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First of all, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that this post comes a little too late as it’s already the third day of the new year. However, in this first post of the new year, I’m excited to share my first six months as a new blogger in 2021, and the future plans and aspirations I have for the upcoming year!
Some boring bits before we begin
I read more articles about blogging more than I ever had in the past year. While there are countless incredible posts on how to start a blog, I found few posts documenting the humble beginnings of a successful blogger. Hence, I decided to come up with this post, not because I am a successful blogger – I am far from it – but to share my blogging journey with fellow new bloggers, or people who want to start blogging but don’t know where to start.
A little background…
In January 2021, my 36-month plan with Bluehost was coming to an end, and unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to renew it at the price. I truly enjoyed the service while it lasted, however, I wasn’t blogging as often as I should and was unsure of where I wanted to go with blogging.
I was unemployed, and finishing up the last leg of my undergraduate studies + busy with other life priorities that needed my attention. However, I opted to maintain my domain name just in case I wanted to start blogging again.
Fast forward to July, I moved to Leipzig to begin a brand new life with my husband. We were incredibly busy making our apartment a home and adjusting to the new environment. However, somewhere deep inside of me, I felt rather unfulfilled. I felt that I needed a space to “unleash my creativity”. I had all these photos and content ideas but nowhere to offload them.
So I started a new blog on WordPress.com without hosting and began blogging there.
My initial goals + Deciding my niche
I love exploring new places and eating good food. However, travel blogs are aplenty and there was no way I can compete with the influencers with their “Insta-worthy” pictures and the strong and saturated market. But I went ahead with it anyway because I still have so many travel-related stories and tips to share. So for the first few weeks, I decided that travel was my niche, and everything else will evolve along the way.
Upgrading to WordPress Premium + Siteground
My previous blog was hosted on WordPress.org and Bluehost. It provided unlimited possibilities of customisation and was so easy to use. Going back to WordPress.com was a step back for me, and I missed the features of a self-hosted site. Don’t get me wrong – WordPress.com is a great place to start for new bloggers who would like to start a blog for free. They have an excellent community, and your posts still get seen. Personally, one of the most important things I require for my site aside from solid content is an aesthetically pleasing, yet user-friendly site.
Note: Running a self-hosted site requires a lot of time, effort and money. But it’ll be worth it in the long run.
With a little money saved up from freelance writing, and a very attractive offer from Siteground sealed the deal for me. I made the final transfer of my domain from Bluehost to Siteground with a little help from the excellent support team and started building a new Syfnz Says from scratch on WordPress.org.
Thank you, Bluehost for the excellent service over the past 36 months.
Themes and Blog aesthetics
With a brand new self-hosted website, your customisation options are limitless. There are tons of free themes on the directory to choose from. However, there’s always a catch – you’ll need to upgrade to a Pro version if you’d like to unlock all the customisation options. I started off with the free Astra theme because of the customisable layouts but found that I wanted more that was only available with an upgrade. So I invested in Astra Pro and spent months customising the site with numerous free plugins, yet I still wasn’t satisfied.
One of the biggest drawbacks of Astra Pro was the inability to create a featured slider. It’s alright if you aren’t into this detail, but I wanted one for my site. There was an option to create a featured slider on Elementor Pro, but I wasn’t going to spend money on it. So I remained mildly dissatisfied with how my site looked for the rest of the year. Considering how popular the theme is, I believe that there were definitely workarounds. But I had zero knowledge of coding, so it was rather difficult and highly frustrating to figure it out.
At the end of 2021, I decided enough was enough and revamped my entire website. I bought my current theme from Theme Forest and enjoyed really stress-free and easy customisation on this new theme. The site runs faster and is responsive (can be viewed on both mobile and desktop) too.
Planning a content strategy
During my first month of blogging, I wrote about the first thing that came to my mind. I neither had a goal for the article I was writing, nor what my next posts are and when I would be posting them. Content strategy includes developing, planning, writing and management of content. What I’ve learnt is that in order to get people to read your articles, they must be relatable. Then come keyword research, making your article SEO-friendly, among the other jargon that you’ll learn when you’re thinking of earning money through your blog.
Monetisation wasn’t my initial plan when I started out. I was more focused on creating content and hope someone reads them. One of the mistakes I made during my first six months as a new blogger was applying for Adsense when my blog was brand new and obviously got rejected. I still haven’t reapplied, but will when I see increase traffic.
How do I plan my posts?
Truth be told, my first few posts during my first three months of blogging were “spurs of the moment”. Then, I decided that I wanted to publish more frequently, hence I need to have more post ideas in my drafts. So I created a new excel sheet and started by brainstorming ideas for content, and then grouping them into categories. Start with 2-3 big categories like Travel Blogging Tips and Travel Packing List, then work from there. Once you have published at least 10 posts, think of how you want to connect your existing posts together to build backlinks that will help with your SEO score and search engines visibility.
Creating a content calendar helps you to get organised and plan posts for the upcoming month. PublishPress is an excellent free WordPress plugin that offers you a content calendar to create drafts and decide when you want to publish them. For starters, create content once or twice a week, or even thrice if you have the energy to create that many posts. For the first six months as a new blogger, I published twice a week quite consistently.
Content sharing and Networking
Social media is an excellent tool to promote your site. I have an Instagram page for short bursts of pictures, and a Pinterest account to share my pins, and also discover other interesting and travel-related content. The trick is to focus on one or two social media platforms you want to work on and grow your followers during your first six months as a new blogger.
I always had a Pinterest account. It was where I search for DIY ideas, home décor inspiration and even travel blog posts. However, I was incredibly new to its functions as a content creator. So I converted my personal Pinterest account to a business account and started sharing my pins and other interesting content as well.
Still, I wanted to network with other bloggers and discover new blogs to read. I went on Facebook and discovered a couple of Groups where I could share my posts and also connect with other bloggers of all niches. Through these groups, I discovered many great sites by people across the globe. I learnt a lot by spending some time on their sites and clicking through different posts, to see how they’ve evolved. Plus, there are occasionally great opportunities to build your domain authority by doing guest posts for other blogs too.
Making money during first six months as a new blogger?
It’s every blogger’s dream to run a successful blog that makes enough money for you to quit your day job. However, for most of us beginner bloggers, that aim to make substantial money blogging is attainable, but we still have ways to go before we make our first $100.
There are options such as placing advertisements and affiliate marketing, and there are many more established blogs that have articles related to those topics. However, after six months of blogging, I am still learning how to monetise my own blog (and would love some tips if you’re successful, do let me know in the comments below!)
Aims for the blog in 2022
Phew, that was quite a long post about my first six months of being a new blogger, wasn’t it? I hope that you have found it informative and inspired you to begin your own journey as a blogger. If you like what you’ve read and would like to save this post for future references, pin it on Pinterest and follow me too for more content like this one!
My main aim for Syfnz Says this year is to achieve 1000 page views by the end of the year. 1000 pageviews may seem really small for an established blog with 100,000 + page views per week. But this site is still a baby, and I am still learning the ropes. Hence 1000 page views by December is hopefully an attainable target.
What can you expect from Syfnz Says in 2022?
In 2021, Syfnz Says was solely a travel and lifestyle blog. It had been an amazing learning journey and I will continue to learn and grow and produce informative articles for my wonderful readers (that’s you!). I’ve published articles documenting my travel adventures and experiences living the expat wife life in Germany.
This year though, I am moving towards diversifying the content to attract more readers not only interested in travel. I will continue to create travel-related content because that’s what I love but expect articles guiding new bloggers such as this one, and content related to sustainable living.
I’ve always been curious about sustainability and making conscious efforts to change my lifestyle towards a more sustainable future. I am excited to be learning more about sustainability, how to lead a sustainable life, travelling sustainably, and invest in more eco-friendly products. If you’d like to be kept in the loop, do subscribe to my email list!