Lessons Learned From My 6-Week Blogging Challenge FAQs

If you joined us for our “Lessons Learned From My 6-Week Blogging Challenge” we talked all about Merilee’s journey to reviving her passion project. Merilee Benson is a Senior UX Designer at Bluehost and the creator of The Awkward Years Project. This amazing project was created in 2013 and sought to promote self-love and combat bullying by encouraging people to embrace their most awkward years. The Awkward Years Project quickly became a viral sensation that was featured on The Doctors, Yahoo!, The Huffington Post, and more!

Merilee dedicated the past 6-weeks to reigniting The Awkward Years Project by updating her website, creating new designs, and installing WordPress plugins. She shared her journey through video blogs on her Instagram where she discussed her experience and her tips for success. During the webinar, she walked users through what she learned each week and how she overcame her obstacles.

In case you were unable to catch the webinar live, we compiled some of the most popular questions attendees asked during the duration of the webinar. If you have any additional questions, please let us know in the comments below!


How often do you recommend posting a blog?

I try to post as often as I can. In an ideal world, I would post daily so I can gain more traction and engagement which is also better for building a community. If you can’t post daily, I recommend building a schedule that you can commit to whether that’s a few times a week or specific days to keep yourself accountable.

Whenever you receive submissions, do you schedule them to be published in advance or do you post them as you receive them?

I usually post as I receive. I’ve been able to manage the submissions and post them in a timely manner which has been helpful for keeping my content fresh.

How do you manage the editorial workload of reading, responding, and choosing your submissions?

I’ve had people either email me or use the submission form on my website. If I have any questions I’ll reach out to them beforehand to get more insight or follow-up on the story they shared. I fully enjoy all the submissions that come my way and always try to be helpful if they have additional questions or comments about the project.

How do you recommend building an email list?

Mailing lists are SUPER important to maintain a community of loyal readers. The Constant Contact and Sumo plugins are great options that you can install in WordPress.

Do you have any recommendations for finding graphics, photos, illustrations?

There are tons of awesome resources out there, a few I can recommend are Canva, Pablo, Pexels, and Unsplash.

How do you measure the response to your website? (Analytics? Daily? Weekly?)

Jetpack and Google Analytics are the most popular plugins people use to measure the response on their website. These plugins can show advanced site stats and analytics for measuring the performance of how people are engaging with your content.

Do you suggest having a separate social media account for your blog from your personal social media?

I have a personal account and decided to create a separate account for The Awkward Years Project. I do have the account tagged in my personal Instagram bio so I can drive people to the other Instagram page. Whenever I get a new submission I do include a link to that story in my bio.

If you could start The Awkward Years Project Today, what would you do differently?

I definitely would have started differently by creating a web presence first. I would have created my WordPress site first and made it mobile-friendly from the very beginning. I would have gotten SEO & analytics in place so I could measure my success and implemented monetization methods to generate revenue.

Social media has become a vital marketing asset for a blog and I would have created a separate Instagram account specifically for The Awkward Years Project. I would then link it to my personal account in case people wanted to know more about me; and vice versa, in case people wanted to know more about my project. My audiences are different, and I wish I would have realized that better back then.

How do you monetize your blog?

There are several ways you can monetize your blog, the two primary ways are through advertising (have someone pay for space on your blog) or affiliate marketing. If you are working as an affiliate, make sure you are only marketing for brands you trust that align with your website goals and always be authentic.

How did you encourage folks to sign up to receive push-notifications once a new post is published?

Push notifications are great for your loyal followers. The goal is to get people interested enough in your content and then make sure they have the option.

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