Two years already!?
Back in July 2012, I needed a way to learn more about the web, marketing, social media and everything in between. So I started News To Live By and began my education.
Suddenly, it’s July 2014, which means the blog has turned two.
Time sure flies, but along the way I learned a few things.
Actually, make that 101 things.
I’m not kidding. I put together a list of everything the blog has taught me, and I reached 101 practical skills/life lessons. No, I don’t want a gold star or standing ovation. I only want you to see how a blog can take your skillset to a new level.
From WordPress to Google Analytics to legal stuff like forming an LLC, News To Live By has become a real-world master’s degree. One skill I didn’t learn from the blog? How to manipulate someone’s emotions in the name of data science. People at Facebook did that, and it backfired.
Why should you start a blog?
– To cultivate a topic or issue you’re passionate about
– To create a portfolio that will enhance your resume and job search
– To become smarter and more capable at the job you already have
The harder you work on yourself, the more opportunity comes your way. [TWEET]
Without further adieu…
101 Skills I Learned from Blogging
WordPress (blog platform) taught me how to…
1. Actually create a website from scratch (the first step is always the hardest)
2. Pick a domain and hosting provider
3. Write and publish articles
4. Organize and categorize my work
5. Use various plugins to customize the site
6. Optimize articles for search engines (Number 1!)
7. Tag articles with relevant keywords
8. Make (basic) alterations to the site code
9. Use links to make the content more interesting
10. Be entrepreneurial, roll the dice and make my own luck
Mailchimp (e-newsletter platform) taught me how to…
11. Create an e-newsletter from nothing
12. Grow an e-newsletter subscriber list…also from nothing
13. Use data analytics to fine-tune my email campaigns
14. Tailor an e-newsletter for viewing on mobile devices
15. Write strong email subject lines
My ebook taught me how to…
16. Stay disciplined enough to finish writing it
17. Design a snazzy cover so people notice it
18. Use an ebook book to encourage email subscribers
19. Publish and sell though Amazon (easier than I thought it would be)
20. Market myself in person
Google Analytics taught me how to…
21. Understand how traffic flows into (and out of) a website
22. Tweak my content based on what people like to read most
23. Research the organic keywords people use to find my site
24. See the links people click and the ones they don’t
25. Live with the fact that, when I started, I had like five views a day (mostly from my wife)
The daily grind of blogging taught me how to…
26. Stay committed to the project no matter what
27. Ensure every blog post has meaning and relevance
28. Stick to self-imposed deadlines
29. Always try to outdo myself with the next article
30. Be patient and enjoy watching something grow little by little
31. Push past the days when I think “What the hell am I doing with all this blogging?”
32. Find a way through a challenge even if it’s totally foreign to me
33. Accept that I will make mistakes…
34. …and be observant enough to fix them.
35. Realize if I’m passionate about the work, it’s not actually work
All the tweeting taught me how to…
36. Use the News To Live By Twitter handle as a powerful networking tool
37. Learn the Twitter “lingo” and keep up with savvy users
38. Understand what it means to “DM” someone
39. Use Tweepi to clean up my list and keep it growing
40. Stick with Twitter long enough to “get” why it’s so great
My Facebook fan page taught me how to…
41. Treat the News To Live By page differently than my profile page
42. Understand the “Insights” section and use the data to strengthen my content
43. Create fun memes (based on the news, of course)
44. Appreciate the 1,000-fan milestone (not easy to reach)
45. Recognize when it comes to posting, it’s quality over quantity
The legal stuff taught me how to…
46. Register a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office (took almost a year)
47. Create an LLC and incorporate the blog (Woo hoo! I’m a small business owner!)
48. Write an FTC disclosure statement
49. Obtain fair-use photos and give proper attribution (thanks, Flickr)
50. Legally protect myself and my investment (the blog) at every turn
My blogging niche (Millennials and careers) taught me how to…
51. Develop and nurture relationships with other people in the Gen Y career space
52. Focus on one topic and not be all things to all people
53. Offer advice that’s hands-on and useful
54. Highlight the great work of others as often as I can
55. Listen intently to the audience and deliver answers people need
All the writing taught me how to…
56. Find my voice
57. Become a shrewd editor
and be as brief as possible
58. Talk “with” the reader and not “at” the reader
59. Make my articles move quickly so you don’t become bored
60. Cut out useless words like “in order” and “that”
61. Write a list post even BuzzFeed would admire
62. Take negative commenters in stride
63. Set aside my feelings and use criticism to improve
64. Say a lot with a little
65. Become a more effective communicator (the most important job skill a young adult can have)
The busy work maintaining the blog taught me how to…
66. Rely on Hootsuite to schedule content ahead of time
67. Use TweetDeck to monitor various Twitter feeds at once
68. Take advantage of Click to Tweet to make quotable lines easy to share
69. Tap into Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to find interview subjects
70. Whenever I have a question, Google it
Online advertising taught me how to…
71. Dabble with affiliate marketing
72. Only promote or endorse a product I genuinely believe in
73. Not clutter a site with ads. If I don’t like tons of ads, why would you?
Being a newbie at blogging taught me how to…
74. Follow SEOMoz to learn how the Internet works
75. Admit there’s a lot I don’t know about the web and seek people with the knowledge
76. Read news columnists I respect and learn from them
77. Try to figure out a problem and, if I’m truly stuck, ask someone I respect
78. Choose WordPress.org over WordPress.com
79. Build an email subscriber list (took me seven months to figure that out)
80. Keep it simple, stupid.
Other skills and tools I picked up the past two years…
81. Writing and editing tips from Copyblogger
83. How to use Pinterest thanks to frequent posting on #MillennialScoop (I’m a guy…give me a break on coming late to Pinterest)
84. The ability to create a (decent enough) infographic
85. How to send mail-merge emails
86. Research keywords and phrases with Google AdWords
87. Manage an ad with Google AdSense
88. How to de-bug a link so it displays properly on Facebook
89. Set up a Paypal business account and use it to accept payments
90. Embed video into an e-newsletter campaign
91. Record “how-to” career videos and use them to deliver value back to the audience
92. Be part of a live webinar on career advice
93. Learn the power of a handwritten note (writing and receiving)
94. Wrap my head around Google+ (although it still confuses me a bit)
95. Create a survey with Google Forms and Survey Monkey
The biggest takeaways from two years of blogging…
96. There is no deadline or end-goal. I learn as I go and work on the website as best I can. What ultimately happens with News To Live By will be a direct result of how much effort I put in. Simple as that.
97. Everything about a blog is a slow grind, but the longer I hang around the more valuable it becomes.
98. I must give before I can get. Every. Single. Time.
99. A blog is a tremendous marketing tool. So much easier to show people what I can do rather than tell them.
100. News To Live By has allowed me to pursue my passion. And that’s so cool; to have a blank canvas to do what I love. What’s better than that?
101. In year three, I have a lot more to learn 🙂
One blog. 101 skills.
Imagine what you can learn from your OWN website.
If you have questions, ask ’em in the comments or contact me through the blog.
And if you’re ready to start blogging, go here.
Featured photo: West Midlands Police (Flickr)
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