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6 Tips to Help You Survive Your First 3 Months of Pro Blogging

This guest post is by Glee of Creative Fashion.

I was a high-school Maths teacher for eight years and for all those years, my life evolved in writing lesson plans, producing teaching materials and worksheets, dealing with parents, teaching some well-behaved and some rude students, and pleasing demanding bosses. When an opportunity came for me to finally be a full-time blogger, which allows me to be my own boss and set my own schedule and calendar, it was a dream come true.

Yet, as it turn out, building a website and establishing myself as an authority isn´t all fairy tales.

Work from home

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I was a part-time blogger for two years, juggling my full-time day job, after-school tutorials, and blogging until late midnight every day. My first blogs were built through a free blog platform, on which I learned HTML, SEO techniques, and a little online marketing. I had enough experience and I was quite ready to do blogging full-time before I decided to quit my job.

I built my professional blogs and now I’m working toward my dream of making them big: I’m officially a full-time blogger. But there are stumbling blocks that I had to deal with more than once in those first few months of pro blogging; here are the techniques I used to beat them.

1. Balance your freedom with a solid schedule

The good thing about full-time blogging is you don’t have a boss. And the bad thing about full-time blogging is you don’t have a boss.

The freedom that full-time blogging offers is what makes people want to become full-time bloggers. However, it’s the same freedom that sends them to failure fast if they aren’t careful.

I’m a stay-at-home wife and a self-confessed online entrepreneur (a fancy name for a blogger), and when my husband kisses me good-bye in the morning, I’m still in bed … and so tempted to go back to sleep.

It takes discipline to beat this behavior. I soon realized that if I go to work late, I can’t keep working until late. When my husband comes home, I have to start preparing dinner—plus there’s a couple of hours for our bonding time which include going to the gym. I clean the kitchen after dinner, and then it’s already very late at night. So basically my job ends at 5p.m. I can only do a little work on my blog late at night.

This urged me to create a schedule and to stick to it. When hubby goes to work at 7:45 in the morning, I’ve got to be fixing the bed, then have breakfast, shower, do a little housework, and be at my desk by 9a.m. I get a break for lunch around 1p.m. and the hard work ends at 5p.m. If I’m really good, I can do a little more work after dinner.

The bottom line: create a daily schedule and stick to it. Treat blogging as a real business.

2. Learn how to deal with discouragements and frustrations

When I see my traffic numbers start to rise, I feel so happy. It gives me energy to work harder. This is especially true when I see my Alexa rank increase.

However, there are times when the scenario is reversed. I get up in the morning excited to see how my site is doing, thinking, “Did it increase from last night’s Alexa rank?” But I’m disappointed if it didn’t. In fact, if the rank has decreased, I’ll feel sad and my energy levels will drop.

Another discouraging experience is seeing my subscribers leave. It´s fun to see them increase, but it´s never fun to see them decrease. If I’m not careful, I am really emotionally affected by these events. I keep asking myself, “What made them leave?”

What to do? I figure that it’s best to apply sportsmanship in this business, and not to take it too personally. Some people are happy to join your list but sometimes, for some reasons, they no longer need your service, so they have to go. It’s not always all about you so there’s no need to mourn for it.

However, if the percentage of decline is quite big, it makes me re-evaluate my site. Am I posting enough quality content in a day? Which content items are sending me most of the traffic and why do they perform better? What do my readers want to learn from me? And so on.

The bottom line: Don’t take discouragement too personally, and don’t let it affect you negatively. Use it to re-evaluate and improve your site.

3. Don’t succumb to burnout

Burnout is one of the most common enemies of full-time bloggers. There’s just too much to do! You become overwhelmed if you try to do everything at once. Not good! When you suffer from burnout, you no longer feel happy doing what you love. How can you avoid it?

I created a “To-do” list for my website and I order the items according to priorities and timeframes. I learned to set a target each day, each week, and each month. For example, guest posting here at ProBlogger is my “To-do” task this week, and I had to set time to write this post, inserting it in my everyday schedule. The “must-do” tasks are done right away, while those in the long-term list are done little by little each day.

If I don’t escape burnout and it strikes me, I find ways to unwind. For example, I focus my energy right now on my fashion blog. At times when sitting at my desk and seeing HTML makes me feel ill, I grab my camera, dress up, leave the house and do outfit pictorials. This allows me to take some fresh air and re-charge my energy. If I’m not into dressing up, I take my fashion magazines and do some reading instead.

The bottom line: create a “To-do“ list and learn to prioritize your tasks. If burnout strikes, find ways to refresh your mind. Do something that makes you happy other than blogging.

4. Be prepared to troubleshoot when technical problems hit your site

I have twice survived the horror of hacking and viruses—and I didn’t escape without trauma. There was one day when my then-fiancé (now husband) made a long-distance call from Germany to infrom me that something was wrong with my site. It didn’t display properly on his monitor, everything was in disarray, and there were some scripts that would flash on the screen before my messy website loaded. To my horror, my friends confirmed via Facebook that, indeed, they couldn’t access my website. But it was displaying all right in my monitor. No matter how I tried, it really worked just fine in my computer. I’d been hacked!

I immediately did a complete malware scan and started to troubleshoot. I got plenty of “Cannot modify header information” messages, which I was completely unprepared for. I was crying my eyes out because the solutions that I googled didn´t work. I spent two days hunting down the illegal scripts before I finally found their file location.

The next attack was through my Feedburner service, which was corrupted by a virus so that nobody could access it. This time, I spent a day troubleshooting before I was able to again locate and remove the illegal scripts.

Then one morning I received an email from my webserver host informing me that they did a cleanup of my FileZilla because they found some suspicious activities. They also informed me that they’re available 24 hours if I need help and that I could access them via chat.

How come I didn´t know that? Those days of troubleshooting could have been reduced to hours if I only used some help! Now I know better.

The bottom line: Full-time blogging isn’t just about writing, publishing, promoting and designing layouts; it’s also about troubleshooting. Therefore, be prepared to roll up your sleeves when virus attacks or other technical errors arise, but be certain to make use of the tools and help that are at your disposal.

5. Be inspired by big brands and sites, but don’t compare your blog to theirs

Commenting and visiting other blogs in your niche is one way of getting social and promoting your site. As you do it, you encounter blogs that are already big, with a wide following. It’s easy to get inspired and jealous at the same time. You tend to compare yourself and your site to theirs. However, remember that even big brands took time to bring their website to where it is now. Tell yourself that you, too, someday will become as big as them. Think big, get inspired, and work hard.

The bottom line: Learn from the leaders in your niche, and be inspired, but never compare yourself to them. Take your time.

6. Give yourself a pat on the back for every little achievement

Sitting in your own home office, alone, for the whole day is never easy. Much harder is to stay focused and committed to blogging all the time. It’s easy to miss the work community that you once had—the lunches with your office mates and the after-work shopping at the end of the month. You turned your back to those parts of life because you opted to carve your own territory on the Internet. That, by itself, is an achievement. Not everyone can do it, so reward yourself for that.

Also, before you close your laptop each day, think of both the little and big accomplishments you’ve made for the day and be thankful. Congratulate yourself. It helps in maintaining your faith.

The bottom line: It’s difficult to quantify how much you’ve done for the day. But your mind and self-esteem need to be fed every day. By appreciating yourself for all the little achievements you’ve made on your site, you are helping to maintain your drive.

Once you’ve survived the first three months, you have a better grip of full-time blogging and you know better how to set and follow a schedule. You’re more equipped to overcome discouragements as you blog your way to success.

How did you survive the first three months of full-time blogging? What stumbling blocks did you meet and how did you overcome them? What are your techniques for staying focused on achieving your goals?

Glee Josko teaches women how to be creative and joyful fashionistas through her blog, Creative Fashion. She also explores the ways to achieve happiness in extra-challenging marriages such as intercultural marriage at Offbeat Marriage.

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Comments

  1. Titis Kaifa says:

    Very usefull post for me as newbie :)
    Your post really easy to me to got the point.

    • Glee says:

      Thank you Titis. I´m sure you´ll get a grip of Pro blogging soon. Whenve you´re faced with the biggest stumbling blocks, just remembering the tips above and I´m ceratin you´ll beat them. :)

  2. Jemina S says:

    There is a lot to learn from this post. It makes me feel glad that I’m not the only one who is struggling with “Freedom” and other stuff. Thanks, Glee, for sharing your valuable insights and I hope to follow suit. Well done!!

    • Glee says:

      You´re right, Jemina, you´re not alone. Every Pro blogger goes on the same path and faces similar challenges. But it takes a lot of never-give-up attitude to succeed. Only those who brave the challenges achieve their goals.

  3. Daniel Roach says:

    This is one of the best posts on Problogger in a while. I’ll tell you now that every last one of these is spot on. I particularly liked number one :-) That was a rude awakening for me the day I realized I couldn’t play fast and loose with my schedule and still expect to get the results I wanted. But it’s a whole different feeling than waking up to go to work, that’s for sure. Now at least my schedule is dictated by how much time I want to spend with my fiance. Awesome post, Glee.

    • Glee says:

      Thank you so much Daniel for giving this post a thumbs up. :)

      #1 is indeed the most important. A solid schedule not only helps you maximize your time so that you can achieve more in a day, but it also dictates (as you´ve said) how much time you have to spend with your love ones.

      There was a time when my husband spoke to me about my schedule. He found that I was working too much in a day – 15 to 16 hours. He started to discuss his concerns, that I´m not getting a life. He´s also worried that we´re not getting enough time for us. Our talk was an awakening. That as much as I want to devote on my blogs, they´re not my everything. So I made a commitment that past 9pm, my laptop must be shut down, regardless of how much work is undone. It´s time for an offline life. :)

      • I agree. I don’t have a job right now and am working on my site. What I find is, the more time you give yourself, the less you get done. When you segment work to do (a little every day), I feel more productive and I sleep better….

        Great blog post, I enjoy that.

  4. CypherHackz says:

    When you become a full-time blogger, the way you play the game has changed. It is totally different from doing it part-time. Because you are now have a plenty of time to do research, read articles, visit others’ blog, do the write-up, and so on. But the most important thing is, keep focus, do your task consistently and follow your schedule. Good luck everyone!

    • Glee says:

      You´re right Cypher, the game changes when you become a full-time blogger. However, the moment I became full-time, it surprised me that I don´t really have that much time in a day as I used to think. Writing a lengthy and quality content takes time (research, photos and layout), visiting and commenting other blogs also eats my time, twitter and facebook are also time-consuming. If I´m not careful, my day ends without me nailing down the more important tasks. That is why prioritizing tasks and following a schedule is very important.

  5. LK Watts says:

    This is an inspirational post and I admire your honesty when you talk about the reality of blogging. Although I don’t blog full time because I’m a full time writer, I appreciate the points you make in your article. Self motivation and being organised is vital if you want to succeed.
    http://lkwattsconfessions.blogspot.com

    • Glee says:

      You´ve said it right, LK, self motivation and organization are the vital element in achieving your goals. I believe it also applies in other field of profession.

  6. Lucy says:

    If I didnt get ridiculously happy for figuring out what logo to use, each person I get to look at my site, or figuring out what a button in WP does then I would have stopped at day 1.

    Little victories!

    • Glee says:

      That´s right Lucy, knowing exactly what to do for your site with original ideas are little but essential victories. It´s important to be able to take pride of our work and to say that we have originality and uniqueness. Otherwise, we´re just contributing to the clutter.

  7. Josh Jones says:

    I couldn’t function without my todo list! I spend a good 30 min every day organizing and prioritizing it.

    When I run out of things todo for the day (which doesn’t happen often), I can always look in my “Someday” list and try one of those tasks.

    When it comes to preparing for the worst, I have a repeating todo entry: “Backup website” I even go so far as keeping every “version” just in case I screw up and have to go back.

    Great post! Thanks!

    • Glee says:

      I can´t agree more, Josh. Before I had created my “to-do” list, I use to spend my first 2 hours of the day figuring what to do and what articles to write. But the moment I organized my list from Monday-Sunday, with particular topics to discuss each day, things became smoother and I´ve saved so much time. I never ran out of what to do or what to write anymore.

  8. Monte says:

    Well Glee,

    “The good thing about full-time blogging is you don’t have a boss. And the bad thing about full-time blogging is you don’t have a boss.”

    Aww, but, I do have a boss, actually two … My Wife and the Bank account and I have to figure out a way to please both from day to day.

    You are right about staying focused, for me it isn’t missing the people I used work with/for but to keep from going off on a tangent that isn’t part of the web site and supporting blog (such as this post!).

    Having a technical web site like your fasion web site I need to do a lot of research when I write the articles, some is out of my small libary from when I went to college and the books I collected while ungainfully employed, other times it is on the web searching for the “correct” facts.

    After taking a short two day vaction I find getting back down to work a little harder than normal, usually after a few days/weeks away from my home office I can jump back in and really crank out those articles that I need, this time it is a little slower.

    Thanks for the tips and good luck with your blog!

    • Glee says:

      The wife and the bank are the most demanding boses for the bread winners. They could also be the “children” to some. But as I´ve read from the stories of the already big guys in this industry, a lot of them were pushed against the wall at the beginning of their career that they had no other choice but to work hard until there blogs take off, sacrificing sleep. Their stories really inspire me. And I´m sure it´s the same in your case. The pressure from your boss will keep your drive until you achieve success.

      And you´re right! A technical web site or a fashion web site requires more research than other topics or niche. You´ve got to be on the trend, with sufficient know-how on the subject. Research is another challenge that I face everyday. :)

  9. Mark Aylward says:

    Glee
    I couldn’t agree more about all 6 steps. Although they are all challenging, most of the frustration can be reduced or eliminated with tip #1. The hardest of them all!
    Thanks
    Mark

  10. Alan Tay says:

    I agree that first 3 months is pretty hard to survive especially when we first started to blog. Everything was new at that time. Even building backlinks, I always questioned myself whether am I doing the correct thing? It didn’t take me 3 months, but 6 months to make my site a little decent looking with some incomes. Basically I struggled for traffic in my first 3 months and things started to get better as I begin guest posting on a medium sized blog. A big one like Problogger might give a better impact, but I had not done any guest post on large site in the security niche.

    • Glee says:

      You´re lucky if you´re already able to monetize your site in 6 months. Other blogs take years.

      Guest posting on other blogs are really a great way of promoting your blog. This is the first time I ever guest posted, and I aimed at Problogger first because this is the site that inspired me the most to become a pro, along with “Clicknewz”, “Sugarrae”, “Simple Mom” and “the Mogul Mom”. :)

  11. Thank you! I’m not a full-time blogger (yet) but I can put your advice to good use now and establish some structure and discipline to the work of building my blog.

  12. Anabelle says:

    Little achievements are the best thing for me. I’m happy whenever I publish a post on my blog–I’m hoping to start guest blogging soon and that will be an even bigger achievement!

  13. Mags Sikora says:

    THANK YOU, Glee!I had a surgery last week and came back home a bit down. Firsty, checked Alexa rank on a few of my blogs and that made me even more depressed, but then I read this post and my mood started coming back to normal!:)

    • Glee says:

      Hello Mags, I hope you´re recovering quick from the surgery.

      The Alexa rank toolbar was installed in my cp because I found it very helpful in monitoring how my blog is doing and also to evalute my competitor blogs. However, I found that it´s more of a plight for me than a help since it makes me depress whenever I see my rank drop. It took me a while to come up with a solution which is actually simple – I removed my alexa toolbar and I stopped looking at my rank. I simply have to focus on working on my site. As long as I do my best, I don´t need Alexa to give me pressure and make me depress. Tell you what? It works. :)

  14. Daniel says:

    Nice thorough article, Glee.

    The majority of Bloggers who quit, do so in the first three months. Then again, many new Bloggers start up to fill in the gap.

    That’s before they are anywhere near being in the Pro-blogger Realm.

    You have covered most of the issues faced by Bloggers that can drive them up the wall, literally.

    Even part time Blogging can be draining. It can be a culmination of many factors needed in building up your blog, and keeping it maintained and fully functional, which changes your original intention of being a part time Blogger into a Full time Blogger(Pro).

    • Glee says:

      The first 3 months are the testing phase of pro blogging, indeed. Plenty of pro wannabes start up their blogs with great ideas and overwhelming inspirations, but only a handful survive the first few months.

      I was a part-time blogger for more than 2 years before I became a pro. It introduced me to the challenges and difficulties of blogging and it tested my stamina. Doing blogging part-time before doing it full-time can be helpful. Test the waters first.

  15. Boy, #5 is true isn’t it? It’s a trap I fall into more often than I’d like to admit! I wish the A-list bloggers were more transparent about the length of their journeys and where they were at for each milestone (releasing first products and the like). I bet we wouldn’t fall for this human weakness if we had a clearer view of the exact amount of time and effort it took to get to a certain point. Then we’d actually have something to follow!

    I know some bloggers do this, so I don’t intend to generalize about everyone. But great article. All good point to keep in mind!

    • Glee says:

      I´ve met some big bloggers who are really transparent about how long it took them to monetize their blog and (even) how much their initial price for say banner ads. Not everyone are as transparent but there are some who share. Information such as this is really helpful for us to understand how much endurance are needed before money starts pumping in.

  16. tom says:

    love the info about not comparing yourself to the others/big boys

  17. I really relate to celebrating small wins. When I was really struggling, I had a mantra, to give myself a big pat on the back if I get one facebook like, or share, one tweet, one comment, or one subscriber. You slowly build up and there comes a time when things start to take off. Till then, remembering to have fun and stay positive is the key. Thanks for your post, really enjoyed reading it. :)

    • Glee says:

      Thank you, Marya, I´m glad you enjoyed this post. Giving ourselves a pat is really impoartant. For me, I celebrate every subscriber that subscribes the most. They really make my day.

      I found that if I comment on other blogs, they also comment back. If I don´t, then my blog becomes quiet. This is the scenario if your blog is still new. And if I write really quality articles, then I get more subscribers. :)

  18. Janzell says:

    I like the part of giving reward to yourself. Giving your full time with work will make you dramatically exhausted and less productive. Great post…

  19. Alyssa says:

    Thank you so much for this post! :D Not only is it relevant to that which I’d like to aspire, but out of the guest bloggers I’ve seen on Problogger so far (I’m new, so I admit it’s not many), your blog is the one that I can relate to most easily, as well. :D

    • Glee says:

      I´ve been reading Problogger for 2 years now, and I haven´t met a guest writer here that´s also a fashion blogger. Thank you Alyssa.

  20. Jay says:

    Very educational and inspirational post. I have to agree, getting your butt in gear is one of the biggest obstacles as well as the technical issues. Sometimes you have to just move on and come back to it. Do something else. Unless of course it’s a virus or something of that nature which would surely have to be handled right away.

  21. Monja says:

    It’s hard to Stick to your schedule and accomplish Things, especially when First don’t See any result. But the Freedom is the Best reward! Great post!

  22. Ashley Glenn says:

    Great article and great tips. I’m just starting out myself and just completed my first full month so this was perfect timing and extremely helpful. I started out doing a to do list and I’ve always been good at that, but it is easy to get side tracked or loose focus if you’re not careful. I’ve also learned to celebrate every small victory and not get discouraged when comparing myself to larger sites. Thanks again for a great article, it’s almost as if it was written to me.

    • Glee says:

      I´m glad you found this article helpful, Ashley. I agree that you still need to be careful even if you already have the to-do list. Visiting other blogs, twitter and facebook are those that usually side track me. To avoid this, I only vomment on other blogs and sign in to twitter and fb after I have published my first article for the day. :)

  23. Rachel says:

    These are all really good tips. As a newbie blogger, I feel the exact same way and run into the same problems especially #2.

  24. Kalen Smith says:

    You definitely need a schedule. The thing is that I write for other blogs on a pay per post basis, then try to work on mine when I have the time. I might only have like two hours in the evening now. I would like to work on it more if it takes off. Frankly, between writing my own posts, guest blogging and other marketing, it is sometimes hard to do. Two hours is tight, but I try really hard to get everything in!

  25. Marco Perez says:

    Love to hear these tips. I’m starting out my self. We’re putting up 5 blogs a week on average…but I feel that we’re still doing this part time relative to a full time school and work schedule. What is that would qualify one for full time. No work?

  26. Ardorm says:

    Glee,

    Thank you for the post! It was really interesting to read what are the main problems of a pro-blogger; though now I want less to become one.

    I guess the problem is that you have to work alone and force yourself everyday to do it (like you said, without allowing yourself additional hours of sleep). I guess, it will be better if blog stays a hobby for me. :)

    • Glee says:

      Hello Ardorm, I say just keep blogging part-time and give yourself a year. Try to update your blog as soon as you can. The moment you see it grow, your perspective towards pro blogging will change. Because pro blogging is not for everyone, part-time blogging is also a great way to supplement your income.

  27. Robby G says:

    Never be embarrassed about your blog and try to get it out there as much as possible. Many people discouraged if they’re not getting the success they thought they’d get off the bat, but that’s where the quote by Jobs comes to mind: “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
    Cheers!

  28. Melvin says:

    This is great for new bloggers like me! Well actually I have passed the 3 month mark now and the main reason I think is that blogging for me is just a hobby which helps me with many things.

    This is very informative and a must-read for new bloggers. Thanks for pointing this things out!

    Cheers,
    Melvin

  29. James Greg says:

    I want to be a full time blogger and this post has illuminated the life of a full time blogger with reality. Its true that if I see the numbers decreasing I might get depressed, but its true, people are not here because of you, they are because of the quality and content you offer. This is sportsmanship and should never be taken personally.

    • Anees says:

      “people
      are not here because of you,
      they are because of the quality
      and content you offer.” That’s a great lesson James, though i find it hard not to be sad when i lose subscribers.

    • I agree with you. Good quality contents bring continuous visitors. If we create value on our blog, I am sure people will see the value and our blog will grow. :)

  30. Anees says:

    Awesome post. Scheduling everyday activities is the hardest problem i face. It’s almost impossible for me to leave my bed before 8 AM on holidays. And twitter and facebook distracts me when i’m in the process of drafting a blogpost. These days, i go offline to draft the post, and that really helps me finish drafting on time.

  31. I am aiming to become a full time blogger as well. Now, I started my new blog Earn Money From Blog 2.0 which is an upgraded version from my old blog. I hope my new blog will grow bigger faster and make me full time income from home. :)

  32. I started blogging as a hobby, then it made me some money, but I still kept treating it as a hobby, until a couple years ago when I decided to turn in into a business.

    So basically at first I survived because I enjoyed what I was doing and I still that, and that’s what keeps me going, knowing I can make money doing something I love and it’s flexible in terms of time that is needed and location I can work from.

    I do agree with all 6 of your points, as they are all valid, even once passed the first 3 months.

  33. Leo says:

    Glee, you’re an angel :). Reading this awesome post brings motivation to me. Salute.

  34. Vikas Bhatt says:

    I’m not a ProBlogger yet but I wanna be like Darren Rowse some day. Darren you’re a great inspiration for me.

  35. Thank you. Im currently juggling my job,college and blogging. Very nice, i can relate to that.

  36. Milos says:

    I have a long way ahead of me to become a full-time blogger, but it is very usefull to know what challenges I will face in the future. Very informative article. Thank you.

  37. Thanks for such an enthusiastic post. Full time blogging needs a lot of discipline indeed. I’m currently a part time blogger, going to become full time. The thing I hate love about full time blogging is that I don’t have a boss. I do stuff I like and earn income. If I don’t like something I can say NO. That’s all me.

    But then with all the comfort and “no one to question” state comes in laziness as well. When I don’t have a boss to push me to get a job done by deadline, it’s easy for me to postpone it for a long night sleep or for a day off. The margin is thin but very crucial!

    • I am now full time blogger. It is fun and a lot of discipline is needed to become very successful in blogging. It takes a lot of time and efforts to make our blog very successful. Passion in blogging and helping others are very important as well. :)

  38. Iza says:

    I am struggling with time both at work and photography hobby lately- I love your tip to make “To do” and “Must do” lists and just checking things off when i go through the day. I think it will help me to go from being overwhelmed at how much I need to get done to just take one item from the list at the time. Thanks!

  39. Calvin says:

    Nice post.i love it :)