The Journal of a Blogging Journey Part 2. – Blog review+resource list
I decided to review my blogging journey at the end of each month. Self-reflection can do a great job here too. 🙂 I need to look back and see what I did and learned, and also to refocus. Because I’m building something here, it’s easy to get lost in the different tasks and push hard ahead while missing the most important principle of building: one step at a time. It’s easy to want to do – or better yet: get done – everything all at once, to long for instant success. However, it still doesn’t work that way.
I write about my blogging journey for the record and to encourage myself when I look back at how long I’d come from a different perspective. Also, I think it can help and inspire fellow bloggers too, who just started their blogs. I’ll make sure to share all the great resources I’ve found at the end of this post. Just keep reading!
This past month I mostly learned, learned and learned, and TRIED to focus on creating content. Also, tried to drive some traffic and I jumped into some monetizing tasks too. On top of it experimented further on Pinterest. I did a lot. Worked countless hours, and I enjoyed it. Every bit. Even though I can’t report a considerable success on most of the things I did.
I still search and go for free resources as monetizing is still in sloooow progress, so – as I wrote in this post – I still have to wait for being able to enroll in any valuable paid courses.
I joined about five different webinars and 4-5 courses, apart from the articles and newsletters with lots of freebies and tons of incredibly useful information. Some webinars and courses were great, some not so much. Not for me at least, who is not a total beginner. Still, I have learned a bit or a lot from each of them. I have a list at the end of this post of which ones I took AND recommend.
The most valuable lesson of the month has been strategizing. I took a course on Lead Magnets, that actually taught me about creating a strategy. Many things have become clear, so I’ve started to align all the things I do on my blog and for my blog. I also needed to learn about how to implement my strategy. These lessons came from other webinars and courses and numerous blog posts. I think this is where I started to get overwhelmed and distracted. I’ve learned so many things that are impossible to implement all at once but rather need to be prioritized, that it left me overwhelmed. So I have to refocus again.
Refining my message
At this stage of my blogging, my main priority is creating valuable content and reach my target audience. While my topic is clear by now – building a family and creating a home for them – my target audience is still in a wide range from young moms to moms of teenagers. Because I am a mom of teens and also of toddlers and each age group in between, I specialize myself widely. So at the moment, I’m not narrowing down my target audience. I’m waiting to see if it’s needed at all or all my experience and thoughts can be useful here.
Traffic and Pinterest
I still have to figure out how to drive traffic. Honestly, this is the part I learned least about in October. Maybe this is the point that I should have done differently.
Pinterest is my great source of the little traffic I have, but it gives me a hard time to figure out how to use it more efficiently. I still need to find a strategy to promote my pins, but before that, I must find my own brand. So I’ve been working on my graphics too, even improved a little. I’m experimenting with brands but not at all satisfied with what I do. I’ll do it anyway hoping to discover my tune sooner or later. Sooner would be better!
I signed up for Amazon Associates and got accepted. It slightly surprised me. I’d signed up for Share A Sale well before starting the blog. Through them, I tried to monetize on Pinterest without a blog with zero success. It’s not ShAS that doesn’t work. It’s the idea of throwing affiliate links randomly here and there – but how else could you do it on Pinterest? No one told me at those super you-can-do-without-a-blog courses, and I couldn’t figure out myself. I didn’t even really wanted to.
I genuinely feel the need to take a course on affiliate marketing too, though I know the basic guidelines, and try to follow them. But I still need a strategy! However, at the moment there is no point in putting more effort into it. Now I have to keep focusing on content and traffic. Learning more about affiliate marketing has to be a later project. Until then I use my affiliate programs based on what I’ve learned so far and try to spend as little time with it as possible.
My goals for next month
Creating more content with more and more value in it. Posts, opt-ins, lead magnets and pins.
Learning more about driving traffic and implementing it. The goal is to grow my audience.
Keeping my monetizing efforts at the minimum.
Finalize my brand graphic. This will take some more learning too.
My finds and recommendations
Everything you see here is FREE and worth the time you put into it. Most of them will offer a paid version with more content at the end, and honestly, I would gladly pay for most of them if I had the chance. It is up to you to decide if you’d make a purchase too. My advice is that before deciding about paying for a course anytime anywhere, you take the free offer to see if it’s well-invested money. The free offers tell you a lot and prevent regret!
I took Kristin’s free video course on making graphics mistakes – and I learned a ton, even improved a little. I highly recommend her! She is the best out there about graphics – at least for me. I have learned with several other designers too, and I still do, but she is my fit. She is just about to launch her paid course. I’m sure it is worth the investment.
The Lead Magnet course that teaches you how to strategize before jumping into creating lead magnets. Going through this e-mail series will give a lot of sense to things you probably already know just haven’t quite clicked yet.
The course I took most recently was The Blog Plan with Suzi from startamomblog.com. Honestly, I took it because Carly from mommyonpurpose.com recommends it at her site. It is a fundamental course for real starters or wanna-be-bloggers, but it still put puzzle pieces into place in my head. It is a half video, half written course, really short to tackle (within an hour), so just roll in and learn!
I took Ana’s free affiliate video course and signed up for her resource library. Both are very useful. The affiliate course again is a very basic course that I needed, but in full honesty not entirely convincing to buy the paid version of it. Too little promising of new information there for me. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to sign up for her page and newsletter.
Scrivs at BBC renamed DTC
One of the first e-mail courses I took was Scrivs’ 12-day Blogging Bootcamp. Well, he has a totally different style and approach than most of the bloggers we may learn from, but we need him to find the balance. He will help you to find the right mindset about blogging. The subtitle to his Bootcamp is “Learn what it takes to blog for a living.” And that is exactly what will happen to you. Instead of chasing wild dreams you will know right away what it really does take. Start with this! I mean it. You need it. His newsletters also have valuable information and advice if you like or learn to put up with his straightforward style.
I took McKinzie’s free Pinterest Primer course, and I really liked her. She helped to clean things up in my head about Pinterest. She also has tons of other free and paid resources and a very active FB community. You can learn a lot from her. Go for it!
She has the kind of newsletters I want to open and read straight away. She is inspiring, truly knows her business, gives invaluable advice and information, and her personality has built an impressive community in her FB group. If I’d unsubscribe from all newsletters I’d signed up for except only one, that would be Carly’s.
She has one of the richest resource collection both free and paid on signing up for her newsletter. You wouldn’t want to miss the courses, stock photo piles, and all goodies to help to build your blog.
Actually, first I’ve signed up for the Elit Blog Academy resources and later other courses, so I don’t exactly know which letter comes from where, but she also sends newsletters with full of food for thoughts stuff. She also has a very inspiring podcast, the Do It Scared Podcast. She does a lot, and it’s impossible to embrace all, so just head over to her and pick those that you need! When she has a free webinar about blogging, sign up for it! I did one a few days ago, and it was well worth it. The paid course is too expensive for me, but people who took it, say it is worth it.
Honestly, I didn’t know her blog, my shame I still don’t, I just signed up for her Pinterest Dashboard for Google Analytics by a pin on Pinterest, and ever since I get newsletters from her time to time. I find it resourceful, insightful – overall useful. I hope to find the time to discover more on her blog. The dashboard is handy. If you want to have a better understanding of Pinterest traffic to your blog, you definitely need it. Sign up here! It comes with clear instructions, easy-peasy!
The Best Facebook Groups
This past month I also created a Facebook account – which is totally against my better judgment and nearly killed my husband with disappointment – to be able to join the best FB groups to learn even more.
The first pick and the one that I highly recommend is Carly Campbell’s group. I can’t tell how much I learned just reading discussion threads there. It is the most active group I’m in and an awesome community. My conviction is that it is because of Carly, her sparkling personality and inspiring story. If there is only one group you can join, this should be it.
Another awesome group I participate in is the Simple Pin Pinterest Strategy Group. This support group is to learn about Pinterest, full of up to date information and advice – the best place for pinners.
The third is the Ivory mix group. Kayla’s group is perfect for promotion, collaborating, and inspiration.
I’m sure there are other awesome groups out there, but I know only these so far. I’ll find more of them as I learn something new every day.
Dear Brand New Blogger!
First of all, I sincerely hope you’ve found some new and useful information in this post. Use as much as you can. We, beginners, need them.
Second, let me give you some unsolicited advice based on what I see in the blog world.
Please, please, please do not blog about how to blog if this blog is not at least your second but rather third or fourth or hundredth blog!!!! You will never make it. That’s the truth. Those who succeed in blogging about blogging have multiple blogs and tons of experience, and they do know their stuff. If this is your first, the worst choice you could have made was to blog about blogging. Either no one will believe you, or those who do, will leave you disappointed and spread the news. You don’t want that! Learn before you teach! Please!
The other disturbing trend I see, that starter bloggers put out there their deepest and sometimes darkest secrets. Another way to drive people away. Honesty is important, transparency is needed, but none of these mean that you can put your burden on people you want to attract. That won’t work. They’ll run away. Well established bloggers with a brand let people in on these kinds of things after having a years-long relationship with their readers. They mostly open up to their closest community, aka their subscribers. Think about it twice before you put everything out there!
Learn, learn, and learn. And learn some more. You can find the best free resources in this post. If you take only these, you will improve more than you could ever imagine.
This one is not only for newbies. Recently I’ve read a lot of posts with typos – to say the least. I’m not the one to promote using correct English since my English is still not my native language and I’m aware that anyone can tell that. But this is exactly the reason I put this point here. If I can tell about a post that it is written in poor English, then it is written without any high standard. Not very attractive and makes it hard to read. It doesn’t help to build your blog. Sorry!
Of course, these only apply if you want to make a living with blogging or/and build a business with a brand. Otherwise, do it as you please.
I'm a wife to a wonderful man and mother of 10 amazing kids. I'm constantly working on being the mom I've always wanted to be and to make our house to be our dream-home finally. My goal is to help and encourage you to be the best mom you can be.