Here are the things I learned during my first 3 months blogging.
Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted my own website. Blogging is not easy, but it is so fulfilling.
This is my 3rd attempt at starting a blog. My ultimate goal is to have a community similar to HerCampus where I give college advice and create lifestyle posts.
I started my first blog right after graduating high school. With that website, I made the mistake of spending more time planning than working!
My second attempt was during my sophomore year, which ended up becoming my personal/music blog and digital portfolio. But again, I spent more time planning, focusing on the wrong things, and I soon gave up.
And then Ariel’s University Guide (this blog you are reading) was born, as my third attempt at creating a blogging business. And this time I did everything the right way. and now, I’m earning
My goal after college was to become an entrepreneur and content creator. I’ve “failed” several times, but I’m taking this time seriously. Instead of taking this as a failure, these are a series of lessons.
Here is everything I did to make this blog a success.
Here is what I learned during my first 3 months blogging.
1. Create an effective system
Seriously, this is one of the best things I learned, especially with being a college student working 2 jobs with hobbies. I can not emphasize enough how important it is to buy a separate journal/planner dedicated to blogging and content creation.
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Instead of waiting for blog post ideas to come up, I took inspiration from other bloggers in my niche and started writing blog posts inspired by their ideas (e.g. dorm decor, studying tips, campus life, etc.).
I no longer wrote blog ideas that I wanted but instead of what my audience most likely needed. Starting my blog relaunch in August, I also learned more about keywords and how bloggers organized their life.
Also, I implemented scheduling 2 blog posts a week, using Tailwind, moved on from using Adobe for simple pins, and used Canva for quick designs. These two programs have saved me tons of time and money.
I also worked on pieces of a blog post daily instead of spending hours writing on one. However, there are moments when I am in the zone/flow state, where I can work for hours.
While taking blogging courses, I made an Excel spreadsheet full of blog post ideas/keywords (around 200 ideas), a blog post monthly schedule, and another one dedicated to after my blog post is published.
My process now looks like:
- Find a blog post idea from the spreadsheet for this month or pick one that’s already scheduled
- Research keywords
- Write the first line with a keyword
- Create a Canva design for the post (see the first image above)
- Outline post & play around with Yoast SEO to get a green light or most green
- Find photos (if needed)
- Look for products (if needed and put in affiliate links)
- Write blog post (could take days due to me breaking it down)
- Create 5-7 pins in Canva
- Edit before blog post launches
- Begin marketing & promotion with Tailwind and Pinterest
I also spend maybe 10-20 minutes doing one of these tasks throughout the day, so I’m not spending hours doing so many things. There is a specific time for blogging, and I dedicate my time doing 1-2 of one of these tasks.
2. Invest in blogging courses
This lesson was one I was so hesitant towards due to the costs. Many blogging courses are expensive; I’m talking about hundreds to thousands of dollars.
It’s a scary investment because most bloggers recommend courses even when they are not great. I’ve been through several of them. I must say that you honestly get your value based on how much you spend.
However, I admit that I wasted tons of time stalling not knowing what to do. It became a demotivation for me to linger into blogging not knowing where to start.
Find a course that is on your level and learn the basics, so you can begin on the right foot.
Starting out, I knew a lot about Pinterest and WordPress, and I am currently studying social media. I looked for blogging courses that got into the mechanics and content creation part. I gained a lot of knowledge from courses both good and bad.
To be frank, here, I must admit that some courses are only made so the blogger can make money. Most of the information in some of these blogging courses can be Googled and overpriced, especially for a college student.
If you take 2-3 hours reading and researching on Google, you’ll get around the same information. Seriously, blogging and content creation is a huge niche on Youtube. Some people’s livelihoods are dedicated to making content about making content.
If you agree, then you will love The Pro Blogger Bundle by HerPaperRoute. It is worth every penny. She doesn’t waste your time by being overly chatting, bragging, or stalling. She’s to the point and relatable.
This course goes into starting your website, creating content, monetization, and introduces you to keywords, which is the bread and butter of blogging. You can get the first module free via this link.
3. You actually have to love blogging
Now, this is the most important blogging truths about there and it should be obvious! You have to love blogging.
I can spend hours blogging and working at this. I truly believe that blogging is still relevant.
Anyone can be successful if you have a nice mindset. There are still bloggers making money and growing their businesses.
Blogging is similar to YouTube. It takes a long time to grow and make a consistent income. We are so used to seeing either the 1% of content creators and the viral sensations and not the hard-working winners.
This blogging truth is honestly the truest one because if you run out of passion for blogging, then you will quit. Give blogging a year to really see results.
Learn how to love writing, social media marketing, and graphic design.
Blogging is hard work. I personally believe anything is hard work.
But no lie, blogging is a lot of work. It’s not something you get money overnight—not during the first 3 months blogging either.
You have to love this. I mean you have to like writing, social media, graphic design, a lot of work, and consistency.
So many people say blogging’s dead or not worth it, but goes to a blog to cook a recipe or read a review on a product.
I personally love writing. I’ve reached my flow state aka got into the zone while blogging.
There were weekends when I realized I worked on my blog for 6 hours.
It did not feel like a chore even when I sucked at it or got 1 view on a Pin. I love doing this and want to do this for years to come.
I love writing blog posts, helping college students, and giving advice to people younger than me. Seriously, I can’t wait until I have more time to write more posts to help people.
4. You have to see your blog as a business/part-time job
A blog is a business. Treat it as such. Invest in your business, purchase quality tools, and hore quality people. Remember to schedule work time and hours for yourself.
I’m spending around 20-25 hours a week on this blog. Even on the weekends. I’m truly dedicated to it.
5. Don’t compare your first 3 months blogging to someone’s 3 years of blogging.
Again, this is another thing I had to teach myself during my first 3 months of blogging.
You can not compare someone’s 5-year-old blog to your 3-month-old blog.
Would you compare a college student’s essay to a middle schooler’s essay? Would you compare a person working at a job for 7 years to the intern?
No. So do not compare even yourself in any hobby or business to anyone who is successful.
Your results and journeys will be different.
Also, I had to learn to implement one thing at a time. Most bloggers had tons of blog posts, courses, printables, products, and other social media channels.
I barely have enough readers to monetize right now, so I can not let myself get too ahead.
Try to mimic someone who is at a higher success rate will make you feel like giving up and like you are a failure.
If you are not getting views, then there is no one to sign up for your email or buy a product you recommend. Work on content and giving people value before anything.
Build your brand before you want people to buy.
Expect to put in the work now, and reach results later
One of my favorite YouTubers, Gary Vee, a social media expert, constantly tells people starting out, to make content that they shouldn’t expect anything for 3 years.
If you flop, you still have time.
One thing that my generation, Gen Z and younger Millennials, is that we expect things to come so quickly due to social media.
We want things overnight because we don’t see the hard work that goes behind people’s success.
But, think of blogging like growing a garden. All the work you do now, you are planting seeds that will bloom later. Strive to build systems for passive income to bloom next season.
6. This is just like YouTube, but writing and you own it
I’ve heard countless YouTubers say that it took them years to get monetized. I want to do YouTube, but I simply do not have the time to do it at the moment.
College takes up a good portion of my life, which I could use to do it. Blogging is some form of content creation that works for me.
- I own this website through Siteground hosting and WordPress.
- I decide what content I can post and no one can take my monetization away.
- Writing is a skill I’ve honed and won’t spend hours learning. Video editing isn’t my strong suit.
The similarity between writing blog posts and creating YouTube videos is substantial. Many people put off blogging because it seems old, but blogs are now these huge media giants (e.g. Huffington Post, Lifehacker, etc.)
Blogs are no longer about personal stories (that’s social media) and now shifted into how-to guides, advice posts, and what one can do for the reader.
This is very similar to what Youtube content creators encourage new Youtubers to do; make content that other people will need.
7. Use KEYWORDS and master SEO
Keywords are something I wish I knew before blogging for sure.
Keywords are what you use to google or search on social media platforms. It’s tricky to even understand to someone who doesn’t do this.
I seriously recommend actually taking this free SEO course about Pinterest SEO and keywords for Google.
It is not a simple concept to get unless you see someone who knows what they are doing. Learning from blogger’s freebies and quick YouTube tutorials.
You need a course or someone who has an hour-long Youtube video to understand them (I have yet found a video good enough to explain.)
Thank God, for this course or I wouldn’t have known what to do with keywords.
Google SEO has shown some results over the course of a few weeks. I am so proud of myself. I had an older post rank #1 on Google after I used the techniques I learned
If I had known more about Pinterest and Google SEO in the beginning, I would have had a nice start and probably be further in my blogging journey.
I’ve heard of SEO before blogging due to my social media and digital advertising classes.
Keywords are the most important thing I’ve learned in my first 3 months of blogging.
These words are what people search in search engines and lead to blog clicks.
This free SEO course explained this so well. That course was a lifesaver because she went into detail about how to place them in your blog posts and pins.
SEO is what makes Google rank your blog post higher. Yoast SEO has helped some of my blog posts on my personal blog rank.
This also encouraged me to look more into it.
There are several YouTube videos that speak about both Pinterest and Google SEO.
SEO is so important and so many new bloggers do not have a nice grasp on it.
However, it takes way longer to rank on Google compared to Pinterest.
8. Pageviews matter more than Pinterest monthly views
Not to brag but my personal Pinterest peaked at 2 million monthly views during summer 2020.
I thought I made it in the social media world, but Pinterest’s algorithm took that away quickly. I’ve been on Pinterest since they had a waiting list.
But Pinterest is straying away from giving monthly views away and pushing buyable content. To add, it took me years to gain 35k followers, which don’t matter that much on Pinterest anymore, and a million impressions a month.
However, when it comes to blogging, Pinterest’s monthly views don’t mean a thing. Seriously, Ariel’s University Guide’s Pinterest now peaked 300k monthly views.
But my personal pins from this website were not getting clicks.
The Pinterest monthly views were all third-party pins that I pinned on my board so they could get Pinterest’s attention.
We want page views to our site, people, not Pinterest fame.
9. Don’t spend so much time on graphics
One of the first things I wish I knew before I started blogging was to spend less time designing pins. One day before launching my blog, I designed these elaborate templates for my blog’s pins on Adobe Illustrator.
Now, this was a bust—if you exclude me paying for Pinterest ads to gain them attention.
Most of those pins designs were too complex for Pinterest.
People on Pinterest aren’t looking for spectacular graphic design; they want to get information or look at aesthetics.
Canva has saved my butt. I had to start using it for my social media content class due to the amount of graphics I had to make and also for work one day.
I also was so jealous of how every else’s graphics and presentations looked in class. At first, I was hesitant to learn a new program, but Canva makes designing graphics so easy.
They also have templates ready for you to make pins. I’m so glad that I found this out during my first 3 months blogging and not later on.
I can not recommend Canva enough to new bloggers and even seasoned ones. Canva Pro is also only $13 a month; now, compare that to $20 a month with Photoshop that many other bloggers recommend.
Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator are so complicated that people in my major do not even use it for our assignments. Unless you plan on doing heavy graphic design or know what you are doing, use Canva over Adobe products for pin design.
10. Learn everything you can about Pinterest
One thing I underestimated during my first 3 months of blogging was actually understanding Pinterest. Again, I’ve been on Pinterest since 2012-2013ish. It’s been years and I thought I knew everything about Pinterest.
Boy, I was wrong.
Pinterest is way more complex than cute inspirational quotes and makeup hacks.
Pinterest is a search engine. Do not think that just because you use Pinterest for one thing that other people do so as well. The market and algorithm will teach you otherwise.
I took a few more courses on Pinterest and utilizing the free resources I had. I recommend looking up Pinterest SEO on YouTube and Google.
Reading Pinterest’s engineering blog will give you hints at algorithm changes, what direction is going into, and what it means for content creators on Pinterest.
11. Write about things that you actually like, but can also get an ROI on
You guys, I’m going to be super honest. I hate decor blog posts. I’ve finished 3 so far. My college Christmas decor ideas will be my last in a long time.
I personally was mimicking posts ideas that people recommended and from keywords, but I hate decor posts. They take so long to not only write but also search for photo inspiration and the product that is similar to it. Ugh.
My personal return on investment was low which is a huge factor in me doing this blog. If I’m not liking it, then cut it out.
Sure, decor posts can yield tons of affiliate links, but my heart is not 100% with it. I literally placed a plant with a pumpkin-shaped pot and called it a day for my fall decor.
I personally believe college students should not be investing so much into decorations, especially freshmen, because we are most likely going home for the holidays or don’t have space to elaborately decorate.
Overall, just write what you are passionate about. It will make blogging 10x easier when it’s already a lot of work. If you are stalling over a blog post, then you are wasting time doing something else for your blog or for you.
Write about what you love.
12. Blogging is a slow burn
This is the most real thing I learned during my first 3 months of blogging.
Nothing comes easy and many people create this fantasy about content creating being so independent and easy. But just like anything else in this world, you have to work for it.
If I want to become a full-time blogger, I have to suck it up and work as a real job.
The benefits will come but my why should always be about spreading positivity and helping college students (in your case, whoever is your ideal reader is).
Giving advice is what brings me joy. I love making content helping others live their best life or feel better.
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