A career in writing is a journey that shapes you as much as you shape it. It’s one of those things that takes a large amount of self discipline and constant evolution. This is especially true of the beginner blogger as they first start out. I’ve learned that the key to busting through any door is to implement habits . Whether you blog part time or full time, it’s important to know the habits to start that will create longevity. The ultimate goal in blogging is to grow our audience and keep readers excited about our work. A fan base that is actively engaged and has content available that they love to share is like gold to an online author. However, to find gold you have to dig. A lot. So lets grab a shovel and strike ground together while we discover the valuable habits to start as a beginner blogger.
Starting a blog can be sooooo overwhelming. Trust me, i know. I’ve done it, four times over. The first three times were complete flops, mainly because I gave up before ever getting anything off the ground. There was so much new information coming at me. I didn’t know how to deal with it all in a way that didn’t completely stress me out. After try number three I gave up, at least for a while, and got into another side gig, network marketing.
I was a glorified salesperson, peddling my newfound love for a company’s products to all my family and friends. No offense to anyone who does this because there are plenty of people who make it a very successful career for themselves. For the record though, I did really love the products, I still do in fact. However, it wasn’t the sales training that I really caught onto. It was the daily repetitive actions I had to implement to gain success that really stuck with me. I had to grow and step out of my comfort zone, and everyday consistently do those things over and over again because it was the only way I would see forward motion. Essentially, what I learned was grit.
Grit would carry me through two years of that business until I realized my love for writing was still as strong as ever. So when I decided to go back and give blogging another try, I knew the habits I needed to have as a beginner blogger to not just get off the ground, but to hopefully someday fly in the virtual world of online publication.
Grit /grit/ noun. Courage and resolve; strength of character.
Blogging isn’t for the faint of heart. There is a determination you have to possess when you take on something that requires so much work with no guarantee of any return. Lucky for us, most often, passion accompanies our determination. The reason I didn’t give up after my first three blog fails is that God had put a desire in my heart to write, to create something of my own, and to help provide financial support for my family. You may have a different reason for starting a blog but it all boils down to desire for purpose, and money in most cases. This is commonly referred to as your “why”, which is important to know. You have a voice that you want people to hear and you think you can make a buck through your written words. The questions in the beginning are, how do I get people to listen to me? How do I create content they will want to read? How will they find my content? How on earth do I write this stupid code in HTML? What the hell is HTML anyway? Yes, yes, these are all good questions, and you will get to the bottom of them all simply through grit, determination, and consistent action from the beginning.
Habits to start #1: Learn something new.
Ok, so the reality is that you will likely learn hundreds of new somethings, thousands perhaps. What I mean when I say learn something new is be a person who is learning on a regular basis. Be someone who is humble enough to seek the experience and wisdom of others. There are a multitude of things to learn in the blogging business. There’s SEO, affiliate marketing, email lists, Pinterest marketing, plug ins, sales pages, group boards, job boards, facebook group sharing, images, apps, ets. So many resources and methods, in fact, it might have your head spinning if you’re not careful. So, depending on your life’s work load your “regular basis” of learning will be specific to what you can handle without losing your mind. Perhaps you have dove “all-in” to blogging as a full time gig and you can educate yourself on something new every single day, maybe even two or three new things. You might be someone who has a 9-5 job and blogging has become your little side biz until you can grow it big enough to not have a 9-5 anymore. Or, you could be like me, a busy mom with a passion for writing and the desire to help my family financially. Not to mention, the need for a job that works around my kids rather than the other way around.
When you are in the beginning stages of blogging it is very likely that you are clueless. But being clueless doesn’t make you stupid, it makes you teachable. Google may become your new BFF as you meander around the world of website building and blog marketing. Join blogger groups on social media and actively engage with more experienced bloggers. Read articles and how-tos. Buy a book. However, you choose to learn, keep doing it, but don’t just skim through each topic like its a race to finish as many off your checklist as you can. Become well-versed in each one, enough so that you can feel comfortable before cramming more new information into your already overloaded brain. This may take patience because we often feel we have to know everything right off the bat. We also want it all to happen right away. Think of it this way though, you are a beginner blogger, and before you can be an expert, you must first be a student.
Habits to start #2: Keep a calendar.
As you create content and learn which methods you are going to use to market your blog, you will need a way to plan and keep track of your daily actions. I use two planners to try and stay on top of my life, as well as my trusty Google calendar. I use a simple planner to track which blog posts I’m working on, when I publish them, and when and where I market them. I’m old school and prefer to jot them down in the daily section of my planner but you may find another tracking technique that works better for you. The second planner I use is a passion planner for more detailed tracking of my day-to-day schedule and to-do lists, both for my mom life and for my double life as blogger. It’s there that I block out time to write, edit, and market my blog.
Habits to start #4: Have lists.
I used to make fun of my mom for always keeping sticky notes all over the house for reminders. As painful as this is for me to admit, I sort of get it now. Life is busier than ever, so in addition to your calendar, or maybe as part of it, you can keep a list of the things you want to remember to do or create for your blog. I have lists for blog post ideas in a google document so wherever I go, as long as I have my phone or computer, I can quickly make a note of an idea that comes to me before my scatterbrain syndrome kicks in and I forget. I also have a weekly priority list of things I want to learn or get done for my blog. It may be something I read about that I want to do more research on or the number of blog posts I want to finish that week. For example, this week on my to-do list is creating my monthly newsletter, two blog posts incorporating affiliate marketing, adding two tailwind tribes, and contributing to two additional group boards. When you make your lists, be specific. You have a better chance of completing your tasks or goals if you are clear on what they are.
Habits to start #5: Wake early.
Now I want you to know that I am suggesting this to you, not because I am always super successful at waking up early (it’s really a work in progress for me), but because I know how accomplished I feel when I’ve been able to check off some of my action list before my kids even wake up in the morning. My goal is to wake up every morning at 5:30 a. m. This is tough, because I am the opposite of a morning person. However, if I’m able to peel myself out of bed (which does happen before 6 a.m. more often than not) I take a little time to stretch, get a cup of coffee, and review my calendar and list. Then I will sit down to write, or often times, get my marketing checklist completed. It’s one of the rare times I have without kids to concentrate for longer than 5 milliseconds so it’s amazing what I can accomplish with even just one hour before they start waking up. My youngest is an early riser and it’s rare that he ever sleeps past 7 a.m. So forcing myself out of bed might be hard, but it benefits me greatly.
Habits to start #6: Write every day.
I think this one is probably a given considering it is required of someone who is running a blog to, well, write for it, but it is worth mentioning anyway because there will be days when you are stuck. You will have writer’s block so bad that you can barely remember how to write your full name. On those days, write anyway. There will be days when you are so tired and burnt out that you just want to curl up in the fetal position and hum songs from The Greatest Showman to yourself (sorry, we just watched that movie and I can’t seem to get “Never Enough” out of my head). On those days, write anyway. There will be days when you think you can’t do it, that you are not good enough, and that no one will read what you write. On those days, write anyway. You may not always be writing content for your blog, although most of the time you should, but you can journal, or write a letter, or start on a book you’ve always wanted to write for publication. You never know what might trigger the flood gates of creativity. Whatever writing you do in the beginning of your blogging career, you need to make it a habit so that it simply becomes part of your daily life. When it does, that is when things start to seem easier because you have created consistency in your work. So no matter what, write anyways. Your days off will come.
Habits to start #7: Don’t give up.
I suppose this seems a little hypocritical coming from someone who started three other blogs and gave up each time before getting to this point, but I like to think of it another way. I’m just stubborn and it took me a little longer to learn this lesson. I guess I finally took the advice from Dory when she said “just keep swimming”. Take things a day at a time because in each day there is the potential for a little (or a lot) of progress. If you stack each day’s progress on top of the other, it can amount to some big results.
Habits to start #8: Keep refining.
The biggest realization you must learn, is that you don’t have to have all of the answers right away in order to succeed. Months and years down the road you will look back and know that your first posts that you published on your blog sucked. But that’s ok! It’s true for most of us and usually how it goes when you start something new. As you continue to work you will learn so much that will help to improve both your technique and knowledge of life in the virtual world. The key is to stay true to your niche and to the audience you intend to aim at, but don’t be afraid to tweak things as you go. You are going to discover things along the way that work better for you than what you had originally envisioned, so don’t worry about it. Your grammar will get better, your copywriting skills will improve, your content will evolve, and your process will become more natural and fluid. Before you know it you’ll be pounding out content like a pro.
The work of a beginner is the most important.
My husband spent 20 years in the Marine Corps. Most of his career was spent in the infantry, but for three years he was assigned to work as a recruiter. He would always say that the work he was doing now would bring results in three months. The same can be said of the blogging business. The effort you put in each day will create a ripple effect for the future. Your results may be seen in one month or it may take you six months, but no matter what, these habits to start as a beginner blogger are meant to create consistency. The repetitive action will help you reach your goals and become the expert you set out to be. All it takes is grit to keep moving forward until you strike virtual gold.