This first month of blogging has been an interesting journey to say the least. It’s put me through the wringer at times, but honestly, I can say I’m proud of what I’ve created. I have a grateful community of readers following my Facebook page, asking questions, and finding guidance. I’ve even managed to make a little bit of money for an extra coffee here and there. Since the blog’s inception, I’ve learned a lot about how to build an audience, what my niche truly is, and over all, how to run my website a lot better. Most importantly, I have learned an awful lot from other bloggers, and I’m always finding new ways to improve my content. Now, I look back on some of the mistakes I’ve made since this page’s inception, and I can’t help but feel proud of how far I’ve come. My first few weeks blogging were… extremely discouraging. I would write for hours a day, sometimes putting out five or six posts a week, and nobody was reading any of it. Let’s face it, nobody wants to put honest work into a blog that nobody reads. Some days, I thought that maybe it’d be easier to pack it up and get a refund for my domain. I’m glad that I stuck to it, because at the tail end of December, I decided that I would dig deep into what I was publishing and really start thinking about why nobody was reading any of my content. The fact of the matter is, the stuff I was writing didn’t help people as much as I wanted it to and I was trying to appeal to a niche that was oversaturated with great content. So, I went back to the drawing board, looked for an audience within my set of niches that needed their questions answered, and I found tons of people who wanted to teach English online but didn’t know where to start, especially non-native English speakers, who have less opportunities within the industry. That, was something I could build on. Since then, I’ve helped dozens of people find a sense of direction. But, enough of my sappy story. I’m sure you want to know more about the mistakes I made, and less about my success story, because at the end of the day, if I didn’t catch these mistakes, I wouldn’t be running an even remotely successful blog today.
1: I couldn’t focus my content
This is the absolute worst mistake I made starting out. I didn’t have very many readers, but the readers I did have had absolutely no idea what to expect from me. One day, I’m writing an article about which video games are great to play with friends, the next day, I’m sharing my experience working with QKids. There was a lack of consistency. With my blog, you never really knew what you were gonna get. And while it’s great to make sure my content isn’t all exactly the same, people take comfort in predictability and familiarity. So, I looked at all of my content and I was brutally honest with myself. I was writing in three different niches; Teaching English, technology, and gaming. Two of those niches already received daily coverage from thousands of better-known outlets than mine. As much as I love gaming, and as interesting as technology is to me, it just wasn’t a niche that I was going to succeed in. I decided that I was no longer going to try to reach that audience, because it was a giant waste of my time. People who were looking for content about the latest PC games and gaming technology already had outlets that they loved, like Linus Tech Tips, Giant Bomb, or Rock, Paper, Shotgun. These are people who practically own those content areas, and are pushing out amazing content already.
2: I didn’t promote my content
This one really should’ve been fairly obvious, but when I first started out, I was writing just to write. When I was younger and had more free-time, writing was a huge hobby for me, so when COVID-related lockdowns put me in and out of a stable work schedule, I latched back onto writing and started a blog. The problem was, I didn’t bother to share anything I was writing. I just figured that people would discover my content organically, and that it would spread from there. Gone are the days when you could write a blog and thousands would flood in to read all about your life. There are 600 million blogs on the web right now, and the reality is that I am no more interesting than those 600 million bloggers. Nobody really read anything I posted until I really prioritized sharing my content. I decided that instead of writing an article every day, I would write one or two articles a week, and spend the rest of the time putting those articles out there and building an audience.
3: I was sharing my work with the wrong people
Yeah, I managed to mess this part up, too! I’ve always really enjoyed using Reddit as a way to entertain myself. It’s an amazing place to find interesting articles about literally anything, and there’s tons of funny videos, lifehacks, guides, and overall, just some amazing stuff. The problem is, Redditors are especially wary of people trying to self-promote, even if their information is unique, helpful, or legitimate in some way. When I decided to try and put my articles out there for Redditors to see, I was met with the same level of scrutiny that everyone else is, and for the most part, people blew my articles off as spam or a cash-grab, rather than a resource. For me, Facebook ended up being the best venue to promote my content. I joined a lot of Facebook groups related to the ESL industry, where most of the posts are spam, pyramid schemes, or other forms of useless content. When people saw that I was sharing honest content and group admins started praising my posts as something that was legit, I was able to stand out in the crowd and build a small, but loyal following.
4: My posts were too wordy
In the words of Kevin from The Office: “Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?” My God, some of my first posts were entirely too lengthy. Nobody, absolutely nobody, wants to read a full-blown review of ten separate English-teaching platforms. They want simple answers, to simple questions; do I need a degree to work for them? How much do they pay? Details are good, but a lot of the time, they’re wholly unnecessary. I realized that I was overwhelming people with all that information. I needed to give all the details when I was doing a spotlight on something, like my experience working with Qkids. For a list of ten companies, however, a simple spreadsheet with details about the pay and qualifications was plenty. In fact, those spreadsheets are what the vast majority of my readers are here for. Most people like it quick and to the point.
5: I wasted too much time on SEO
People swear up and down that you can use search engine optimization to populate your blog. Call me crazy, but I don’t think search engines are all that people crack them up to be. In the last 30 days, only 16 of my readers came from search engines. I optimized my tags so people could find me more easily on Google, and the views still didn’t pick up. If I would have spent less time searching for ways that people could magically find my blog, such as SEO, and spent more time promoting my blog, actually directing people to my posts in a way that’s helpful to them, more people would have actually cared to even think about looking at my content. At the end of the day, the pages that make it to the top of your Google search query are not new blogs that started yesterday, last week, or even last year. They’re websites that are already populated with thousands of users each day, with a sizable budget and reputation.
Well, these are the mistakes that I’ve made in my first month of blogging. I’m not asking that you do things like I do, or even that you avoid the mistakes I made along the way. In fact, a lot of the mistakes I’ve discussed here are inevitable. Whatever remote success this blog has garnered, it was largely through trial and error, finding, and securing a niche. The best I can tell you is that you should think outside the box and try new things, even when it’s tough. Successful blogs aren’t started in a day, or even a week. I wish you the very best of luck. Whatever you do, don’t give up.