9 Lessons I Have Learned After Two Years of Blogging

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image25609763On the 31st of December, 2010, I published my first post on this blog. Ever since then I have been blogging on a frequent basis.

On the 31st of December, 2012, my blog is two years old. These years have included a ton of work, but it has also been fun at the same time.

I have learned many valuable lessons during these two years and the most important ones I am now sharing with you.

1. Blogging requires a lot of work

OK, so I said that already, but it’s really worth mentioning again.

Although I had heard about this before I started blogging, I really understood this fact after I became a blogger myself.

Blogging is so much more than writing a post. It’s also:

  • Proofreading and editing posts
  • Building your email list
  • Being in social media
  • Building relationships with others

This list is naturally just a scratch on the surface, so be prepared for the load of work ahead of you, if you decide to start blogging.

At the same time, if you are passionate about your topic and blogging in general, it’s much easier to cope with the workload.

2. Persistence shouldn’t be underestimated

Too often people are excited to start a blog, but quite soon they give up and their blog gets abandoned. Maybe they thought that blogging was a quick ticket to lots of money, success and fame.

Unfortunately, this isn’t so and sometimes you have to work long periods of times (sometimes even years), until you are able to reach that financial success. However, if you are persistent enough, things will fall into place and you’ll eventually reach your goals.

It’s really a question about how badly you want the success: Are you ready to work your ass off to get results? Are you ready to face the plateau and still keep on going? Are you ready to make mistakes and learn from them?

If you answered “yes” to each of those questions, then you are persistent enough. You are ready to start your blogging journey and keep on going – even if some obstacles are thrown into your way.

3. Get a coach from the get-go

This is one of the things I wish I had done when I started blogging: Hired a coach.

Although I hired some temporary help when launching my blog in 2011 (and to which I was happy with), I still wanted something more.

In January 2012 this changed, as I started working with Danny Iny and I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Coaching has made a huge difference in my productivity as I’m able to focus on things that are truly important.

It’s also a great way to test new ideas: I might have a crazy plan in my head which I pitch to Danny. If he thinks the idea is not so great, I put that on hold or get it off of my list completely. This is a huge time saver and I can keep on track without any extra distractions.

Although coaching is expensive, it’s also a much faster way to get to your destination. Besides, you can rarely get to your goal by buying a $19 e-book.

4. Don’t be afraid to stretch your comfort zone

Even if you tend to be writing a lot as a blogger, at some point you have to move on to other types of media to differentiate yourself from others.

In my case, this media has been online videos and podcasting. Whether it’s recording video tips or interviewing top experts , it requires more than writing a blog post: You have to stretch your comfort zone.

Now, for many people the feeling of stretching their boundaries is unpleasant and I’m not an exception. However, I try to keep two things on my mind:

a) The more I stretch my zone, the more I learn
b) If I want success, I have to be different than others (and most of the time it means stretching my comfort zone)

With these two things on my mind, stretching my zone becomes easier. Besides, the more you do the thing that you are afraid of, the less unpleasant it feels later on.

5. Get your content in front of other’s eyes

I always thought that I could be just publishing awesome posts on my own little blog and that it would result a lot of readers and followers.

So naive … I finally realized that I have to put my content in front of others if I want to see more people coming to my blog.

The best way to do this is to guest post and I have been doing a lot of it in 2012: I have written 73 guest posts (84 total from 2011) and I currently have 15 posts pending for other blogs.

I’m currently writing 3-6 guest posts per week and I have a solid system to follow.

With guest posting, I have been able to grow my e-mail list from 100 subscribers (in January 2012) to almost 1,000 subscribers (December 2012) and it’s still my preferred ways of growing my email list.

6. Long live the email

It’s so funny to think that we have the social media, online video and audio plus and a lot of other cool things. Yet, there is still one old school technology that is the most important when it comes to blogging: Email.

Especially if you are looking at your blog as a business, you need an email list – there is no way around this fact.

The sooner you start building your list, the better. And even more important, the sooner you start interacting with your list, that’s even better.

Learn more about the people that follow you, ask them questions, let them be part of what you do … those are the ways I try to interact with my list.

7. You can build a blog – even if you have a family and a day job

I’m working full-time, I have a family, I exercise almost on a daily basis – and I’m a blogger.

To make sure I get my blogging stuff done, I pretty much do three things:

a) Wake up early
b) Plan my tasks ahead
c) Use time blocks

Early wake-ups are something that I do every day. I wake up around 5-5.30 AM, so that I have some time to get blogging-related work done before I go to work and before my family wakes up.

To maximize the morning time, I plan my content (or the tasks) in advance, so that I know what to do and I can get started right away after waking up.

For instance, if it’s writing a blog post, I use a special structure almost every time I write. This helps me to write posts fast, but with enough depth.

Finally, I’m a big fan of time blocks. With them, I have gotten a lot of work done.

All that’s needed is a shorter time frame (like 1.5 hours) for my work and also knowing my outcome. I also make sure I know my tasks in advance (sometimes even their execution order), to fully maximize the time block.

When the time block starts, I follow a plan I have created in advance. Combined with a tight focus, I can make a lot of progress – even if I don’t have a lot of time to spend.

8. Write down your processes and improve them

Do you know the steps it takes you to do a certain blogging task? If not, you should really write them down and put them into a document.

I did this regarding my blogging process and it was an eye opener. I finally saw the tasks I do and I also saw the steps that could be eliminated, automated or even outsourced.

You should really spend a little time in documenting your steps. And if you ever decide to outsource any of your blogging maintenance (as I am with Efficise), this documentation comes in handy.

9. Pick your three

I realized that in order to become more effective with my blogging, I have to focus on just certain key areas in my blog.

I have chosen guest posting, interviews and building my e-mail list to be the most important parts of my blogging right now. Anything else is put on the back burner and I try to spend as little time with them as possible (like SEO or social media).

This decision has helped me to focus on the essential parts of my blogging. It’s also a time issue as I don’t have the time or energy to focus on everything at once (I don’t think that’s ever reasonable to do anyway).

Just remember this: Pick your three and focus solely on them. The amount of work decreases and you can make big progress in those chosen areas.

Conclusion

I have blogged for two years as of December 31st, 2012.

It has been a great ride so far and I have enjoyed my journey a lot. I’m really looking forward to what the following years will bring me when it comes to blogging :)

About Timo Kiander

My name is Timo Kiander aka Productive Superdad.

I want to show you how to improve your productivity when working at home and find time for the fun stuff in your life!

Comments

  1. Hi Timo!
    What an incredible job you have done with your blogs in the past two years! You are so right about the hard work that goes into the art of blogging and it’s really a smart idea to get help right up front. Working with Danny is a plus and having a system in place is also key.

    I don’t know what I would do with out wonderful guest contributors like yourself that keep a constant stream of value-added blog posts flowing on my blog.

    Thanks for all you do and best wishes for another “productive” year in 2013!

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Ileane!

      Thank you for your kind words :)

      Yes, 2013 is going to very productive as I have some great things planned out.

      And yes, I might have a guest post idea or two for your blog as well :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  2. Nice post Timo. Although a new subscriber I’m enjoy reading your posts so far. I like the way you project your personality and TK brand….almost feel like I’m watching your personal journey unfold. Possibly a very personal Q, but if possible I’d be interested to hear how you are getting on with your personal goal of running a full time online business.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Mark!

      Thank you :)

      Well, I’m still in a process of running a full-time online business.

      Currently my day job is paying all my blogging bills and I’m not earning anything through this blog. I’m still in a phase of building my audience (my e-mail list) and later on I could be starting with products and services. That’s still going to take awhile.

      However, I know that things are going to change in 2013 :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  3. Great article Timo.
    It is interesting how these things may sound borderline naive for the average beginner, but they really make the difference between a successful endeavor in blogging or just being mediocre.
    I will add only one thing, again a no-brainer advice, and that is that it gets not only easier, but 10 times more productive and improved if we decide to start the process of blogging with someone else by our side. A team if you will.
    I did this almost one year ago, and not only did we created a great place for our readers (or so do I hope), but also by supplementing our knowledge and adding to one another’s we managed to learn the craft of internet marketing as well, learn codding, great deal of SEO, copywriting etc. Had I started alone none of this would have been possible. Find someone to support you in your blogging journey, and you will be more productive while increasing your passion.

    Great article Timo, always great to hear a successful blogger sharing his steps.
    Have a great day.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hey Slavko!

      That’s a great point!

      I think that co-blogging can take your blog to completely new level.

      And as you said, when both of you have your personal strengths, they’ll supplement each other and give your more possibilities to grow your blog.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  4. Hello i am Taswir Haider,
    Nice your blog bust luck and care on.
    http://www.thetopblogger.com/

  5. Hi Timo,
    This is a great post and my favorite that I have read from you so far. Thank you for sharing some of your secrets…maybe I need to wake up at 5AM too. That seems to be a real key to your success as well as the guest blogging gigs. You can see Danny’s influence here that’s for sure. Best of luck in 2013, you are a great inspiration to those of us who have a full-time job, a full-time family and dream to have their own business.
    Cheers,
    Tim

  6. Well done Timo!! This kind of post gives me hope and strength to go on with my own blog, that I just started. I don’t even have a family so I probably have more free time than you … I’m amzed to see you are able to write 3-6 guests posts a week, thats truly amazing!
    I’ll keep on following you!
    Nicolas.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Nicholas!

      Great to hear I was able to inspire you.

      Just keep on going and you’ll soon realize yourself that you have been blogging couple of years already :)

      Cheers,
      Timo

  7. Aha, Timo, I will verily admit that I am one of those people who started blogging for the quick money, and just as quickly lost momentum when I found out just how hard it was to maintain a blogging practice.

    But I think along the way I’ve found a new unexpected love for writing, and even though the focus of the blog shifted slightly, I think it still makes me happy to know that someone is reading it and learning something.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Ash!

      Yes – It’s definitely rewarding to write. I think so even if I’m not getting paid :)

      Also, I think that if you keep learning about the topics you write about, you might have a good change to turn it into a business as well.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  8. Have a “parking lot” nearby. This is not about helping people park their cars close by the meeting location, but is about keeping the meeting on focus. When an idea comes up that is a good one but is off topic, put it on a “parking lot” list on a whiteboard or notepad where it can be addressed in a subsequent meeting. Too often, good meetings are derailed by good ideas raised in the wrong meeting. The parking lot list is a great tool for keeping on task.

  9. hey timo i am new to ur blog…really good productivity tips you provide…hope i will be glued to this site from now on hehe..keep rocking! :)

  10. Those are some good lessons to learn and I agree with them all, especially the fact that blogging is not easy. I am listening to your story on blogging passion podcast.

    It seems like you have a good rationale about blogging and life. I have been blogging for one year. My blog has made many strides. thanks

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Michael!

      Great to hear I was able to share experiences with you :)

      A lot of work has been involved, but yet I’m very happy of doing all the work so far.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  11. Febolous advise. It is true, just do it! It works and it connects you with so many wonderful people all over the globe and that what keeps me blogging.

    • Timo Kiander says:

      Hi Cameron!

      Yes, I definitely agree. Blogging has the power of bringing like-minded people together.

      Cheers,
      Timo

  12. Thanks for the great article ! I just started following you on Twitter and added your blog to the long list of PR blogs I subscribe to. Looking forward to reading more from you!

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