I hit publish on my first blog post on this blog, Cozy Home Hacks, on November 4th 2020.
It was a part calculated, part impulse move. But one of the best decisions I ever made.
Over the years, I’ve started 4 blogs, in 3 different niches. Only one stood the passage of time, and I’m happy it was this one.
But first, let me go back to where it all started. Time to get back to the beginning of my blogging experience.
My first ever blog – 2011
I’ve been dabbling with blogging for a long time. Since 2011, actually, when I published my first blog about movies.
I had just started my Masters’s degree in London and I discovered my passion for movies. So I somehow decided to write about them, in an effort to occupy my time and make some new friends (mostly online).
Aziza’s picks, the blog was called, and it was such an amazing experience overall, even though I had no idea what I was doing.
My Blogger theme was extremely basic and ugly, I didn’t have self-hosting, and I definitely didn’t know about SEO, keyword research, etc.
I wrote about films I liked and disliked, about topics that made me think, and much more.
I made a lot of online friends with similar interests, and most importantly, I felt part of a community.
But that blog wasn’t created to become rich, so I didn’t actually make money out of it. The only cool thing I got out of it was being invited to movies for free, and that was more than enough for me.
As life progressed, hobbies changed, Masters ended, so eventually the blog died down. But it still remains, to this day, a wonderful project I fondly remember.
Trying out a niche blog – 2017
Fast forward to 2017. By this point, I had already started working in digital marketing, so I began to research and understand the business of blogging much better.
I knew I needed to choose a niche with potential, that had many monthly searches, and that I could monetise.
So I started my second blog, this time on the health niche.
I wanted to make sure it looked amazing from the get go, so I made an effort on web design and logo, and hired a web designer.
Similarly, I also got website hosting from day one and made sure it was well optimized.
It was, overall, a solid start to blogging. But I made two big mistakes.
- The blog was written in my native language. That meant that I was limited to a specific audience, a small one, in an Eastern European country. So there was no potential for big growth.
- I wasn’t passionate about the niche I chose. I could and I did write about health issues, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Moreover, you can’t really improvise or be creative in this niche, so it got boring fast for me.
These two mistakes led to the third one, which made me stop blogging on it altogether: I wasn’t consistent with it.
Because I wasn’t having fun and I didn’t know what to write about, I published blog posts infrequently, and it faded out over time.
There goes my second attempt at blogging; a necessary step into my blogging experience.
Coming back to old hobbies – 2018
One year later, I decided to return to an old favourite: movies.
My film passion was reignited, and with it, the need to write about it.
So I created my third blog, Geekteller.
I, again, invested money into a theme and hosting, because I wanted to do it right.
I started writing about movies and tv shows. And it worked for a year, I think.
But then life happened. I changed jobs and got a boyfriend, so I slowly started prioritizing other things.
Also, I didn’t have the same need to talk about and review movies like I did the first time around. I wasn’t intently watching movies to review them, but to simply enjoy them…for fun.
So, as you guessed it, this blog died down, too. My last post on the movies blog was at the end of January 2020. Right before the pandemic started. It was a post about the last movie I saw in theaters, “1918”. It’s still active (actually, all three are), I just haven’t written on it for a very long time.
Fourth time’s a charm- Cozy Home Hacks- 2020
2020 was a crazy year for most of us. I, like many others, started working from home in March. After a couple of weeks, my company announced that I would be in furlough for 2 months.
During those two months, I decluttered my whole house, I cleaned it, I tried to workout at least 10 minutes each day, and…. I watched A LOT of YouTube videos.
And that’s where I learned more about the possibilities of Blogging and how much you can do with it, if you do it the right way.
I got inspired by all the cases of SAHM and corporate people who quit their jobs to focus on a blog that made them double or triple their salary and gave them time to spend with their families.
Because deep down, that’s what I wanted. Freedom to work whenever I could and the possibility to make money from home and, most importantly, passively, as much as it was possible. Especially since I plan to expand my family soon, and I want to be able to spend as much time as I can with my kids.
So I started researching tips & tricks, best case practices, and seeing what others were doing best. I watched a lot of videos on content management, Pinterest & Facebook groups, and many others.
I accumulated as much information as I could, then I started WORKING.
First step: figuring out my niche. I could write pages about it, but this is not the post for it. Let’s just say I narrowed down to a home & decor niche, but I didn’t specifically choose a sub-niche. Instead, I started writing posts and figured out along the way what I liked and I was good at.
Second step: brainstorming blog post ideas. This was the fun part. I started by writing my own blog post ideas. What I thought could work and I could write. Then I researched online what others (and my competitors) did.
Third step (which took the longest): writing at least 12 blog posts, so I could prove myself that I am on the right track, and also to have some posts as back up, in case I didn’t have time to write one day.
Fourth step: the logistics.
- I chose a name. This was and continues to be one of the hardest parts of blogging for me. Choosing a name that is cool and special, but NOT yet used by someone else.
- Purchased my domain.
- Set up web hosting.
- Bought a cool wordpress theme.
- I set up my blog, in terms of categories, banners & co.
The first three steps were done between April and October of 2020. The last step was done in the two weeks up to the release of the blog. (Although I’ve thought about the name ever since April, I decided on it on October)
Fast forward one year later, the Cozy Home Hacks blog is still going strong and is thriving.
Let me tell you why. Here are some important lessons I learned along the way in my blogging experience:
10 Vital Lessons I learned in my 10 Years Blogging
1. CONSISTENCY is what is going to make your blog successful.
I learned this the hard way, with Cozy Home Hacks. Success, or traffic, in our case, doesn’t come overnight (unless you go viral, but that happens extremely rarely). It has to be built over time, and in order to do that you need to be consistent with your writing and posting. I’ve posted, so far, a little over 80 articles, and I haven’t missed a week. At the beginning I posted bi-weekly. Now I only do it once a week. Either way, I didn’t stop and I made sure I had something to post every week. And I believe that was the drop that filled the glass, to say so. If you want to make it big, you need to put consistent effort into your blog.
2. Decide, from the get go, if your blog will be a PASSION PROJECT or a SIDE HUSTLE / BUSINESS VENTURE.
This decision will impact the outcome. If you want to start a blog as a hobby, and write about what you like or know, and/or about your passions, then things will be easier. But if you want to start a business and make money out of it, prepare to work harder and for a longer period of time before actually seeing results.
3. Choose your NICHE wisely.
If you chose to blog in order to make money, you need to do a couple of things before starting to write. You need to consider your competition, the public’s interest for the topic, and if you are able to actually write about that topic (do you have the knowledge or the interest to research and get better at it?). Choosing a niche with too much competition, or one that has a very narrow audience will diminish your success, or just make it that much harder.
4. Be USEFUL to your readers.
This is a harsh truth that bloggers need to learn. If you want people to read your articles, you need to provide information, or entertainment, or stories that they can relate to and empathise with. If you want to earn money from your blog, I recommend writing posts that provide useful information (how to’s), and/or give answers to Frequently Asked Questions in that specific niche.
5. Website DESIGN is important, but NOT VITAL.
If you’re just starting out, don’t focus your energy on website design. Pick a theme (paid or free), customize it to fit your blog (create categories, legal pages, etc) and just start writing. If you don’t have any content or website visitors, it doesn’t really matter if the menu is blue or green, am I right? 🙂
6. Focus on USER EXPERIENCE and WEBSITE SPEED.
If you want to improve your blog, start with these two topics. Why? Because that will help the reader stay more on page, therefore consume more content and maybe even buy from your affiliate links. These types of optimizations will help you more in the long run, compared to design changes, for example.
7. Start implementing SEO tactics FROM DAY ONE. Or as soon as you can.
SEO helps your blog to show up on Google (or other search engines) queries. So for example, if you write about cleaning & organizing, and someone searches “how to clean jewelry”, then you would want your blog to appear on that Google results page, wouldn’t you? Well, you can accomplish that by implementing SEO tactics.
Unfortunately, it takes a while for Google to register your optimizations, so you need to make sure you’re writing SEO optimized content. If you’re thinking about starting a blog, research it beforehand and start implementing the tactics from day one. If your blog is years old already, it’s never too late to start, so get on it.
8. You have to WORK for your WEBSITE TRAFFIC.
Blogs don’t just get visitors out of thin air. They need to find your blog somewhere, be it on social media, or groups, or by Googling it. Either way, you have to make sure your blog is visible and it attracts people on board. And that is one of the hardest parts. Because it requires time and energy. For a longer period of time. But once it starts growing, it will all be worth it.
9. Constantly ADAPT to the changing online and offline environment.
If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we need to be able to adapt quickly in order to survive and thrive. And that applies to the online world, too, especially blogging.
Let’s give an example. So if, let’s say you write about dog training, and there’s a new TV show or a popular online course about dog training, you can use that opportunity to write about it, review it, etc. In short, find trends and use them to your advantage.
10. CONTENT IS KING.
Plain and simple, your blog will not be successful if you don’t have good content. So your first task, your priority, should always be to provide quality content to your readers. The rest are just optimizations and adjustments you can do AFTER you’ve provided the content people want and need.
10 years and 4 blogs later, I think I’ve gotten into a rhythm. I know what to do, I know how to get things running, but I definitely have a lot more to learn…and implement. I hope to, one day, say I’m a full time blogger and that I have time for everything. Right now, I’ll just work my 9-5 job and blog on the side, hopefully in a successful manner.
Let me know your blogging experiences down below! What is the hardest part of blogging, from your perspective?