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My blogging journey: Mistakes, and hard lessons

Blogging challenge

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported which means if you purchase an item on some of my links, I may earn a commission.

Being my first ever personal blog post, let me introduce myself. My name is Brian Abuga from Kenya. I was a freelance writer for some time before moving into small physical business ventures. Read more about me here.

Every business I started failed! Lol! That’s when I decided to take advantage of what I’m best at (writing) and started blogging. It has been a tough break but I’ve kept on grinding for quite a while now understanding the benefits that I’m likely to reap later on.

It can get lonely in this kind of work, so I thought why not put myself out there for awesome people like you to see my work and interact with me!

English is my second language. No! Actually my third language (after Ekegusii and Swahili). For this reason, please bear with any mistakes I may make along the way! But I bet I took my English lessons seriously enough not to mess it up too often!

Here’s my story from which I hope you’ll be able to learn something and apply it in whatever venture you’re or are planning to pursue.

How I started blogging

Whenever friends ask me when I started blogging, my answer is always along the lines of “just a few months ago”. I’ve always given this answer to avoid many questions and being discouraged about how blogging is “not a proper career path”.

I know! I know! I should be proud of what I’m doing and all… but it is what it is! I’m sticking to not sharing too much with everybody I meet unless it’s an awesome human like you reading this post right now!

Before things escalate into a rant let’s dive right into how I started this – as I’ve come to learn, difficult journey!

My high school years

My awesome journey actually began way back in 2008 in high school. I was in Form One (freshman year).

It all began with me doing a little bit of research on how to make money online. I’d heard of people working online from some local radio show that I can’t really remember at the moment.

Alliance High School students
That’s me with classmates in my final year of high school on the far left

However, there was one small problem. Internet! You see, back then, we had to go to an internet cafe to access the internet.

Even then, the internet was quite unreliable – simply checking your email was a major hassle!

The phone I was using back then was a Nokia 1100 (a hand-me-down from my dad).

Definitely no internet access on that one! So, the internet cafe was the only place I could go.

Back to my story. I remember it was a Saturday afternoon and I had just finished doing my laundry (did it by hand lol) in the school dormitories (hostel).

Yes, I was in a boarding school. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

I decided to take a walk to a nearby small town called Kikuyu to get my weekly dose of the internet, and hopefully dig around on how I could make money online – at least at some point in the future.

Once I got to the internet cafe – it was a small, dark, and sweaty room. Lol! I powered up the old beat-up PC and it roared into life.

I crossed my fingers hoping it wouldn’t take too long to boot up. I needed every minute I could get because I had to get back to school in less than two hours.

Hastily, I checked my email (I had several penpals/keyboard pals), schemed through Myspace and Facebook before I decided I’d fed my brain with enough dopamine rush for the week, and moved on to what had really brought me into the cafe.

On whatever search engine it was (AOL I think), I typed ‘how to make money online,’ and waited for the results to load up (which used to take several seconds thanks to the “ultra-fast internet speeds”).

I think that was the first time I saw the word ‘blogging’. I might have seen it before, but I never really thought about it!

I went back to the search engine and typed ‘what is a blog’ before searching ‘how to start a blog business’. Yes, I remember the exact words I used.

I read a couple of blog posts that I can not really remember now and even scribbled a few notes on a piece of paper that I’d borrowed from the internet cafe guy.

Take note of the little note I scribbled (pun definitely intended) ‘cause I wouldn’t have followed my current career path if it wasn’t for it.

However, I happened to forget all about it once I got back to school.

Forgetting about the little note meant I forgot about everything I’d researched for the rest of the remaining years in high school!

It wasn’t until six years later that I finally revisited the blogging thing!

My college years

Academics wasn’t my strong point in high school but I managed to scrape through and get into the university where I pursued a Bachelor of Science Degree.

In my second year (sophomore) – that’s in 2014, I was reading some graphic novel called Maus by Art Spiegelman, which, I’m almost certain you’ve come across.

Maus by Art Spiegelman
This book was a gift from a special friend a few years back. Shout out to you Mariah!

As I was reading, something fell off from the middle of the book. It was a tiny piece of folded-up paper and guess what it was?

The little note I’d scribbled six years back in high school!

This turn of events reignited my interest in blogging. Fortunately, internet access wasn’t really a problem this time.

I did some digging around and ended up finding out more than I did six years earlier.

As usual, I jotted down something that I could use as a reference if I ever decided to start out on the writing journey.

Here’s the piece of paper that I used on that day;

Brian Abuga
The little note with the basics of blogging

I understand my handwriting leaves a lot to be desired but bear with me :). School wasn’t my thing.

Unfortunately, I lost the older piece of paper from my high school years – I would have also shared it with you.

This time, I took action almost instantly and signed up for a Blogger account.

I really had no idea what I’d want to write about for a while – but I eventually came up with what I thought was an awesome idea at the time.

It wasn’t the best idea but I think it would have worked out well if I had the knowledge I have now.

My first ever blog post

I didn’t have a PC at the time, so I had to rely on friends (I’m not complaining by the way). The niche I’d decided to pursue was music, specifically Rock music.

My first post was a review of a band called Breaking Benjamin (if you’re a fan let me know in the comments section).

In about a month, I’d written ten blog posts. Not to brag, but I think they were pretty good. I wish I could show them to you but I can’t :(.

You’ll find out why in the next few sentences.

As much as I had a rough idea of search engine optimization and all, I didn’t really fancy doing it. I just wrote my thoughts as they came.

In hindsight, my strategy wasn’t all bad – but something else was bad. I was too shy at the time to even use my real name as the writer of those articles.

Even worse, I couldn’t share them with friends, afraid of what their reactions would be!

Factor all these fears alongside the impatience that comes with wanting to see traffic as soon as possible – I was doomed to fail sooner or later.

And I did fail. It had been just over a month and I decided to delete the entire blog (it was a free blog in case you’re wondering).

I never saw myself getting into blogging ever again. But here I am! So what happened between then and now?

The second attempt at blogging

From 2014, fast forward to 2019. I was done with school and started doing some freelancing writing gigs for a couple of years.

I worked on almost every topic you could think of – news, celebrity gossip, tech, sports, gardening… you mention it!

Freelancing entailed lots of sleepless nights and working every day of the week! It was exhausting but it was a good learning experience for what I’m doing now.

It was at this point that I felt I needed to find an avenue of generating passive income.

Blogging was definitely on top of my list of ventures I could start working on.

Armed with the experience as a freelance writer, I believed it was the perfect time to forge my own path in the blogosphere (is that even a real word?).

From the bloggers/clients I had worked with, I understood it would take time before I started seeing any results.

I already had a niche in mind (tech) so I immediately started thinking of a domain name.

Here’s the name that I finally settled on – lazygenie.com. I know, it’s quite a strange name. I’ve no idea what I was thinking! I’d randomly picked two words and stuck them together!

After purchasing the weird Frankenstein of a name and hosting from Bluehost – it was now time to do some topic research, and keyword research before writing my first blog posts.

For the record, I later changed the domain name to techavator.com as it is at the moment.

To be honest, my first few days, weeks, and months of blogging were no bed of roses! Here’s why.

The 11 challenges I faced building my first niche blog

  • Writing as a freelancer is one thing, but writing for yourself after research and having no instant monetary return was one hell of a reality check I had to swallow.
  • I’d heard of writer’s block being thrown around by the blogs I follow, but I’d never really experienced it in my freelancing days.
    I guess having to come up with an idea from scratch really drains you mentally without you realizing it.
  • I didn’t see a single visitor on my site for 7 months! Real talk? I gave up six months in and only decided to push on after seeing that first visitor. I basically started working on the blog in 2020 during the CoVID-19 pandemic.
  • Still, I also didn’t really work hard enough on the blog (I’m still yet to hit the 100 post milestone at the time of this writing in late 2021). Subconsciously, I’m still not confident with this work even though traffic is slowly but steadily growing by the day.
  • Working on a niche blog really narrows you down to a small selection of content that can be boring and difficult to work on for extended periods.
  • I made things worse by starting a second niche blog – purely for affiliate promotion of a certain product. It has also been quite draining because it is on a topic that I have to learn on the fly.
    Don’t make this mistake if you’re yet to start blogging. I’m also of the opinion that niche blogs are overrated. I’ll write about why I think so later on. Join my email list to stay updated!
  • Blogging is a lonely job. I spent and still spend up to weeks without interacting with anyone in the real world!
    Socializing is part of human nature and I’m working on finding the perfect balance between working indoors and creating some time to go out and meet people.
  • I’m yet to earn any significant income from blogging. I know I’ll get there at some point but it’s been hard for me to continue grinding without any instant financial reward and the risk of failing is still not out of the picture.
    I’m human after all and I need the money as soon as I can get it.
  • Insufficient support from those around me. I don’t know about you but where I come from, people are still skeptical about building a full-time career online.
    For this reason, getting anyone on board with the idea of working together to build any form of online business is a tough break.
    I have to accept this reality and keep pushing it alone. Outsourcing my articles is an option but it needs money that is not readily available at the moment (a clever way of admitting I’m poor).
  • Wasting time on aspects of blogging that don’t really matter. In the first few months, I found myself wasting precious hours every other day tweaking the aesthetics of my sites.
    Precious time I would’ve rather spent writing quality content, which is what the audience really cares about.
  • Laziness and procrastination. My initial plan was to post at least once per day. This plan was easier said than done!
    I still struggle with consistent writing even as I’m writing this post :(. If you’ve had or still have this experience, please share it in the comments section below.

These challenges are just the major ones I could think of on the fly. For those of you trying to pursue blogging, let me know if you can relate to any of them.

Imma keep on grinding though! The growth I’ve seen over the recent months is just the right motivation I need to keep going.

Do I have any regrets about my blogging journey?

Of course yes! Remember that rock band blog I purged back in 2014? That’s my biggest regret so far!

Thinking about it, it wouldn’t have cost me anything to leave it up and running even without posting more content!

It might have gathered thousands of hits by now if not hundreds of thousands!

Why do I sound so certain you may wonder? I’m not a narcissist but from the little I can remember, the 12 posts I’d written were quite good and an in-depth analysis of popular rock bands and the music genre!

My other regret is starting a second niche blog while I was still struggling with the first. I’ve always found myself stretched too thin trying to service the two blogs.

And remember, niche blogs require tons of research so it would take quite a while before I could churn out any posts.

To deal with this problem, I’ve decided to take a short break from my niche blogs. What would I be doing during this break? Writing more regarding my little but valuable experiences in this industry so that you may hopefully learn something from it.

“An error doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to correct it.”

Orlando Aloysius Battista

Afterward, I’ll set up a clear plan on how to balance the three blogs. The good thing is that it will be easier to write on this one since it doesn’t require any research but noting down what I’ve been going through.

The way forward in this new blogging direction I’m taking?

I intend to share almost everything from the past, present, and future in my blogging journey. For this blog, I intend to keep you posted on the monthly traffic numbers if more people pay visits.

If I ever manage to rack in my first dollar, I might consider doing income reports. The keyword is might. I’ll make a decision if the time comes.

Any lessons that I may pick up along the way will also be part of the content I’ll be delivering to my esteemed readers. I’m currently studying and exploring Pinterest as a traffic generation tool. I’ll update you on how it works out in the next few weeks.

This post is one of the longest I’ve written in a while and I hope it gives you some insight especially if you’re an aspiring blogger.

I’m no expert – I’m also learning the ups and downs of the trade with every passing minute so feel free to share any tips you may have with me.

If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or just want to say hi – feel free to hit me up in the comments section.

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Comments

  1. I can relate with so much here.. Atleast for me i didn’t delete anything lol.. But my blogging idea started in a psv traveling from Nyeri. Needless to say i have failed in being consistent.. I’ll definitely use your tips here to help me better my writing.
    Thanks Abuga

    1. Hi Yvonne,

      I’m glad you can take something home from this post.

      While travelling you say? That’s poetic since this is a journey. I hope you get to your desired destination!

    1. Hi Ahmed,

      I’m happy that you find my blogging experience inspiring. I’ll keep on pushing it and hopefully inspire more people when I achieve a significant level of success.

  2. Thanks you have made me to go back to what I thought was not a good idea now I know I can do it no matter the time all I need is patience

  3. That was one good piece of content. It clearly sounds it came from the heart!Your journey has been quite some journey.Truth be told, not many people believe that one can make a career online. If anything they believe a 9-5 is way better but I don’t really know how that quite well sits with me . I believe one can make a career out of blogging. It may take years but it’s worth the work and wait.Nothing feels better that sharing a voice with a huge audience that actually believes in your work. It will all work out eventually.

    1. I totally agree on the 9-5 thing Pauline. The sense of security such jobs bring comes at a cost. Getting into the comfort zone and never thinking out of the box.

      As such, growth is never achieved and people get stuck at being average at best!

      Yes. It’ll take time, but the potential returns will be worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tear!

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