What I’ve Learned in 4 Months of Blogging

The end of February marked my forth month blogging. Blogging isn’t what I thought – I’d love to share what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging.

What I've learned in 4 months of blogging

When I started blogging, I wanted lots of things. First, I wanted a side income doing one of the things I love most – writing. I worked as a writer in my teenage years and in my twenties. I even had a magazine at one point. But I was compelled to start a mom blog. I wanted to offer the help and support I needed when I first became a mom. I wanted to share my talents and knowledge (knowledge is useless if it just stays with you). Lastly, I wanted to generate a side income. But blogging has been a bit of a “culture shock” and I want to share with you what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging.

It’s Hard To Gain a Following

Ugh. This is the most shocking thing to me yet. Don’t get me wrong, I knew it would be hard to get strangers to read my blog. But one thing I’ve been surprised to learn is that even your family and closest friends don’t email subscribe and follow you. (Enter shocked emoji here). I’m not sure exactly what I expected. I think I thought people I was close to would automatically support and follow the blog. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In fact, about 97% of my email subscribers are strangers. I guess my point is that as a blogger, you work to win friends and family over too.

I’m not a fast writer. I take my time planning an editorial schedule and to create quality posts. But I have found the 80/20 rule is absolutely true. You spend 80% of your time promoting your post and 20% of your time writing it. You have to promote it constantly on all social media platforms. It doesn’t matter how good or helpful your content is – it’s really, really hard to gain a following. It can feel like you’re begging to get likes, comments, and shares. Can I say it? This is much harder than I thought.

Building Your Brand Is Important

When I first started my blog, I had absolutely no direction. It was a hodgepodge of fonts I liked and things I thought were cute. But I have found that to get a following, you really need to hone in on your blog’s voice. People begin to recognize your “look and feel.” What I didn’t realize, is that it needs to carry over on all your social media accounts. This means using the same font, the same layouts and even the same colors. It reminds people who you are. For example, since building my brand on Instagram, my followers have jumped from 850 to around 1200 in just a month.

The same goes for consistently posting blog posts. I have found that keeping to the same day and time for posts is very helpful for those who do follow the blog.

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

High Quality Photos Are A Must

Cell phones have pretty decent cameras these days, but it just doesn’t compare to shooting in RAW with a DSLR. I used to do photography as a side hustle about 10 years ago. But since becoming a mom, I think I’ve maybe only picked it up once. At first, I used my cell phone and just snapped a few photos. Who cares about the background, right? Wrong!

I’ve learned that your blog has to be aesthetically pleasing. Fact: people like pretty things! If it ain’t pretty, no one wants to look at it! I found myself having to invest in some backdrops, presets, props, and extra lighting equipment. I had to learn to master the flat lay. But I can also tell you it has directly affected my following. It does make a difference. If you don’t believe me, take a look at these two photos. The first one is from my very first month of blogging. The second one is from this month. What a difference 4 months makes.

See what I mean? I’ve come a long way. I’m excited to see how I will grow in the next 4 months.

This Is A Business

Blogs cost money. It’s hard to gain a following on a domain that reads http://www.wordpress.com/abeautifulmess. People don’t remember it. You have to invest in a domain, hosting, etc. And like I mentioned before, for good photos you need props, presets / editing software, backdrops, reflectors, tripods, and more. You need to find ways to help offset the costs of your blog. This means selling things like printables, e-courses, and other things.

Additionally, it means putting ads and affiliate links on your site. Furthermore, if you think it’s hard to gain a following, it’s even harder to get people to buy things! Did I mention how much time you invest in it? I have learned to be successful, you absolutely need to treat it like a business. It means dedication and investing your heart and soul in it.

There’s A Steep Learning Curve

That being said, you need to learn about the industry. I wish I had done more reading and learning before I launched my blog. There is so much I would do differently. Blogging has a steep learning curve. There are so many things to learn. Photography, wordpress, plug-ins, email campaigns, social media and their algorithms, SEO, blogger communities, and blog industry jargon. Honestly, it is a little more complicated than I realized. Duh, it’s a business. Yeah, I didn’t really know that. What can I say? We learn and sometimes the hard way.

You Have To Keep Your Dream Alive

I can’t tell you how many times I have already thought about quitting. It sounds silly, but the very first thing I mentioned was about how difficult it is to grow a following. Can I be honest? It’s depressing when no one is reading your blog. Or maybe more precisely, you don’t know if anyone is reading it. Again, it doesn’t matter how great your content is, if no one is reading it, it’s pointless. There are times when I’m ready to throw in the towel and then someone will say how much they enjoy reading My Beautiful Mess. In my mind I’m like, “subscribe then!” But I’d never say that! I have such a hard time asking for support.

I have followed Rachel Hollis for a long time. She is a well known blogger. Most people know her from her hit book, Girl, Wash Your Face. The sixth chapter in her book is entitled, No Is the Final Answer. Within the pages, she describes how many times she was rejected. She credits the secret of her success as refusing to accept the word “no.” I honestly don’t know if I have her will. I have a hard time bouncing back from disappointment. When you’re a blogger, there is no one motivating you to keep going. You have to remember your “why.” And as Rachel reminds us, you have to believe that no isn’t the final answer. Nobody gets to tell you how big your dreams can be, so go ahead…dream big!

This is what I’ve learned in 4 months of blogging. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what your dreams are and what you’ve learned on your journey.

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33 thoughts on “What I’ve Learned in 4 Months of Blogging

  1. This is so true! I’ve only been blogging for a month but I’ve already learnt there’s just so much you need to know… Good to know I’m not the only one who got things the wrong way round at first! I definitrly underestimated the importance of social media… Twitter has taken over my life haha

    1. Oh for sure. I’ve really been focused on growing my social media. I didn’t put a lot of stock in it originally. Currently working on my IG following. Its grown from 874 to 1200 over the past month.

      1. I’m struggling with IG! I’m focusing more on Twitter at the moment and looking to utilise Pinterest soon. How did you grow your IG so high?

      2. Hey Hannah, so the first thing I did was create a color pallet. To match my site, Im using black, white, grey, pink/peach. This means more photo styling and using the same filter on photos. IG is a visual platform. Someone who has 10K followers gave me great advice – be a ruthless editor of what you allow on your IG. I’m still a work in progress, but it’s getting better!

  2. Well written. I am a new blogger and find it hard to focus on creating new blog ideas when I’m not sure anyone is reading it. I find I’m starting to get a foloowing on social media but like you said no one is subscribing! Good to hear, others have gone through this.

    1. I get regular people following, but it’s fairly slow. It can get discouraging if you think no one is reading it, but with literally millions of blogs out there, it definitely takes some marketing strategies!

  3. It’s so true. It is hard to get a following and especially friends and family. I keep bugging them to subscribe also, reminding more than bugging, but it’s a fine line. I like what you said though. I’m a newbie and launched my blog last month but spent the last six months working on the site and trying to understand things.

    1. Yeah, there is a lot to learn. But be patient with yourself. I found that was important too. Otherwise, you’ll get frustrated and this is supposed to also be fun.

  4. So glad I saw this . I am not a blogger, yet perhaps, but I love what you said in this and see how I can adapt it to other areas of my life. I am mow a subscriber to you and look forward to more from you!

  5. Sounds like you’ve learned a lot! I think the most important thing is just go at your own pace and don’t stress yourself out. It’s okay to have a lot to learn.

  6. First of all, your site is beautiful, Mary! I started my blog two months ago and it’s so nice to validate that everyone has similar challenges. I still really need to work on making my site more pretty! Let’s just say that I’m ‘esthetically-challenged’!! Thanks for the great info!

    1. Thank you for your kind compliment and congratulations on starting your blog. I think most bloggers experience when they are first starting. Hang in there!

  7. THANK YOU – lately I feel like quitting every day – it seems worthless and yet I see slow – steady progress. UGH! I’ll reread this for encouragement. Really appreciate knowing so many out there feeling the same when we aspire to be those bloggers with 10K or MORE followers! We’ll get there !!!

    1. I know what you mean. I’ve had a slow, but steady, small following. That’s why I’m gonna start doing blogger roundups on my site too. I think it’s important to feature and help other beginning bloggers. Hang in there! The surest way to fail is to quit. Don’t take “no” for an answer 🙂

  8. I’m so impressed with what you’ve accomplished in 4 months! I’ve been working on mine for 3 and I have a long way to go to catch up with you! You’re inspiring me to keep on trucking and hoping that I can reach the point you’re at soon!

    Instagram is so hard for me! I’m headed over to your insta next to check it out and search for pointers! :]

    1. Aww. Thanks Kelly. That’s sweet of you. I know what you mean about IG. Honestly, it’s still hard for me too! But it’s getting better. Same with the blog. It took me a while to really find my voice. I’d also add, don’t copy anyone else. Remember that you bring something special and unique that no one else does.

  9. Love this! Thanks for being so real about blogging. We need more bloggers like you who are sharing how it really is to get started blogging. All the best to you!

    1. Thank you so much, Jonsie. I can’t wait to read your blog. We’re all on our own path and everyone has their own learning curve. You’re going to do great. Just keep going and don’t give up!

  10. It makes me feel to see that I’m not the only one. I can so identify with ALL your points-but especially the friends/family not supporting. Out of nearly 400 FB friends, I have about 50 who are supporting me. CRAZY! Thanks for the advice, I’ve written down some tips & will do some extra homework. Good luck on the rest of your journey!

    1. Girl, I have like 2,000 friends and I don’t think I even have 50 from Facebook. The few hundred subscribers I have are made up of other bloggers and strangers. I hope it helped you. Good luck with your blog!

  11. Guess we’re all in the same blogging boat! I have JUST started blogging also. This is my second week. Ugh! I’m ok with content and pictures, but I cannot figure out how to get started with the affiliate programs. I applied for one and was denied because, duh, I don’t have enough followers. If you can give me any tips, I’d sure appreciate it!

    1. Hey Francie, honestly I was very confused by affiliates upfront, so I totally understand. Let me tell you, you won’t figure it out in two weeks or even a month. It takes some time. So be patient with yourself. Also, most affiliates want you to have a good amount of content. They want to know it’s not going to look spam-like on your blog. They have no way of really knowinghow many people are following. So a lot of it is based on how many posts (content) you have. I have written 3 posts a week for almost 5 months now. That’s nearly 60 blog posts. I had no problem getting approved by any affiliate after month 3. They just want to see that you’re well established, so hang in there and keep writing! You’re doing great!

  12. Thank you for sharing your journey. I agree, this is a full time job and I have only been blogging for a couple of weeks. I look forward to learning more from you.

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