Blogging, Year One: Lessons Learned & How I’ve Grown
Last summer when I launched my blog, I knew I was diving head first into a new world. A world I still am discovering with each word written, each published post. As I approached one year in my blogging journey, I began to reflect upon the ways blogging has transformed me as a person. It’s much more than creating good content and figuring out how to drive traffic to my blog, so much more. Keep reading to find out what one year of blogging has taught me, how it has shaped me and continues to help me grow.
I’m one of those people who can stay in the “information gathering” stage for a little too long before starting a new venture. I want to know every detail, read all the books, have a Pinterest mood board, a physical mood board, listen to a relevant podcast, and get whatever more information I can before diving into a new project.
Before starting my blog I sought out the expertise of my dear friend Brittany Kelley of livinglifekelley.com to glean some advice from her about the ins and outs of blogging. She was so patient as I read off a long list of questions jotted in my notebook. Finally, she stopped, looked at me and said, “The best advice I can give you is to just start. Start where you are.”
One thing I learned from starting my blog is that starting is the often the hardest part! Taking action on your dreams, especially when you like to dream big, can be scary. I learned not to let a lack of knowledge keep me from taking that first, most important step, starting. launching my blog gave me the confidence to start my monthly newsletter, a live concert series on Instagram and my Etsy shop. I’ve learned that once you make peace starting where you are, the world opens up an abundance of opportunities for you to express your creativity.
Another piece of advice that arose over and over when I was starting my blog was “find your niche.” Many well-meaning and successful bloggers swear that this is the only way to have a noteworthy web-presence. However, in my case, I started Joi-Knows-How.com because I don’t fit into only one niche. I have many creative passions and for so long I felt like unless I chose one, I wouldn’t be successful. So, I didn’t choose anything. I walked around feeling like a failure because I could never follow through on any projects no matter how excited I was when I began.
Starting my blog was the result of me waking up one day and realizing that I don’t have to choose. Finally, I understood that I can embrace ALL of my gifts and talents. I gave myself permission to accept that it’s okay to be interested in more than one thing and to pursue them all without question.
So that’s my niche. Let’s call it the “share your gifts” niche. If you feel like you don’t fit into any one category, please feel free to join mine. There’s plenty of room for you and ALL of your creative expressions over here. Sure, my blog might be more marketable if it were entirely focused on plants, crystals, or recipes, but you know what makes my blog the most successful? It represents all the best parts of me rather than just one. (Read more on this topic in this blog post.)
Throughout my first year of blogging, I quickly learned that when you start a new venture some days you’re going to feel amazing, and some days you’re going to want to quit entirely. On those days, you’ll need to lean on your support system. I experienced this first hand many times. For example, while figuring out what to name my blog name I started feeling overwhelmed and defeated. For some reason, finalizing a name made it feel more real and freaked me out.
I called my friend, Daisha, and she gave me the pep talk of a lifetime. She told me that I need to go through with my plan to start a blog, even if I didn’t have it all figured out. She told me that my ideas are worth sharing. She believed in me until I got over my anxieties and started believing in myself. That’s the beauty of a support system. Find people you can trust and don’t be ashamed to reach out for a kind word when you need it.
In the beginning, I strived to have one month’s worth of content written beforehand so that I could post once per week consistently. It’s a great thought, and I do still try to stay ahead of where I can. However, some of my most well-received posts have been unplanned. Sometimes I’ll get an idea, or try something new that enhances my day to day life, and I will want to share it right away. I’ve learned that it’s great to have a plan, but I also need to leave room for those moments of pure creative inspiration.
A great example of this is my post Why You Should Choose a Theme for the Year Instead of Making Resolutions. That post was completely unplanned and was nothing like anything I had shared up until that point. One meaningful conversation with my friends led me to write that post. I followed my intuition and published it the following week. The response was PHENOMENAL! So many readers resonated with the ideas I had shared, and I learned that trusting my intuitional and leaving room for pure inspired content is a blogging game changer.
While my long-term goal is to monetize my blog, I’m not there yet. I still have a lot to learn and I know that with time many more opportunities will come my way. I have also learned that because I’m not leaning upon my blog for financial support, I’m able to focus on the creative side and allow it to be a space for authentic self-expression. My day job, substitute teaching, allows me to provide for myself and for that I am so thankful. There is no shame in having a day job that helps support your dreams! My first year of blogging has taught me that my success as a blogger is not measured in whether or not it’s my sole source of income.
One of the best things I’ve done for my blog has been investing in a photographer. Anytime I have an idea for a post that I know will need to be photo-forward, I know exactly where to turn. Starting my blog taught me the importance of investing in myself. It’s more than needing professional photographs, it’s showing myself that I believe in my abilities enough to spend time nurturing them.
When you have a dream, find a way to invest in making it happen. Show the Universe that you’re serious about your dreams by taking action on them. That brings me to what one year of blogging has taught me more than anything else.
We all have dreams. Big dreams and little dreams. Dreams that float effortlessly into reality and dreams that live safely in your heart, where they’ll stay forever unless you invite them into your world by taking action. Of all the things I have learned from this first year of blogging, the most impactful has been to take action and to follow through. Having an idea is a beautiful thing, but without the courage to act, it will stay in that unrealized state forever.
Taking action, starting my blog, was the first big step I ever did in inviting my dreams to join my reality. The second biggest step was following through. I may not post every week as I thought I would, or have thousands of views per day, but I’m still here. Still sharing my gifts on this platform. Still enjoying every minute of it, and most of all, still learning about myself.
Thank you for being a part of my blogging journey thus far. Looking forward to all that’s to come in our second year together.
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Until next time. Thanks for reading,