Hello everyone! In today’s post I wanted to share some of my thoughts from my first few weeks of blogging.
It’s been a little over a month since I started Trail to FI. I’m still figuring out how to blog, which sounds stupid, I know. Who has trouble occasionally typing random words about personal finance into a computer?
I’ll tell you: a Newb Blogger.*
That’s what I am, and I’m not afraid to admit it! I’ve made some embarrassingly beginner mistakes, most notably when I accidentally deleted my blog for a week. (I got it fixed, in case you weren’t sure.) Luckily, there are plenty of resources on the Internet to help setting up a blog, and some quasi-angelic Happiness Engineers over at WordPress support.
But, some of the things I just have to figure out myself, especially the writing part. I learn best through experience, so I just have to push on through. Recently I’ve been stumped by:
- Focus. I have plenty of ideas for blog posts, but I’ve had trouble choosing which ones to focus on first, and figuring out how to convey those ideas effectively in writing.
- Time management. I haven’t found a good rhythm for when and how long to spend writing.
Here are some other points that I would recommend a Newb Blogger consider.
1. Focus on content.
Newb Blogger says:
A good looking website it what drives traffic. Make sure everything looks exactly right and don’t worry about actually filling it with content!
I’ve become a victim of Analysis Paralysis.
I have plenty of ideas for posts, but sitting down and actually hashing them out is daunting. So what do I do instead? Fiddle with the blog’s layout. Make sure the fonts are just right. Browse through my WordPress settings.
I’ve been spending too much time making the blog look the way I want it to, rather than writing new posts.
All the successful FIRE blogs out there are pretty intimidating. I am afraid of making low quality content, so I procrastinate and fall behind my planned post schedule.
But I have to remember that everyone started somewhere, and I’m sure even the most successful bloggers had some lousy early posts. I should stop expecting perfection and WRITE.
2. Use the right tools.
Blog hosting domain transfers are easy and don’t require any content backup on my part! Everything will just magically appear on the new servers.
Lesson learned: backup your content regularly.
I set up Trail to FI backwards. Instead of choosing a host first, acquiring the domain through the host, and then installing WordPress, I just went straight to WordPress and signed up for hosting through Bluehost. I was paying for hosting at Bluehost, but the website was on Automattic servers (aka WordPress).
Then I decided to transfer the blog to the hosting service I was actually paying for, thinking all I needed to do was change these “name server” things and voilà! Everything would be peachy.
I woke up the next morning a blogless man. What’s more, the WordPress support service was experiencing technical difficulties, so all the frantic chats/emails I tried to send them to try to correct my problem didn’t actually go through like I thought they did. I finally got a hold of them through the WordPress forums, and they walked me through how to restore the blog.
Had I backed up my content before the attempted transfer, I would have been able to upload everything directly to Bluehost and everything would be fine. But it all turned out fine in the end. I’m just happy to still have my blog.
I now think of backups as insurance. It’s good to know that if something goes wrong, I will be able to restore the blog to its former glory.
Also, apparently there are these “plug in” things?
3. Outreach matters.
Again, our friend, Newb Blogger:
Traffic will flow to my blog organically and there’s absolutely nothing I need to do!
Before Trail to FI, I didn’t understand how people make entire careers out of managing social media for clients.
Now I do.
Between Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, there’s a lot to do. A LOT. I think that aside from having semi-decent content, the key to a successful blog is expertly managing social media.
I’ve almost entirely focused on Twitter because it’s easy to understand and interact with people quickly. I hear Pinterest is a gold mine for blog promotion, but I don’t really understand it. I have made it a goal to figure out a system for sharing things on Pinterest by the end of the year.
And last, but not least…
4. The FIRE blogging community rocks!
I guess I already knew this, but I still appreciate the enthusiasm other bloggers have offered for my entrance to the community. It would be pretty easy for everyone to treat blogging like a competition and try to horde all the readers for themselves.
After all, it is a business, and many bloggers monetize their sites.
Knowing that, I am especially thankful to all the bloggers who have shared my posts on Twitter and commented on my blog. Seriously, it means a lot!
I’ll just take a moment mention again that I got added to the Rockstar Finance Directory. I’m pretty happy about that, even though I didn’t really have to do anything.
In the beginning, I don’t think I really understood why I wanted to start a blog. There are already many bloggers out there who I frankly can’t compete with, and it’s not like I have any new break through ideas to share with the world. (yet…)
But I’m glad I did. I’m looking forward to growing Trail to FI and interacting with fellow FIRE-seekers!
Are you a blogger? What were you surprised to learn in the beginning of your blogging career? Do you have any useful tips for the Newb Bloggers out there?
*According to Urban Dictionary, there is a clear difference between “newb” and “noob,” which begs the question: Where would we be without Urban Dictionary?