15 Principles I Wish I Had Known Before I Started Blogging

Blogging Lessons

I know how it is.

You get the idea of starting a blog and it all seems so easy.

Get a domain, get a web host, install WordPress and you’re almost there, right?

Then all of a sudden, it gets much more complicated.

I’ve been there and learned some harsh lessons along the way and made my share of mistakes.

And that isn’t a bad thing.

Below are some of the blogging lessons that I’ve learned along my journey, and how you can benefit from them:

You need to get serious

I’ve always been a fairly serious person, well, at times.

But in the beginning, I didn’t take things seriously enough (at least not where my blog was concerned).

I was too preoccupied with other things and I had a rather lackadaisical view to the blog I had at the time.

Then everything changed.

I pushed myself to really think about what I wanted, then put together a 5 year plan and wrote it down on scrap of paper.

It included everything I wanted for my life, both professionally and personally.

That scrap of paper ended up shaping my destiny and still does today.

You need to be passionate

In the past I launched various blogs and they failed.

Why?

I wasn’t passionate.

Sure, it started out all well and good but as time went on, things started to fall apart.

That’s why it’s so important to choose a niche that you have real passion for.

Passion is the driving force behind everything that I do.

And it’s why I actually spend more time helping people (for free) than I do blogging.

I love what I do, and when you do good things, good things can happen to you.

You need a (well thought out) plan

I have a confession to make.

When I launched Blogging Wizard in 2012, I rushed the launch.

The content was ropey and my plan was flaky.

If I could launch my blog all over again, I would put together a better plan.

Launch with better content and take a bit more time over it.

Although, it’s very easy to go the other way and obsess over every little detail, so much that it paralyzes you.

There needs to be a balance.

Expect to put some money into your blog

When I started out, I knew there was going to be some costs involved.

For example:

  • Domain registration
  • Web hosting
  • Mailing list provider
  • A decent WordPress theme

As time has gone on my costs have gone through the roof, and, for a while I was spending more than I was making.

That being said, I have made some great purchases that have made my life so much easier.

Sure, I’m spending more money but that money is an investment in the future of my blog and my business.

And plenty of the tools that I have bought help me be way more productive.

I fight a daily battle against time, so that works for me.

Start making money from the start

Making money has never really been a primary goal for me.

I do OK, but, I have never really pushed it to the extent that I needed to.

There are two key ways which allow bloggers to make the big bucks:

  • High ticket services (e.g. consulting)
  • High ticket products (e.g. in depth training courses)

There’s a good reason why I haven’t done either, yet.

The difficulty wasn’t having the ideas (I’ve got them in spades, probably 10 years’ worth of products), it’s just, having the time.

Back in December 2012 when I launched Blogging Wizard, I was working 7 days a week.

I left for work in the morning.

And when I came back home in the evening, I often found myself working.

My focus was split between too many different projects (and the fact that I was running a marketing agency at the time).

Growing a business (rapidly), developing processes, managing clients and managing staff taught me a lot.

And despite coming dangerously close to burning myself out during that time, I wouldn’t change that experience for anything.

There’s also the fact that I don’t want to rush my first product, and above all else I want it to be genuinely helpful.

My first product is in the works though, stay tuned.

Build your list before you launch your blog

Jon Morrow built his blog to over 13,000 subscribers, and that was before he had even written a single post!

The strategy involved putting together a ‘bribe’, which he offered on his blogs home page when people sign up.

Then actively contributing to authority blogs and driving traffic to that landing page.

I was in such a rush to launch my blog that I just went live and it was a while before I put together a ‘bribe’ for my subscribers.

If I could do this again, what would I do?

  • Put together an exclusive piece of content that my target audience would love
  • Setup a landing page using LeadPages (aff)
  • Start writing for authority blogs and mention my landing page (usually in my author bio)

Don’t neglect your list

One of my biggest regrets is waiting so long to put together something exclusive for my subscribers.

I’ve found that some of the best content that I have read isn’t published on a blog.

It’s exclusive, ‘behind the scenes’ type stuff that you get when you opt-in.

So, I missed a lot of opportunities to grow my list.

And I know some people do view this in a different light but you have to do a lot to get someone to hand over their email address now.

That’s why I am always thinking of new things I can do for my subscribers – I’m grateful to my subscribers for trusting me with their email address.

And I want to repay that trust.

This is why I recently built my new VIP Resource Center.

Whenever someone subscribes to my list now, they not only get a single ‘bribe’ that I’ve mentioned somewhere, they get everything.

Writing more isn’t always the answer

I used to think that writing more content was the answer.

But, it’s not.

Sure, I get more traffic (on average) when I publish more content but it also means that at some level, the quality can suffer.

And it takes time away that I would usually spend promoting content (that’s important).

Your audience can only consume so much, but, it also depends on how lengthy your content is.

This usually means posting less when you are publishing more detailed content and posting more often you write less detailed content.

It is a balancing act.

Your audience is unique, you may have someone you view as a competitor, but, they may not have the exact same audience as you.

Test to find what works.

If in doubt, ask your audience.

Putting a survey together using a tool like Polldaddy is easy (and free).

But, always consider how much time you have available.

You can only do so much

Have you ever done this?

Taken on so much that, you can’t possibly do anymore?

I’m guilty of this and it’s been a hard lesson to learn.

In fact, I’m still working on it.

But, I’m getting there and you will too.

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is a successful blog

There are people in your niche that sit at the top.

Why are they there?

They have worked for it; countless late nights, published countless blog posts and a solid plan of how they are going to get to the top.

Becoming an overnight sensation can happen, but don’t rely on it – it’s a rare occurrence.

But, don’t let that deter you.

When you put in the time, dedication, passion and raw effort – you can make it.

There are shortcuts that you can take and writing for authoritative blogs in your niche is a great route to the top.

Perfection can paralyze but it doesn’t have to

Have you ever wanted to create something so perfect that you end up tripping over yourself, trying to get it finished?

I have.

The fact that I am actually a perfectionist is probably why.

In time, I’ve learned to stop perfectionism from having a negative impact on my life.

It’s a challenge, but in time it can be done.

We can do anything that we put our minds to.

Master your own productivity (and 7 tips to help you)

I still manage to lose focus, if only occasionally.

But, I am far more productive now than I was even just a year ago.

Above all else, there are some pieces of advice that have stuck with me and had a huge impact on my productivity.

Here are some that have worked for me:

  • Value your time – your time isn’t just precious, it’s valuable. Put a monetary value on your time and you might find that how productive you are changes overnight.
  • You need time to think – you need time to plan and think things through, even if it’s just 30 minutes each day, it will help to keep you focused.
  • Prioritise your tasks – ask yourself if what you are doing is really the most important thing you need to do.
  • Cut out negative influences – these are just a distraction and negatively affect your mind-set.
  • Eliminate all distractions ­– If you find yourself getting distracted by something, for example if you find that you’re constantly being disturbed by phone calls, sometimes you may just need to turn your phone off. This might just be something you can’t do if you have people that need your attention to resolve issues, use your best judgement.
  • Eat a frog a day – if there’s something you have been avoiding, get it over and done with early on in the day.
  • Use tools to manage your tasks more effectivelyAsana and Trello can work very well.

One of the most effective is something that I learned from Timo Kiander:

Have a blog post checklist that you go through every time you publish a post [Tweet This]

Timo also has a great post full of time saving tips for bloggers, you can find it here.

Sometimes you need to get help and it’s easier than you might think

I’m a DIY sort of guy.

Not that I’m actually good with DIY (I’m not) but I like to do things for myself and be completely self-sufficient.

I like a challenge.

Sometimes, that just isn’t possible.

There are times when you need to get someone else involved in what you’re doing.

It may just be getting help with the content writing or editing side of things, possibly inviting guest contributors to write for your blog.

Or, you may want help with the technical side of things or help creating a logo.

We can’t do everything, at least not to the standard that we may want (that’s not for the lack of trying).

This does mean paying people to help us out.

It can save time, stress and we may even be happier with the end result.

The reality is that we do have to consider our budget – if the money isn’t there, it’s not there.

There are plenty of freelance websites where you can find someone to help you.

For example;

Be careful and vet anyone you work with – if you know anyone personally who offers similar services, ask them.

It’s important to find people that you trust, to help you.

The work doesn’t stop when you hit publish and you will be glad it didn’t

I know how it feels.

To spend hours, days, even weeks on a piece of content, and, finally you hit publish.

But, nobody ever reads it.

The great piece of content just gathers dust in a corner, never to see the light of day.

It’s not a nice feeling.

That’s why you need to go beyond just publishing your content.

You need to put the time and effort into promoting your content the right way.

It can definitely be time consuming, but, it’s well worth it in the end.

Here’s something else for you.

How you plan your content can play a huge part in how successful it is.

There are a few things to take into account:

  • Who is your target audience? How can you align your content with their needs?
  • Which blog posts are already working well for you?
  • Which blog posts are working well for other bloggers in your niche?
  • What are people searching Google for?
  • What are people sharing on social media?
  • Are there influencers in my niche that could help me take this post further?
  • Can my headlines be improved?

The learning never stops and never should

Learning is important.

It helps us grow and develop into what we want to become.

I’m happy to say that I learn something every day and I always set some time aside to read a new blog post or a book (well, part of one).

It helps me to keep ideas flowing, and, I get a real buzz from figuring something out – I love that about blogging.

Things change fast, especially when it comes to topic areas such as SEO, before you know it what works, doesn’t work.

And there’s always new tools coming on to the market, new tactics being discovered – we can always do something better.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” – Anthony Robbins [Tweet This]

So keep up with your daily dose of brain food and witness the results for yourself.

You’ll be glad that you did.

Over to you

Making a mistake isn’t the end of the world.

But, even if we continue to make mistakes (we’re all human right?), we’re one mistake closer to reaching our goals.

It’s the learning experience that counts.

What about you?

What lessons have you learned?

  • Nirmala Santhakumar

    Good post for the bloggers Adam, worth reading. I wish every blogger (Not only newbies) should read this helpful post to do better blogging.

    I feel good that am following most of the stuffs which you’ve listed here, will implement the missed blogging tips. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us, keep doing it!

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Nirmala,

      Thanks for the kind words and it’s great to know you’ve been using some of these tips.

      Sure thing, I will – keep up your good work too!

  • Stop Us If You Can

    Hi Adam,

    I hope you are doing awesome. Really Loved it, Thanks for taking time to write this. I love to write but there is only one problem with me, I don’t have time to manage my blog. I have a job which is killing me…I am in a satuation where everything is “out of my hand”. Don’t know what to do. Have you ever faced this type of satuation??????

    Love to hear from you

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Hi Vaibhav,

    I’m good thanks, hope you are too.

    Really glad you enjoyed the post.

    I did have a similar situation, last year I was working 7 days a week. I couldn’t cut my ours down at the time.

    I had to slow down publishing on my blog until I could cut my hours down.

    At the time I relied heavily on guest contributors. I did have people that pitched me on articles, but other people I reached out to and invited them to contribute.

    Note: just take a look at writers who contribute to popular sites in your niche and invite them to write for you.

    So for a while that just left me with some editing and promoting content to do.

    I was also able to grow my income during that time which opened my options later on.

    It’s definitely a tricky one and there aren’t any super easy answers.

    Hope this helps.

    • Stop Us If You Can

      Wow..don’t know what to say…may be “thank You” is not enough this time. Looking forward to learn more from you.

      Have a great day/weekend :)

  • Liz Parker

    Hi Adam I am a new blogger, reason I moved my site to WordPress was to generate a better Seo ranking. Now I am getting hooked. Unfortunately I suffer from poor readership. Can you offer me some tips on how to get comments?

  • http://www.sasabassac.info/ Jamie Noel

    Adam Thanks for time to take write this. Really helpful for me. Currently ‘m concentrate to manage my blog. As you say making money most important. Can you explain me ? What type premium product or service? My Niche “Inbound Marketing”. Please suggest me

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Jamie, my pleasure!

      Premium products and services are the ones that will bring in the most money – they’re usually high ticket items.

      For example, an example of a service may be inbound marketing consulting or you could offer monthly campaigns.

      As for a product, you could offer an intensive course to guide beginners (or advanced) users on how to generate results from inbound marketing.

      Or, if you have the budget you could look at identifying a problem that inbound marketers face and working with a developer to create a SaaS type business (Software as a service, for example: KISSmetrics).

      Hope that helps.

      • http://www.sasabassac.info/ Jamie Noel

        Adam Thanks for reply again !!

        I’ll take Inbound Marketing Consult and as per above mentioned think about SaaS ty of business. Hope it will help me. Cheers :)

  • http://www.ellorywells.com/ Ellory Wells

    Hey Adam! I really like this post.

    I like what you said about posting frequency in relation to the content of each post – that’s not something I’ve thought about before.

    I struggle to get traffic too, but also agree with what you said about giving tons of value to subscribers.

    Glad I found you on Triberr!

    Ellory

  • http://bestapplications4u.com/productivity Churchill Madyavanhu

    Awesome stuff Adam. Lots of stuff that I also wish I had known. But in the spirit of getting help, allow me to mention my site http://galilea3.com, which is a marketplace for freelancers where one can get things done in 7 languages. As I am working on Galilea3, I am beginning to appreciate the importance of building a list and delegating some of the work to other people. However, I believe the best advice I would give to a newbie blogger is to just get started and learn as you go. A well-prepared plan is great, but get something done is much better, even without a plan. :-)

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Adam,

    Love it! Many similar lessons here dude. Passion, you need to love this, to keep going, you need to love your topic, to become WILDLY successful. Sure you’ll make money and gain fame here and there but only folks who’re in love with their blogging topic, and learn blogging inside out, rise to the top in this niche.

    Thanks!

    RB

  • http://inspiretothrive.com/ Lisa Buben

    Great post Adam, loved the part that you can only do what you can do. I’ve been wanting to write my 2nd ebook but seem bogged down on blog posts, which do you recommend I prioritize? Thank you.

  • Akshay Hallur R

    Hi Adam,
    Nice share :-)
    These days, new bloggers blog only taking money making into consideration. They want to make fame and money overnight. 99% of them fail and they quit blogging. Patience and perseverance is important in blogging.
    Again thank you for sharing a wonderful experience.
    Cheers,
    Akshay Hallur.

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks my friend, great to hear you’ve had similar lessons.

    You’re so right about that – looking at everyone who is at the top of each niche that I’ve worked in, everyone is hyper engaged and extremely passionate.

    Speaking of passion; you have that in spades!

    I’m always impressed by how much you clearly love what you do – it’s inspiring.

    All the best,
    Adam

  • http://about.me/Lindeskog lyceum1776

    Adam: Your post made me think about my 12 years of blogging…

    I would like to talk with you more about this topic in the future, on my podcast show.

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    You’re welcome, Jamie – I’m happy to help.

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Anytime!

    Have a great weekend too :)

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Hi Liz,

    Happy to help – I need to cover this in a post in the future.

    Getting more comments all starts with writing what people within your niche want to know and writing what your audience wants to read.

    I’d recommend checking out this post; http://www.bloggingwizard.com/plan-blog-posts-get-more-traffic/ – it will help you through planning your posts in a way that will help you get more traffic.

    Here are a few more ways that can work well:

    - Ask people to comment (a question at the end of posts can always help, also if you email your subscribers to let them know about a new post, ask them in the email, even something like “What do you think? Let me knowin the comments” can have an impact)
    - Make it easy to comment (some spam blocking tools can make things difficult)
    - Respond to comments and draw out the conversation
    - Contribute to an authority blog within your niche that already has an engaged audience (whenever I do this, I notice an uplift in comments and I also expand my readership)

    Hope this helps!

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Hey Ellory,

    Thanks for the kind words, glad you liked the post.

    Also, thanks for inviting me to your tribe on Triberr.

    There’s a balance to strike between looking after your existing readers and getting more.

    That’s one of the reasons I put together a resource center for subscribers, so existing subscribers will get the benefit when I add new content and new subscribers will get a lot of value too.

    On the subject of traffic, not sure if you’ve caught this post that I wrote a while back, but if not, it’s well worth a read: http://www.bloggingwizard.com/plan-blog-posts-get-more-traffic/

    It’s all about planning your posts to get more traffic.

    Looking forward to connecting me – how are you finding Triberr by the way?

    Adam

    • http://www.ellorywells.com/ Ellory Wells

      I like Triberr. It has its issues, but I see a lot of value in its premise

      • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

        I’m with you there, Ellory. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Thanks, Churchill. Really glad to know that you’ve found my post useful.

    It’s great to hear about your marketplace for freelancers – it sounds like a great concept.

    I agree with you 100% – if we just end up spinning our wheels and not making progress, that’s the worst thing – it’s easy to over think, but when we end up over thinking, it’s easy to rush things a bit too much.

    Thanks for the great comment.

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Thanks Lisa!

    I know how you feel, I’ve been in a similar situation.

    It’s tricky because the ebook is important, but if you stop posting to your blog altogether, it will affect your readership.

    It is definitely a balancing act, so you could start off allocating 25% of the time you would normally set aside for writing blog posts to writing your ebook.

    It’s worth seeing how it goes initially and if you need more time for your ebook, maybe look at devoting a bit more time for it.

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Hi Akshay,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    I hear you! And I completely agree, it takes time to make money – patience is essential and in turn passion is too, without it, it’s so easy for things to stall.

    Thanks,
    Adam

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Sounds good, Martin. Would be great to be involved with your podcast.

    I won’t be available for another 4-6 weeks, feel free to drop me an email in the near future so we can talk more.

    • http://about.me/Lindeskog lyceum1776

      Adam: Great! Talk to you later on! :)

  • http://www.ReginaldChan.net/ Reginald Chan Xin Yon

    Adam, great write mate. This reminds me A LOT of my old times. I wish I had did all those ‘changes’ to avoid any mistakes.

    But again, mistakes make us stronger and better. Guess without them, I am nobody now :)

    Thanks for sharing mate.

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Thanks buddy, great to see you here.

      Definitely, I remember you learning those lessons pretty quick and it’s paid off I think.

      I’m with you – it definitely makes us stronger and helps us grow. That’s what it’s all about.

  • Willow

    Hello Adam,
    Thanks for sharing these ideas about how to have a successful blog. I’m a photographer and have lived overseas and traveled widely. I would like to monetize these things but I think everyone wants to monetize these things. Do you have any ideas for how to tie in my blog, twitter, fb page, etc. to make a concerted effort to get people following my story and photo work? Thanks!

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      Hi Willow,

      My pleasure – hope you find them useful.

      It’s not a niche that I’ve had experience in but will have a go :)

      If you’re looking to monetize your art, one thing that you could consider is selling photo’s through sites like iStockPhoto, although not 100% on how much you could get from that.

      Stories are powerful and traveling as a photographer can definitely be an inspiring story.

      Think about where your audience hangs out – for photography, you’ve got Pinterest and Instagram.

      Photo’s also translate well to G+ and Facebook.

      If you have the time, try posting unique posts to G+ and Facebook.

      It may be worth taking a look at group boards on Pinterest, communities on G+ and groups on Facebook.

      Tell your story in more detail on your blog, but also share what you’ve learned.

      Without in depth knowledge of your audience, I can only give you so much and understanding your audience is key.

      Look at the successful people within your niche, identify what makes them successful and how they set themselves apart then look at how you can set yourself apart from them.

      Then you can look at what content is working for them (both on their blog and social profiles) and look at how you can take things to the next level.

      I’d recommend putting together persona’s for your target audience, from that you can put together a strategy that will get you results.

      I talk more about the audience persona’s in this post: http://www.bloggingwizard.com/plan-blog-posts-get-more-traffic/ there’s also some tips on finding out what content will work.

      Hope this helps.

  • http://www.donnamerrilltribe.com/ Donna Merrill

    The most important lesson I’ve learned is to “Eat the frog.” I realized I was a master at excuses 2 years back. But when I took a good long look at myself, I noticed I was pushing my priorities off. I had to dig really deep into myself to find that Why! You guessed it..it was fear of success. From that point on, no matter what, that frog is tasting better each day since I’ve turned my behavior around.
    Thanks Adam!

    -Donna

  • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

    Hi Donna, thanks for your comment :)

    I can definitely relate to fear of success.

    It’s a difficult thing to overcome, and it’s great to see that you have!

    As Jack Canfield once said; “Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”

    All the best,
    Adam

  • http://nathanambrose.com/ Nathan Ambrose

    Thanks for this. It’s nice to learn lessons from the personal experiences of those who have been there and done it.

    • http://bloggingwizard.com/ Adam Connell

      My pleasure, Nathan. Glad you found my experiences helpful.