate programs that make sense for where I am right now.
  • Complete courses that I have already bought on blogging, email marketing, affiliate marketing, and using Pinterest.  Implement/practice what I learn.
  • Continue to develop a high-level strategy for my blog, identifying how I can best serve my target audience.

To really drive home that the above five things are the only things I can focus on, I also created a list of those things I am not going to do during these 90 days:

  • I am not going to register for any additional courses until I have completed the courses I have already registered for and implemented the actions they recommend.
  • I am not going to get distracted by other things bloggers are doing, such as creating eBooks, courses, podcasts, guest posting, etc.  These are all great but now isn’t the right time.
  • I am not going to continue to play around with how my site looks.  This isn’t because it is perfect but because doing so is an enormous time suck.  My time is better spent focusing on content creation.
  • I am not going to push myself so hard that blogging becomes something I dread doing.  Right now, I feel like everything I have experience in my life has led me to this moment of being able to share what I have learned.  I don’t want to lose that energy.

Creating my two lists has made my life so much less crazy. 

The first gives me my performance metrics for my first 90 days: I will know my first 90 days as a blogger were successful if I accomplished these five things.  This means I don’t have to worry about page views and emails captured.

To help me stay focused, I allow myself to write ideas and resources that fall outside of my five tasks on 3×5 cards that I will keep to refer back to later.  This takes the pressure off of me to remember a great idea or resource and gives me something to be excited about doing in my next 90 days.

How Am I Doing?

I would love to hear what you think of my blog, or the lessons you have learned from the early days of your blog.  Write your thoughts in the comment section below!

[Want more? Read the update I did at my 90-day blogiversary, or visit the overview of my new experience published on Problogger.com!]

© 2017-2018 Good Life. Better.

Thinking about starting a blog? My experience was rewarding (if a little manic)! #StartABlog #Blogging #GoodLifeBetter

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3 words to describe the first 30 days of blogging? Overwhelming, energizing, and fun!

7 Comments

  1. Nice work Jenny! I thoroughly enjoy reading these kinds of posts anyways.

    I’d say my biggest takeaway from the early days of blogging is this: I had no idea what I was doing.

    Most of the directions I went, actions I took, posts I wrote, etc…were really, really bad….but I got getter. I suppose the lesson is “under no circumstances should you quit within the first year.”

    It takes at least that long to get the hang of things, though it looks like you’re already way past where I was after 6-12 months. Keep up the blogging 🙂

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      Thanks so much, Pete! That means a lot to me! (BTW–Thanks for being my first comment!)

  2. Snap! I’ve just competed my first month of blogging. I admire your industry and how thorough and organized you are. I have been the opposite and relied on informative articles like your own to paper over my lack of due diligence!
    Have you joined the rockstar forums? Best advice I was given.

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      Thank you! It took me about two weeks of feeling crazy before I said to myself there has got to be a better way! My plan has really helped me make this workable. I haven’t joined that forum but will check it out. I am in a few Facebook groups that I am learning from: Blogger Insights (my friend Emily is one of the co-moderators); Making sense of Affiliate Marketing; Do you even tribe; and Simple Pin Pinterest Strategy. Would recommend them all!

    • I 2nd that, you should absolutely come join us on the forums, though it’s definitely a bunch of hardcore personal finance nerds 🙂

  3. Somehow I missed this shout out, so THANK YOU for sharing my site! I love ConvertKit, and I’m so glad you’re happy with it too. I seriously spend more time doing awesome stuff in there then I do tweaking my blog these days. (Email marketing is where it’s at!). That would be my big lesson from the early days of blogging. Start growing an email list. It took me a long time to figure out what I was doing and how to get people to sign up for my email list, so I’m glad I started working on it Month 1.

    Your site looks great, by the way. I LOVE the watercolor pic of you and the fresh green color of your branding.

    • goodlifebetter Reply

      Thank you so much! I’ve kept teeaking it as I went along and have gotten to the point where I’m happy with it (for now…😀). I’m feeling more comfortable with ConvertKit too right now. I’m sure there are lots of functions I still should explore. Thank you for the comment!

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