My first month of blogging with Practical, By Default being self-hosted as come and gone. Let me say it was a super busy one.
Today I thought I would share a behind the scenes look at blogging and how I survived, what I’ve been up to and some mistakes I made. (surprise!)
Being self-hosted has it’s up’s and down’s, just like any other job, hobby or thing in life. Warning: This is a long post with lots of resources for you to check out. You might want to grab a coffee/tea and settle in.
First I’ll start by debunking the myth: “All bloggers make a ton of money”
Uh huh, sure, some do! Congrats to them. Like any job or business, it takes time and a desire. Would I love to make money from blogging? Sure! But that’s not why I blog. So here is my major exciting financial report for January 2016:
- Hosting/domain: $10.00
- Power Cord for laptop: $50.00+ (great sale!) (Oh and power for your laptop-kind of a must ya know?? Very hard to use without power 😉 )
Bored? I am, let’s move on!
Going self-hosted is a scary thought to many bloggers that are just starting out, especially if you start on a WordPress.com or Blogger type platform. You are going from having a safety net if you mess up your blog, to having…well none.
To say I was concerned is an understatement. However, I received really good advice I am going to share with you today!
Nathalie Lussier has a great 30 Day list building Challenge, I started this again. I had started it in December but as my blog wasn’t launched yet, I just saved the emails to do later. However, when Shannon from WP+BFF said she was going to do it again and invited us to join in on Facebook, I went for it.
So I did two new things, joined my first Facebook group and re-started the challenge. I’m learning a lot of new things and the group has been super helpful. My newsletter list was starting from zero and we are not finished yet, but building a community is super important to me. I want to be able to encourage others and being able to send that to them in a way they can read and write back should they desire is amazing privilege.
We were discussing what we needed to be to do this challenge. I mentioned I had a fear of failing, after all, I had joined newsletters but sending one?? Whole new ball game! Shannon replied with how I couldn’t possibly fail unless I did nothing. That doing nothing was the only way to fail.
I’ve read that and kept it in the back of my mind during this month. Every time a new opportunity arose, and I was thinking: “I can’t do that” I would remember, “they only way to fail is to do nothing”.
My Advice to You:
My advice to you is, try! Otherwise you will never know, and you will fail. Because you didn’t even try.
- Want to try homeschooling but you are afraid of failing? Try it during an off-season, a break.
- Want to try a new recipe? Go for it! Worse case it burns or its gross! You will never know if you don’t try!
- Want to workout, get in shape, lift more weights? Try it! Start small and work your way up, but try!
- Want to start a self-hosted blog or any blog at all but scared no one will read? Try it!
This small piece of advice has helped me survive my first month of self-hosted blogging. It has allowed me to overcome challenges, disappointments, and fears. It has allowed me to have grace and patience with myself when I fail, learn from my mistakes. And it will help you too!
Speaking of trying let me share some new things I tried this month!
-Link Up Parties:
One thing I really wanted to try was a Link Up Party. I saw them all over Pinterest and I wanted to try-but I was scared. I didn’t know how to join, or what to do. Thankfully I had Crystal, when I joined her newsletter she asked for questions. So I asked. What is a linky? How do they work? She rocks!! She not only answered, but linked to how-to’s and a video!!
Thanks to her I joined several linky’s. It was a lot of fun and I recommend them to other bloggers out there. Feel free to click, bookmark and follow these great finds. Here is a list I joined in January
Guess what? Not only were they fun and I found a ton of new bloggers to follow with great resources but I was featured!! I was picked by readers as one of the top 10 blogs looked at motivational Monday link up party! As well as one of the top 4 for Finishing Strong link up! I am super excited and thank you so much all of you lovely hosts! Congrats to the other winners and lastly but certainly not least-a special thank you to readers!!
I have a new board on Pinterest for Linking Parties, just follow along, and I will be pinning ones I have found and/or tried. Join the party!
I tried and survived, whoot!
Something else I tried is affiliate marketing. I have been an amazon affiliate for 90 days, how do I know? Because they sent me a message saying I have made zero dollars in 90 days. I have 180 to make something or I will be suspended. Am I worried?
Nope! Not in the least. Why? Because I am OK with that.
I chose amazon as my first affiliate program because I am familiar with them. I use them myself, I know how great the service is. I’ve had issues resolved quickly as a buyer, and I have had zero issues not resolved, and I have been buying from them for over 8 years.
When I started blogging I hoped to someday make an income to at least cover the hosting/domain etc costs. However, I vowed to only promote products I have personally used, or know people love and have used.
So if Amazon decides to cancel my account then that is alright. It was a great first try, I learned about how to install links on the blog, how to fill out the paper work, how to apply, how to add the search feature right in the sidebar, add banners and change it Etc. I lost nothing and it costs my readers nothing. Win-win in my books.
Bugs and “Sorry!”:
Before you think it was all smooth sailing, here is how my month started off: With Bugs and “Sorry!”
January 1st was a big day for me! I launched my blog. I used EZ Coming Soon plugin to gather email addresses before I launched and count down to the day. (Super cool and easy to use! Find it on my Blogging tool box)
I had over 30+ Followers on my WordPress site and 6 signed up to receive notification when it was launched. I was happy with that, and knew from research many bloggers lost followers when switching, especially if you were unable to transfer the email addresses to your new site.
I sent out my welcome email and experienced my first (of many) bugs. The link did not work! Yikes! Thankfully one of my dear readers informed me right away and I was able to fix it and had to resend it again, with the right information. Day 1- apology time already!
There are more than this but just to list a few, as the day’s went by according to analytic’s people were visiting but no comments, and although it was expected it was a bit discouraging-I was lonely and sending things off to a big dark hole!
Then I discovered another bug. My spammer is very good. It had caught every single comment as spam. Thankfully I checked through them and approved, there were over 10 comments waiting. Yippe! So I fixed these, commented with apologies and thankfully you guys are amazingly patient with me while I continue to work out the bugs. Both in my brain and blog 😉
Learning And More Advice:
One thing I have learned is I still don’t know anything! There is so much to learn and even though I really enjoy learning, it can be overwhelming.
However I got some advice to focus on learning what I need to know now, and bookmark/save things that I might need to know for later.
For example, I have floating around my head things I want to do-such as
- create editable worksheets
- make my worksheets/printables more interesting and easy to use
- create and write a e-course/eBook etc.
However, I don’t need to know those right this month, or not even the next month. So I saved and/or pinned the resources under a file called “Read and Do Later”. Anyone else have one of these? Or two??
Remember I talked about newsletter building and how I am on a few (understatement!) lists. Newsletters are pretty awesome! In fact, I was super surprised and excited to be featured on the talented and informative Creative and Coffee post about Instagram! Had I not joined her newsletter list, I would never have known.
Let me share with you just 3 reasons why I love newsletters.
1. They are a great way to interact with the writer of the blog/website
2. They are perfect place to ask questions you don’t want to ask in public (see above with Crystal)
3. They are a great way to learn things-for free (see below)
Bonus reason: From a blogger’s point of view, it is a great way for me to get to know all of you better! So please feel free to hit reply and introduce yourself to me! Sign up here!
Here are some great courses I took or am in the process of taking that I learned about from newsletters or found.
E-courses are one of my favorite resources to make use of. As you will see in a future post, my life has a very wonky schedule. So “live” events don’t currently work for me.
These are not in any particular order, more like this is the way I remembered them:
1. Helene In Between offer’s a free e-course on How to Build a Successful Blog. It helps you overcome some myths and define your blog. I really enjoyed it. Great Questions and worksheets.
2. Kaitlyn’s 1-Week Branding Course is amazing!! She also has a Facebook group which I joined and they are extremely helpful and give great feedback, which is so needed. In fact, after taking this course and working through others “branding” started to really make scence to me. Subtle changes make a difference.
3. A while ago I found byRegina, her website is amazing. There is so much free usable content, I joined her newsletter and got sent an awesome free program on photo-editing, design using free tools. It was so cool!
4. Krista Rae has a course called Jumpstart Your Blog Blueprint. One of the things I really appreciate about this course was the images, examples and she totally answers your emails! She had a lesson on pages, one I really needed. Example, my contact me page was, um. “contact me” and a form. Yes it worked, but snooze fest!! Check it out now! Love the changes, and hopefully, it makes people want to reach out.
5. Summer offers this great course on Pinterest, even though many bloggers say’s Pinterest is their biggest referral. I was struggling with it. I thought I would have no problem, I mean I know how to use Pinterest, right? Wrong! (haha!) So I joined her challenge, and am learning so much. Such as how to use the description of the boards, I had them blank 🙁 Duh!
6. When I joined Summer, she recommended her friends Instagram Challenge. Again, something I thought I knew what I was doing, and although through a ton of research and other courses I took I kinda was on the right track, parts still hadn’t clicked. I really liked both of these courses!
So these are just a few of the things that helped me survive my first month of self-hosted blogging.
If you skipped to the bottom, my number one tip for surviving anything new:
Give it an honest try, and you will succeed. Your success might look different than what you pictured. It might take longer than you imagined, and the road might be harder as well. However, you will learn along that journey! The only way to be sure to fail-is to never try at all!
Thank you all for making it through this long post-I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and sharing with you all these great resources. Check them out if any are interesting to you, and please share if you found this useful to you.
So…What are you thinking of trying? Let me know in the comments below!