4 Lessons I’ve Learned About My Blogging Journey

Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you. I only promote products that I use and have benefitted from.

It is overwhelming. The shear volume of information available about blogging could fill an entire library by itself. I would describe it as a tsunami but that word may not be a big enough metaphor.

Wave

If you are thinking about starting a blog you should do it. Anyone can do it. You can do it. I believe that wholeheartedly. Like achieving most things of value, a successful blog requires lots of time and hard work. And, as this blogger is finding out, lots of learning.

In the past month I have spent over 40 hours just learning about blogging.

Four items stick out in my mind from the last few weeks. I wanted to share them with you today.

1.      Blogging About Blogging is Not for Me

While I am very interested in sharing my journey as a blogger, I have decided I do not want this to become a blog about blogging. This may be a crazy idea as there seems to be a lot of money in blogging about blogging. My passion doesn’t spring from writing about blogging. If I let blogging become my niche, I fear I would quickly run out of enthusiasm.

Fiction writing is my true passion. Second to writing is reading. I love books. I mean I really love books. I have more book cases in my home than all the other furniture combined. And still some books are piled in corners around the house.

Great writing and reading are the identity I want for my blog. My intention is to hold true to that vision.

Book Pile

This does not mean that I am going to end the Tale of a New Blogger series. I enjoy writing that post once a month. It gives me a chance to take stock of my progress and to renew my enthusiasm about my blog in general. Look for that series to continue.

2.      SEO Requires Real Effort

The letters SEO meant very little to me just four months ago. I knew they stood for Search Engine Optimization but little more than that. One of my projects for February is to learn more about SEO and to update my existing and future posts accordingly.

But WOW. You won’t believe how much there is to know about SEO.

First of all, there are some 200 rating factors Google uses in SEO. 200! I had no idea. As I read through the list, I knew about five of them.

You can read the complete list on Backlinko’s website by clicking this line.

Just reading the complete list took considerable time. Brian Dean does an excellent job listing all 200. He gives a brief description of each item making it easier to understand all the rating factors.

Learning

The good news is that now I can honestly say I understand SEO.

Well, sort of.

The time and effort comes in with using SEO correctly. The best way to increase your SEO results is to do research before you write your post. That will take some time, especially when you are first starting out like I am. This is an item I will come back to in future posts when I am better qualified to offer advice on the subject.

Another great SEO resource is Gundi Gabrielle’s The Sassy Way to Ranking #1 in Google – when you have NO CLUE!: A Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization. This is book 6 in her blogging series. I have read four of the books, including this one, and they are full of valuable information. If you have Kindle Unlimited you can read them all for FREE.

3.    Social Media Takes Time

Yeah, yeah, we all know that. Who of us hasn’t wasted an entire evening catching up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Trying to grow a blog following on social media is even more time consuming.

I am thrilled with my results so far. I have grown a considerable number of followers in just a few months. That said, trying to keep up with commenting, pinning, liking, sharing, etc. is more than a bit daunting. It can easily take up the whole day.

Ana from The She Approach just released a great new FREE 5-day affiliate marketing course. If you are looking to monetize your blog, this is the advice you need. I’ve learned so much from her that I have to recommend it to others.

Enroll for Free Now

Setting up time limits seems to be helping me keep social media under control. If I know I only have an hour, I don’t spend a lot of time writing lengthy replies or looking at kitten videos. Yes, baby animals are my weakness.

4.    Writers Need to Write

This blog has taken up the bulk of my time for the last two months. I am not complaining. I love writing blog posts. And I love learning new things so learning about blogging is a fascinating adventure. But I don’t want my fiction writing to ever be sacrificed for the success of my blog.

I love to write. I NEED to write. That is the number one priority.

I haven’t really given a writing update for a while. I am currently working on two novels. Plans are also rolling around in my head to write a non-fiction book on mental health experiences. And I want to turn my I’ve Learned series into a Kindle book.

My goal is to publish all four books this year.

This year? I know that sounds crazy, but we’ve already established that I am crazy.

Bear with me a moment. I have the circumstances right now to write nearly full-time. Some of my time is going to freelance gigs. It probably doesn’t have to be, but part of my brain is panicking about no money coming in. But the majority of my time is free for writing.

Writing

Since that is the case, there is no excuse for me not writing.

I was disappointed to realize last week that I had not worked on my primary WIP since January. For over two weeks I had not even opened the file. The books I am planning will never get written at that rate.

Toward the end of last week, I set out to rectify that problem. On Friday I decided to write before I did anything else. I wrote for less than two hours but knocked out almost 3,000 words! I am ecstatic about that.

It proves to me that my true love doesn’t need to be neglected for the success of my blog.

To give myself some accountability, I will share my goal. I intend to have the first draft of my sci-fi adventure completed by the end of March. In future posts I will comment more on that writing journey.

What lessons have you learned recently? Please share your comments below.

5 Star Review

Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services, LLC. Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission, at no extra cost for you. I only promote products that I use and have benefitted from.

Review

Today is going to be a great day. I received this wonderful review this morning in my inbox. This wonderful review was posted on Good Reads and Amazon.

Goodreads

Read the complete review by clicking the picture above or this line.

I want to note that this is an unpaid review. I submitted my book for free to Lexis Infinitum PR. Thank you so much to Lexis Infinitum PR and to Jessica!

Interview

Cathy from What Cathy Read Next published this author interview this week. I am having an excellent week.

Via Q&A: Getting Home by Wolfe Butler

Book cover

Author Notes

I talk a little more about the writing process for Getting Home in this blog post:

Getting Home – a Retrospective

Repost: Q&A: Getting Home by Wolfe Butler

via Q&A: Getting Home by Wolfe Butler

Author Alter Egos and the Future of Scribbles

Today’s Writer Wednesday is highlighting this post by J. A. Allen about some of the struggles we face as writers and bloggers. With humor and feeling, she details some of the obstacles we are confronted with and the negative emotions that go along with them.

via Author Alter Egos and the Future of Scribbles

Why You Should Always Say, “I Love You”

Why You Should Always Say, “I Love You”

For years I have scribbled short notes to myself regarding life lessons learned along the way. I have a box that is full of those notes. They are the reminders that even in the worst times there are important lessons to be learned.

Many people have the luxury of spending their childhoods and young adult years not thinking about losing people. They imagine that the people in their lives will always be there.

Personally, I only remember one funeral before I was thirteen. I’m sure that I lost other people I knew before that time, but death was not a real concept.

At thirteen, I lost my grandmother, my favorite person in the world.

Death became very real and my luxury of ignorance was forever taken away.

It is one of the hardest lessons for you to learn. That’s why it is so important to tell your loved ones every day what they mean to you.

 

Lesson 8

Tragic Tuesday

It was a Tuesday when I lost my beloved wife, Laramie.

She was out running errands and had called to see if I had any special requests for dinner. We had talked for a few minutes, mostly about a friend of ours that was again doing something stupid with his life.

I was busy, so I tried to keep the call brief. We were going to talk more that night. Tuesday night was our date night, and we looked forward to spending that time together.

It was only 45 minutes later when I got the call that forever changed my life.

Actually, it was the second call.

The first one I did not answer because I was busy and felt the friend calling would not have anything important to say.

When the same friend called again less than five minutes later, I knew I had to pick up. My gut told me something was terribly wrong.

The tone in my friend’s voice only reaffirmed my sense of dread.

Dark clouds

Life Forever Changed

My friend didn’t tell me what had happened. She only asked that I come to her house as soon as possible.

I was out the door before we even ended the call.

In my heart I already knew what I was going to hear, but I prayed fervently on the short drive that I would be wrong.

I wasn’t.

An inattentive driver had crossed the center line on the highway, and my dear Laramie was gone in an instant.

I don’t remember much of the next few days. I planned a funeral, picked out a casket and welcomed hundreds of her friends to the funeral.

Once the rush of activity was over, I started reliving the last days of her life. I mediated on the conversations we had, the text messages we sent and the quiet moments we shared. I tried to remember every breath, every word, every expression that had passed between us.

Try as I could, I did not remember the last time I told her I loved her.

Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you.


Missing Piece

That missing piece is probably the most painful. Part of me knows that Laramie felt how much I loved her. She knew me better than I know myself.

We often joked that we shared a brain. Most of our conversations only had half sentences because we generally knew what the other was thinking and going to say.

However, another part of my heart scolds me daily for not having told her more often how much I love her. I never imagined that last conversation would be our last.

I do remember clearly that I did not say, “I love you,” before I hung up.

Months of Tragedy

In the next 18 months, I lost fourteen more friends, seven of them dying in horrifying accidents. It got to the point that I was so numb that I could not cry anymore. In an attempt at levity, I commented to a friend at one of the latter funerals that I had worn out my black suit. It was a devastating period, but it reaffirmed this important life lesson.

Man on bench sad

With each new loss, I struggled with remembering the last time I had expressed affection to my friend. When had we last talked? When had we last spent time together? When did I last let them know that I cared about them?

Too many times I have found that I cannot remember. That is a terrible burden that I will carry the rest of my life.

In time, I gained some relief about Laramie. Some closure came from sorting through the items she left behind.

It was quite some time after I lost her before I felt I could invade her privacy in that way.

One of the things she had kept was a card I had given to her years earlier. She had been going through a difficult time emotionally because a dear friend had let her down terribly.

In the card I wrote, “You might be only one person in the world, but to one person, you are the world. I know who that person is.”

I didn’t even sign the card, but it meant enough to her that she had placed it in her special box of keepsake treasures. After crying new tears at this find, I placed it gently back in the box where it remains to this day.

 

Purple white flowers

 

Lesson Learned

Think about the loved ones in your life: husbands, wives, children, parents, grandparents, and close friends.

When is the last time you told them just how much they mean to you?

How long has it been since you last told them how special they are? how much you love them?

When did you last hug them? kiss them? hold their hand?

Can you remember the last time?

If you can’t, today is the day you need to start telling them. And don’t ever stop.

Read Lesson 4: …to be surrounded with the positive

To my blog friends, who is someone that you lost before you could tell them how much you loved them?

Although painful, this is a great writing exercise. That raw emotion can later fuel a character in your writing. If you decide to create a post to answer that question, please come back and let us know.

Until next time…

For more life lessons learned, be sure to Click Here to read the rest of the I’ve Learned series.

By the Quiver by Jeremiah Trent

This is one of my favorite poems from this week.

via By the Quiver

My mistake by Bright Red Pen

via My mistake

37 Quotes to ReFloat Your Motivational Boat

This blog of motivational quotes was exactly what I needed last week when I stumbled upon them. Enjoy!

https://wp.me/p7sOCg-1rD

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 2

Tale of a New Blogger – Part 2

In a continuing effort to share my true blogger experience, Part 2 of this series looks at my blog 60 days into the process.

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Calendar

It is unbelievable that another whole month has already gone by. I started this blog in November 2017, thinking I had a good grasp on what owning a blog would be like, only to be quickly shaken to the core with the reality that I did not know anything. Not. A. Thing.

Still, I am having a blast and truly enjoying my blogger experience.

More than once in the last few weeks I have been overwhelmed by the ocean of information available about promoting and monetizing a blog. The latter had not been my original intention. I am quickly learning that I will not be able to concentrate on my blog and other writing like I want if I am also having to concern myself with making an income.

Writing will have to become my income source, as it should be, because that has always been my dream.

Disclaimer: Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you.


Actual Numbers

As I stated last month, I think it is important to post actual numbers. Most bloggers only start sharing their blogger experience and stats when they are making $500 or more per month.

For many of those blogs, they were six months to two years into their journey before they saw that monthly income. What happened during their earlier months? That is what I am most interested in learning right now and what I plan to share.

Maybe I am doing everything wrong, but I am making progress, and that makes me very excited.

500 Page Views!

Let me start with my blog. Total page views for January 2018 were 612, up from 210 in December 2017. That is a 290% increase! That number will not create, and did not create, any substantial income, but it is an excellent step in the right direction. Total visitors grew at almost the same percentage going from 88 to 260.

My very first blog goal was to hit 500 page views in a month. I am ecstatic to have reached that goal in my third month. My next goal is 5000.

01 2018 Blog Stats

About 70% of my blog traffic is coming from social media.

Promoting yourself on social media takes A LOT of time, or at least it has for me. I started this blog with no real social media background.

In fact, I did not even have Twitter or Facebook accounts before November of last year.

Everything is brand new, and while I am happy with my progress, I still have much to learn.

Read Part 1 of Tale of a New Blogger here.

In the beginning weeks I spent most of my time on Twitter. What excites me most about my Twitter followers is that the majority of my followers are writers and bloggers. They have been a tremendous source of inspiration and encouragement.

Pinterest is a bit of a different animal, and I am struggling some figuring it out. I am optimistic, though, because even with only six followers, I had over 1000 views and a 10% engagement ratio. My engagement ratio on Twitter tends to hover about 2%.

01 2018 SM Stats

Invest in Your Blog

Investing in yourself is one of the most important things you need to do as part of you blogger experience.

In the past 90 days, I have visited hundreds of blogs and read dozens of ebooks trying to set up best practices that work for me.

One of the items I enjoyed the most in January was a live cast by Ana Savuica, owner of The She Approach.

Ana was incredibly engaging and motivating in her presentation, so much so that I purchased her bundle at the end of the presentation. I cannot recommend it enough.

Ana’s ebooks are well written and full of important and relevant information for growing and monetizing a blog and improving your blogger experience. She has an abundance of valuable free information in all her blog posts.

If you have not already visited her blog, I encourage you to do so today. I am thrilled with what I am learning from her. Click the picture to learn more.

Bundle OFFICIAL POSTER

For February, I am starting something new. One of my biggest struggles has been with time management and trying to schedule how much time should be spent on which activities. I don’t know how much time I have been spending on each task and that is important to know what needs to change.

To help myself focus, I have downloaded a time tracking app on my phone. When I am writing my March post, I will be able to look back and see how much time I have invested into my blog and growing my social media base.

I am tracking things like writing and formatting posts, time spent learning about blogging, and time spent interacting on social media.

Show Me The Money

I have saved the monetary details for last. If you are thinking you can start a blog and quit your traditional job tomorrow, you need to reconsider. While there are some who had quick and substantial success, for most bloggers it is a process of at least six months before they see any real income from their blogs. As you can see from the graphic below, I am going to fall in that category. Still, my blog produced some earnings for January and that is empowering.

01 2018 Earnings Stats

 

It is encouraging to me that you have chosen to come along with me on my blog journey. If you haven’t already, please take the time to connect with me on social media.

I am posting my links below and will be happy to friend or follow you back. I would also love to hear your feedback. Are there questions you would like me to cover next month? Please leave comments below or send me an email through the contact link.

Be sure to take a minute to go visit Ana Savuica’s site, The She Approach. You will find an abundance of great blogger resources to help you improve your blogger experience.

Also, be sure to check out my newly designed Resource Page with essential tools for blogging, being an indie author, and posting on social media.

Until next time…

Connect with Me on Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wolfe_butler

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wolfebutlerauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/butler.wolfe/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/wolfebutler/

Please share this post.

What I Learned From the Cider House Rules

Wolfe Butler is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

This post contains affiliate links. Any purchase made through such links will award me a small commission (or referral fee), at no extra cost for you

Lesson 7

The Cider House Rules

Tobey Maguire as Homer Wells from The Cider House Rules often comes to visit me in my mind. It has been nearly twenty years since the movie was released, and almost that long since I last saw it. Yet, it lives with me every day.

With its unexpected and often dark storyline, it reaffirmed in my mind a life lesson that I guess I had always known but did not fully resonate with me until I saw the movie. Even when every intention plans to go one direction, sometimes the journey itself chooses a different direction.

The movie, based on John Irving’s book of the same name, first published in 1985, tells the story of Dr. Wilbur Larch, obstetrician, founder and director of an orphanage is rural Maine. The story takes place in the first half of the twentieth century.

Homer Wells is Dr. Larch’s favorite orphan and is never adopted. Homer becomes the doctor’s apprentice and has big dreams of leaving the orphanage and having a life of his own.

Life, it seems, has other plans for him.

Repeatedly throughout the story, Homer makes plans to pursue his goals, but each time, through the people in his life, he is taught that he is already on the path that has chosen him.

My Journey

My life has not turned out anything like the life I had planned as a child and teenager. I used to tell everyone that I was going to be a writer, living in a small cabin in the mountains of Colorado.

Now, with 50 knocking loudly at the door, I find myself in rural Tennessee, never having been to Colorado, but finally living in my cabin in the woods. However, I am only just now really starting on my writer journey.

Plans change. A common quote on the internet is from John Lennon’s Beautiful Boy, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

How true that is. My life is nowhere close to the life I imagined I would have, or even set out to have, as a young man. I live more than 1300 miles from where I had intended to live. Instead of doting on grandchildren, or even children of my own, I live alone in the quiet mountains of Tennessee. I have spent the last twenty years working in the financial services industry when I had hoped to be writing full-time the entire time.

Snowy trees

Different Isn’t Always Bad

I grew up in the Great White North, as many of us from there refer to the upper Midwest. One unexpected vacation to Tennessee, with its notably smaller mountains but with warm weather and southern hospitality, and I was sold.

Someday I will make it to Colorado, but it is often too cold there. This winter, I am finding Tennessee too cold, and I am daydreaming of living on the white sand beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. That is my next dream. I have not made it there permanently, but I do make a point of visiting often.

12 Awesome Motivational Quotes You Should Know

Looking back, had I made it to Colorado, and especially in my early twenties as I had intended to, I would have lived a very different life. That life may have been better or worse, I can’t say. What I do know is that I would have missed the journey and all the experiences of the past 20 years. Those experiences turned into precious memories that I would not want to be without.

Had I never come to Tennessee, I never would have met the love of my life. Meeting her and her family brought me so many unexpected and wonderful life experiences. They are the ones that first introduced me to the white sand beaches I so dearly love, and the ocean itself for that matter. Through them, I developed an intense love for the sea that will never end.

Those journeys and experiences shaped the person I am today, and that is a person I am proud to be.

Twitter banner 2

 

Loss is Part of the Journey

I lost my dear Laramie several years ago. It is a raw and aching pain that I know will never fully go away. Losing her, I felt like half of me died as well. I’m reminiscent to a stroke survivor that has to learn to live without the use of half of my body.

Sad as that is, I would not trade one second of this pain, because that would have mean that I never would have met Laramie. To share in her ever optimistic and deeply empathetic view of the world, for even a short time, is a gift that makes every bit of pain now worth it.

She truly made me a better person, and her influence lives on through those of us that loved her.

Regarding my career choices, yes, I am well behind where I wanted to be in my writing career. In November 2017 I self-published my debut novel, Getting Home. It is a book I could not have written without the experiences of the past twenty years.

Working in financial services for so many years introduced me to an abundance of colorful and unique individuals, many of whom I have stolen traits from to create the characters in my writing. Not to mention it allowed me the opportunity to have a little savings so that in this chapter of my life I can concentrate on writing more than working.

Notebook Coffee

What’s Your Journey?

My dear readers, I would love to hear your stories. What dreams did you have? What life chose you? Please leave your comments, or if you are further inclined, use these questions as a writing prompt on your own blog. Send me a link when your post is published, and I will post that link on this page.

To close today, I will refer to my favorite quote from The Bridges of Madison County, by Robert James Waller, “The old dreams were good dreams; they didn’t work out, but glad I had them.”

Until next time…

Fiction, Poetry, and Life Lessons Learned for Bloggers and Writers

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