Yay, it’s been a whole month already! Plants and Pondering launched on June 14th, and here we are, a little over a month later. In some ways, running a blog has been what I was expecting, and in some ways, it definitely hasn’t. Today I’d like to share my thoughts after my first month of blogging.
I want to explain what my experience has been like so far. I’ve divided my thoughts into 4 categories: the good, the bad, my expectations, and some advice for anyone considering starting a blog (from someone who is still really new at it).
There are a lot of good things that have happened in the past month, or I wouldn’t want to keep going! Overall, I think it’s a big relief that I’ve enjoyed all of the (sometimes unexpected) things that go into blogging. I haven’t had any points where I’ve just wanted to throw in the towel or questioned why I’m here. Maybe that’s still to come! But for right now, let’s focus on the positives.
I know it’s not everything, but we all have to admit that the numbers matter, just a little bit. At this point, I get excited when I get any traffic in a day, or a save on Pinterest, or a new Pinterest follower (as I’m writing this, I just got my 10th follower! Woo!)
I swear, I did a happy dance when I got my first comment. It means so much to me when someone takes the time to respond to something I said. I am trying my best to not take any of this for granted. I appreciate you being here! Hopefully, there will be many more milestones to come.
Writing is fun
This is not meant to be sarcastic! My desire to write is a major reason that I started blogging. I’ve always loved writing; it was one of my favorite things about school. Nowadays, the only writing I do at work is either an email or a report about some data. Which is fine, but definitely not anything creative.
I wasn’t finding an opportunity for the kind of open, honest, or emotional writing that I wished I was doing, so I created the opportunity for myself! I think it’s important to pursue the things that you want to be spending your time on. No one is going to necessarily drop the perfect job into your lap.
If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, whether it’s writing or painting or singing or anything else, it’s up to you to make that thing a priority. Which leads me to…
I’m doing the thing!
When I first got the idea to start a blog for real, I thought that I wasn’t going to follow through with it. There was no way. But six strange months later, here we are!
I never thought that I would be here, sharing my thoughts. It’s fun (and often therapeutic) to just sit at my computer and let my thoughts come out. It’s grounding, and it gives me something to focus on. Instead of falling into anxious thought patterns and letting that spiral consume my night, I have a better direction to go.
It’s easier to forget about everything that’s going on when I’m just trying to research and write about a certain plant or share my goals for the month. And if nothing else, I get the satisfaction of knowing that I am doing the thing!
Connecting with people
The quarantine can be lonely (that’s the point, at least in the physical sense), even for pretty extreme introverts like myself. Even if I don’t always enjoy talking to a bunch of people, I’ve realized that I do benefit from just being around other people sometimes. Virtual chatting is an option of course, but it takes a little more effort. It’s not as spontaneous as bumping into a coworker and talking for a few minutes.
In the spirit of putting myself out there, I’ve been looking for a few more blogs and people to connect with. There are some blogs that I’ve read for years but never interacted with at all.
Interaction is a two-way street. It would be silly of me to expect lots of comments and followers if I’m not doing any commenting or following myself. So I’ve made it a priority to leave more comments and join some more email lists, and I think the extra interaction has been helping me a lot. I’m especially trying to find more people with newer blogs. If you have a new blog, leave me a comment so I can say hi!
I don’t want to give the impression that this past month has been perfect. Technically, blogging is work, and that means there are some sucky parts! Here are a few things I’ve been struggling with.
The rush to learn everything
There are way more components to running a blog than I’d ever imagined. Some things are set-up type activities that only need to be done once, but there are also a lot of moving parts to keep track of, and I haven’t even gotten to all of them yet.
A few weeks after the launch, I realized I was feeling rushed, like I had to do and learn all of the things, right now. I wanted to have a complete understanding of great SEO, a successful Pinterest account, monetization strategies, a growing email list with incentives, and more. All of this pressure was self-inflicted! I tend to get uncomfortable when I’m doing something I don’t totally understand. I can be a perfectionist, and my blog is something that I want to be perfect, but I was taking the fun out of it.
Because I was the one rushing myself, I also had the power to cut myself some slack. It’s not all going to happen all at once! It’s not productive to try and master every topic at once, either. Instead, I’m trying to limit myself to learning about one or two things at a time. Right now, I’m trying to figure out Pinterest and some basic affiliate marketing skills. After that, I think it’ll be time to tackle my (currently nonexistent) email list!
I think that any blogger is guilty of this at some point or another. Some days I spent entirely too much time looking at my Google and Pinterest analytics and all the numbers and stats. I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t affected my mood occasionally.
It’s probably a good thing that I do the majority of my blog stuff on my desktop computer, which I don’t turn on until I’m done working, so I can’t obsessively check my analytics (that aren’t going to change more than once a day anyway).
Pinterest, however, is a different story… I’ve definitely had days when I opened the app every hour and refreshed, waiting for the previous day’s numbers. I still haven’t quite figured out when that updates, but maybe it’s better that I don’t know. The lesson here is to spend less time poring over the analytics, and more time on the work that has the power to change them.
Working with my energy
In a perfect world, I would have a routine for coming home from work and doing exactly the amount of blog work that I planned. That is obviously not how it really happens. After working from home for a few months, going back into the office regularly has been exhausting in a variety of ways.
After a long or stressful workday, there is no way that I’m going to get any good-quality writing done. And it’s not worth forcing myself to trudge through something I’ll probably have to re-write later.
On days when I’m just not feeling it, I do some other activity like scheduling pins, or just give myself the whole night off to relax. Sometimes this has just lead to a lot of guilt or having to cram a whole post into one day, but I’m working on it.
A bit about expectations
Expectations were the real kicker this month. Both in terms of the amount of traffic I got and the workload of running a blog. I think there’s always a small part of us that’s excited at the possibility of going viral and being super successful right away. In that sense, it’s hard not to be at least a little bit disappointed.
Plants and Pondering got 154 page views in the first 30 days after launching. I have no idea whether to consider this a good or bad number. It’s a lot more than zero views, so I’m happy about that!
I don’t know why I had it in my head that I would feel like I was getting somewhere after only a month. That I would be getting consistent page views every day, some comments and followers, and maybe even an affiliate sale or two. Maybe it was the (sometimes clickbaity) Pinterest posts that promise results or success or income in the first month of blogging. I’m sure that’s the reality for some people, but not everyone, and certainly not for me.
I’m learning that expectations are only helpful if they’re realistic. A quick search helped me to understand that brand new blogs take a while, like 3 to 6 months or longer, to get traction in search engines. That’s assuming you’re doing things with the right SEO strategies. At this point, I’m probably not, but I’m still learning!
Gaining consistent traffic is a long-term thing, so I need to focus on that over instant gratification. Evaluating my traffic after 6 months is probably more helpful than trying to judge only 1 month of data.
Doing the work
I haven’t tracked the hours I spend on my blog every week, but I think it’s safe to say it’s roughly equivalent to a part-time job. I do a lot of work on the weekends, and I extend my ‘work time’ during the week by at least an hour on most days. It took some time to get used to coming home and writing after working all day, but it’s not so bad if I have a few hours to decompress in between.
Still, I have to be okay with needing to take a day off of blog stuff, whatever the reason may be. I’ve created my schedule in such a way that I can take a day or two off and still be able to post when I want to. I post on Sunday mornings, so I usually have all of Saturday to get the post ready if I haven’t already done so. I imagine full-time bloggers have a lot more flexibility, but this has been working for me!
There are always more things I could be doing, so it never really feels like my work is done. But I need to pace myself and know that I’m doing the best I can. Small actions will add up to big changes over time. I think the only way this will be sustainable is if I am flexible and prioritize balance and self-care. I really want this to work, so I’m trying my best to be patient and do it the smart way.
My boyfriend keeps reminding me that Rome wasn’t built in a day. It’s so easy to see other people’s success wherever they are now, without seeing the months that were probably like what I’m going through now. I feel like I’m generally talking out into an open void. (But of course, you’re here, and I’m grateful for that!)
Some unsolicited advice
Can I really say that I’m in a position to give advice yet? Probably not, but maybe you can learn something from my experience, which is why I wanted to share anyway.
Lately, I’ve seen a big surge of people claiming that ‘now is the best time to start a blog‘. I get it, there are unemployment issues, general uncertainty, and the ever-present appeal of income that’s separate from your day job. And of course, there’s no time like the present to start something you’ve always dreamed about. That’s why I’m here!
But I think it’s important to be realistic. A blog takes a while to plan, set up correctly, and produce some quality content for. It will probably take months to get any significant traffic or income unless you happen to have a large social media following you can promote your new blog to.
If you are mainly looking for a source of income, there are faster ways to get money from other online jobs. I don’t think that blogging should necessarily be seen as a quick solution to any financial problems you may be having.
To oversimplify, let’s say there are two reasons you might want to start a blog, specifically in these strange, quarantined times.
- It sounds like a creative outlet and a fun way to fill the free time at home you would normally spend out in the world doing things.
- You are trying to quickly replace the income from a job you lost.
In my humble and relatively inexperienced opinion, I would say that you’re probably fine if you’re leaning toward option 1. If you’re closer to option 2, you may not be setting yourself up for success. That’s not to say that you can’t start a blog, absolutely go for it if that’s what you’re passionate about. I just think that everyone could benefit from understanding their expectations for the things they’re doing.
A great resource
If you’re looking to start a blog, I am not the person to ask for advice, at least not yet. But I still want to help! I can’t recommend The Side Blogger highly enough. Maliha has tons of incredibly helpful tutorials and other content. I relied on her checklist for starting a blog, and I’m still learning from her advice!
I appreciate that she makes a big goal like starting a blog so attainable, even for someone who is doing it on the side with limited time. I could go on and on, but I’ll just say that if you’re serious about starting a blog, you should check out The Side Blogger.
So those are my thoughts after my first month of blogging! Obviously, my blog doesn’t cause all of the fluctuations in my emotions, but sometimes my emotions about other things influence how I perceive it. If I was already having a bad day, seeing that I got no traffic the day before is going to feel just a little bit worse.
But it’s also been super rewarding! There’s something so satisfying about spending time on the things that you’re passionate about. I love to learn, and a blog has proven to be a great learning opportunity.
If you have a blog, leave me a comment and share where you are in your blogging journey!