Wow. I still can’t believe it has been a year. This little blog has grown to become an integral part of my life, one that has brought me so much joy and, to be honest, frustration at times.
It has been an incredible journey. Here are 8 things that I want to share in this post to celebrate my first anniversary as a blogger.
1. I have met many amazing people thanks to this blog
Blogging has introduced me to many people that I otherwise wouldn’t have met. It has opened my world to a group of talented and passionate writers, not just in the personal finance space, but also in health, fashion, gaming, you name it. Although I have never met any of them personally (well, partially blame the COVID-19 pandemic), I have met some virtually, spoken to a few, and messaged many.
Some have sent me words of encouragements. Some have commiserated with me on my occasional frustration. Many have offered advice on how to improve and how to be better. Rarely did I reach out to a fellow blogger and not receive a warm response, even when my blog was only one week old.
I still remember the “likes” and comments I received when I shared on Twitter that I made my first $1 from Google Adsense, the cheers I got when I saw my first post (Home alone? 30 things you can do if you’re bored) syndicated to MSN, the congratulations when I made my first $1.40 in affiliate sales. It is the accumulation of these small instances that have made me feel connected, even though we may be on different sides of the world.
2. Blogging is harder than I initially thought
For those of you who stumbled upon this post and who may be thinking that blogging is an easy way to get rich, I am sorry, I am about to disappoint you.
Blogging is much harder that I initially thought. Of course, like most of you, I have also read many stories of other bloggers who were able to achieve substantial success within one year, or even less. But that didn’t happen to me.
Is blogging still worth it if you are thinking about starting one? Yes, absolutely. Although I have not achieved overnight success, I can still see improvement, which is enough to keep me going.
It takes persistence and hard work to get people to notice you.
3. You will try things that do not work for you
I still remember the frustration I felt when I spent over $100 purchasing a tool that many bloggers have sworn by, only to see the tool, instead of driving incremental traffic, actually causing adverse effects to my blog. Well, the company claimed that it wasn’t their issue. Perhaps it was a sad coincidence, but I know that I will never use the tool ever again.
I thought I was being careful. After all, I only took the plunge after seeing many bloggers’ raved reviews after the tool. Little did I know at the time that they might have been incentivized by affiliate sales.
Of course, even today, I still believe in genuine reviews. I write reviews myself, and I do find that some reviews provide valuable content, whether they are affiliated or not. But I have learned to be even more careful.
4. It takes lots of patience
Blogging is a long-term game. It takes a lot of patience to build a following on social media, get people to notice you, and rank in search engines.
It took about 8 months for my blog post to show up on the first page of Google for the first time. Yes, a full 8 months, and it wasn’t for a competitive keyword, either. I still remember the numerous times I wanted to give up during the long 8 months. I am glad I didn’t.
5. Writing for the sole purpose of SEO doesn’t make me happy
For a while, I wrote posts mostly for SEO purposes. I was very motivated at the time because I really really wanted people to find me on Google, just like how I found so many other amazing blogs. As a result, I wrote only about keywords that might be relatively easy (keep in mind it still took me months) to rank for, and I neglected some topics that I am passionate about but are either difficult to rank or not the most-searched.
Although I have seen some success with this strategy thanks to my efforts, I have started to feel a little burned out. I find that choosing topics solely based on others’ inquiries instead of my inner voice does not make me happy. I have come to realize that writing for the sole purpose of SEO isn’t a sustainable strategy.
Of course, as I said in my “About Me” section, my vision is “to become the go-to personal finance and lifestyle blog for readers who embrace a balanced and fulfilling life, all in a less formal but still informative and educational setting”. Writing to answer people’s most burning questions is a key pillar for that, so I will not stop writing about them. But I have also learned the importance of balance, so if I have a burning desire to write about a particular topic, I will listen to my inner voice and write about it, even if it may never rank.
6. Always respond to inquiries
Bloggers can receive many emails every day. Some bloggers have provided advice on which emails to respond to and which ones to ignore, but I respond to every single query, even if they are just one-liners or badly formatted. You just don’t know who is behind the emails, and yes, I have had legitimate inquiries for sponsored posts from generic Gmail accounts.
Of course, you may decide it is not worth your effort, but I do recommend that you respond to all emails, especially when you are still new.
7. You learn a lot because of blogging
I initially thought blogging was just about writing. I was wrong. There is a lot more than that (and I detailed them in my blogging tips post).
Technical skills I have learned:
- How to run a WordPress site, including managing the plugins, themes, etc.
- Search engine optimization
- How to leverage social media platforms as a tool, not just for entertainment
Soft skills I have improved on:
- Collaborating & communicating with others
- Delay gratification
I have also gained a much better understanding of my strengths and weaknesses, areas that I want to work on, my writing style, etc. I truly feel that blogging has helped me with self-development.
Lifelong learning is a key pillar of my life, and blogging is certainly a journey where you do not stop learning.
8. Good things will happen
Yes, it takes a lot of patience for people to notice you, but trust me, good things will happen. I know it may be difficult to convince you when you are getting virtually no traffic (I know June 22, 2020, was a sad day because I only had 5 pageviews), but you just have to keep going. Give yourself at least a year and update your blog consistently, even though sometimes you do have to force yourself to.
In the last 12 months, money-wise, I have received freelance opportunities, inquiries for sponsored posts, and invitations to join ad networks. I have also made some affiliate sales. Even though the amount of money I have made is nowhere near what other bloggers seem to be able to make, I am proud of what I have accomplished in the first year.
Of course, goods things aren’t just limited to money. I have also made friends (most virtually sadly in today’s world), expanded my horizon, and acquired new knowledge. I am grateful that I had the courage to start the blog last year, and that I have the persistence to keep on going, even though at times I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.
There are many things I want to work on in the near future. I want to write more and better content, reach more people, and drive more traffic. In the medium-long term, I may want to try podcasting (if you are a podcaster looking for guests, please give me a shout!). I am excited to see what I can bring to the table.
It has been a great first year. Thank you, all my readers, for your support and encouragement. Stay tuned for an even better second year!
Bella Wanana is the blogger behind bellawanana.com, a personal finance and lifestyle blog. She loves sharing with her readers the best tips and tricks on personal finance and how to live a balanced but fulfilling life. She is also a freelance writer, and she has been featured on sites like MSN.com, Reader’s Digest, The Financial Diet, Yahoo Finance, and GOBankingRates.