Starting a blog can be overwhelming. During the first year of your blogging journey, you shouldn’t let yourself get overwhelmed with all the information out there. This post contains the only things you need to focus on during your first year of blogging. Keep reading to see what they are!
You’re probably here because you just started a new blog and now you have no idea what to do.
And that’s ok! I had no idea what to do after I started my first blog, either.
It took a lot of research over a lot of years to figure it all out.
I got frustrated and I almost gave up and deleted my entire blog.
And I’m not the only one. Did you know that 95% of people who start a blog fail in their first year blogging and give up?
That’s a lot of new bloggers becoming overwhelmed with how much work actually goes into blogging!
Yes, having a successful money-making blog is a lot of work and does take time and patience. But I don’t want you to get frustrated and give up as a new blogger! That’s why I put this list together of the most important things you need to focus on during your first year of blogging.
The Most Important Things to Focus on During Your First Year of Blogging
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1. Have a plan for your blog.
Having a plan for your blog from the very beginning will save you a lot of time and frustration. If you start writing without any planning in place, your blog will fail. And you will have wasted a whole lot of time. I made this mistake in my first year blogging and I gave up blogging for a while. This is my best tip for new bloggers!
It’s super important to sit down and come up with a plan and some goals so your blog will become a success.
How to define your blogging goals:
- Brain dump: Grab a notebook and write down all of your blogging thoughts, plans, goals, fears, and concerns. Get everything out. Trust me – it works and it makes you feel better! Keep in mind this is just a brain dump for overall blogging goals, not ideas for posts right now.
- Organize your thoughts: Draw a line down the center of a piece of paper. On the left side of the paper write “annual blogging goals” and on the right side write “ultimate blogging goals”. Go through your brain dump list and start sorting ideas into these two categories.
- Get S.M.A.R.T.: Now it’s time to set realistic and reachable goals, which you’ll find examples of all throughout this post. Examples of some goals are setting up an email address, getting 500 subscribers to your email list in the first 6 months, and so on.
SMART stands for
2. Set up your blog the right way.
I know what you’re thinking, “What? I’ve already set up my blog!”
There’s more to a blog than having a domain name and host and installing WordPress.
Here are a few things you should focus on during your first year of blogging to get your blog set up correctly:
- Choose a theme: The theme is the template for the look and layout of your site. It’s where all of your brand colors and fonts come together in a user-friendly way.
- Choosing a blog theme is important, but it’s not something you should spend a lot of time on in the beginning. You’ll always be improving the overall look of your site.
- WordPress has free themes you can use or you can choose to go with a premium theme, which is not free. These are updated a little more frequently and have less of a chance of breaking down on you. But a free theme is the way to go when you’re first starting out with your blog.
- Tips for choosing a theme:
- It should be lightweight, not overloaded with plugins and data that is just going to slow it down.
- It needs to be mobile-friendly.
- It should be easy to customize.
- Set up categories: Categories are how you sort and group your blog posts into different sections.
- To set up categories, go to your WordPress dashboard, then under “posts” click “categories” then “add new”. Name your category, set a slug, choose a parent category (only if this is a subcategory), set a basic description, then click “save”. (Learn the differences between categories and tags here.)
- Set up your main pages: Click here for information on all the pages you need to have on your blog and why they’re important. Setting up these pages is very important to focus on during your first year of blogging and I would recommend setting them up right away. These blog pages include:
- Start Here
- About Me
- Contact Page
- FAQs (if you have a business)
- Create your menu: The menu sits at the top of your blog and is the best way to help readers navigate through your blog. You can add pages, posts, and outside links to your blog menu.
- To create your menu, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “appearance” then “menu”. Give your menu a new name (something like top menu or whatever), then save it.
- Next, choose the pages your want to add from the left column and drag and drop them however you want them to show up on your blog.
3. Set up Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a free tool provided by Google to help you track the traffic that comes to your blog.
With Google Analytics, you can learn all about audience behavior on your site, such as their:
- the pages they visit the most
- and more!
Studying audience behavior through Google Analytics gives us bloggers the power to grow our blogs as well as serve our readers the best we can.
You can learn everything you need to know about Google Analytics in this super helpful guide written Moz.
4. Create an email list.
Having an email list is the best way for your readers to get your posts. More than likely they are not going to remember to visit your blog every day to see if you’ve written a new post. To get them to see and read what you’ve written, you need to send them an email sharing that information. You should never depend solely on social media to share your blog.
Creating an email list is one of the most important things to focus on during your first year of blogging. Aim to get at least 500 subscribers in your first blogging year.
Why is having an email list so important for your blog?
Email subscribers are more likely to share your content than they would if they saw your post on Instagram.
Also, people signed up to get your emails for a reason – they’re interested in what you have to offer. Having an email list makes it easier to target the right people for offers and products.
Best free email marketing tool:
Most bloggers use ConvertKit for their email marketing. They are very user-friendly, their sign-up forms are customizable, and it’s FREE to sign up!
How to build your email list in your first year of blogging:
Step 1: Offer an incentive
Incentives are often referred to as “lead magnets“. When visitors come to your site and see that they are going to get something free just for joining your email list, they are going to sign up. Everyone loves free stuff!
They need to be useful, solution-focused, and goal-driven. If your incentive is not useful and doesn’t solve the reader’s problem, they are not going to bother signing up for it. Also, ask yourself where does the free incentive sit in your sales funnel? If you have a product to offer for sale, be sure the opt-in form leads subscribers to your product landing page after they sign up.
Types of incentives to offer include:
- video tutorials
Step 2: Add opt-in forms to your blog
Create eye-catching and conversion-focused opt-in forms with bold colors and fonts to attract attention. Be sure to place forms in strategic places throughout your blog, such as within every blog post and in the sidebar widget.
Pop-up forms that catch people when they are about to leave your site are perfect attention-grabbers. Make sure they know what they are going to miss if they leave your site without signing up for your email list.
5. Create valuable content.
One of the main things to focus on during your first year of blogging is creating valuable content that attracts readers. Find topics that people are interested in and want to know more about. Search a topic on Google and look at the questions that pop up in the “People also ask…” box. Use those questions as questions you can answer in blog posts for readers.
As a new blogger, you should get into the habit of writing every day. That doesn’t mean you should post a new blog post every day! But you should be focused on writing something, even if it’s just to rewrite and make an older post better. Aim for at least 2 blog posts a week and remember to remain consistent with your posts.
Not every blog post needs to be SEO-focused and filled with a lot of keywords. During your first year of blogging, you should focus more on having content written and shared. Focusing on SEO and keywords will come later.
Best types of content to write
The best types of posts to write are called “pillar posts“. Pillar posts are meaty, useful, well-written posts that are engaging. They are usually filled with relevant images and helpful videos to help readers understand what’s going on. Topics in pillar posts are covered in-depth so much that people will link to them for years to come.
Examples of pillar posts include:
- “how-to” posts
- ultimate guides
- definition articles (explain certain topics such as content marketing very in-depth)
Comments count toward long-form content, too. Ask a question at the end of your post to get readers engaged.
Related: 6 Steps to Take After Publishing a Blog Post
6. Start monetizing your blog
I would highly recommend that you start monetizing your blog during your first year of blogging. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until after you have published a ton of posts like I did. I spent months going back through posts and adding in affiliate links. This is so much easier if you start monetizing your blog from the beginning.
What are the best ways to monetize your blog during your first year of blogging?
- Affiliate Marketing: Affiliate marketing is promoting someone else’s products. For example, sharing links to Amazon products within your blog posts. If someone clicks one of your links and makes a purchase you will receive a small commission.
- Start off by promoting 1-2 affiliates directly related to your niche. To promote these affiliates you can write affiliate-related articles or place affiliate links within related blog posts. Also, you can place affiliate banners on sidebar widgets with eye-catching graphics. Be sure to promote affiliate links to your email list and on social media as well.
- Create a product to sell: Digital products are very popular right now. People are buying eBooks and printable planners now more than ever.
- Types of products to create and sell include:
- Digital products such as calendars, planners, eBooks, eCourses, copyright-free images
- Services such as one-on-one consulting, coaching, photography, vacation planning
- Before creating a product to sell to your audience, ask yourself these questions:
- What does your target audience really need/want?
- What questions do they have?
- How can you solve the problems they are facing?
- Types of products to create and sell include:
- Sponsored posts: Sponsored posts are articles that a company or brand pays you to write. You must include links to their products and services within your post. Reach out to brands and companies you love and trust. It’s best that you actually use their products so that you can share your honest review with your audience to build a trusting relationship with them.
7. Drive traffic to your blog
The main ingredient to a successful money-making blog is traffic. The more visitors you have, the more people you have to click on affiliate links and ads and buy your product(s). It can take up to 6 months for Google’s algorithms to fully index your site and for your blog to start ranking in top search results.
During your first year of blogging, you should be focused on driving traffic to your blog through Pinterest and social media. Also, make sure to read and comment on other blogs. You may get lucky and gain new followers.
Backlinks are another great way to drive traffic to your blog. Getting links to your blog from other sites with a higher domain authority will help you rank higher and quicker on Google. (Domain authority is a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a site is going to rank in search engine results pages. The scores range from 1-100).
Related: 20 Proven Strategies to Drive Traffic to Your Blog
8. Start niching down.
When you first start blogging, you might write about different topics to see what interests your audience the most. After writing several blog posts and studying Google Analytics, you start niching down and choosing your target audience.
Niching down to a specific topic helps you rank in Google quicker and higher because Google can understand what your blog is about. Readers will also know exactly what your blog is about. And the ones who are most interested in the topic you’re writing about will sign up for your emails and keep coming back to read more.
Also, when your blog is niched down, it tends to get more traffic from Pinterest.
To niche down your blog, choose a topic that combines your passion and interests with your experience. Think about who can benefit from your skills. This will help you gain authority and build trust with your targeted audience.
Related: Finding Your Blog Niche
Having a successful blog shouldn’t be an overwhelming chore. There are a lot of sites out there jampacked with information on how to make money with your blog. If you try to do too much at once, you will get burnt out and overwhelmed and you will give up and quit. Therefore, your blog will fail and you will have lost valuable time and money.
The above tasks are the most important tasks that you need to focus on during your first year of blogging if you are serious about having a successful money-making blog for years to come. In the following years you should be putting more focus on learning SEO, Google algorithms, long-tail keywords, and more to keep your blog going.
If you’re a new blogger, what are your goals to focus on during your first year of blogging? If you’re an established blogger, what did you focus on most during your first year? Is there anything you wish you would’ve focused on sooner?