3 Mindsets for Beginning Bloggers
I currently live in “Blogostan.” Six months ago, I didn’t know such a place existed, let alone how many inhabitants it has. But now? Now I eat, sleep and breathe in it and have, after six months, finally begun to feel at home here.
I listen to blogging and online marketing podcasts as I drive to and from my “real” job as a teacher. I check Pinterest on my phone repeatedly to see if any of my pins are getting traction. And since Pinterest is so smart, it knows that I’m interested in blogging information and shows me posts like, “5 Things I Wish I’d known” or “4 Ways To Monetize Your Blog” or any one of the many posts with 8, 5, 3, 10, or however many tips in the title. (Imitation is flattery and it’s supposed to work, so you bet I put a number in the title).
When you surround yourself with blogging information, it’s easy to forget that blogging in and of itself is a “niche” market. We’re always being guided to find our own niche audience, but the very fact that we’re blogging puts us in a small percentage of people; however, when you’re first starting, you don’t know who all lives in this world or what is expected of you here.
When we move to Blogostan, we’re like my college aged daughter who is currently living in Spain. As much as she’s embracing her life in Barcelona and as much as she prepared herself for this time, she’s still a stranger in a strange land where they speak a language she doesn’t completely understand, eat foods she doesn’t know and generally live a pace of life that’s unfamiliar to her Midwestern roots.
Instead of feeling like a fish out of water, be patient with yourself. The advice not to compare yourself with the big established bloggers couldn’t be more true. Do that and you’re going to struggle not to move back to your comfort zone. Listen to their stories about six figures and you’ll wonder why you’re even trying because your first goal is to earn enough to cover the cost of your website. They’re speaking a language you don’t even understand.
Here are three mindsets I wish I’d had from the day I wrote my first post about six months ago when I entered blogging territory. Hopefully, they’ll help you with some culture shock.
1. Know that where you’re focusing will probably change.
My online presence started with selling jewelry and I slowly started adding some inspirational posts that my friends enjoyed. I was trying to generate traction for my jewelry, but somewhere along the line my ideas became more about the blog and less about the jewelry.
Now I have two blogs, this one and www.thestudenttraveler.com which I just started with my daughter studying abroad. And in addition to these two, there was my original jewelry site, one more I had up for about six week, several more I have played around with designing on Squarespace and other ideas that I think, “Hey, I want to start a blog about…” Neither of these blogs I have now were on my mind when I first started and I doubt they’re in the final address where my business will live.
Give yourself room to grow and don’t fall into the hype about identifying your ideal customer “avatar” right away or understanding your why or knowing your audience. That stuff is definitely important as you grow and you will definitely need to do that, but you’re not going to know any of that when you write your first post.
Take time to find your voice and keep writing what flows naturally. You can take those posts and fine tune them as you start to discover who you’re writing for. You’ll find what you gravitate to writing and the audience you’re writing for will naturally develop in your mind. Then, do all the focusing exercises you want and hone in on who that person is you’re writing for. It’s a process that will happen in time so don’t try to force it at the beginning.
2. Find your system to keep yourself organized.
I am not, not, not, not organized. I think I’ve accomplished something big when I can find a document that you should have without it being a major hunting expedition to find it. Insurance card in my glove compartment? Not likely that I have the right one. Need one of my kids’ birth certificates? Probably going to have two of the three I should have, but not the one I need. (I hate to admit how many times I’ve ordered replacements of these). I’m going to Spain in two weeks and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve double checked to see if my passport is where it’s supposed to be.
When I advise you to be organized early on, I’m speaking from experience of someone who is not and who made excuses that I wouldn’t stick to any planner anyway, so why even try. I know this because I have to throw unused planners into the recycling bin a couple of times each year. Each time I think I find the calendar that I’ll use, it works for about a week and then I can’t even find it.
If you’re a bullet journal girl or naturally organized with your Google calendar, stick with it. Use what works. But if you’ve struggled to find a system that works for you like I have, check out Trello. It has changed my organizational life completely. No, I still can’t find my important documents, but I can instantly look at my Trello boards and see what I need/want to work on. It’s too in depth for me to explain and do it justice, but it is a way of visually organizing everything you need to do onto boards that you can see and break down into tasks. And no, there’s no affiliate link here. Trello has just worked really well for me, and it might for you, too.
You may think right now when you start that you can keep up with everything in your mind or on post-it notes. And if you can, you’re my idol. For the rest of us, you’ll want to find some way to keep all the blog post ideas you have plus the marketing plans plus the information you’re gathering from all the great resources you’ve found plus which programs you want to be an affiliate with plus what emails you have set up and on and on. The ideas will keep coming and you risk losing them if you don’t have a functioning system.
Start out organized and it will be easier to keep everything on track instead of feeling like you’re always behind. And if you feel like you’re behind, check out my post on “How To Catch Up When You Think You’re Behind.” It will remind you to focus on your own race ane finish line and not anyone else’s (See how I just linked to another one of my posts there? I’ve had that on my To Do list for awhile and just now got it done. Celebrate those little steps along the way!).
3. Find your “experts” and focus on their guidance
In Blogostan, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of learning and gathering as much information from as many sources as you can. This is great in some ways because different perspectives can give you lots to think about and you will resonate with certain people more than others in what they offer.
But information overload is real and it can lead to such overwhelm that you don’t move forward because you’re listening or reading something different, not just every day, but multiple times a day. You can listen to one podcast in the morning and be sure you need to focus on starting an email list, listen to another in the afternoon and find yourself flitting over to Pinterest to update your profile and boards. Like we talked about earlier, you can’t do it all so you have to find where you’ll get the most bang for your buck at the beginning and focus there. (Usually, that’s writing more content. Somehow it’s easy to get distracted from that).
When you find a voice that rings true to you, focus in on it and learn all you can before you flit on over to someone else. This doesn’t necessarily mean buy the course of the first instructor your fall in love with. I say learn all you can from them for free and keep their course bookmarked or saved on Pinterest and when you’re ready to invest some money, you’ll remember who you made you feel like you could make a million dollars. Just don’t give the a million dollars you don’t have because they sweet talked your soul into it. Listen for the realistic voices. Still dream, but don’t spend the last of the grocery money because you had to purchase the course with the bonuses before their timer went off.
I just recently purchased my first course and I feel good about what I bought. I had to hang on tight a couple of times not to spend too much on something that promised me an awful lot. Could they have delivered? Probably or at least possibly. But I didn’t have the money to do it without compromising my credit score, so I waited until I found a good value. You’ll find the one that seems like it’s the fit for you.
Now that I’m living in Blogostan, I like it here. I’ve got a good grasp on the language and have learned a lot about the culture. I’m no native, but I’m hoping to make a permanent home here and eventually be one of those success stories that inspire others to keep staying up late, getting up early and writing their hearts out.
Don’t take any of these pieces of advice to be discouragements. If blogging is whispering your name in your ear while you sleep or you dream about setting up your Tailwind queue (which I have done multiple times), you won’t be able to be talked out of blogging. You’ll be writing posts in your head and jotting down ideas continually. You’ll find inspiration in unlikely places and run with it.
I still consider myself a novice blogger, but I’m far enough along to have already learned some lessons. I hope what I have figured out in this world can help you as you get started. I certainly wish you the best and would welcome any of your thoughts on these ideas. Because remember, another piece of advice you’ll always see is comment on other blogs!