Do you want to know how I did in my first year of blogging? Here is my honest and honest reflection of 2014.
Please note that I created this site EgonSarvReviews.com to crash test what it takes for a complete dummy to earn a full-time income online.
In this post, I am going to show you, where I succeeded and where I failed. Also, I will list main things that I learned in my first year of blogging. So let’s dive into the details.
1. The Starting Point
1.1. My Previous Experiences
First, I had never run a business before. For all through my adult life, I had been a 9-to-5 worker. So becoming an entrepreneur was a big paradigm shift for me.
Second, Even though working with computers for more than 25 years, I had zero knowledge about the Internet Marketing.
1.2. Social Media
Besides all the foregoing disadvantages, I had no previous experience with social media. So here too I had to start literally from zero.
In Facebook, I was quickly able to make 500+ friends as many of my friends and acquaintances were already there.
Having Gmail account, I also had my Google+ account by default. I had never used it. So my G+ account was sitting idle with close to zero number of followers in my circles.
1.3. My Blog – From Bad to Worse.
In fact, I had begun my online campaign already in 2013 but that year turned out chaotic and I couldn’t do much.
Some of my struggles were:
- My family and I had just moved back from Indonesia as we were waiting for the birth of our 4th child (she was born in September 2013).
- The daily routine that I had in Indonesia didn’t exist anymore.
- It was summer time in Estonia, and there were no school nor kindergarten activities for my other kids.
- I struggled to figure out what niche to pick.
- When I finally picked my niche (make money online) it happened to be the most competitive and saturated niche in the world.
- I purchased a wrong domain name (honestwaytomakemoneyonline.com).
- I struggled to find a nice WordPress theme, and I got growingly frustrated with the theme that I finally picked.
- I chose bad design elements for my website, and it turned out ugly and amateurish.
- I had no idea how to write articles.
- Being a non-native English speaker, I struggled to write in correct English.
So in a way, I happened to be at the worst place on the starting grid.
But then, everybody has problems. My purpose with the blog is to show my readers what it takes to start earning money online when you come from the 9-to-5 job market, are a complete dummy and have many other disadvantages.
Making mistakes is fine. As far as you don’t quit.
In January 2014, I purchased a new domain name, the one that I am using now – EgonSarvReviews.com. This point I consider as a real birth of my current blog.
2. Outline 2014
2.1. January – June
I had worked hard through the last part of 2013 to develop at least some kind of daily routine. Achieving that, I was able to spend the first six months of 2014 writing content and building my blog.
The beginning was hard, and the incoming traffic was very small. Also, there was no organic traffic to my website.
Numbers close to zero are not encouraging, are they?
Moreover, I struggled to write in English, and this one fact slowed me down considerably. Still, I was able to raise the game and publish content consistently.
Then at the end of June, we packed our suitcases and flew back to Indonesia. This time, we moved to SE-Sulawesi – an entirely unknown territory for us.
With this move, my hard-won daily routine was gone with the wind. I had to start from zero.
2.2. July – December
A new place, hot and humid climate, no kindergarten for my kids, other daily responsibilities – all these things made it difficult to build a new daily routine.
It was a difficult time and often I felt frustrated for being not able to find time to blog. As you see the image below, there are no blog posts neither in July nor August 2014.
I was afraid that with my inactivity even this little traffic that I had, vanished. But somehow it managed to stay the same.
In September, I started to blog again. Then suddenly, to my great surprise – in October the traffic began to grow. This time, the main source of traffic was organic! From October 2014, onward organic traffic has been the primary source of traffic. It jumped from 45 visits in September to 145 visits in October and to 221 visits in December (the red line on a chart).
That was good news that boosted my motivation.
It works! I can do it!
Even in the most saturated niche, when you are consistent and put in hard work, eventually Google will find you and begin to send traffic to your site. You may have a slow start, but it’s OK. Sooner or later it will begin to grow exponentially.
This sudden jump in organic traffic helped me to finish the year strong.
The growth of traffic in December was affected by the fact that our visas expired, and we had to leave Indonesia. I lost the final week of December. Still I managed to get the best month of the year.
3. What Did I Do Well in 2014?
3.1. I did not give up.
If you have never run a business before, your first startup years are typically spent in a survival mode. The facts are clear: In the Internet Marketing world, 97% of the newcomers quit within their first year.
I can tell you, again and again, I was tempted to give up and leave. These were the times when I wrote these posts with lists of inspirational quotes. Because somehow I had to motivate myself to continue. I read those quotes and collected them into different blog posts. Examples of these posts are here: Making mistakes quotes, Staying Focused quotes, Perseverance quotes, and quotes about Overcoming Obstacles.
Also, I studied how big brands like Mercedes and Ferrari planned their success. It encouraged me tremendously.
3.2. I Built My Twitter Follower Base Consistently.
I have already learned that consistency is one of the key factors to success. I created my Twitter account in March 2014 and by being consistent, I was able to finish the year with 3000+ followers.
The chart below shows that investing time and energy into Twitter eventually paid off. It started to send traffic to my website.
3.3. I stuck to Learning and Blogging.
I was determined to learn. I knew that with time passing I could only get better. Today I know so much more and I can do much better than 1 year ago. A year ago I did not really know how to write blog posts. I struggled. But with each next blog post I get better.
3.4. I Learned to Do One Thing at a Time And Finish It.
That is one of the major lessons that I learned last year. Because not finishing has been one of my main weaknesses. I am pretty good at starting new things. At the same time, I have always been weak in finishing them. As a result, I tend to have many unfinished tasks on my shoulders, and they create extra unneeded pressure.
I had to learn to do one thing at a time and finish it. I have already seen the benefits of doing it.
3.5. I Found Ways to Build My Daily Routine.
In 2014, my life was often chaotic. Our newborn baby and the move to unknown territory in Indonesia were the major factors here. Both of these events effectively wiped out my previous daily routines.
In both cases, it took time and energy and a great deal of will power but in both instances I succeeded.
4. Where Did I Fail in 2014?
4.1. I Expected Much Better Results.
One year after starting my blog the numbers are still tiny. I expected much bigger daily traffic. I hoped to get close to 1000 unique visitors per day. With 20 visitors a day I am far from it.
But then, better results require way more working hours. My current conditions don’t allow to invest much more time into it. With just 3 hours per day, you cannot crack it.
Well, better results require more working hours in the first place. That is one of my primary goals in 2015.
4.2. I Failed to Finish the Wealthy Affiliate Certification Courses.
When you start blogging, you are encouraged to read other great blogs in your niche. These great blogs are going to bombard you with all kinds of good stuff. In my niche, most of those posts are things like: „5 must-do things…“, „Without doing this you will fail.“, etc.
As a result, I spent a significant part of 2014 doing what different blogs recommended.
And here’s the problem. These blog posts are great, but they don’t teach you how to build your blog in a systematic way. They cover random topics in a random order.
The Wealthy Affiliate certification courses teach you in a systematic way. They help you start from scratch and then build up your online campaign step-by-step. Here’s the outline of the Wealthy Affiliate, Getting Started (Level 1) course:
Sadly, I learned this lesson in a hard way. I can tell you, those who did the high-quality WA certification courses got much better results than me.
4.3. I Spent Far too much time in Facebook
Through 2014, I was actively involved in Facebook. Soon I discovered that my Facebook friends weren’t my target audience. Still I kept posting to Facebook and socializing with people. It was fun, but I spent proportionally much time there.
4.4. I Spent Too Much Time Checking My Stats.
Checking stats may become a bad, time-wasting habit for bloggers. And if the numbers aren’t right, it may cause another problem, called „Paralyzed by Analysis“.
Both of these things happened to me. First I wasted too much time checking my Google Analytics stats. Second, poor results had often demotivating impact on me.
„Focusing is about saying No,“ states Steve Jobs.
5. What Did I Learn in my First Year?
5.1. It Requires a lot of Perseverance
Typically, the first survival year is hard, and you have to find the motivation to keep yourself going. Even when numbers don’t support you.
5.2. Consistency is a Crucial Factor
Consistency in blogging is critical and I did not understand it before. It’s not so important whether I publish 1,2, or 3 blog posts per week. Consistency is important. If I plan to write two posts per week, I should stick with it. Google rewards consistency with higher rankings.
5.3. It Takes Time Until Google Starts to Recognize You
If you’ve never blogged before, if search engines don’t know you yet, typically it takes time until Google, Bing, etc. begin to give you higher rankings.
You are like a new kid in a school and Google doesn’t know what to expect from you. When it learns that you consistently publish high-quality content, he slowly begins to trust you and give you higher rankings. But it takes the time to build the trust of Google and other search engines.
5.4. In the Most Saturated Niche, It’s Hard to Grow Traffic
Make Money Online IS the most saturated niche out there. It’s not the best choice for a newbie, but I could not find any other niche that I was particularly interested.
Being in the most competitive niche is one of the reasons for my slow start.
5.5. Self-Discipline is Another Crucial Factor
To be a 9-to-5 worker or an entrepreneur are two entirely different things. If you are a 9-to-5 worker, it’s easy. You have your boss and company rules to follow, and that’s it. You follow the rules or you’re fired.
That is not the case when you are a freelancer. Then you are your boss, and you set your rules. But to follow those rules you have to have (or develop) self-discipline. Otherwise, you waste your days doing nothing.
6. My Plans for 2015
What are the areas that I want to focus in 2015?
- To finish all the WA certification courses. (These are great courses, and I highly recommend them to you, too).
- To blog consistently, with two posts per week.
- To build my RSS feed.
- To grow my Twitter follower base to 10K.
As you see, my first year of blogging has not been a cake walk. I have struggled in many areas. There were things that I did right but many more that I did wrong. Yet, I have not given up, and as you see above, things can get only better. Traffic is slowly building, and it is just a matter of time when it begins to grow exponentially.
So this was my honest and transparent reflection of my 1st year of blogging. I wrote it to show you my progress thus far. Hope it helps you and encourages you.
It takes time, had worked and perseverance but if you have good resources (and the Wealthy Affiliate Certification Courses are high-quality resources) then eventually you will succeed. The hard work is now…, the Pay Off is Later, and often, for years to come!
So how did you do in 2014? Please drop me a comment, I would like to hear from you.